Aren’t You Pastor Graham’s Grandson?

Associated Churches - A beacon of light in the heart of Fort Wayne. A light that strives to share God’s love through its various ministries including: “A Baby’s Closet”, “Let’s Grow”, “Rising Stars”, “The Landing”, “Military Families”, and “The Neighborhood Food Network”. After 15 years of excellent service, Rev. Melvin Phillips passed the torch to my grandfather, Rev. Vernon Graham to be the next Executive Pastor of Associated Churches in 1989. Graham’s mission was to “build bridges in the spirit of God”, and to break down any barriers that existed between racial groups, Christian denominations, or social classes. In February of 1989, Graham spoke on behalf of his mission in an interview with the Fort Wayne News Sentinel. He stated, “Associated Churches has always brought together churches of different denominations. Now, churches of different races are joining together, too.” Pastor Graham truly left an indelible mark on Associated Churches, and the Greater Fort Wayne area after his passing in 2017.

As a young man growing up in Fort Wayne, I always remember people saying to me “Aren’t you Pastor Graham’s Grandson?” At the time, I never realized how great an honor it was to be associated with a historical icon like my Grandfather. Growing up, I regularly visited Associated Churches and spent time throughout the building, including the warehouse, where I would help pack boxes with cans to be given to people who were in great need. One event I particularly remember here, was when my mother, Kristina Alderdice, and Grandmother, Ellen Graham, were presented a check for their non-for-profit organization called “Hope in a Handbag”. Looking back on the time I spent here as a young boy, I marvel at the work my family did in helping to share God’s love and shine light in a world full of darkness.

In the summer of 2018, Associated Church’s prayer garden was rededicated to Pastor Graham, as a way of remembering his legacy. During the event, people shared stories and memoirs of their experiences with my Grandfather. All I could be was proud of the accomplishments my Grandpa made, and the influential touch he left on countless lives throughout the city. Anyone who visits the garden, can inspect the mural depicting Graham’s picture, and remember the work he did in transforming the city into a place where people of all races, denominations, or classes can come together and celebrate God’s love and the gift of hope from Jesus’ bloodshed upon the cross.

In August of 2018, I embarked on a new adventure as I entered my High School career, as a Cadet at Concordia Lutheran. As an excelling student, and an inspiring leader in my school and community, I joined a select group of individuals in Concordia’s Honors Academy. The