History of Grace

Approaching 25 years… April 2011

Grace Presbyterian Church began as a new church development of Grace Presbytery.  The property on Mansfield Road was purchased by the presbytery in 1982 and the Rev. John Poling was called by the presbytery to be the organizing pastor.  He began his work in January 1985.  The first worship service was held on Maundy Thursday.  The first Lord’s Day service was held on April 21, 1985 – at the Wood Elementary School.

Grace grew steadily.  At its March 15, 1986 meeting, Grace Presbytery approved the founding of the congregation with 105 names on the roll.  The official organizational worship service was held on April 6, 1986.

Grace continued to grow, adding families and programs.  A building on the Mansfield Road property was built during 1987 and 1988.  The first worship service was held on Christmas Eve in 1988 and the building was dedicated in April, 1989, only three years after the congregation was chartered.

After the Rev. Poling left Grace to take another call, the Rev. Randy Branson began to serve as Pastor in the fall of 1991.  Grace continued to grow, growth marked by numbers of people and programs, a variety of educational opportunities and mission to the community.  This growth made an addition to the building a necessity.  And so the second part of the building was completed in 1995.

After the Rev. Branson left to take another call, the Rev. Terri Matthews began to serve as Grace’s Pastor in February 2003.  Terri’s encouraging ministry ended sadly as she was forced to resign for health reasons in December 2006.

On March 15, 2010, we welcomed Rev. Craig Sanders as the pastor of Grace.  Craig enjoys loving and caring for people, calling them to follow Christ, and challenging them to join in his ministry to the world.

Part of Grace’s ministry is an emphasis on youth. Several bright and talented folks have served as part-time youth directors:  Rob Allen, Erin Jackson, Jayme Dunlap, and Bonnie McCall.  Sheryl Machen joined Grace as Youth Director in September 2008 and is continuing this fine tradition.

Another part of Grace’s ministry is through music.  Gehlin Menti has worked at Grace for 20 years, first as the pianist and then serving as the director of music, working with children, youth, and adults.

During times of transition between installed pastors, three ministers have served as Interim Pastors:  the Rev. James Beverly, the Rev. Terry Alexander, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson Pense, and Dr. Ron Wood.

Grace celebrated its 24th birthday in April 2010, continuing to be strong in worship, study, and service, and actively searching for its fourth installed pastor.  Its life continues to be guided by its current vision statement:

We are called by the Holy Spirit into a
loving relationship with Jesus Christ,
glorifying God,
growing in faith,
serving others, and
sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

We look forward to our 25th Anniversary Celebration from April 08-10, 2011.   We are excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  We hope that friends both old and new will join with us during this exciting time.

Please see the following for more information about our 25th Anniversary Celebration and some additional information about the initial days and years of Grace Presbyterian Church.

Anniversary Information
Reminiscing about Grace