“Seek the Lord and His Strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done.” I Chronicles 16:11-12
On October 7, 1951, ‘Grace Presbyterian Church, Independent’ (later renamed ‘Grace Church, Independent,’ and then simply, ‘Grace Church’) was officially constituted by 52 members from two Roanoke area Presbyterian churches who were concerned about the theological liberalism that had crept into their denomination. These members were committed to the Bible as the Word of the living God. The church grew in its early years, adding members from various doctrinal backgrounds, and quickly developed a passion for missions as well as for the Scriptures. In Grace Church’s first fifteen years, she was well served by her first four pastors: John Elliott, Edward Morgan, Donald Kouwe, and Robert Wooley. But because of the diverse make-up of this young conservative congregation, she still struggled to define herself doctrinally.
It was not until the 1966 arrival of Dr. Jack Arnold, noted for his gift of teaching, that Grace Church’s doctrine would develop the distinctives that define her today. While maintaining a large degree of charity regarding other disputed doctrines, Grace Church took on a clear commitment to the Calvinistic view of the sovereignty of God in salvation. Teaching the Bible, with this emphasis, became the hallmark of Grace Church over the next two decades, and it remains so today. Though “Teaching the Word – Reaching the World” became the official church motto only later, it was clearly the emphasis of Pastor Arnold’s ministry. Jack Arnold completed his ministry at Grace Church in 1983, after seventeen years of faithful service (three of which were shared with Pastor Randy Pizzino).
In September, 1984, Everett Kier became Grace Church’s sixth pastor. Pastor Kier, who had been Grace’s Youth Minister since 1982, was God’s man to recover and strengthen the unity of Grace Church following Pastor Arnold’s departure. He continued and furthered the many ministries begun in the previous years and faithfully stoked the fires of outreach and missions. He diligently served this congregation until his resignation at the end of 1992.
In March 1994, after more than a year of conscientious searching, Grace Church called Pastor Craig Combs to serve as her seventh Pastor. Pastor Combs, an unusually gifted preacher reaffirmed and renewed Grace Church’s commitment to the Doctrines of Grace and effectively proclaimed the centrality of Christ in all the Scriptures. Pastor Combs faithfully served Grace Church for nine and a half years until his departure in November 2002.
Tim Martin, who had come on staff as an assistant pastor in 2001, agreed to serve as interim pastor and was then called and installed as senior pastor in June 2003. Under his ministry, Grace Church maintains its commitment to the ‘Doctrines of Grace’, world-wide missions, and the cross of Jesus Christ. Our great desire is to be Christ-centered and Gospel-driven in all that we do. Whatever our future may be, may God ever be exalted through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. An excellent, more extended, record of God’s work in and through Grace Church is available from the church office or from our web-site: www.gcrva.org.
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