There are now two adult Sunday School electives from which to choose. David Milligan is teaching a series on “The History of God’s People after the Exile” with a study through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. David’s class meets in the Fellowship Hall. Ray Rodman is teaching a series entitled “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” based on the book by Donald S. Whitney (available in the Resource Center). Ray’s class meets in the Choir Room.
Grace Baptist Church was organized in 1943 as East Flat Rock Fundamental Church, with Rev. Earl Fine as pastor. The following year, Rev. Eugene Wood assumed the pastorate and served until 1947. Services were held in the old wooden school formerly located on E. King Street.
In 1947 the church moved to its current location on Spartanburg Highway. Betty Honeycutt, a former member and sister of Woody Jones (Trustee), donated the church property.
In 1949 the church called Rev. A. J. Overton, Jr. as its pastor and the name of the church was changed to Grace Baptist Church. Rev. Overton served as pastor until 1959.
In May 1959, Rev. Earl H. Kilpatrick became pastor. During Kilpatrick's pastorate Herb and Sarah Putnam worked with the youth of Grace Baptist Church. Herb led the Teens for Christ and Sarah directed the Jet Cadets during the years 1963-66. After Herb's ordination at GBC, the Putnams moved on to minister in several local assemblies.
The groundbreaking for the educational building was held on April 17, 1966. Herb Putnam delivered the invocation at the dedication ceremony. The new educational building served as home for the first Christian school in Henderson County—Faith Christian Day School, which later operated as Hendersonville Christian School.
Rev. Kilpatrick continued to serve as pastor until 1972. Serveral men served as pastor during the years 1972-1994. These include John Andrews, Jack Maltby, Walter Treadway, Richard Clay, Lee Moseley, and Danny Pridmore. The Rev. John Fain ministered at GBC in 1994 and again in 1996. He was instrumental in calling Dayton Walker as the pastor.
On April 28, 1998, Dayton Walker assumed the mantle of pastor. Under his leadership numerous repairs and updates were made to the facilities, and the property was brought into the twenty-first century. The renovation of the sanctuary began in January 2006 through a generous donation of former members. The restrooms were remodeled in 2007 and the parking lots redesigned in 2010.
The Lord burdened Pastor Walker for the Hispanic population of Henderson County. In 2001 Gilberto Lara came to Grace Baptist Church to begin a Spanish-speaking worship service. Pastor Lara was a Mexican immigrant who moved to Greenville, SC in 1993 to study at the Bible institute associated with Iglesia Bautista de la Fe. He had taught Sunday school for several years when Pastor Johnny Franco recommended him for the GBC Spanish ministry.
The Hispanic congregation at GBC steadily grew. The single Sunday afternoon service led to a Wednesday prayer meeting and eventually a Sunday school class.
One Sunday morning in July 2009, a Hispanic man visited nearby Shepherd Street Baptist Church (for the history of SSBC, click here). He spoke no English, had no money, and had no family in the area. Pastor Putnam brought the man to the Spanish Sunday School class at Grace Baptist Church. Pastor Walker gave the man $50 (money a church member had given for someone in need). The man stayed for the services but never returned.
As it would happen, Herb Putnam had recently resigned as pastor of Shepherd Street Baptist Church, and the leadership was dissolving the church assets. The members wanted the facilities to continue to be used for the Lord’s work. One proposal considered was a merger with GBC.
The GBC leadership had been looking for ways to better serve their Spanish-speaking members. They struggled to find space and time for services. Moving to the SSBC property solved both issues. Following the merger, the Hispanic ministry of GBC began meeting at the former SSBC property and they established themselves as Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia with Gilberto Lara as their pastor. God’s timing is perfect! The Hispanic man was a “gift of God” that united two congregations and created a new Hispanic church.
The Putnams have now come full circle. Following the merger of the two churches, the Putnams returned to GBC. Herb presently serves as Pastor to the Seniors.
Early in 2011 Pastor Walker announced his intentions to retire and the deacons began their search for his successor. In October 2011 the congregation voted to call Jeff Hawkey as Associate Pastor. On June 24, 2012 the congregation unanimously called Pastor Hawkey as their new Senior Pastor. Pastor Walker and his wife Judy now serve as Special Assignment Missionaries for Gospel Fellowship Association with GBC as one of their supporting churches.
The Lord has truly blessed the ministries of Grace Baptist Church over the years. Men and women have received practical training that became the basis for their future service for the Lord Jesus Christ. Men have been ordained to the Gospel ministry. Missionaries have been thrust into the harvest fields of the world. GBC members serve along with these saints through prayer and financial support. In recent years, GBC served as the sending church for two missionary families.