Grace Bible Church began its life as Bryan Baptist Temple, a fundamental independent Baptist church, chartered by the state of Texas on August 6, 1961. The first place in which the ten founders met was a bank building at the corner of Texas Avenue and 27th Street. In 1962, these ten founders purchased a barracks building from Bryan Air Base for $750 and paid another $400 to have it moved to the back of a church lot at 2505 South College Avenue in Bryan. The church met in this building until the spring of 1963, when they completed a small red brick church building at a cost of $13,000. The barracks building then became the nursery and children’s Sunday School facility. Richardson N. Fry was the founding pastor of Grace and served for four years before moving to Los Angeles, California.
Joe L. Wall, then a recent graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, was voted in by 21 members, as the second pastor of Bryan Baptist Temple on May 13, 1965. He moved to Bryan with his wife Linda and son Scott.
Dick and Joy Davison joined the church early in the summer of 1965. They shared their excitement about the church and the vibrant, Bible teaching pastor with their new neighbors Harry and JoJo Coyle. The Coyles soon joined the church.
Pastor Wall began a series of sermons on salvation by grace, not by works. Not long after this series, the church split. The base from which Grace began consisted of the Walls, Davisons, Coyles, Mr. Lindsay, Mrs. Emmel and a handful of others, including a few Aggies. The new church was renamed Grace Baptist Church on December 1, 1965. As time went by, Grace gained a reputation for being a church with a foundation in Bible exposition.
Jack and Jan Lunsford heard about Grace and began driving in from Huntsville with their children to attend and joined the church in May, 1966 when they moved to Bryan. Others joining at this time were Wally and Jean Marie Anderson, Clyde and Martha Hargrove and Lambert and Stella Wilkes.
Financial times were exceptionally tough for the small church. Pastor Wall had only been receiving part of his meager salary. However, the Elders (Davison, Lunsford, Coyle and Lindsay) decided to “step out in faith” and hold the first Missions Conference. They made a unanimous decision that Grace Baptist Church would support four missionaries at the rate of $10 per month. The LORD has rewarded that “step of faith” and since that time, no pastor or missionary has gone unpaid.
In May 1967, Pastor Wall left Grace to become pastor of Spring Branch Community Church in Houston. One of the original four missionaries, Jerry Parkerson, served as pastor during the interim (while on furlough from the mission field) until October 1967 when David Lien accepted the position. David was a Bible scholar who loved to study God’s word and teach His flock. David Lien served as pastor for four years before he and his wife Kaya moved to San Antonio to work with the Navigators.
Campus Ministry Begins
Very early, the church leaders began to see the strategic location of the Texas A&M University campus to the location of Grace Bible Church and the importance of beginning a ministry to college students. During 1965-66 Grace established a college Sunday School class on campus. However, the real impetus toward this goal came from achieving a relationship with the two new para-church ministries on campus, the Navigators and Campus Crusade for Christ. The leaders of these groups had been attracted to the faithful biblical preaching and the church’s eagerness to cooperate with them. Soon the church pews were filled with students and before the departure of Pastor Lien, the congregation was mostly students. The small building would barely hold them.
Grace decided to set off on a new adventure in September, 1971 and began a Christian school. At that same time, Jerry Parkerson and his family returned to Grace again, on furlough. Jerry graciously agreed to become headmaster of the school and interim pastor of the church. Jean Marie Anderson was the school administrator. The school was well attended by children of the church and community, but only remained open one year.
On May 17, 1972, twenty-seven Grace members asked Bob Prall, a graduate of Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and formerly with Campus Crusade, to become the next pastor. Bob agreed and moved his family here. God used Bob’s strong interest and desire for the possibilities of a college ministry and his gift of evangelism, to help increase the size of the congregation. This increase became a motivator for expanding the physical building size and finding a new location close to the campus.
Grace sold the Bryan property on South College and purchased the two acres located at 701 Anderson Street in College Station. A loan was acquired to build the auditorium, but space for Sunday School was still lacking. An arrangement was made with the pre-school next door.
The auditorium was dedicated to the Lord on September 15, 1974 by Dr. John Walvoord, then president of Dallas Theological Seminary. With the church closer to campus, more Aggies began attending regularly and the church continued to grow in size. At the request of the Elders, Bob remained as the Interim Pastor until a replacement was called.
Church members spent the summer searching for a new pastor for the growing church. Forty-four members approached Andrew Seidel to request that he consider becoming the pastor. Andy agreed and came from Dallas Theological Seminary with his family in September 1976. Under Andy’s faithful teaching of God’s word, the church continued to expand. As more Aggies came, it was decided that someone was needed to lead a college ministry.
Dwight Edwards, a former professional tennis player, answered God’s call for the position in the fall of 1980. Soon after, he and his wife Sandy arrived and his ministry immediately began to increase. The need for more classroom space became evident. In 1981, a second building was built to house a gym, the college Sunday School class, nursery and office space. Under Dwight’s leadership and with the added space, the college class experienced outstanding growth. By the mid 1980s, additional growth in the number of new families led to the hiring of a youth pastor.
In September 1982, an agreement was reached with Brazos Christian School to share Grace’s church facilities. Brazos Christian School grew, which prompted the need for more classroom space. Temporary portable buildings were added to the site and both ministries benefited. During the week, the church building was used primarily by Brazos Christian School and on weekends, Grace utilized all available space. The need for even more expansion of facilities soon became apparent and God had just the plan. In the summer of 1987, 4 ½ acres across the street were purchased. (top)
Growth in the 90s and Beyond
At this time, Andy Seidel felt he was being called to the mission field, so he and his wife Gail left Grace in 1990, and have been missionaries supported by GBC since that time. Dwight was asked to serve as Senior Pastor and accepted this challenge in July 1990. He became the seventh Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church and served until December 2003. In June 2004, Brian Fisher was elected to serve as Grace’s next Senior Pastor. He had served as associate pastor and college pastor for 11 years prior to becoming senior pastor.
Under the prayerful leadership of the Elders and Pastors, the church has continued to grow. In the early 1990s this led to the building of the facility at 700 Anderson Street. After moving into that facility in December 1994, Grace Bible Church steadily grew to more than 2,500 people attending on any given Sunday during the school year.
Our expanding church has continually demanded the need to add staff to handle ongoing growth. We've added several Pastors, Directors and other staff and interns through the years. As a lack of worship and ministry space continued to present growth problems at 700 Anderson, the Elders and Pastors proposed a multi-site growth strategy to the congregation in May of 2007, which was approved. Later that year, Grace purchased a former church property at 1901 Harvey Mitchell Parkway. The freshly renovated Southwood Campus of Grace Bible Church opened for worship services in August of 2008. There is great hope that the multi-site strategy will enable us continue to 'grow larger by growing smaller.'
Throughout its history, Grace has continued its strategic mission to reach out to the students and staff of Texas A&M University, as well as families and other individuals in the church and surrounding communities. It is the strong desire of the church leadership that Grace Bible Church be not merely active or busy, but fruitful. Consequently, we continue to revitalize our strategies in order to effectively minister according to the purposes God has given us.
You are invited to stop by the office and meet some of the staff. Grace Bible Church has a devoted and dedicated staff to reach out and serve you through Christ our Lord. We are here to help people find and follow Jesus.