A Brief History
A group of 36 people from First Christian Church of Bessemer, Alabama, believed that it was God's plan for them to start a new church. They first gathered for Sunday worship on October 12, 1997 at the home of Ronnie and Ruth Ann Arnett. Plans were made to meet the following week in the basement of the home of Lisa and David McDonald. Several members of the group met during the week to clean and turn the basement into a sanctuary. For eight weeks the group met in what they lovingly called "The Church of the Living Basement." Sunday School classes and a nursery were provided upstairs in different rooms of the home.
With the help of Reverend John Mobley, Regional Minister of the Christian Churches in the Alabama-Northwest Florida Region, the group began the process to become a new Disciples of Christ Church. Rick Herbert met with the Region's Committee for New Church Development and filled out all the paper work involved. Rick also conducted the Sunday morning worship and with the help of Rev. John Mobley, filled our pulpit with guest ministers each Sunday or preached himself when no guest minister was available. We were blessed with wonderful leadership: Bob Herbert directed the choir, Denise Campbell played the organ and Sima Atkinson played the keyboard. (Yes, we were able to purchase a used organ and Denise and Dan Campbell bought a keyboard.)
The new church continued to grow and when it was time to choose a name, Grace Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was born. On December 14, 1997, having outgrown the "Basement Sanctuary," the church began meeting in a storefront building on County Road 52 in Helena. Our crew of builders and planners went to work again and turned this rental space into a sanctuary.
We continued to grow in membership while in the storefront and with the help of Rev. John Mobley and the Region, we were able to call a full-time minister. Reverend John Autry from Milan, Tennessee joined our journey in faith in May of 1998. Under Rev. Autry's leadership, we soon outgrew the "storefront" and had to move again, to the Storage Place (then Acton Hardware) on Highway 17. Even though we were not on the highway, we continued to attract new members.
We purchased land and began dreaming of building. You can see the results of our dreams if you drive down Highway 52: our Chapel upon the hill, which opened on April 13, 2003. It is the first of three planned buildings. Grace Christian Church is being built on a foundation of love: An inclusive community of faith where everyone is welcome.
(More about our plans for the future: Visions of Grace)
Rev. Autry retired in the spring of 2007. For two years following his departure, the church searched for a new permanent minister to guide us in Christ, meanwhile inviting a series of gracious interim ministers to help keep our church moving forward. Throughout the process, our congregation grew in faith and confident belief in our church's mission. We paid off the smallest mortgage on our property and began raising the necessary funds to pay a full time pastor.
In August 2009, we voted to call Rev. Tommy Morgan of Auburn to be our new senior pastor, and he was officially installed on October 25, 2009. He is prepared to lead our church into the future, and we would love for you to join us on our journey.