What’s so different about Grace Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ga.?
This assembly of believers has been meeting together since the summer of 1975. During that time the Lord has allowed the focus of the church to be in the serious study of his dear word. There are no other “activities”. There are no other aims. There are just three services per week with singing, prayer and a one-hour preaching session. The Lord’s Day services are at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. The morning service is preceded by a half-hour teaching session with two separate classes; one for the adults and another for the children. There is also a Wednesday service at 7 PM.
The origin of this gathering.
Our pastor found a copy of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith on a shelf in the closet of his study at the Southern Baptist Convention church where our original members were then attending. This confession was the Articles of Faith of that church. Seeing that these were the truths that our fathers, seeking freedom from persecution, came to this land in order to preach and teach, he began to set these things before that people. To his surprise, there was rebellion against these truths, so strong that he found no other course available except to resign that pulpit on July 27, 1975.
On that same evening, being the Lord’s Day, a brother who lived within one mile of the present location, invited the pastor to come to his house and have evening services in his living room. Upon arriving the pastor found 52 souls gathered, wanting to hear the word. There being so many, the “first service” of what came to be known as Grace Baptist Church of Jonesboro, met in his front yard, sitting on lawn chairs, makeshift benches, and the steps of the house. The pastor preached on David bringing the ark of God into Jerusalem. Due to the encroaching darkness, an automobile light was thrown over a limb of the oak tree under which he stood for light to finish the message.
The pathway at the beginning.
From the beginning “God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness” (Ex. 13:18), exercising our faith and patience, and rolling away the reproaches of traditional, denominational religion. We met in household basements, store front buildings, school auditoriums, and even once a nursery until such time as the Lord opened up our current property through a purchase from Sister Sarah Forrester, our oldest member. Then the Clairmont Baptist Church of Birmingham, Al. (formerly pastored by Dr. Ferrell Griswold), having to disband, donated the pews, the pulpit and communion table still in use, and a gift of $10,000 to clear the remaining debt on the land.
We first met in our present building (now twice enlarged) on March 8, 1987. We have always been an assembly meeting in the county of Clayton, having only met temporarily in the cities of Jonesboro and Fayetteville during our “wilderness journey”. Early on, we adopted our Lord’s Day meeting times as 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM with an intervening meal so as not to make two trips to church as had previously been our custom. And by the Lord’s great mercies the pastor has been kept from secular employment so he could give himself “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word”. (Acts 6:3). It has been his privilege for many years to preach annually in Sovereign Grace Bible Conferences in St.Louis, Mo., Rocky Mount, NC., Pine Bluff, Ar., and West Milton, Pa.
The weekly preached messages from this pulpit have always been recorded and made available on cassette tape to anyone who has a desire to hear the word. They have always been offered free of any charge (Matthew 10:8), and have been sent to both the healthy and sick; to nursing homes, jails and prisons, placed in truck stops and in private businesses, and been distributed to individuals and groups interested in the truth, but not having the blessing of a local church. They have also been sent to pastors and teachers domestically and in foreign lands. This has all been done under the name of Truth Tapes Library (www.truthtapes.com) which has been financially supported both by our church, other churches and private individuals. By God’s wonderful mercy, there has never been any debt accumulated in this outreach, even though no one has ever been asked for donations, nor any request for the gospel refused.
Later the video ministry sprang up by the faith of the couple who still operate it. Truth Video Tapes has sent videos to churches without pastors, to foreign pastors and missionaries, and to individuals for their private viewing. At the very beginning, before the Lord sent us dear Brother Jamie Walker for our Assistant Pastor, they were used here, being shown on a wide-screen TV when our pastor was away preaching in Bible Conferences and in other church meetings. (He averaged 10,000 miles per year on the road.) Now, both CD’s and DVD’s are available for the distribution of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a TV ministry in Valencia City, Philippines, where one of the weekly videos were seen twice a week in this city with a potential audience of 30,000 souls.
Some of the messages from the pulpit are selected to be transcribed and are printed, processed and mailed to the names on a mailing list that has grown over the years. We also send out our weekly newsletter via e-mail and the US Postal Service, keeping interested parties apprised of our work and its correspondence from home and abroad.
May our Lord help us to keep ourselves free of religious traditionalism, which is only interested in “activities” and social gatherings to entertain men but to the neglect of their souls! gb