In the late 1950s Pastor Paul Vincent was led of the Lord to start Grace Baptist Church in Anderson, Indiana. He had served for twelve years in Baptist churches in Detroit, Lansing and Flint, MI, before being called to the work of establishing new churches. He was instrumental in founding four churches in Washington State and many churches throughout the United States. Once he moved to Indiana he planted churches in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Marion and then in Anderson. Pastor Vincent later said, “It warms my heart to hear about the ministry there [at Grace]. God has truly blessed.”
The first service was held at the Anderson YWCA on October 30, 1957. Twelve people gathered for this meeting. The Clark family was the first family at Grace, and were instrumental in praying the church into being.
Grace Baptist Church began regular services in the north half of a building at 1417 Brown Street. The other half was a beauty shop. The first day of services at Brown Street was January 12, 1958. Soon the church bought land of its own. A dedication service was held on Sunday, November 30, 1958, for the newly purchased property consisting of two acres located at 52 West Hartman Road. Pastor Paul Vincent led the twenty people who braved the extremely cold, snowy weather for the dedication.
On May 24, 1959 the church extended a call to Pastor James Puz of Belle Vernon, PA. Pastor Puz served as the second pastor of Grace Baptist Church and began his ministry July 12, 1959. During his pastorate, the first building was constructed.
Prayer meetings were held on the grounds before the chapel was built. A bond issue of $15,000 provided funds for the building. The first service was held in the new building on September 4, 1960. After serving the church for approximately two and a half years, Rev. Puz resigned on October 8, 1961.
Pastor Puz stated, “We’re grateful that we had a small part in the early beginning of this church. We praise God for His anointed blessings in the Spirit upon this local church ministry. May this church attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.”
Dr. Don Camp was the third pastor of Grace Baptist Church. He came November 12, 1961. It was under his leadership that the church’s membership grew. The church experienced a significant increase in attendance from 1961 to 1966.
The church also assisted in planting four new churches including Grace Baptist Church of Muncie, Grace Baptist of Angola and Grace Baptist of Elwood.
During Pastor Camp’s 22 years as pastor of Grace, the church also took on several building projects. In 1963, the church purchased an additional acre of ground immediately to the west and adjoining our present property for future expansion. In 1964, ten new rooms were added to the main structure. The present structure includes over 20,000 square feet of floor space, with a new sanctuary, fellowship hall, classrooms, nurseries, office wing and auditorium seating for 800 persons.
Indiana Christian Academy began in the fall of 1973. The first year the school had 27 pupils and 3 grades. In one year the attendance went to 200 students and 8 grades. There was a great need for more room. The school was utilizing double-wide trailers to hold the children. They decided to embark on a $2 million school complex. The modern facilities were completed in 1977, and the school is now the largest ministry of Grace Baptist Church.
The bus ministry was begun under Pastor Camp’s leadership. Many souls have been reached for Christ through the dedication of faithful bus workers. Pastor Camp served as the pastor of Grace Baptist Church until March 31, 1984.
Dr. Leigh Crockett was called to the pastorate of Grace Baptist Church in April of 1984. Pastor Crockett left itinerant evangelism to became the fourth senior pastor on April 1, 1984. Pastor Crockett has implemented many new designated Sundays and activities including hosting a church camp, Wednesday night fellowships, small groups Sunday School classes, praise services, Family Reunion Sunday, gym nights, Sanctity of Life Sunday, ICA/GBC Blood Drive, Civil Leaders Sunday, couples retreat, and Blue and White Sunday.
On April 30, 1995, Pastor Leigh Crockett led the congregation in celebrating Debt Free Sunday. Not only did he lead the church to pay off the debts early, but also to complete major property improvements such as paving large parking lots and replacing the roofs on all of the buildings.
The men of the church concluded a major renovation project in September of 1996. Among other things, the project entailed new carpet, pews, and oak paneling. Much remodeling has been done in the past few years. The mission board, kitchen, ladies restroom, foyer carpet, and scroll display are just a few of the recent improvements. A lush soccer field was planted and extended on the property’s east side. In 2004, the old auditorium was remodeled to serve as a music hall. In 2005, the church purchased the adjacent property directly north of the campus to add several more acres of land, a pond and a home that has been renovated to be used for staff.
Pastor Josh Crockett was called by the church on December 26, 2004 to come back to his home church to serve as associate pastor. After finishing his Master of Divinity degree, he began serving in May of 2005. In 2006, Pastor Leigh Crockett began the first of multiple battles with cancer.
In God’s providence, Pastor Josh Crockett was able to fill the pulpit and lead the church through these difficult battles and transition into the role of senior pastor. Pastor Josh Crockett served as the vice president of the Indiana Fundamental Baptist Fellowship and on the board of the Indiana Association of Christian Schools. Through God's grace, the church and school grew numerically, financially and spiritually. On April 12, 2015, the Lord called Pastor Josh Crockett, his wife Karie and four children to Greenville, SC to pastor Morningside Baptist Church. Pastor Josh Crockett remained at Grace until July 1st to see a pulpit committee established and his associate pastor, Pastor Doug Stein, unanimously called to serve as interim pastor until a new pastor was called and installed.
After eighteen months of search for God's leading in the next senior pastor at Grace, on February 12, 2017 Pastor Daniel Stevens was elected by a unanimous vote of the congregation to become the next senior pastor.
The campus and ministry scope of Grace Baptist Church look quite different than they did in 1958, but the heart of our mission has not changed. We continue to preach the Word, fulfill the Great Commission and help believers grow in grace.