This story is a beautiful picture of God’s amazing Grace. In 2005 He brought together two churches, utilizing the strengths and weaknesses of each, to forge a new congregation. God’s plan is evident in the details as He prepared these two churches to be joined together for His purpose.
One part of the story begins in August 1996 when thirty-five families and founding pastor, Bud Brainerd, came together to form Grace Community Church, a non-denominational church, with the purpose of reaching out to the unchurched in Montgomery. Early on it became clear that our congregation desired connection with a larger church body -- for encouragement, discipline, and for pooling our resources to advance Great Commission work. Following thoughtful prayer and examination of several denominations, we joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church on May 4, 1997. It has been through God’s great gift that we have survived and prospered because of their ministry to us. To better reflect this relationship, in the fall of 1998 we became Grace Presbyterian Church.
In the spring of 1998, land was purchased on Ray Thorington Road and construction began in the fall. During this time the congregation met at Trinity Church, located at 300 Ray Thorington Road. The first service in our brand new building, held on August 15, 1999, was an awesome experience! With high spirits and a beautiful facility, the plan was to grow immediately, but the financial burden was too much for a small congregation.
In May 2001, our founding pastor left and when our next pastor, Dave Long, departed in February 2003 it was time to consider selling the facility to another congregation. God’s hand was in that process – our Grace congregation was not only emotionally prepared for the transition but also the sale allowed us to continue as a viable church. In early 2004, we started meeting in Perimeter Park, a small storefront location that held around 50. It was during this period when God’s call on Kent Bull, a pastor with a missional heart and one of the founders of the EPC, shored up the spirits of this congregation. During his time with us we became who we are now -- Grace @ Bell Road.
God’s hand was clearly visible when He led this congregation with a new pastor but no building to a congregation with a mortgage-free facility but no pastor or administrative staff. Merging two churches is rare – especially when they belong to different denominations. But, with God all things are possible!
The second part of the story began several years earlier, in 1965, when Bell Road Methodist started as an independent Methodist Church. The buildings were erected in 1971 in the middle of a pecan grove on the corner of Bell Road and Atlanta Highway. The church enjoyed many years of thriving membership; however, difficulties arose and the congregation could no longer maintain the facilities or support a pastor.
God, however, had special plans for these two churches. After working and worshipping together for six months, the two congregations unanimously voted to become one – Grace @ Bell Road, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Our name represents not only the coming together of two churches, but also represents who we are – a people of Grace desiring to be obedient to God as we minister to Montgomery and surrounding communities.
Dr. Bull retired in February 2007 and Scott Lawry served for the next 6 ½ years, from July 2007 to December 2013. His preaching and teaching helped members strengthen and deepen their faith. His favorite phrase was “Jesus Christ is our everything.”
In April 2014 Bill Thompson answered the Call to be our new pastor and we are excited for this new chapter in the life of Grace @ Bell Road! We are confident that God is at work here and we are moving forward in the mission of making disciples of all nations. He has made us a strong Church in Christ and He continues to grow us. We invite you to be part of this amazing story of His redemption!