In May 1992, a group of families met to worship together and prayerfully consider which Lima church they should join. Within a year, they merged with a Grace Brethren Church that had a building on University Blvd in Lima. This new church family chose to affiliate with the Evangelical Free Church of America, an association of autonomous churches united around a set of theological convictions. Through an EFCA conference, they were introduced to John Heyward, who became Grace’s pastor in June 1994. He served as senior pastor until 2021 and has served as associate pastor since.
As our church family outgrew our building, we learned that expanding the building was not financially feasible, so we searched for a new facility. After exploring multiple options, God moved us to build a new building and graciously gave us nine acres of land on Allentown Road for half the market value. We formed a building committee, and after many drafts and much input from the congregation, we created a building plan. In October 2003, we kicked off a successful capital campaign. Our building on University Blvd was sold around this time as well, and we met at Elida Middle School for the next twenty months. We enjoyed unity and growth during the building process, and in August 2005, we settled into our current 20,000-square-foot building. Our first three years in our new building saw steady growth as we continued our mission to teach God’s word, care for one another, and serve in our community.
Growth blossomed into church planting. The congregation approved the decision to pursue church planting in early 2009, and we formed a committee to find the man who would lead the church plant. We waited eighteen months for the right man before calling Rick Schwartz to the position in July 2010. He joined Grace’s pastoral staff and, with the aid of two elders, Tim Mosher and Brett Anderson, led over fifty people from Grace to form CrossPoint Community Church. They held their first service in February 2012 and moved into their own building five years later. Around the same time, we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary.
Grace has seen many changes since the formation of our church body. We called our first youth ministry director in August 2002; he served for almost twenty years. We called our first associate pastor in August 2006; he served for almost fifteen years. In October 2021, we called our second senior pastor, Gordon MacPhail, and John Heyward stepped into the role of associate pastor. We have seen two women’s ministry directors since 2013 and are now exploring new ways of ministering to families as a whole. We have participated in a variety of ministries and supported missionaries worldwide. We are grateful and humbled by God’s blessing upon us and we look forward to how He will use us to advance His kingdom in Lima and throughout the world.