Grace Presbyterian Church held our first worship celebration Sunday, April 30, 1995 in the Fort Mill National Guard Armory. That October, a petition was presented to Providence Presbytery to organize as a congregation, and Sunday, November 12, saw the Service of Organization and Installation of the Pastor under a huge tent on the crest of the church property. A commission of Providence Presbytery enrolled an initial membership of 82 adults (and youth); 16 children, 14 of whom are baptized; from 41 households. The enrollment consisted of a majority of professions of faith and reaffirmations of faith; and the Sacrament of Baptism for seven adults and four children.
From before that day through April of 2008, the congregation was led by the Rev. Art Gatewood. Under his visionary leadership, the congregation grew from just an idea to a community of over 400 members, and built a gathering space with offices and classrooms, and later, an addition of more classrooms.
Upon Art’s retirement, the difficult process of transition from a “new church with the founding pastor” to a “growing, established congregation” commenced. That transition can create an identity crisis for a congregation, and for the individual members. The Rev. Dr. Joanne Sizoo came to serve as Temporary Supply Pastor, and after a lengthy search process, was elected Pastor of Grace in the Fall of 2010. Grace continues to change and thrive as the congregation seeks to meet the needs of an ever tumultuous and challenging local and international environment.
The congregation’s mission outreach includes annual home building trips in Honduras, a Scouting program with more than 200 participants, a pre-school of 75 students, active (both financial and volunteer) involvement in Fort Mill Care Center, Catawba Care Center, York County Habitat for Humanity, Community Café, Presbyterian Homes of South Carolina, and Thornwell Home for children. Grace Presbyterian is gladly contributing over $ 41,600 to the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly this year as our commitment to our connectional partners in the PCUSA.
We just had our first congregational camping trip, which is sure to become an annual event. Our fellowship and children and adult education programs are staffed by Virginia McLean. In December 2014, Rhett Eckhardt came to work with our youth, and the group is enjoying learning, growing and serving together. Both program staff are parents of young children who work mostly from their homes. We believe it is a progressive staffing model that serves well both the congregation and the staff members.
Our terrific music program is staffed by Ken Lake and Ginger Deaton. With an adult choir (Grace Notes), children’s choir (Half-Notes), handbell choir (Grace Ringers), praise band (Joyful Noise) and men’s quartet, there is something for everyone involving more than 50 people.