pa6454_dkfgleHistory of Grace Presbyterian Church

 

The story of Grace Presbyterian Church in Starkville, Mississippi is much more than just a collection of cold facts and figures.  Rather it is thriving on the part of a group of believers to seek and carry out God’s will for establishing and maintaining a Biblical Presbyterian Church in the community.

In 1975, Ford Williams was sent to Mississippi State University to be a campus minister through Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), the college ministry arm of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The desire soon arose for these students to have a PCA Church to worship in on Sunday. God had been leading men and women to consider and then initiate planting a church in this community. On April 8, 1978, a few families and several college students met in the Bonanza Restaurant for the first worship service.

By April 1979, a faithful group received approval from Covenant Presbytery to formally be called Starkville PCA Chapel.  George Coxhead, Jr., a recent graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, was sent as the evangelist to the congregation.  George was a young, energetic, personable pastor with a vision for what God could do.  He began drawing a crowd of college students as well as several new families.  The unity and love for God and for each other continued to grow.

In October, 1980 the members petitioned the presbytery to become a church.  On November 16, 1980, Grace Presbyterian Church was formally organized with 26 members and two ruling elders with George Coxhead as pastor.

After several years of prayer and searching, hope and disappointments, the Lord provided in 1980 a beautiful piece of property for a future home.  A parcel of land of 7.1 acres was purchased for approximately $70,000.   Soon thereafter the city bought 2 acres from the church for $35,000 for the Fire Department.

No history can adequately describe the heart of the members as church activities were carried out.  By now the spirit of oneness was very strong as church members continued in Sunday School, prayer meetings, Bible studies (the women’s Bible study was already a vital outreach in the city) and other activities such as the Family Conference in April 1981, led by Gerald and Betty Morgan.  The church members were now indeed a family.

 

In 1983 twpa6454_ww1u2benty-two people became new church members and the congregation earnestly sought God’s will for a building program.  Then in 1984, George Coxhead left to follow God’s leading to go to Greenwood.  Shortly afterwards Ford Williams accepted a call from Grace Presbyterian Church to become its second pastor.  Under his watchful eye and with guidance from Architect Dan Evans of Houston, Texas, plans were drawn and the building begun.  All church members enthusiastically sacrificed and worked alongside the builders to help complete the buildings.  Celebration and thanks to God were great at the formal dedication as the congregation moved into a beautiful building to worship the living God in the spring of 1986.

 

In the late summer of 1988, our pastor wrote a letter to the congregation stating that he felt that God was leading him to another work.  His relationship as pastor was dissolved by a formal vote from the congregation in May 1988.

In March of 1991, God brought Bradford Stewart as our pastor. Brad served as pastor until December, 2005. During his tenure here, we were blessed to have Assistant Pastors like Charles Godwin and Jon Anderson.

In late 2006, Jason Edwards was called to be our fourth pastor.  He served from late 2006 to late 2011.

Our current pastor, Bill Heard, began serving November 2012.  Bill formerly served as an assistant pastor at First Presbyterian, Macon, GA (1991-1995), as church planter and pastor of Harbor Church, PCA in Mooresville, NC (1995-2009) and as pastor to English speaking people within the Amigos en Cristo Church in Cotacachi, Ecuador 2010-2012.  Bill and his wife Sydney have three daughters, Ann, Ceci and Sarah.

The heart for college students, which was seminal to the church, continues to date and is coupled with a love for our community overall.  Our desire is to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, to grow our church family in the knowledge of the Lord, to love one another as a family of God and to love our neighbors (in Starkville and worldwide) through the message of Christ’s love and through deeds of mercy.

If you have not yet visited Grace Presbyterian Church, we warmly invite you.