Grace Presbyterian held its first services in September of 1991, but our history has roots in two other local congregations. Here’s our story of what God has done.
In the early 1970’s First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville and Rosedale Presbyterian Church of rural Cambria held a “Lay-Witness Missions Weekend” together which resulted in a number of people committing their lives to Jesus Christ, and many others recommitting to serve him more wholeheartedly. As the Spirit of God led us through the faithful preaching of God’s Word, more people experienced new life in Christ and our two churches grew spiritually. It was an exciting time. People became involved in church life, outreaches, ministry to youth expanded, and over time those two churches became active within the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) at various denominational levels.
As time went on, during the 1980’s we began to realize that our churches were headed in one direction and the mainline Presbyterian denomination of which we were a part, was going in an opposite direction. We did the best we could to work for change and to speak out as the denomination took ever stronger stands against the clear teaching of God’s word.
But by the early 1990’s it had become clear that all our efforts to call the denomination back to its biblical roots were going nowhere. Deeply grieved over our denomination’s disregard for God’s Word, the elders met many times – often late into the night – to pray and consider what God would have us do. Finally, in July of 1991 it seemed that God had given us this verse to guide us: Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” At last, with a sense of God-given clarity, the elders at both churches voted overwhelmingly in favor of leaving the PCUSA denomination, and in turn the vote was put to the congregations. so after much soul searching those who felt called to stay at First Presbyterian and Rosedale stayed; those who felt God calling them to begin a fresh work left. Through birth pains of heartfelt tears, prayers, and painful goodbyes – but with an overwhelming sense of God’s hand in it all – Grace Church was born.
In those early days of church life at Grace, our identity as a congregation was being formed. Decisions about our future were bathed in prayer. During the first months, when the elders were meeting their wives gathered in a nearby room to pray. There was a strong sense of needing God to guide us at every turn. From the outset it was decided that at least 15% of the annual budget would go to missionary support. The preaching of God’s Word would be central in our worship services. Ministry to the youth of our community would continue to be a high priority. Not desiring to remain an independent congregation, we affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) on the grounds of its strong stands on Biblical inerrancy, sound doctrine, and missions.
Up to that time God had instrumentally used Pastor Timothy Bayly to lead us through the tough times. But early in 1992 he was called to a church in Indiana and Nathan Kline (who was already servings us as a pastoral assistant) was called to be our new pastor.
Worship services were held at Marcellon Elementary School that first year, then property was purchased and it was decided that under the direction of founding member Maurice Breneman, and using labor from the congregation we would build the new church building. The Lord used that monumental project not only to produce a very nice worship facility, but also to unite those who came from two congregations (First Presbyterian & Rosedale) into one new church body. We held our first worship service inside the new building on Christmas Eve 1992. The warm memories of that night together worshiping the Lord under a bare strand of Christmas lights were to be followed a few days later with the shocking news that Maurice Breneman had been called home to glory while working here on the new building. Through joys and tears God was surely making us one.
We are not called to be a “looking back” church. God has called us to live with our eyes on him and our hopes set on Tomorrow. But as we glance back briefly, we are so very thankful to see how God has guided, provided, sustained and empowered this little tiny branch of his great eternal church. To God be the glory, great things he has done!