The purpose of Grace Church is to ignite a gospel centered movement by knowing it, living it and giving it away. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This purpose is what drives us individually and corporately. The 30 campuses in 30 years vision is accomplished only by God’s Holy Spirit doing immeasurably more than we ask or imagine and by resilient disciples who commit to make disciples who make disciples. Looking back on our past helps pave the path forward to our future!
BARBERTON BIBLE CHURCH (1944)
In 1944 a Pastor by the name of Richard Markel and a small band of people, decided it was time to make a move because the denomination they belonged to was not preaching the gospel. He resigned and a handful of people moved with him to Edgewood Park in Barberton where they formed the Barberton Bible Church. This handful of people became the seed out of which would eventually grow Grace Church.
1st BRETHREN CHURCH OF BARBERTON (1958)
As you can imagine this small group of people struggled to survive as a church but they never quit. In 1958 they became part of what is now known as the Charis Fellowship. On October 27, 1958 the 1st Brethren Church of Barberton was born with 11 charter members.
3970 CLEVELAND MASSILLON ROAD PROPERTY (NORTON, OH 1959)
With no permanent home, in 1959 they purchased land at 3970 Cleveland Mass Road in Norton for $15,000. This group of people met in a cheese factory in Norton while the ground was prepared and the building constructed.
CHURCH GOES SELF SUPPORTING (1971)
Up until this time they had been financially helped by other outside organizations until 1971 when they decided to go self-supporting as they grew and more people were introduced to this message of the gospel! This was a move that was marked by sacrifice and generosity to invest in something that would outlast them.
PASTOR BOB COMBS ARRIVES
In 1973 a short and good-looking pastor (Pastor Bob) became their pastor. He provided incredible leadership and vision and a determination to accept people where they are to take them where they needed to go. When he arrived the average attendance was 64 and by 1977 it had increased to 148.
EXPANSION PROJECTS (1973)
By 1981 our church family had outgrown their facility and needed to build a larger auditorium, restrooms, and a place for offices. Ground was broken on May 23, 1982. In 1988 as the church continued to experience growing pains the people decided to make another investment and add educational space, a gym and a kitchen. They broke ground in 1991.
BATH CAMPUS IS LAUNCHED (2000)
In the fall of 1999, Fairlawn Grace Brethren sought to partner with Grace Church after facing serious struggles and a lack of leadership. Pastor Jeff Bogue was called as the pastor along with a number of families from Norton in January 2000.
MEDINA EAST CAMPUS IS LAUNCHED
Similar to the origin of the Bath Campus, Shepherd’s Grace Brethren Church in Medina approached us about the possibility of becoming our third campus. In 2012, the Medina East Campus launched with Pastor Tony Livigni and hundreds of others from Grace Church begin a new work on the Eastside of Medina.
BARBERTON CAMPUS IS LAUNCHED
For years, Grace Church had recognized a void of evangelical presence in the area and sent people from both the Norton and Bath Campus’ to begin this new work. The Barberton Campus publicly launched on Easter of 2015. The Norton Campus continues to serve as the parent of the Barberton Campus.
THE MORTAGE HAS BEEN PAID! (2017)
SUNDAY EVENING SERVICE IS LAUNCHED (2017)
GYM AND LOBBY RENOVATION (2017)
Continued growth at the Norton Campus meant that some adjustments needed to be made to our building. One of our values is that we do the best with everything we have. Previously our lobby served as a pinch point on Sunday mornings creating an intimidating setting for guests. In the midst of the Big Picture Project, we choose to make the space accessible to our gym by creating openings into our gym wall thus creating our café experience.
AKRON EAST CAMPUS AND TOWN CENTER ARE LAUNCHED (2017)
2017 was a big year for Grace Church. One of our very own pastors, Jonathan Carey was leading a small church in Ellet when he and his elders courageously decided to become a campus of Grace Church in order to make Jesus make sense to more people.
COUNTY LINE CAMPUS IS LAUNCHED (2018)
About 17 miles to the west is the town of Sterling. This is the town where our very own Bob Combs was a pastor in his early 20’s. Through a series of events that we could have never orchestrated, this became the location of our County Line Campus. With 179 Grace Church households in the vicini-ty, knowledge of a younger demographic that exists near Sterling and an offer of a debt free church building we launch the County Line Campus with Christian McAllister as their campus pastor.
GATHERING POINT IN SOUTH CAROLINA IS LAUNCHED (2020)
THE HUB IS DEMOLISHED (2021)
OFFICE AND STUDENT SPACE RENOVATION (2022)