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Grace Memorial Church of Catoosa County
Twelve churches of the Catoosa Baptist Association initially sponsored the work in support of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Mission. These twelve Pastors, along with Dr. Steve Sullivan, Rev. Jimmy Hatcher, D.O.M. for Catoosa Baptists, and Mr. Marvin Cornelison of
The inaugural services for the mission were held at the Wallis-Stewart Funeral Home in Ringgold on the first Sunday in June 1988. One hundred and sixty-seven persons attended these first services under the leadership of Dr. Steve Sullivan, Rev. Monty Parks, Rev. Jeff McGuire, and Mr. Marvin Cornelison. The group experienced explosive growth in those first weeks and months to the point that funeral home could not accommodate the large services and we were afforded the opportunity for an immediate move to the former Wallis Funeral Home building in downtown Ringgold.
This building was not in use and in a state of disrepair. We had to remove a family of opossums and stray cats from the building in that first week. Because of its location in the downtown setting, we were in competition for parking with other churches and it was not looked upon as a favorable situation by some. It was during this period that the fellowship experienced a mass exit and came to the place that only 30 to 35 people remained. Dr. Steve Sullivan was forced to seek full time employment and Monty Parks left as the worship leader to join a church in
Several interim moves were experienced by the fellowship as it began a measure of stabilization and in the process came to learn a valuable lesson. When we were asked to move from a place for worship and ministry, we learned that the Lord had already provided another temporary opportunity for us. From these experiences came the strong conviction that the Church is not a place, an address, or a building. We came to know that we are the Church. We were allowed for differing periods to worship at the Ringgold Telephone Company, The Ringgold Elementary School, The Camp Scott Patterson kitchen, the Camp open-air Tabernacle, and finally we were provided with a portable worship center by the Atlanta Board of Education, and two donated mobile buildings by the
It was a difficult period time of testing for Pastor Steve and our leaders, but along with a core of dedicated and loving believers we survived this experience. Many of our children and youth from those days have gone on to become the key leaders of this body in Christ. Along with that core, the Lord has sent us marvelous families like Lonnie and Ashley Bone, whom the Lord called out of a vibrant ministry in
During the time of our testing, Grace Church functioned more as a fellowship of believers under the role of a mission and never officially chartered as a church. Our leaders were growing spiritually and learning valuable life lessons in the process. These lessons have become the foundational distinctive for the body in Christ that God has made us. We are convinced that buildings are to be for the function of the Church, but they are not the church. Church is who we are and not where we go. We are convinced that it is Jesus who "builds His church" and not us or man-made programs. We are convinced that ministry belongs to the body of believers and that every believer is a minister. Ministry does not belong to the "preachers." As pastors and leaders, we are called out of the body of ministering believers to be "equippers" for these believer/priests. We are distinctively doctrinally conservative, gospel-centered, and Baptist in our doctrine, but able to fellowship with redeemed believers from many backgrounds. We enjoy a vibrant worship experience and a firm commitment to hear God in His holy Word. We are mission-minded and evangelistic in our outreach.
What our Lord has taken us through has taught us that God is faithful, always and forever. His Word is true and strengthens and grows us spiritually. Per our Lord's example, the focus on developing leaders is a key commitment that we have made. We have been provided with abundant grace beyond measure and equipped with all things that pertain to life and godliness. As we cling to Jesus, the hope of all mankind, we truly believe that we are "over comers" in this life.
At Grace Church, it is our vision to "Be the Church" and not just to go to church meetings. Our mission is to "Love God, to Love Each Other, and to Love Our Community."
Grace Church of Catoosa County