Grace Baptist Church’s first office secretary, Tina Simon, was employed in September 1990 when Rev. Paul Moore was pastor. She served during the tenures of Paul Moore, Greg Smith, Butch Franklin, and Joel Bradberry; also during the services of interim pastors: Odiam, Piper, and Patterson.
Rick Simon, Tina’s husband, was the first church custodian. Then he became a faithful and effective deacon, adept at a multiplicity of church tasks. The following is a comment from Tina: “I am certain it was by God’s grace that I was led to Grace Baptist Church. By grace and through Grace, I have never been so incredibly blessed! The people who are Grace have loved, taught, befriended, and nurtured me as only true Christians can. My walk with our Savior has grown ever stronger in my work and service with Grace and for that I will be forever grateful! All my praise goes to God and His Marvelous Grace!”
In May, 1990, the Constitution and By-laws Committee, having occasionally received requests for guidance in regard to church polity and practices, constructed some “Policies”. They were fashioned after traditional Southern Baptist methods of conducting “Church”. The policies individually and collectively were adopted in conference by the church as its plan and method of conduct.
In the “Policies” section of the 1990 Constitution and By-laws booklet, the introductory policy states, “According to accepted church polity, church documents are to be held inviolate, not negotiable, are explicit, and are recognized authority on matters of faith and practice as treated.” Subjects treated are: policy on policy file, church documents, security, liability, watch care, member status, church council, flower committee, pastor search committee, office of Pastor, staff, employees, maintenance, ordinance and weddings.
The Church has been served by three lady clerks: Ethlene Tatham, the first clerk who set the pattern for succeeding clerks. She maintained membership records and accounts of conferences. Mary Chambers followed her example, and for security purposes, entered the records into her home computer. Beth Busha began her services as clerk in November 1998 and the present clerk is Laurie Barnes.
During each summer through the life of Grace Church, week long vacation Bible Schools for children have been conducted by volunteer members.
Musical and dramatic productions on special occasions, directed by ministers of music and other volunteers have been effective in attracting attendance and spiritual responses by members and the community.
Regarding the outreach of Grace: Groups of members went on mission trips from time to time to church destinations in the United States and around the world. They built church buildings and structures and engaged in Bible study and witnessing. Included in these mission trips were locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Macon, Georgia, Jamaica, South America, Utah, Alaska and Belarus, Russia. The Nenana Community Church in Alaska was begun by former members of Grace, Russ Sharrok and his wife, some five years ago. Grace has provided much financial support for Nenana Baptist Church during the establishment years of the church.
Wednesday evening programs have consisted of a meal and fellowship followed by “discipleship group study, prayer service, and choir practice with age groups and the sanctuary choir. Suppers usually have been prepared, by elected volunteers for food preparation, in the kitchen and fellowship hall for cost.
Benevolent Ministries have included visits to nursing homes, jail, hospital, etc. Volunteers carried on these ministries and the delivery of meals to shut-ins, elderly, ill members and to families of bereaved members.
Maintenance has typically been the responsibility of the Building and Grounds Committee elected by the church annually. Addition of the Van Ministry called for maintenance by a transportation committee, and a shelter for the vans and for lawn care equipment. Shrubbery and grounds care have been the task of volunteers notable among these have been Harold Burns, Marion and Mina Sisk, Tom Dooley, Gene Crawford, Lloyd York , R.L. Smith, and others.
Early in 2004, E.M.C. Power Corporation bought from Grace ¼ acre of land near a high voltage line. In an effort to maintain buffer space between the church and industrial developments, the church purchased additional land and now owns some 15 acres tilted toward Georgia Highway 17.
Grace enjoys a strategic location on a slight ridge intersected by Moore Circle facing Highway 17 overlooking several industrial enterprises. Recent arrivals in the vicinity are two other churches, several retail outlets including a Super Wal-Mart Outlet, a branch of North Georgia Technical Institute, and residential developments.
To facilitate communication and to take the church into the homes of members, a regular mail-out called “Grace Notes” is provided by the Pastor. An order of service folder given to worship attendees by the ushers carries news and views. Individual auditory devices are available for use during meetings in the church sanctuary. The Grace Baptist Church Website is another method of keeping members and prospects updated on the activities of the church. Schedules, special events, Pastor’s comments, etc. are updated regularly as well as weekly sermons available for listening on the website (www.gbctoccoa.org).
From the beginning, the sanctuary was equipped with an auditory system with microphones at strategic locations and a sound booth in the balcony. In April 2004, the sanctuary was equipped with a video projecting system. A VHS /DVD player and electric screen for raising and lowering above the stage was wired to the sound booth.
Early in the life of Grace, senior members began to meet monthly in a group fellowship called “Saints Alive.” Patsy Scott, Marion and Mina Sisk were for several years the main facilitators of this organization. In recent years other participants have assumed leadership. Meetings have been held on third Thursdays monthly with an inspirational program and potluck lunch in the church fellowship hall.
Financially this church currently owns a million dollar plant, contributes over a quarter million dollar budget annually and ranks fifth in the Tugalo Baptist Association. It contributes some 10% to 12% of undesignated gifts to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention and its mission causes.