Grace Baptist Church early became a full fledged Southern Baptist Church with all of the usual program organizations, manned by dedicated, talented, personnel. Visiting speakers supplied the pulpit until April 20 when Dr. Roy Henchey, a retired minister of Atlanta, was installed as interim pastor. The initial budget adopted was $79,934.00. A “Preamble to the Constitution” which was yet to be formed was adopted identifying the future church as a mission-oriented, Southern Baptist Church.
In rapid order , Grace was incorporated as a full fledged church of 120 members with traditional programs and conduct led by dedicated, talented, members. By the end of the year, Grace was accepted as a member of Tugalo Baptist Association. Nine previously ordained deacons were elected to serve on a rotation basis. The church voted to give 10% of undesignated moneys to SBC Cooperative Program causes.
Rev. John Bledsoe, pastor of Toccoa First Baptist Church, was called as pastor of Grace Baptist Church and began serving on June 14, 1984. Mr. Robert “Bob” Snead, retired church musician, and college music teacher, was called as minister of music. Mrs. Flora Crump was pianist and Carla Lewis was organist.
On Wednesday evening, September 5, 1984, the first baptismal service was held at Lake Louise owned by Georgia Baptist Assembly because there was no baptistery in the borrowed church. Pastor John Bledsoe baptized six candidates before a hundred Grace Members, thus marking the mile stone in the history of the new church.
September 16, “Constitution Day” was observed by 208 members who were henceforth regarded as “Charter Members.” At this service, the Constitution was read by Brother Maurice Thomas and formally adopted by the church. The By-laws were proposed by chairman, Thomas, in the regular October Conference and adopted by unanimous vote.
On October 23, 1984, at the annual meeting of the Tugalo Baptist Association, the Grace Baptist Church, with 220 members, was admitted as a member of the Association. An annual budget of $ 136,000.00 was adopted on November 18, 1984. By January, 1985, the membership had reached 230 and Sunday school average attendance was 159. It was decided that more classroom space was needed and to solve the problem, a four room mobile unit was bought to meet the need.
Bryan Hume, a Toccoa Falls College graduate, was employed as minister of youth and Education. He served for one year before leaving to enroll in a Baptist Seminary. Unrest and dissatisfaction with the rented facility led to consideration of buying and remodeling the then available Rothel Road building or obtaining another site and erecting a new building there. On October 13, 1986, a gift of a 10 acre site on Moore’s Circle by Brother Hubert Moore and son James, was gratefully accepted.
Groundbreaking day was observed in September 1986.
In many conferences and committee meetings, an excited congregation assigned tasks, made commitments, and began to erect a new church plant on Moore’s Circle four miles from Toccoa on highway 17 south.
Volunteer builders from Grace and from Carpenters for Christ and other Baptist Churches were enlisted and employed and funds were pledged and loans secured from the Bank of Toccoa.
On September 21, 1986, the congregation met on the new church site for its “Ground breaking “service. By this time, the 260 members had raised over $100,000.00 toward the building fund. Construction was begun October first the some 50 volunteers, workmen and women from Grace and from other churches.
On October 29, 1986, Wednesday prayer meeting was held with 85 members and volunteer workers in the roughed-in education area. During the ensuing year, the sanctuary and education areas were completed. Many members and friends had given memorial gifts of windows, furnishings, and special items which were installed appropriately.
The New Steeple is being lifted into place by this crane.
On August 23, 1987, Pastor John Bledsoe, resigned to accept the pastorate of Morningside Baptist Church in Atlanta. The Grace Church called Rev. Jack Tatum of Clarkesville, GA. out of retirement, as interim pastor.