In 1953, Pastor and Mrs. Ray Noland, being led of the Lord, by faith bought an old building on North Ninth Street. In September of that year, the Grace Baptist Church was organized with twenty-three charter members.
Under the direction of Pastor Noland and Brother Henry Brown, the church started Wilmington Christian Academy in 1969. This ministry has helped us reach and train many young people for Christ. The school now has over 1,000 students in preschool K2 through grade twelve.
Dr. J. D. Herchenhahn came to Grace in September 1970, when he answered the call to assist Dr. Noland, and served as its pastor from August 1971 after Dr. Noland went Home to be with the Lord, until his retirement at the end of 2006. On January 7, 2007, Alan Benson became the third Senior Pastor of Grace, after serving as the Associate Pastor for one year. Pastor Benson led our church until July 2013. In November 2013, Pastor Jay Knolls was called to be the Head Pastor at Grace after having been in the role of Discipleship Pastor since 2011. We are thankful for the leadership that the Lord has provided for our church in all four pastors over the past 65 years.
The church now supports 54 missionaries and mission organizations both in the states and in about 32 foreign countries. In addition to the Academy, local ministries include a special class for the mentally handicapped, active youth and college and career-age departments, and a good senior-citizen ministry. We encourage all of our members to be involved in the soul-winning outreach.
The church has grown consistently over the years, making building expansions and relocations necessary on several occasions. In 1959 the church moved from its original location to 608 South College Road. In 1961, a Sunday School complex was added. A new auditorium was built on to the church in 1964. School facilities were added in 1971. By 1973 it became apparent that larger facilities were needed for the church and school. Plans were made and a bond program undertaken for the million-dollar church building. In February of 1978 we moved into the present building at 1401 North College Road. The school moved in January of 1981. In 1982 a new gymnasium and classroom complex was completed. Four more rooms were added on to the elementary building in 1983. In 1998 a similar extension was annexed to the high school building, and the library was remodeled to almost triple its size. In March 2003, a much-needed spacious and beautiful Fellowship Hall was completed and ready for occupation. The Robertson Fine Arts Center, was built primarily by volunteer labor and was completed in 2005. Our newest complex, the Kids Campus, was opened for us in the fall of 2017. This houses 12 preschool classes, an indoor playground, a beautiful chapel, and our Crossroads Coffee Shop.
We thank the Lord for His blessings on Grace Baptist Church for all these years.