The story of a local church, like an individual, unfolds in a unique way. An appreciation of the beginning and past provides perspective for understanding its present manifestation. Grace Evangelical Free Church (GEFC) began through some group Bible studies in the 1980’s. The desire was to establish a Bible-preaching church in Jefferson City that was open to people from a variety of Christian backgrounds. We encourage all to develop a personal relationship with Christ and welcome into membership all who show evidence of such a relationship.
The first public worship service occurred on Easter in 1986. Bart Larson, a current attender, preached those first sermons. The congregation was characterized by systematic teaching of the Scriptures, a family atmosphere, a concern to reach the lost, and support for missions. Many church plants do not survive more than a few years, and Grace endured challenges in the late 1980’s. Rev. Jim Cain, the father of an early member, Beth Meyer, shepherded the group through a restart around 1989. A young pastor, Rev. Gary Blevins, was called in 1990 having just graduated from the EFCA’s seminary (Trinity in Deerfield, IL). Gary and his wife Rene brought solid leadership, consistent teaching, and a relational network that attracted new people – especially young families.
During the early 1990’s GEFC purchased its current facility at 3011 S. Ten Mile Drive. Gary resigned in 1996, and the church entered a different season of development. Two retired pastors, Rev. Carlson and Rev. Langmade, served in the interim. Both were older, seasoned Christians who through their lives and teaching moved people toward maturity. It was a time when the church learned to mobilize more members to fulfill its ministries of education and outreach.
In 1998, I was called to become the pastor. I had served as an associate pastor in Madison, after graduating from Trinity Seminary. The importance of expository Bible preaching has continued during my tenure. Small group fellowships, which meet in homes, have developed to encourage more intimate relationships. A congregation is more than its pastor or even the members. There is a dynamic of the Spirit at work in the group life of the people. As of this writing, I have served the congregation for almost 19 years. Many people have come and gone; each one was significant. In 2013 GEFC adopted the following vision, “We will glorify God by vibrantly serving our community and world as a diverse, Biblically-based, and Christ-centered family.” We seek to fulfill that vision through meaningful worship, intentional Bible teaching, active discipleship and selfless service. It has been my aim to keep Christ central holding fast to this principle: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone complete in Christ (Col. 1:28).” We long to see people transformed by God’s word to transform the world. It can happen, but one person at a time.
Come join in our story.