On Easter Sunday 2004 we merged two Bible churches together. Faith Bible had a building, people, and no pastor. Community Bible had no building, had people, and a pastor. Together we became Grace Bible Church, a marriage made in heaven and orchestrated on earth by God.
The merger was seamless and so smooth it was obvious that God’s hand was in it all the way. The years have given us trials and blessings all with His stamp of approval on each.
The following story tells how our awesome God has taken these two churches from a common source, to different directions, and then back to a common place.
Once upon a time…I could start our history off with these words because the story is like a fairy tale, but our story is true and to the glory of God. I even preached a sermon on it. It was called “Look What God Has Done.”
To become Grace Bible Church we merged two Bible churches into one on Easter Day, 2004. To get to that point is a story only God could orchestrate.
This is actually the story of two churches with common beginnings, and a common ending. Faith Baptist Temple began many years ago in a YMCA under the leadership of Pastor Dial. Eventually he was replaced by Billy Griffin and the church was incorporated in 1974.
Also in 1974, Bill and Joan Fallon incorporated Lake Worth Bible Church in their home on Selberg Lane in Lake Worth. Bill was a fireman and worked every third Sunday so he asked Norm Speier to speak those Sundays. Later he asked Norm to become the pastor. Norm accepted and supported himself and his family as a plumber. Lake Worth Bible began to out grow the Fallon’s home and moved to a club house at a trailer park in the Lake Worth area. The Fallons then sold their home to the Griffins and they brought Faith Baptist Temple to Selberg Lane! This is the common beginning I mentioned.
Lake Worth Bible then purchased a building on the Northeast corner of Lake Worth Road and Kirk Road. When Norm retired, Ray Dukes (this writer) became the senior pastor. I supported my family as a carpenter. Knowing that the building was small and antiquated I said that we needed to sell and move as God would lead us. The fire marshal overlooked a few things because we were “grand-fathered in,” but told me if we grew we would need to make some changes. Knowing that changes meant spending money on an old inadequate building, the need to move became even more important to us. We changed our name to Community Bible Church because we were not sure that God would give us a place in Lake Worth. This turned out to be God’s plan.
Then one day, “out of the blue,” the company that owned the gas station next door asked if we would be interested in selling our building. They wanted to tear down their building and ours and make a new and larger store and station. The church agreed to sell and the process took about 2 years and 2 lawyers. In the mean time I was looking everywhere for a building that a small group, who were operating in the red, could afford. There was nothing. We couldn’t build, we didn’t have enough money. We couldn’t rent, everything was too expensive or the renter didn’t want a church in their building. I did a funeral at Dorsey Funeral Home on Kirk Road and engaged the director in conversation. She asked where our church was, and I said, “Just down the street, but we won’t be there much longer.” She inquired why and I explained our situation. At this point, though we didn’t know when the closing would take place, we knew it would be soon. She laughed and said, “Well, if you find yourselves homeless, let me know.” I said I would. Then about a month later I attended a funeral in the same place and met her again. I reminded her of her offer and told her we still didn’t have a place to go. She said to call the office and set up an appointment and we would talk. I did.
About a week later, my son and I were in our building when the mail came. In the mail was the final closing documents. We no longer owned the building and had 120 days to find another place. This “just happened” to be the same day that I had made the appointment to meet with the directors at Dorsey.