Grace Church History

By: John C. Kee

Early in 1979 a group of people consisting of 10-12 families decided to leave Rocky River Presbyterian Church and seek or start a more conservative Bible teaching church where Jesus Christ would be exalted and proclaimed our Savior and Lord.

Our first meeting on March 25th 1979 to get organized and have Bible study was at the home of Wayne and Georgia Allen. We formed an Independent Church using the Presbyterian form of government and named it, “The Church of the Cross”. Meetings were held in various homes for a few weeks until we were able to use the Harrisburg Lions club building. Some Sunday school classes were held in cars and station wagons (vans).

Elders elected were Coy Phillips, Burt Turbyfill, John Kee, Samuel Alexander, Wayne Allen, and Thomas Huntley. Rev Eugene Bolte was called as our founding Pastor.

God blessed beyond expectations. We elected trustees Ray Flowers, Mark Harris and John Caskey and they were authorized to purchase this property consisting of 3.96 acres and the deed was signed on September 5, 1979. Soon after we appointed a building committee – Wayne Allen, chairman, Jim Hinson and Wayne Metcalf . We broke ground, a contract was signed with Smith Construction and construction began on our first multi-purpose building that was used as the Worship center, for fellowship meals, Sunday School classes etc.

The building was dedicated at 4 pm on Oct 12 1980, dedication speaker was Dr. Ross Rhoads, Senior pastor of Calvary Church, Charlotte N.C. Rev Charles Efird, pastor in Harrisburg gave special greetings.

The first building was financed at the bank for a period of 30 years but again God blessed more than we deserved and the loan was paid in full in a little less than 6 years. There has not been any borrowing since that time. Everything on this property was paid for when it was built

On August 19, 1980 we applied for a charter as (Presbyterian Church of the Cross, Inc.), October 1980 Bylaws were written and approved by the Session, January 1981 charter was approved by the state of North Carolina.

Pastor Bolte is a man of God and did an excellent job under the leadership of The Holy Spirit; however, during the year 1982, Pastor Bolte decided to leave for other opportunities. For the remainder of 1982 and 1983 our pulpit was supplied by Calvary Church Associate pastors, John Balmer and George Teshear. During this time, the Session considered becoming a satellite of Calvary Church in Charlotte. It was decided to remain independent and we called Pastor Charles Taylor to preach and teach.

Session began discussions in 1985 feeling we needed to be a connectional Church and fellowship with like mined believers in other Churches. After much prayer and discussion it was decided that the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) was where God was leading us and was the best fit with our beliefs. Contact was made and we received assistance from PCA Church’s, Pastor Harry Reeder and elders from Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte and Pastor Steve Stout and elders from Prosperity Church in Charlotte.

Pastor Charles Taylor decided to leave as he wanted to only pastor an independent Church, he was a man of God and we were indeed blessed to have him as Pastor of The Church of the Cross.

In 1986, we became a mission Church of the PCA pending election of officers and the calling of a Pastor. All officers of The Church of the Cross had to resign and be on an advisory committee pending nomination, training, and election in a PCA Church. Elders and Deacons were nominated, went through training class, examined for qualification and stood for election.

Elders and Deacons having been duly elected and installed, Pastor Gary Cox was called to be Pastor. During the first session meeting as a PCA Church it was felt we needed to change the name of the Church. The new name selected was Grace Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg.

In 1988 Rev Gary Cox was called to another work. Gary is a man of God and we were blessed by his ministry here at Grace.

During the year 1988 we were informed of a young Pastor in Charlotte by the name of Doug Agnew, then Pastoring at Southside Baptist Church in Charlotte. It was said that God had been working in his life and he was a reformed Pastor and he was ready to move to the PCA. Rev. Doug Agnew was called to be Pastor of Grace Church; he began his ministry on the last Sunday in Oct 1988. He left Grace Church at the end of January 2024, after 35 years of service.

Eugene Oldham began his ministry at Grace in August of 2005. He served as minister of Music and Education until 2014. He then finished his seminary education and was ordained in June of 2014. He is now the Associate Pastor at Grace and continues his work with music and education.

The house adjoining Church property was purchased and the deed was signed on April 29, 1997. The house was used as church offices and youth activities. In 2017, the house was torn down and a new office building was constructed with offices for each of our pastors and a conference room for meetings.

Due to the Grace of God, we continued to grow, and in the year 2000, a new education building was approved and construction began. Ribbon cutting was in the spring of 2001. God continues to bless and Grace Church continues to grow.

A new Sanctuary was approved and construction began. The Sanctuary was dedicated March 2011. Praise God from whom all blessings flow