Grace Point Church History
Grace Point Church History is a Witness to the Lord
The history of Grace Point Church is long and rich with blessing from the Lord. From the time of nine people coming together and meeting in a storefront auditorium to building a major church in downtown Nappanee, to building a larger church on the north side of Nappanee, the Lord has had His hand on our congregations and on our church – because we know it is His church!
Christians know that Jesus Christ leads us – and those involved in the business of the church often get a close-up look at how all this works. Share the journey with us of Grace Point Church from 1899 to the present day. May you be blessed as you share our journey!
Grace Point Church is Founded
First Presbyterian Church was organized by permission of the Presbytery of the national Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. George Knox of Lafayette, Indiana was the Secretary of the Indiana Synod’s Home Missions Division. Knox was appointed to meet with nine people to form the new church. They met in Macabee Hall (later Ron’s Bakery) September 28. 1899 to form the new church – which met initially in the Theatorium in downtown Nappanee.
Rev. Frank W. Weatherwax
First Pastor Called to Grace Point Church
The first Session Meeting occurred September 28, 1899 to conduct the business of the church. The church officially called its first Pastor October 22, 1899. He was the Reverend Frank W. Weatherwax. The church received its first new member in January, 1900 and the first Sunday School was organized April 8, 1900. The first two baptisms occurred April 8, 1900.
First Grace Point Church Building
Property at Clarke and Market Streets purchased for new church building in 1904. New church building construction is carried out between 1905 and 1906. The church is dedicated and in full service 1906. First choir organized in 1910. Women’s Missionary Society created in 1913 and Christian Endeavor Youth Society created in 1917. 25th Anniversary Celebration in September 1924.
Sunday School Certificate 1926
Grace Point Church Members 1931
Grace Point Church Grows and Develops in 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s
In the 1940s a new Women’s Organization was formed called the Westminster Guild. At the same time, a chapter of Presbyterian Men was formed. Membership continued to grow through the years until the original church became too small to accommodate the members. The congregation had a vision for growth and development, purchasing 3.3 acres in the Northwood addition of Nappanee for a larger church building in 1961.
The Presbyterian Nursery School was founded in 1962, and has operated every school year to this day. It now operates as the Grace Point Preschool.
New Church Building Visioned
Groundbreaking for the new church building on North Main Street was carried out June 9, 1963. The new building was a modern design featuring multicolored popcorn brick exterior. Construction of the building was carried out from 1963 to 1964 with the first service in the new building June 7, 1964.
Groundbreaking for New Church Building June 9, 1963
Construction Proceeded Thereafter . . .
. . . and the vision became reality.
Grace Point Church Becomes Active in the Community
- The church library was established in 1973.
- The Session voted in 1979 to sponsor the first of two Vietnamese families coming to the United States following the Vietnam War.
- The Deacons begin an ongoing fund in 1982 to receive donations of food for the new community ministry Open Door.
- A grocery cart is placed in the narthex for food donations ongoing from that time to present.
- The Deacons sponsor in 1982 the first Christmas Jubilee for the Nappanee area that provided gifts for children in need.
- The Christmas Jubilee has been an annual event from then and continues today.
Pastor Terry Tyler
Pastor Terry Tyler led the church from 1979 to 1985 when he left Grace Point Church to serve in the Mission Field. Pastor Bruce Wells led the church from 1986 to 1993. Pastor Terry Tyler returned to lead the church from 1994 to 2020.
Pastor Bruce Wells
Grace Point Church Becomes More Active in the Community and World
- In 1994 the Session signs the Witness for Biblical Morality Solution that takes a stand against anti-Biblical teachings, putting Grace Point Church in conflict with its denomination Presbyterian Church USA. This resulted in Grace Point Church eventually withdrawing from Presbyterian Church USA and joining the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination. The EPC denomination’s adherence to Biblical principles were in agreement with the beliefs of Grace Point Church in Nappanee and working with them since has been extremely fruitful.
- The church in 1995 hosted Eugen Groza, President of the group “Jesus, the Hope of Romania” and Grace Point Church starts ongoing support of that organization. Pastor Tyler and a group of Missionaries from Grace Point Church travelled to Rumania to assist Eugen Groza’s group.
- In 1996 Grace Point sent money to help rebuild church buildings burned by white racists.
- The Deacons sponsor the last Christmas Jubilee and provide Christmas gifts for many children in need.
- Pastor Terry Tyler was instrumental in founding the Family Christian Development Center that assumed the Christmas Jubilee event from that time forward. FCDC is a comprehensive community organization that provides help for those in need including food, clothing, job training and many other helps for those in need.
- After two years of praying, in 1998 the Lord provided Grace Point Church with a grand piano that is still in service today.
- In 1998 Grace Point congregation participated in the Habitat for Humanity house building blitz in Elkhart.
- In 1998 Grace Point Church purchased 2 acres of property adjoining the church land to the south for future construction to expand the church.
Grace Point Church Mission Group in Romania 1998
During the 1990s Grace Point Church Vision defined the church as:
- A Lighthouse providing God’s light to illuminate darkness and a guide through difficult times;
- A Safehouse providing a place for people to heal and mend their ways for the better;
- A Greenhouse providing a place for people to grow in the Christian faith.
Grace Point Church Continues Action in the Community and World
- In 2005 Grace Point Church organizes a Walk for Mission event that raised money for multiple Mission activities.
- Grace Point Church organizes a Family Fun Day including horseback rides and a bounce house 2006 to cultivate good quality family life.
- Grace Point Church hosts an outdoor Mission Fest Contemporary Christian Music event in 2007 to build inter-church fellowship and make a joyful noise for the Lord. Grace Point Band was featured at this event. Many area churches sent their Worship Bands to participate.
Walk for Mission 2005
The Walk for Mission event was carried out to raise money for a cluster of planned Mission activities. The event raised a substantial amount of money for Mission purposes and created a lot of positive Christian fellowship nd congregation relationship building. Each participant obtained sponsors who agreed to pay so much per mile walked.
Family Fun Day 2006
The Family Fun Day was created to promote an opportunity for families to gather for a positive Christian family experience. It was well attended by both Grace Point Church members and area families who enjoyed the fun and fellowship. The event was a milestone in acknowledging the importance of Christian Family Life.
Mission Fest Contemporary Christian Event 2007
Grace Point Church at that time had a Contemporary Christian Music band and featured a Contemporary Service an hour before the Traditional Service. There was a lot of area interest in such Worship Bands at that time, and Grace Point Church networked with other area churches to have the Mission Fest Contemporary Christian Event in the open field south of the church.
Pastor Tom Nelson is Called to Grace Point Church
Pastor Tom Nelson is Ordained
as Grace Point Church Pastor
Pastor Nelson and Previous Pastors
Bruce Wells and Terry Tyler
Pastor Tom Nelson Ordained in Formal Style
Pastor Tom Nelson was ordained as a Pastor at Grace Point Church in formal Evangelical Presbyterian Church garb and ceremony. In addition to national leadership participating in the event, area Pastors who served as Interim Pastors were present. Pastor Tom Nelson was honored to have the last two Pastors of Grace Point Church – Pastors Bruce Wells and Terry Tyler – add to the significance of the transition.
Each stole worn by the Pastors relates to their background. That is why each Pastor in these pictures has a different stole.
Baby Station Services Initiated
The Grace Point Church Baby Station was establihed in 2017 to create a place where families on the move can stop and change the baby’s diapers, mothers can stop and nurse threir babies, and young children can have some play time. Initially offered at the Nappanee Apple Festival, the Baby Station branched out to other area events as well.
Pastor Nelson Gives Pro-Life Speech at Area Rally
Pastor Tom Nelson gave effective Pro-Life speeches in 2018 and 2019 advocating protection for the unborn. The presentation was well-received among the many participants and an inspiration to everyone concerned about this Biblical issue.
Operation Christmas Child Initiated for Grace Point Church in 2017
Grace Point Church, under the leadership of Angie Cleveland, began working with the Operation Christmas Child arm of Samaritan’s Purse Ministries of Reverend Franklin Graham. The program took off and was so successful that Grace Point Church assumed the duties of a Regional Hub for Operation Christmas Child so that many churches of Northern Indiana could bring their finished gift shoeboxes to Nappanee for shipping services. Grace Point Church remain committed to this important program.
Grace Point Church Celebrates Over 100 Years of Service
Grace Point Church Recognized
Grace Point Church received a carved wooden plaque celebrating over one hundred years of service to the Greater Nappanee community in 2018. Elkhart County Agricultural Society was recognizing churches who have had a long run of Christian presence and service to their communities and appreciates the Grace Point contribution to area culture.
Grace Point Church Passes the 120 Year Mark
Grace Point Church celebrated its 120th Anniversary in 2019. The congregation combined current members with many members from previous years who had moved away years ago. It was wonderful to bring all these Grace Point members together to celebrate the church’s longevity and share plans for the future. Former Pastors Bruce Wells and Terry Tyler joined current Pastor Tom Nelson for the event.
Grace Point Church Remembers
Grace Point Church still has the original pump organ from the first church building at Clarke and Market Streets in downtown Nappanee. The organ was restored to its original working condition by Dale and Katie Christner. The organ still works and sounds quite good.