History

Grace Fellowship Church has been anchored and continues to be anchored in the promise that Jesus made that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It’s history goes back to the late 1800’s when Civil War veteran Isaac Smallwood came to Skeels village and organized a Baptist Sunday School in a log house located one-half mile east of Skeels. At that time there were several logging camps in the thriving Merideth-Skeels area. Simon Skeels deeded part of his farm for the church to build it’s first building. Mr. Skeels charged the church $1.00, and it’s first building was erected in 1895; and the original name was First Freewill Baptist Church of Sherman Township.

 

The name was soon shortened to Sherman Baptist Church. Then, at an April 25th business meeting in 1925, the church   (because of it’s location) started to be referred to as Skeels Baptist Church. Over the next few decades, Skeels began to experience slow but steady growth. The current parsonage was dedicated on May 30, 1927 with an initial cost of $1,474.91. And, in the 1940’s and 1950’s additions were added to the original building, so the church could accommodate 250 people.

      

By the late 1960’s under the direction of Pastor Briggs (who has the longest tenure of any pastor at Skeels – 33 years), the church outgrew it’s building and additions. They tore down the old structure, and in 1969 dedicated the present building that continues to this day. The Old timers tell us that under the parking lot there is an old piano, and many items from the old church they did not know what to do with, so they buried them!

During Pastor Briggs ministry, the church felt a need to begin a Christian School in order to educate young people to have a Biblical, Christ-centered world view; and in 1975, Skeels Northern Christian School had it’s first classes in the basement of the church. Using property across the street from the church, in 1978, the current elementary wing of the school was completed. A decade later, under the direction of Pastor George Coon, the high school wing was begun, and all phases, including the gym were completed in 2000 when Pastor Bryan Johnson was the pastor. The church changed it’s name to Grace Fellowship Church in 2003.

Grace Fellowship is one of very few churches that has actually existed in 3 different centuries. Beginning with a civil war veteran desiring to teach the Bible to those who would listen, God has preserved and protected his church for all of these years.

In the last 125 years, there has been 15 different pastors (Pastor Rick Tarter is the 16th), many interim pastors, Biblical teaching and preaching, dozens of missionaries, hundreds of volunteers, Sunday School, building demolitions, building programs, adding a school, AWANA programs, VBS, Youth groups, picnics, outings, evangelism, and bus ministry; and the one constant is that the good news of Jesus Christ coming, dying, and rising again for sinners continues to be proclaimed from the pulpit.

On August 5th, 1895, the charter members stated that the church was founded for members “taking the Bible as their faith, rule and practice.” May it be so for another 125 years and may Jesus Christ be glorified as He continues to build His church through sinners who are saved by grace through faith.