SIDNEY — On Sunday, May 22, Grace Baptist Church will celebrate 70 years of ministry. In November 1950, Joseph Wenner, of Sidney, and David Puckett, of Troy, contacted William Hovestreydt in Detroit, Michigan, to discuss the possibility of a new church in Sidney. They wanted a church based solely on the teaching of the Word of God.
Hovestreydt wrote, “We wanted an independent church free from the suggestions of liberal hierarchies; believing the local church should be an autonomous body. We wanted to stand for the Deity of Jesus Christ, His blood atonement at Calvary, the need for man’s repentance in view of his innate condition of sin, and his necessity of accepting the Saviour as his own by faith for his salvation. We sought to exalt the doctrines of eternal security, a literal Hell for the lost and a literal Heaven for the saved, the verbal inspiration of Scripture and the doctrine of the Local Church.”
Nineteen charter members were recorded on organization day, following 13 weeks of weekend services in the home of Wenner at 1804 N. Main St. The bedrooms were the Sunday School classrooms and the living room was the preaching sanctuary. Hovestreydt, the founding pastor, drove weekly from Detroit to conduct the services until he and his wife Virginia moved to Sidney in July 1951. The church’s original name was, Fundamental Baptist Church, until 1954 when the present title was adopted.
In March 1952, the congregation moved to the National Guard Armory assembly hall in Sidney. In 1952 under the leadership of Hovestreydt, the property was purchased on Edgewood Street, and in 1953 construction began on the basement of the building. The church occupied its basement quarters in March 1954 and immediately made plans for the building of the upstairs auditorium. Work on this new project was begun in February 1955 and the first service was held in the auditorium in December of that year. The auditorium, later being finished, was formally dedicated on May 27, 1956. The church continued to grow and many families were reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1969 a new Sunday School wing was dedicated.
Hovestreydt and the people of Grace Baptist had a passion for world missions and the church began supporting foreign missionaries from its inception.
Hovestreydt served faithfully as pastor for 46 years. He had a great influence in the community and was much loved. He had a tremendous intellect and a wonderful ability to teach the Word of God. In late 1996 Pastor Hovestreydt suffered a massive heart attack and went home to be with his Lord.
The current pastor, James Alter, began his ministry here on March 2, 1997. He was previously assistant pastor and college director at Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is an author and conference speaker. His books are used in Bible Colleges and churches in America and around the world. They have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, and several dialects in India. He travels regularly to train pastors at home and abroad in church doctrine, church history, history of the English Bible, and one on one discipleship. God has blessed Grace Baptist Church with faithful leadership. The church has had only two senior pastors in its 70-year history.
Another significant event was the launch of the AWANA children’s club. AWANA is an acronym taken from 2 Timothy 2:15, “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed” The club meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday during the school year. Children ages 3 to sixth grade play crazy games, memorize Scripture and learn Bible truth. “The kids have a great time and can’t wait for Wednesday.” The current AWANA director is Nathan Arling. He and his wife Kayla both attended AWANA from its inception.
In 2004, Nathan Breinich, became assistant pastor and youth director. He began the One Way Student Ministries. Breinich moved to Texas in 2018 and the ministry has continued under the leadership of Ty Blackford. The vision of One Way Student Ministries is to inspire young people to have a heart for God, to include teenagers in fellowship with other Christian teens, instruct them in the Word of God, involve them in the ministry of the local church, and to see their generation impacted for Christ. Every week 7th-12th graders from all over Shelby County are involved in the student ministries
In April 2018, the church contracted Westerheide Construction Company to build a new auditorium and completely update the entire facility. The grand opening service for the new building was in May 2019.
The church has seen substantial growth in the last 25 years, their attendance has multiplied by nearly five times over that period. The key to the growth has been a combination of children’s ministry and dynamic preaching and teaching but especially the church’s emphasis on what they call, “one on one discipleship”. Members are individually taught to understand and communicate the Bible through this ministry.
Grace Baptist Church also has a publishing ministry, The Ancient Baptist Press, producing books and periodicals on biblical doctrine and history. One of its publications is The Ancient Baptist Journal, an academic journal for pastors and workers.
While methods and ministries have changed, the emphasis of the church has not changed in 70 years. The primary emphasis is still on teaching God’s Word.
This Sunday, May 22, Grace Baptist Church will be celebrating 70 years of ministry. The entire community is invited. Many city officials and other guests will be in attendance.
The celebration begins at 10:30 am. Grace Baptist Church is located at 137 W. Edgewood St., Sidney, Ohio. For more information call 937-492-9061 or visit online at www.gracebaptistsidney.com.