Our history begins in 1956. George Forbes, a resident of St. Andrew, got the idea that the Missionary Church Association in Jamaica should establish a Church in the parish of St Andrew. So in response to this call, Mr. Forbes invited Reverend David Clark, pastor of First Missionary Church (FMC) to fulfill what he perceived to be God’s will.
Reverend Clark accepted the invitation and sought support from a number of persons for the establishment of this Church. Shortly thereafter, in obedience to God’s will and the demands of a few persons, the first church meeting was held at 43 Burlington Avenue on October 20, 1956. Six persons met for this inaugural Service held at 9:00 AM in the living room there. Following this, the fellowship grew rapidly as they invited more persons. When Pastor Norton Coons was appointed at FMC, Reverend David Clark was able to focus on organizing Grace Missionary Church.
The Church Relocated
The first evangelistic crusade for the new Church was on Sunday night in the living room of the house at 43 Burlington Avenue. Based on the large number of persons who attended, the premises was inadequate and could not comfortably accommodate everyone. It was obvious that the location had become unsuitable. Therefore, the fellowship relocated to the Laurie Robinson’s Preparatory School. However, the Church quickly outgrew this location as well, as the membership had grown to over one hundred persons. So, in light of this the members began to save towards the purchase of a suitable church home.
The First Pastor - 1956
With God’s guidance, Pastor Clark earnestly sought a suitable, permanent location and he was led to 7 West Avenue, Kingston 8. He made an offer to purchase the property for £5,000.00, which was accepted. The Church did not have all the funds however, but through much prayer, sacrifice and hard work, and with the assistance of Rev Clark’s uncle Ernest Clark, the Church was able to find the requisite funds and purchased the property. During this time also, Grace Missionary Church (GMC) was duly organized and registered as a full member of the Missionary Church with Rev David Clark as its first Pastor.
The fellowship started to meet for prayer at West Avenue on Wednesdays and it was recognized that it was time to erect a church on the property. However, it was learnt that the property was located in an area zoned specifically for residential purposes. After much prayer, this hurdle was eventually overcome when the Anglican Church received permission to operate a school nearby (The Queen’s High School). Therefore, the covenant was eventually lifted and ground broken in September 1959, and the Annex was completed in 1960. On Good Friday, April 13, 1960, the first service was held and the building was dedicated at that Service.
The Church acquired a large mortgage to erect the other buildings. So, with the formation of the Women’s Fellowship, headed by retried nurse Mrs. Wilhelmina Blake, the Sunshine Nursery was established specifically to service the mortgage. The nursery cared for approximately twenty-five (25) children. Much credit is due to Mrs. Blake and Miss Rose Fullerton along with other ladies for their commitment and stellar service in achieving their objective of amortizing the mortgage.
Growth And Ministry
As our history continued to grow, on May 4, 1964 the ‘Grace Hour’ broadcast was launched on Radio Jamaica and the Re-diffusion Network (RJR). The program was originally aired at 4:45 pm on Monday afternoons. However, in December 1965 it was shifted to Sunday mornings at 8:15 AM. The Grace Hour became a household name throughout Jamaica.
True to its name, GMC has historically focused on Missions as one of its primary objectives. The earliest missionaries from GMC went to various countries which included Haiti, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and later on Cuba.
Blessed with a new building the young fellowship, which was now firmly planted at 7 West Avenue, had a tremendous resolve to honour God and to do His will. Members began visiting all the communities located within a one mile radius of the Church. The Word was not only preached from the pulpit but from the lips of Christian men and women pounding the streets and pavements of St. Andrew.
Most notable was the formation of Girl’s Town. Mrs. Odette Josephs, a very active member of GMC, was inspired to start “Girl’s Town” in the Maxfield Park area of St. Andrew. Once Mrs. Josephs saw the poverty of unskilled girls, she and Miss Ruby Christie decided as Christians to assist. Girl’s Town trained young girls skills in garment construction, home economics, cosmetology and Christian morals. These graduates became independent ladies who were placed in jobs in the hotels, factories and schools. Girls Town is still today, actively engaged in transforming the lives of young girls.
During that period, GMC also pioneered a number of other initiatives such as the “Adopt a Child Programme” which was spearheaded by Sister Madge Hanson. That Programme focused on providing books, uniforms and food for needy students.
The formation of the group “Sunshine Makers” in February 1962 was another and its aim was to stimulate young children to be missionaries at an early age.
The Fellowship Experience
As the light of Christ shone in the hearts of the members of the fellowship, they in turn blessed others, spiritually, educationally and financially. The aged and indigent from nearby communities were and still are cared for through a benevolent fund. We also distribute packages to both needy members and persons from the adjoining communities.
GMC has always been known as a good and caring neighbour. Sister Iris Rainford, with the assistance of several other persons, started Christian ministry in the nearby Grants Pen Road area. Also, the operation of an active, vibrant Sunday school was the mainstay of that Community for many years. The Grants Pen Outreach resulted in the establishment of a fully registered Missionary Church in that area which was eventually named Shalom Missionary Church.
Grace, under the leadership of Rev. David Clark, along with a young pastor Orville Neil, was responsible for planting the Portmore Missionary Church in 1974. Additionally, GMC also assisted in planting several other churches which included Danvers Pen, Calvary and Mount Vernon Missionary Churches over time.
Changing Times and The Church
In December 2019 a pandemic hit the world as the Coronavirus started to spread across the globe. First identified in Wuhan, China, it quickly crossed borders and continents. Jamaica identified their first official case in March 2020.
The Missionary Church Association in Jamaica’s response to government guidelines was published on March 11th, over the signature of the President, Reverend Jacob McLean. Following shortly after, a prohibition was placed on public gatherings, inclusive of church services, by the government. In response, the Grace Missionary Church Council issued an additional bulletin on March 20, 2020, and closed the church doors temporarily. Worship services were prerecorded and moved online to accommodate the needs of the congregation. Communion services were also conducted in this virtual environment.
On May 11th, the Government issued revised protocols to allow for the resumption of Sanctuary worship on May 16th. In response, the GMC Council issued a bulletin advising that the church was not, at the time, adequately prepared to handle the logistics demanded by the conditions for the resumption of services in the sanctuary by the stipulated date. The Sanctuary was finally reopened on June 7, 2020 in keeping with the Measures announced by the Government and the implementation of certain protocols. Zoom conferencing was also implemented to share the services with congregants unable to attend in person.
Leaders of GMC over the years
- Rev. David B. Clark
- Rev. R. Murray Lord
- Rev. David B. Clark
- Rev. Arthur Hall
- Rev. Dwight Steininger
- Rev. David Berstein
- Rev. Stephen Clark
- Rev. Medvis Jackson
- Elders, Deacons & Rev. Peter Spencer
- Rev. Orville Neil
- Rev. Sam Green
- Rev. Teddy Jones
- Elders, Deacons & Visiting Pastors
- Reverend Mark Dawes