Grace Gospel Church turning 50
PARKERSBURG — May 6 is a day of celebration for Grace Gospel Church. Not just because it is a Sunday, but it is the day the church has chosen to mark its 50th anniversary.
Roger Benson is the pastor of the church, the third in the church’s history. Grace Gospel was not a church when area United Brethren churches were absorbed into the United Methodist denomination, according to Benson.
“The congregational members who would eventually become Grace Gospel broke from the ranks when they didn’t agree with the United Methodist theology,” he said. “Today, the church is an independent, fundamental one. I would say the church doesn’t really have a denomination but it does have Baptist leanings.”
Bill Angel was the founding pastor back in 1968 when the people who would become Grace Gospel began meeting at Pettyville Community Building. The first Sunday service on May 21 had 110 in attendance. The first service had 55 people. Benson said the Grace Gospel membership totals 165 with an average attendance of about 175.
The church bought its current property at 6239 Pike St. in 1968 — 4.5 acres with the first service in its church building being Nov. 2.
Benson’s total years on staff at Grace Gospel is 18. He has been pastor for the last 10 years and was youth pastor for eight years. He’s been at Grace Gospel longer than that. “I grew up in the area and have been attending here since I was 11 years old. I’m 41 now, so I have been here 30 years.”
Between Angel and Benson being called to the lead the church, the second pastor was Lt. Col. Mike Allen, who is the chaplain for the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Speaking at the service is Dan Anderson, Ph.D., the president of Appalachian Bible College from Mount Hope. The school’s hand bell choir, the Jubilate, will perform during the service.
Lunch follows at noon in the activities building following the morning service. Afternoon activities begin at 1:30 p.m. in the sanctuary, according to Benson.
“There’s going to be a number of musical groups reuniting for this service,” he said. “We’re going to have displays of photos, history, events, progression of the church throughout the building. There’s going to be a lot going on, but mostly it’s going to be a lot of fun.”