Over 140 years ago, 23 people gathered at the YMCA in Bethlehem to dream a God-sized dream about a new Presbyterian church. The church has had many foundational moments in its growth over the years including a move to the Center Street Campus in the 1950s, a spiritual revival under the leadership of Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, and a campus expansion in the early 1990’s. In 2016, after a yearlong discernment process, an overwhelming majority of the active membership voted to move into a Presbyterian denomination more consistent with our church’s history and our theological commitments.
In January of 2018, we learned that our former location and its assets were tied to our former denomination. We now worship in our new interim Sunday morning location, Bethlehem Catholic High School. BECA been a welcome host and partner in ministry in this transitional period. Utilizing Portable Church, the set-up has become efficient and the equipment state-of-the-art. About that same time, God opened the door for us to purchase and renovate our midweek campus, located strategically between Liberty High School and NorthEast Middle School. Our Locust Street campus provides office space, next generation space, choir and band practice space, bible study and meeting space including a 250 seat sanctuary for weddings and funerals.
New Name for a New Season
On Easter Sunday, in April 2018, with much anticipation, we announced our new name. We see God doing a new thing at GRACE Church Bethlehem that builds on the DNA of our rich history but also positions us for an exciting future. There is a sense of joy and recommitment to our calling that is obvious to all who visit our growing congregation. On Sundays, 1000 people gather to worship and grow in our faith. We continue to receive new members of all ages who join in our commitment to know, grow and show God’s grace.
We believe God has called us out into our neighborhood to show the grace that we have experienced in Jesus Christ. In our interim worship space, we have hosted special guests from Bethlehem, including Mayor Robert Donchez and Chief of Police, Mark Diluzio to continue to learn and partner in the love of our city, Bethlehem. 250 of us recently scattered around the city on a Saturday to serve our city in schools, parks, shelters, and ministries.
Over the next year, the entire congregation will be a part of praying and dreaming our new future. We anticipate that, as God leads, we will move to a new, permanent location in the next 5-7 years.