By Carol Brown
In the summer of 1973, my husband and I returned home to this area, and began attending Barnwell Baptist Church. We did not know, but God did, that we would hear a message we had never heard before. It was the Grace message, taught by Pastor Tommy W. Smith. We learned of the importance of the Apostle Paul, God’s grace in this age, and the Mystery, but many members of Barnwell Baptist Church were not receptive to these Biblical truths, and Pastor Smith was advised to leave. Thus, our church began.
On July 18, 1973, the first business meeting of the assembly named Eastern Shore Bible Doctrine Church was held in a small one room building owned by the Episcopal diocese. Thirty-six people requested membership, and soon a Constitution was written, and a Board of Deacons established.
In May of 1974, a more suitable building was found to rent. It was located on County Road 33 outside Fairhope. As outreach, a publication, the Eastern Shore Messenger, was produced by Pastor Smith. Additionally, a tape ministry, Doctrinal Studies, was begun in November, 1976; tapes eventually were mailed to other states and countries. In 1977, Pastor Smith proposed that he obtain a Doctor of Divinity degree from the New Orleans Theological Seminary so he could qualify as an Army Reserve chaplain. The Board of Deacons and church members supported him in this endeavor. He completed his studies in May, 1980, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in November, 1980 to serve as a chaplain.
A ministry of missionary support began in early 1981 with support of one missionary, and later a Ladies’ Fellowship was established as a ministry. 1983 brought two important changes. The current property on 8774 Fairhope Avenue was purchased, and the church name became Grace Bible Church, Incorporated. Our current church building was completed in 1985, and dedicated August 11, 1985. We were taught and led by Pastor Tommy W. Smith for 22 years, until the Lord led him to resign on November 6, 1994. A pastor search committee was formed. This group of men eventually called Pastor Dan Lippincott as pastor. His nomination was approved by the church members on October 8, 1995. Under Pastor Dan Lippincott’s leadership, we continued in the Grace message. He encouraged us to pay off the mortgage on the church property and building, and with God’s help this was accomplished in 2002. The OATH ministry was begun by Pastor Dan Lippincott and his wife, Cindy, in 2005. Many families have received financial aid to adopt children through this ministry. A further outreach was the Grace Bible Church website. A new parking lot was installed in 2008.
We have had a third change of pastor. On March 30, 2014, Pastor Dan Lippincott resigned and Associate Pastor Nathan Lippincott, his son, agreed to become our pastor. He launched and led in many improvements to the Grace Bible Church building and property. The building has been painted, vinyl siding was installed over the wood portions, landscaping has been done, and several projects have helped update the appearance of the church. But more importantly, Pastor Nathan Lippincott serves the Lord faithfully ,“ to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” Ephesians 3:9.