For Grace Baptist Church, 2013 is an important year. Because of the grace and guidance of the Lord, we are able to serve our Lord and the community for 60 years. As we leap into our 100th year, may God humble and prepare us. In the past few decades, God has poured out his abundant blessings to us so shall we freely give. GBC has the desire to become a mission minded church to share God’s love and blessings to others. GBC celebrates its 60th anniversary with ministries shown at the right column.

Missionary Inabelle Coleman

Missionary Inabelle Coleman

Tracing back to 1952 when the Kuomintang retreated from Mainland China to Taiwan, the history of Grace Baptist Church (GBC) is rooted solidly. In October 1952, when the Communist Party of China assumed full control of Mainland China, missionary Inabelle Coleman came to Taiwan to join the ministry at Amoy Street Baptist Church.

However, she soon learnt that the church was already shepherded by many missionaries. God led her to start a new English Bible study class on Sunday mornings at HePing E. Rd, where she and her 2 missionary friends, Ola Lee and Josephine Ward, lived.

  Missionaries Ola Lee, Josephine Ward, and Isabelle Coleman (middle) in front of resident on East Peace Road

Missionaries Ola Lee, Josephine Ward, and Isabelle Coleman (middle) in front of resident on East Peace Road

Before the English Bible study class was formed, Ola Lea and Josephine Ward had previously started a children’s Sunday school at the same place. On the Christmas of 1952, nearly 1,000 children joined their worship service. All the rooms were filled with people and even the yard was filled. At the very beginning, students of the class attended Chinese Sunday service at Amoy Street Baptist Church with Ms. Coleman. The class continued to grow, and in 1953, Ms. Coleman was encouraged by Rev. Charles L. Culpepper Sr. to start their own English Sunday service. Although the worship service began with only 4 seekers and 4 Christians (2 of them were Baptists), the congregation grew very fast. People accepted Christ as their personal Savior each and every week. Every second Sunday of each month, they invited Rev. Carl Hunker from Amoy Street Baptist Church over to hold the Lord’s Supper and deliver messages. The Adult Choir was formed and bamboo scaffolds was esected in the yard for the children’s service. Also, a Chinese service was started on Sunday nights. This service was first known as the “University Baptist Center” and was renamed Grace Baptist Church (GBC) on December 27, 1953 with a membership of 103.

Grace Baptist Church Established, picture taken on December 27 1953

Grace Baptist Church Established, picture taken on December 27 1953

In January 1954, Josephine Ward stepped down from her service at the Amoy Street Baptist Church to join Ms. Coleman’s ministry at GBC. Josephine Ward and Ola Lea continued to serve at the Children’s Sunday school every Sunday afternoon. They also started discipleship courses for training more Sunday school teachers. Many ministries were developed during that time such as the Women Missionary Union, the Young Adult Baptist Training Units (BTUs), Adult BTUs, and Prayer Meetings.

The congregation grew bigger and bigger. In every Sunday service, all the rooms were filled with people and it became clear that GBC had grown so much that it needed a new location. Therefore, Ms. Coleman found the location of the current GBC at Hsin Sheng South Road, Taipei. By the faith and prayers of the congregation and the help of Rev. Charles Culpepper, the church was founded with a loan from the Southern Baptist Convention and the offerings of the members. The construction was begun in 1954 and was completed on June 5, 1955.

Rev. Lianhua Zhou at his 90th Birthday (2011)

Rev. Lianhua Zhou at his 90th Birthday (2011)

While Ms. Coleman was teaching in University of ShangHai, she led Rev. Chow Lien Hua, who was a college

Completion of GBC church building on June 5 1955

Completion of GBC church building on June 5 1955

student at that time, to Christ. From a student of a Bible study class to a committed servant of God, Rev. Chow followed God to study at the Southern Baptist Convention in the U.S. and received the title Doctor of Divinity. In September 1954, Ms. Coleman invited him to join the ministry at GBC. During Rev. Chow’s service at GBC, he devoted himself in evangelism.

In 1962, Rev. Chow Lien Hua started serving at the Chinese worship service. He formed a strong ministerial team included Rev.Zhang Ji Zhong, Sheng Xuan En, Lillian Lu and Rev. Cai Sheng Ping. They expended the ministry and planted a church in the JiMei area. As time progressed, GBC became focused on missions, evangelism, worship and Christian education.

Teacher Songxi Lu  (1925-1976)

Teacher Songxi Lu
(1925-1976)

Lillian Lu also came to Christ through Ms. Coleman’s shepherding in Shanghai. In 1955, she was invited by Ms. Coleman to join Rev. Chow Lien Hua in the students’ ministry. During her service at GBC, she also served as a teacher in the language center of National Taiwan University. This gave her more opportunities to witness to the students and bring them to church.

Meanwhile, Lillian Lu was serving as a conductor of the youth choir. To fulfill her passion in music, she returned to the U.S. for further education in Westminster Choir College. Her professional qualifications in music laid a solid foundation for the worship service of GBC. With her talent in music and language, she translated hundreds of hymns into Chinese. The congregation is still singing these songs during the worship service even today.

In order to reach out to more students, GBC built a student center right behind the church named “Coleman Hall” in honor of Ms. Coleman, who passed away on October 15, 1959. In order to minister to the young, Lillian Lu lived on the second floor of the student center. Her hospitality made the center a home to many overseas students and led many to Christ.

June 5, 1976, she rested in peace in God’s loving arms. Her faithful service in worship and dedication to hymn translation is greatly remembered. Her devoted life to Christian music in Taiwan has blessed many.

Expansion of GBC Church Building, Dedication on December 2 1984

Expansion of GBC Church Building, Dedication on December 2 1984

Over the following 30 years, the church continued to flourish. GBC planted churches in Shilin, Xintai, and Xinshu. Rev. Chow continually to develop ministry of all areas. Many devoted brothers and sisters such as Lee Bei-Li, Lin Ju-Xian, Chang Chuan-Lin, Chen Zhong-Xi, and Yan Guang-Ming joined GBC to serve in worship, Christian education, and the aboriginal worship service. The congregation grew from 100 to more than 1,000. This growth was due to the effective ministries of the Sunday School, Baptist Brotherhood, Women’s Missionary Union, Student Ministries, and BTUs. As the ministries continued to flourish. It became obvious that the church was outgrowing its building. In 1983, GBC decided to rebuild on the same site. The architectural planning group decided that the building should be in harmony with Chinese culture. The new building was completed and dedicated to the Lord on December 2, 1984.

Summer Camp in Guangxi Duan China in 2010

Summer Camp in Guangxi
Duan China in 2010

Rev. Chow shepherded GBC for 46 years and resigned at the age of 70 in 2000. He is now devoted to writing and Bible translation. Before his resignation, Rev. Chow had been planning to pass the leadership baton to the next generation. In 1977, a year before Rev. Guo Yun Han had graduated from Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary, he was invited to GBC for internship. Rev. Guo continued his service at GBC after his graduation and started to shepherd the Chinese congregation. In 1979, Rev. Guo went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the U.S. for further study. He returned in 1986 with a  Doctor of Ministry and started to serve as a Senior Pastor in GBC. He served in the Chinese Congregation until 1994. Qiu Sheng-Fu, Hsu Jiu-Ming, Hung Bei-Ran, Kao Ji-Hao, Shu Bi-Liang, and Yeh Yong-Fan were his fellow workers in expanding the kingdom of God.

GBC College Choir Performing in Shanghai  2012

GBC College Choir Performing in Shanghai 2012

Pastor Xu Zheng Yi took the baton after Pastor Guo and started his service as a Senior Pastor in GBC. Pastor Xu devoted himself to preaching and missions in Taiwan and abroad. He planted a church at Longtan and shepherded them until it was able to run itself. He made connections between the Baptist churches and held a missions convention that covered 5 generations. In 1999, he led hundreds of brothers and sisters to Guangxi and Beijing and started implimented a the new vision of intercultural missions at GBC. He served in GBC until 2002 and left for the U.S. for further study for a Doctor of Ministry. The pastoral team at that time were Chen Li-Ya, Tan Ji-Hui, Lin Ju-Xian, Chang Chuan-Lin, Lin Xing-Hui, Zhao Chi-Shi, David Kong, Stephen Lee, He Shao-Lun, Wang Chin-Zhi, Lydia Liang, Guo Ling-an, Lai Yi-Wen, Lai Chin-Sheng, Hwang Ling-Hui, Zheng Xu-Ci, Lin Qiong-Zheng, Wu Shi-Yuan, and Gao Zhion-Da. After Pastor Xu, Pastor Stephen Lee, who started shepherding the bilingual service in 1997, took the baton in 2010 and started his service as a senior pastor of GBC. Pastor David Brown became the pastor for the English Congregation in 1998. Under his shepherding, the congregation grew tremendously. He served until 2006. God continually added to the team with devoted ministers, Wei Ti-Xiang, Mandy Chen, Peter Wang, Paul Wang, May Yu, Sophia Yu, Murphy Huang, Wu Tsen-Jen, Karan Yuan, Lin Ju-Xian, Henson Huang, Charles Huang, Nick Brideson, and Peter Shannon.

All these years, GBC has been holding fast its vision for missions and has devoted itself to missions in Taiwan and abroad. Office fellowships in Team Pro Securities Co., Central Trading and Development Co., and China Credit Information Service Ltd. were formed. Thursday service at Tamsui Senior’s Home was started. Mission trips to Peng-hu and Green Island were also developed. As for the missions abroad, GBC opened the 30-40oN window to the unreached and started its missions of disciple-training to India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Qinghai, and Xian. Also, the students choir visited Shanghai, Chengdu, and Xiamen for music exchange regularly. All these ministries responded the great commission that God gave to GBC.

GBC Presses Forward for the Coming Centennial

GBC Presses Forward for the Coming Centennial

In 2003, 20 years after the reconstruction, GBC faced the difficulty that its members had outgrow the facility again. GBC went through another renovation while keeping its traditional Chinese architectural features. More rooms became available to accommodate the growth in the next 10 years. GBC has not only become the landmark of southern Taipei but also the Christian center of the whole of Taipei.

GBC Sanctuary

GBC Sanctuary

60 years has passed by, GBC looks forward to the next 60 years with great gratitude. As a church of Christ, an everlasting foundation, 60 years were just a blink of an eye. GBC holds a greater dream to expand the kingdom of God with unity and passion. Straining toward what is ahead to win the prize to which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

GBC Looks forward for its Centannial

GBC Looks forward for its Centannial

 

Edited by 60th Anniversary Team, 2013.12.20