The history of Grace Community Fellowship reaches farther back than being planted on April 8, 2012. To get to the start of the story, we have to look all the way back to the founding of our mother church:
Grace Community Church was formed in 1987 by a group of people with a desire to grow in their understanding of God and His Word. We share a commitment to the teaching of the Word and to one another and to share the message of salvation with those who do not know Jesus Christ.
Early in that year, a core group of 13 people (mostly retirement age) began to sense God's direction to establish a new church that would be Biblically grounded and culturally relevant. During the next few months, they began to meet regularly for prayer and planning. A relationship formed with the Evangelical Mennonite Church, now the Fellowshiip of Evangelical Churches (FEC), which helped begin a search for patoral leadership.
Pastor David Reimer and his family moved to Newton in June 1987, and services began June 28. The first service, which took place in rented facilities in the Cedar Village Shopping Center in Newton, hosted 48 people.
The Lord created growth during the next 25 years at Grace. By 2012, average attendance was nearly 900, and the leadership at Grace sensed the Holy Spirit leading them to pursue church multiplication as part of the church's DNA.
Jay Nickless was hired as pastor of multiplication. He led the effort to establish a new church that would begin as a GCC campus. The Hillsboro church plant launched on Easter Sunday in 2012.
Adam Utecht, who had served as pastor of worship and small groups in Newton, took on the Hillsboro leadership role just before launching the church. In 2014, this church plant became an autonomous FEC church and was renamed Grace Community Fellowship. Adam left in 2017.
Mike Barter accepted the call as lead pastor in March 2018 and began serving fulltime at the end of May 2018. In August 2018 we moved into our completed building, and the building was completely paid off in September 2021! Mike served us faithfully until March 2023.
We are not the only church Grace in Newton has planted. In 2012, another church plant was started in Moundridge—Grace Crossing. In 2014, New Anthem Community Church in Park City was born. In 2020, King's Cross Church in Lyons, KS launched.
A result of this rapid multiplication was the realization that Grace Newton was going to need leaders who could pastor these new churches, and so a formal church planting residency program was established. Synergy Kansas was established with the goal of planting more churches. There are 3 major facets of this ministry: recruit and develop church planters, find receptive places to plant, and develop plans to plant new churches. In 2018, Synergy Kansas, in coordination with Compassion International, launched a church plant in Bolivia.