who we are

Grace was planted in 1974 by Grace Baptist Church of Lancaster, who bought the land and the building from another congregation. Herb Samworth, a missionary who had recently returned to the States from Peru, became the church’s first pastor. Herb served until 1997. Bob Smith, a retired pastor living in Willow Street, guided the congregation through a challenging interim period. 

The congregation called Joel DeVinney as pastor in 1999. Under his leadership, the congregation began a growing AWANA program, launched a small group ministry, moved to a blended worship style, transitioned to elder-led congregationalism, purchased additional property near the church to provide for future growth, and has continued its commitment to biblical exposition. The congregation has been committed to global missions since its inception. Several former members of Grace serve overseas as full-time Outreach Partners. Scott Harrison joined the pastoral staff in 2010. 

At the heart of what we believe and do is the good news that God invites all people, separated from Him because of our sin, to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Two Ways to Live explains more of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

what we believe

We believe the Bible is God’s truth for all people for all times. It is complete in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It is without error in whatever it teaches in the original writings. It is God-breathed in every word, divinely preserved and therefore trustworthy. It is God’s written propositional revelation. It is the supreme standard in all matters to which it speaks. The Holy Spirit directed human authors so that through their individual personalities and literary styles they composed and recorded God’s Word. The true meaning of Scripture is found as God’s people diligently apply a literal, contextual, grammatical and historical method of interpretation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-14; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21). 

We believe in one personal, living God, Creator and Sustainer of all things. He eternally exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are equal in nature, attributes, and perfections, executing distinct and harmonious roles in creation, providence, and redemption. The triune God is worthy of our worship, confidence, and obedience (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). 

We believe in God the Father: an infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, justice, wisdom, power, and love. He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of humanity. He works everything in accordance with His perfect will though His sovereignty does not eliminate nor minimize human responsibility. God’s foreknowledge is exhaustive and not dependent on human decisions and actions. We believe He hears and answers prayer and that He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ (Isa. 57:15; John 4:24; Acts 17:24-28; Eph. 1:11). 

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s one and only eternal Son. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, He is fully God and fully Human. He lived a sinless life, died on a cross for our sins and rose bodily from the dead. He ascended into heaven, where at the right hand of God the Father He intercedes for us as our High Priest and Advocate (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:1 ,14; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 4:14-16).

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who executes the will of the Father and the Son within creation. His ministry glorifies Jesus Christ and implements Christ’s work of redemption. He regenerates all believers, securing them in Christ forever, and empowers them for godly living and service. The work of the Spirit in the church is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit and the building up of the body of Christ into Christ-likeness. The ministry of the Spirit does not need miraculous verification. His work does not guarantee abundant wealth or a life without difficulty. The Spirit controls, leads, gifts, and transforms believers (John 16:8-14, Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:4-12; Gal. 5:22-26; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:7-12). 

We believe that all humans have been made in the image of God. As beings created by God, humans exist to glorify Him and were intended to enjoy a relationship with Him forever. Humanity was given responsibility over creation. Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience to the word of God. All people are sinners by nature and choice, having inherited guilt from their parents. Every member of the human race is born estranged from God and in need of a Savior (Gen. 1:26-27, 3:1-6; Rom. 3:10-19, 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3). 

We believe humans can be restored to a right relationship with God only by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation is based upon the sovereign kindness of God. It is made possible through the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. It is a gift received by faith, apart from any human merit, works, or ritual. Salvation results in loving and obeying God. It will culminate in bodily resurrection and perfect conformity to the character of Christ (John 6:37-39; Acts 13:39, 16:31; Rom. 3:21-28; Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:3-8). 

We believe the universal Church, launched on the day of Pentecost, is the spiritual body of Christ of which He is the head. The local church is made up of all who have made a genuine confession of faith and are baptized in order to acknowledge publicly their relationship with Jesus Christ. Immersion is the mode of baptism that best reflects the teaching of the New Testament. The local church practices the Lord’s Supper in order to remember His death and burial, anticipating His return. The church is built into Christ- likeness through Biblical teaching, faithful prayer, passionate evangelism, and sincere worship in the context of accountable community (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-29, 12:12-14; Eph. 1:22-23, 4:15-16). 

We believe God created angels: spirit-beings possessing power and intellect that exist to glorify Him. Some do so by serving those who believe. Satan is an angel, who because of pride, sinned and was cast out of heaven taking with him other fallen angels. Satan’s role on earth, often performed by demons, is to deceive and destroy. Satan, along with all who follow him, will be defeated for eternity by Jesus Christ (Isa. 14:12-17; Heb. 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 20:10). 

We believe a person’s eternal destiny is forever sealed in this lifetime by acceptance or rejection of the gospel. Unbelievers will experience eternal separation from the presence of God in the lake of fire, a place of suffering and loss. Believers will experience eternity with God in heaven, a place of joyful worship and fellowship with the redeemed of all ages. Christ will return personally and physically to the earth with His saints to establish His kingdom (John 5:28-29, 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 John 3:18; Rev. 19:11- 16, 20:11-15).

position statements

The Sanctity of Marriage: 

Out of a growing concern on the part of your pastor and Board of Deacons, the following statement is an expression of our basic opinion on Christian marriage and divorce: 

  • The Bible clearly teaches that God’s ideal design is that every marriage should be a lifetime commitment (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6, 8). 
  • When couples recognize that their marriage has problems, they should take action personally to resolve the difficulties and, if necessary, seek out competent Christian help (a mature Christian friend, a church leader, the pastor, a professional Christian counselor). The couple should not wait until the problem seems beyond repair, and they should not consider divorce as a viable solution (Gal. 6:2). 
  • Whenever the pastor or Board of Deacons are made aware that a couple is considering divorce, they will schedule a meeting to confront the couple with the biblical teachings on divorce and to urge them strongly to seek other avenues for help (Heb. 13:17). Couples experiencing marital difficulties will be expected to resign from church leadership positions. This does not preclude the possibility of future service. 
  • When a marital break-up does occur and there is clear evidence of open immorality on the part of one or both of the partners, the pastor and Board of Deacons will confront the sinning party directly. They will remove the individual(s) from church membership and from fellowship if the sinful action continues without evidence of true repentance (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). Such removal may be done publicly. The purpose of such severe discipline is to lead the person(s) to full restoration (2 Cor. 2:6-8). 
  • When divorce does occur, the pastor and Board of Deacons will seek to minister in compassion and love toboth of the wounded partners. The pastor and Board of Deacons will continue to guide prayerfully the partners towards possible reconciliation (1 Cor. 7:10-11). 
  • We recognize that the issue of divorce and remarriage is a very complicated subject, and that not all Bible teachers take the same basic position. Allowing for such differences, we trust this statement of concern will be used to help those who are experiencing difficulties in their marriages. We also trust that those who are contemplating marriage will regard this institution as sacred and permanent. 

The Sanctity of Life: 

We, the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville, acknowledging the sovereignty of God and His absolute authority over all living things, believe: 

  • that God is our Creator (Gen. 1:26, 27) and the Giver of all life. 
  • that biblical evidence (Luke 1:41, 44) makes it clear that an unborn child has personhood, and therefore, has life. 
  • that the unborn child is known of God (Psalm 139:13-16). 
  • that the unborn child has a right to life equivalent to any other person in God’s creation (Ex. 21:22-25). 
  • that abortion is a life-terminating act. 
  • that humanistic and subjective evaluations of unwanted pregnancies have no place in the Christian ethic. 

God is gracious, forgiving, and compassionate; when an abortion does occur, the pastor and Board of Deacons will seek to minister in compassion and love to the individual. The pastor and Board of Deacons will continue to guide prayerfully the individual in the healing process. 

We believe that abortions are ungodly and to be abhorred. Abortions should be rejected as an alternative by those who have accepted God’s gift of eternal life. Furthermore, we submit that as Christians, we should speak out regarding our beliefs and offer truth to counter the worldly rhetoric surrounding the issue. 

The Sanctity of Sexuality: 

Regarding the issue of homosexuality, it is the position of the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville: 

  • That homosexual behavior is sinful. “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Lev. 18:22). “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Lev. 20:13). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals” (1 Cor. 6:9). 
  • That homosexual behavior is abnormal. “… for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts” (Rom. 1:26-27). 
  • that homosexuality is not biologically determined, i.e., an individual is not born a homosexual. To believe otherwise would be inconsistent with our basic tenet that homosexual behavior is sinful. 
  • that homosexual individuals can be changed through spiritual conversion and Christian growth (1 Cor. 6:9-11). 

The church should minister to homosexuals, admonishing them to repent of their sin and aid those who wish to have victory over it (1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:1). Any attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an alternative life-style through legislative or executive action is unworthy of Christian support and should be actively opposed. Approved by the Board of Deacons December 22, 2003

Church Discipline: 

On the basis of our relationship with Jesus Christ, God has made us accountable to one another. One of the ways the local church expresses this accountability is through church discipline. While the word “discipline” refers broadly to all of the training provided by the church to help believers grow in the faith, the phrase “church discipline” usually has a negative emphasis, describing actions by the congregation that may result in dismissal from membership. Church discipline is a confrontational process done, not out of anger or revenge, but in love and with the hope that an unrepentant member of the congregation will confess and renounce their sin. Scripture describes church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:19-20, Titus 3:9-11, Hebrews 12:1-14. 

Scripture enjoins followers of Christ to “cover sins” (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). By “covering sin,” we believe the Bible calls us, as much as possible, to forgive unilaterally minor faults, unverifiable sins, and personal offenses. By covering another’s sins, a believer chooses to forgive without confrontation, demanding an apology, or mentioning the matter to the offender or anyone else in the congregation. This is the norm for much of our interaction with one another. 

Matthew 18:15-17 provides the basic pattern for church discipline when covering the sin is insufficient to deal with the offense. For example, if the offense has significantly damaged a relationship between believers or become so disruptive that it harms the church, attempting to forgive unilaterally is unwise. The offended person must first discuss the matter privately with the offender in hopes of reconciliation. If the offender refuses to confess and ask for forgiveness, the offended believer must choose again either to forgive or to proceed in the discipline process. The second step involves taking another member (or two members) along to discuss the offense with the offender. Should this bring no positive result, the offender must report the matter to the entire congregation. This will be done through the leadership of the Board of Elders. After the congregation is informed and if the offender fails to repent, the church is responsible to dismiss the offender from membership. The unrepentant offender will not be eligible to serve in the congregation nor will he or she be served the Lord’s Supper. 

Members of the church must recognize that such public announcements, while extremely unpleasant, are mandated by Scripture as part of the church’s responsibility toward each believer. 

In cases of flagrant, public sin, the issue may be dealt with immediately and directly by the Board of Elders. The ultimate decision of dismissal must come from the membership. 

Church discipline is a serious matter that involves weighty sins. Grace’s constitution offers three reasons why someone may be dismissed from church membership: failure to attend services for one year, flagrant sin, and deviating from Scriptural teaching as summarized in the doctrinal statement. 

The author of Hebrews says that discipline is a painful, not a pleasant, experience. For the good of the church and the glory of God, we affirm our commitment to this biblical practice. 

Approved by the Board of Elders January 22, 2007