God has a purpose in suffering and that is how Grace Community Church of Topsail was started in 2011. In fact, that is one reason why the words “Grace” and “Community” are in our name. In this brief history let’s call us GCT for short. We did not drop a “C” in the acronym, not on purpose - it is part of our story but we will leave that for another time. The Lord used a time of suffering in the lives of two primary families to plant GCT. We needed grace and we needed community and we did not want to have to go to Jacksonville or Wilmington to get it (Hampstead was still a small town in 2011). And so the Lord, over a few years, convinced these families to start a church that thrived on God’s Word, His grace, and dispensing it to others within a loving community of followers of Christ. This is what we still desire to be today, a community of grace-loving, grace-giving people being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ by loving God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We started meeting in Pastor Steve’s home for the first few weeks of our existence in January of 2011. We quickly realized that we needed a bigger and more publicly accessible place to meet so we rented the Topsail Senior Center in Hampstead. We were there for the first four years of GCT. After these four years another local church, Livingstones Tabernacle, let us use their building on Sunday morning before their time of worship. They were very gracious to us and God used them and their generosity in our church beginnings for another four years.
Aside from our formal gathering times, the church body formed family bonds as we spent occasional evenings eating dinner in other members' homes. These times together contributed to building a deep sense of community and "one-anothering”. During these first eight years as GCT, the Lord provided financially for Pastor Steve through his own small business that he had started in 2012. God’s provision has always been perfect for GCT. The Lord blessed Pastor Steve’s business to fully provide for his family until the church had grown enough in 2018 for it to support him as their full-time pastor.
In January 2019, we were able to officially rent our first building in Hampstead. This location is where we are presently meeting. Another church in Hampstead who was using this building had decided to close their doors and give us everything that they owned. God provided for us once again in another powerful way through His loving Church. Some of those sweet brothers and sisters in Christ stayed with us as we moved into the building. Having (renting) our own building brought much numerical growth, and then COVID happened in March of 2020.
As we continued to grow, it was clear that our landlord was not going to sell us the building that we were desiring to purchase. God used this barrier to lead us to find and purchase property to call our own. Through much prayer and fasting, the Lord led us to a piece of property on Hoover Road in Hampstead, adjacent to South Topsail Elementary School. We are presently in the process of building on that property.
As the local church of Grace Community Church of Topsail, we desire to live out the commands of Christ, to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and to love our neighbor as ourself, and to teach others to do the same through intentional discipleship. We have set our mind on the things of God so that we can know Him in order to love Him. This desire also describes how we endeavor to prepare the hearts and minds of children at GCT. Our goal is that they too may love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind. We value children as part of the church and seek to integrate them into the life of the congregation in their formative years so our children are prepared for a lifetime of corporate worship in a local church.
This is a very brief history of GCT. The entire story can only be summed up as God’s story. The only way that GCT exists today as a church is because God wanted us to exist. We were never supported by a “mother church.” We simply trusted the Lord and His love for His church. We didn’t follow any special church planting book, or join with any other church planting movement. There was only a sweet, loving people who were steadfast in trusting the Lord and knowing that He is honored with GCT as a Bible-believing, gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, community-loving, grace-dispensing church. We are a gathered people who want to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. If the Lord wills, we will be doing the same thing tomorrow, next year and the next decade. To God be the glory. Come join us.