We are an independent non-denominational fellowship of Bible-believing evangelical believers who exist to exalt and glorify God by building up the body of Christ one person and one family at a time, which allows us to serve Him and reach the world for our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Our vision and purpose is to provide a Christ-centred, caring environment where people can grow in their relationship with God. Our desire is that every resident of the Otter Creeks Area, and by extension the world, understands God’s simple plan of salvation for their lives.
We seek to provide specific opportunities and encourage every member of the body of Christ to be involved in ministry.
We desire to intentionally glorify God through our joyful participation in worship as evidenced through praise and worship, the study of the Word, the observance of the Lord’s Ordinances (Baptism and Breaking of Bread/Communion), cheerful giving, and fruitful evangelism.
Our Statement of Faith
† in the Bible as the Divinely inspired Word of God. In its original text it is inerrant and infallible and our sole source of faith and practice. (1 Cor. 2:10-26; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16)
† in one God existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All these are one God, having the same nature and perfections and worthy of worship. (Genesis 1:1,2; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 3:16-17)
† in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20)
† in the absolute inability of man to save himself from eternal punishment by his works. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)
† in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost in hell. (Acts 24:15; Revelations 20:5&6, 12-15)
† that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and died for our sins. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:30-35)
† in the finished work of Christ, who through His sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to heaven, has effected complete and eternal redemption. God set His seal of approval on the work of Christ by enthroning Him at His own right hand in heaven and that He is the Head of the church, the Lord of the individual, the High Priest over the house of God and the Advocate in the family of God, interceding on our behalf. (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:10&12; Hebrews 1:3)
† man is destined to die once and then face judgment. (John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:12)
† in the immediate and eternal salvation of every person who truly believes in Christ. (Luke 23:43; 1 John 3:2)
† that all who in faith receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord by calling on His name, are born of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Spirit baptized into the body of Christ, the Church. (John 1:12 & 3:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
† that those who are saved are saved by grace, which grants us not only the faith to believe, but also works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. (2 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 2;7)
† that the early Church met together and “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” – God’s pattern for the church today. (Acts 2:42)
† that we will not suffer God's wrath, but in a personal, immanent, and pre-millennial coming of the Lord on the clouds in the air to rapture (catch up) the church at the first resurrection. (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)
† in a literal 6 day creation and a young earth. (Genesis 1 & 2)
The History of
Grace Family Bible Fellowship
After years of struggling to move our previous work away from “extreme legalism”, an issue which required Godly love instead of continued human punishment, culminated in the majority of folks leaving that work in early 2011. With no particular organized direction, the Rowbottom family had decided to meet as a family unit at the home of Jim and Ethel Rowbottom Sunday, January 23, 2011 as an informal family worship service. The events that occurred in the week leading up to that date revealed that God had a different plan. After announcing that he was stepping down as elder and leaving the previous work on Sunday, January 16, 2011, Jim and his son-in-law, Jeff Carr, were sitting watching a hockey game on Tuesday night of that week when Jim got an interesting call from a member of Courtland Bible Fellowship offering him the use of their building on Sundays as their church group held their worship services on Saturday evenings. Folks from the former work also began calling until the next night the initial meeting was held along with a prayer meeting and Bible study of this new fellowship of believers. Twenty three people were present at that first meeting. It was decided that this new group would become a non-denominational Bible-believing fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ and the infallible Word of God. Legalism was deemed to be intolerable as they had gained their freedom by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the goal became to follow God’s Will, using His Word as their guide book and His love as an example, and not the laws of man. Possible names were discussed and a decision was to be made at a later date. The original trustees were nominated and voted on with Arnold Brown, Hubert Hill, Dana Hayward, Jim Rowbottom and Jeff Carr and Don Mathews who would also be treasurers.
The first Sunday service was held Sunday, January 23, 2011 at the Rowbottom home, with 25 attending and 4 children in Sunday school. Jim Rowbottom spoke and so the fellowship was officially launched. In February 2011 the fellowship met two weeks at the Courtland Bible Fellowship building and the other two weeks at the Upper Deck in Tillsonburg which was also offered for Sunday services. During that time the fellowship decided on “Grace Family Bible Fellowship of the Otter Creeks Area” as the name of the fellowship. On the suggestion of Arnold Brown, the hymn “He Giveth More Grace”, based on James 4:6, was adopted as the theme song for the fellowship. On March 6, 2011, following a pot-luck lunch, a business meeting was held and the fellowship voted to accept Courtland Bible Fellowship’s invitation and begin meeting in Courtland for the foreseeable future.
Under Ontario law all churches must be incorporated so that process was started. It began in mid-March and was completed when the fellowship gained full charitable incorporation status in August of 2011. It was an incredible work of God, as most other churches take much longer, sometimes years, to complete the process. As part of the process a meeting was held Friday, May 20, 2011 at Ingrid Irwin’s home where a set of by-laws was voted on and passed. A full constitution was to be brought into being at a later date. Also at that meeting it was decided to support Ken Wilson and Enoel Suarez of MSC, Albert of Pioneers, New Life Prison Ministry, and The Upper Room as our full time missions. Also, it was motioned and passed that Jim Rowbottom be hired on as a part-time worker/pastor.
Over the course of the year Jim did the lion’s share of the speaking, but it’s been a loose policy that another speaker be invited around once a month. This lead to the blessing of having many missionaries visit Grace. These included Gerrit Blok, the director on New Life Prison Ministry; Pastor Don Ralph, president of Christian Salvage Mission; Ken Wilson, MSC; Gary Reynolds, Regional Director of FamilyLife Canada: and the folks from Teen Challenge. Other special speakers the first year included Pastor Raymond Thompson from Emmanuel Bible Church in Simcoe (who commented on how the congregation “sang like they meant it”) and Chaplain Jeff McGregor from the Bluewater Youth Centre in Goderich who told his incredible testimony at the first annual Grace Family Christmas Banquet in December. God has provided much support within the Christian community and it has been received as a blessing.
Children’s Ministry has to be the highlight of this fellowship. Each week the front of the church was filled with 20 to 30 children heading off to Sunday school. Having them in for the beginning of the service made a real link between the children and the rest of the congregation. In December, the first Grace Sunday School Christmas concert was performed with an astounding 27 children being involved! The mid-week children’s ministry was combined with the folks of Courtland Bible Fellowship, as the Passage and Youth Alive maintained an average of about 45 children every Tuesday night! Vacation Bible School was held at the Upper deck in Tillsonburg and the response was amazing. Over 100 children attended at some point over the 5 day event.
The first Grace Sunday School & Church Family Picnic was held in July at the Carr home. 58 people attended and had a dip in the pool on the hot afternoon.
On a spiritual level, it’s clear that all have grown based on their increased level of church involvement. As a praise item, this year there were two new believers added to the family of God! Kevin and Ashley both accepted Christ! Kevin in May and Ashley at VBS in August! What a blessing it has been to have new believers in the fellowship’s midst and to see them grow.
2012 continued to be a blessing as the fellowship continued to grow. The fellowship celebrated its one year anniversary on Sunday, January 29, 2012. Gord Naismith was the special speaker and the “Bonds of Love” blessed the congregation in music. A soup and sandwich luncheon was held afterward.
In early June the building we were meeting in became available for sale. Negotiations continued until September, and though at many times it was felt a deal may not be able to be reached, a purchase price was agreed upon and the saints of Grace Family Bible Fellowship took possession of their first permanent building on September 28, 2012. The first service in Courtland as the building being owned was Sunday, September 30, 2012.
One of the fellowships own teens, Annaleise Carr, on August 18-19, 2012 became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario raising over a quarter of a million dollars for Camp Trillium, a resource centre for kids with cancer and their families. She continued to speak across Canada, including churches, and teaming up with Gideons to give out New Testaments to grade 4 students.
In 2014, we continued to grow as a group. A new mortgage was done through a financial institution as our agreement with the previous owners of the building expired. Annaleise Carr released her first book, chronicling her swim across Lake Ontario, and then completed a 75km crossing of Lake Erie in 2 stages. By the end of 2014 she had raised over $460,000 for Camp Trillium.
December 14 we commended our first ever missionary as our very own Naomi Hoover is to head to South Africa in early 2015. Other highlights were a new roof in the foyer and many other repairs around the building.
As a group of dedicated believers, we give God praise for faithfully leading us through each year. Our desire is to continue to seek His will and direction, and also to expect great things from Him going forward into the future. We also desire to be inclusive of everyone based on God’s Word and His love and not exclude folks based on human “legalism”. We go forward in faith seeking God's face and direction in all the ministries here at Grace Family Bible Fellowship.
Respectfully and Prayerfully Written January 2012. Updated January 2013 & January 2015.
We can be contacted by:
Or by writing or calling our church office @:
6 James Court/P.O.Box 287,
Courtland, Ontario, CANADA N0J 1E0
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