Understanding Grace: Where We're From
The purpose of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches is to encourage and enable its' member churches to equip and unite the saints in fulfilling the Great Commission. This grants each member church the freedom to make decisions on their own for their local body of believers. As a result, Grace Brethren Church of Simi Valley, while being a member of the Fellowship, operates independently and is lead by a group of elders.
The story of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) begins with a small group of German Christians in the 18th century. This group, led by Alexander Mack, reacted against the traditions of the State Church of Germany. They proclaimed that Christianity was a faith to be lived and experienced. They rejected the orthodox creeds that had been given more authority than the Bible, and they desired to hear preaching that applied the Bible to life. These Christians did not desire to create a new denomination but hoped to reform the dead state churches.
The crisis for Mack and his small group of fellow Bible students came when they studied Matthew 18:15-17. They discovered that they could not practice that passage correctly if there was not a church made up of believers committed and accountable to each other. Their continued study of the Bible led them to the creation of a local congregation. Out of this study they concluded that as believers they needed to be baptized by triune immersion and practice a threefold communion service. Out in the forest, this small group of eight souls conducted a baptismal service after reading Luke 14:25-27. The Grace Brethren movement traces its roots from that small seed of faith planted in 1708.
Persecution brought the Brethren to Pennsylvania. William Penn invited many Anabaptist groups, including the Brethren, to become productive citizens of his new colony. By 1729, virtually the entire Brethren membership had moved in with their German Anabaptist neighbors. Earnest efforts were made to plant new churches. The first Sunday School in the colonies was started by the Brethren in Philadelphia. The first European language Bible published in North America came off the press of a Brethren named Christopher Sauer. There was energy and a progressive spirit in these early Brethren.
Through several eras of conflict and tension, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches was formed into the group it remains today. With a renewed thrust in foreign missions and the rise of dispensational fundamentalism, Grace Brethren Churches have moved into the mainstream of American evangelicalism. Today the Grace Brethren movement is made up of more than 265 churches in the United States and Canada who have formed the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (Inc.), ten cooperating organizations, 23 cooperating districts, over 1,100 churches outside the United States and Canada, hundreds of new church starts called "points of light," and an unknown number of cooperative ministries.
Our Grace Brethren Church in Simi Valley was started in the home of Ed and Eileen Shimmel in December of 1960. There the first 19 people were led by Pastor Elmer Frickey as they established their fellowship as an official Grace Brethren District Church. In 1961 the church moved to a building on Church Street until 1964 when the first building was constructed on our present property. The next couple of decades saw continued church growth, more building projects, and continued Biblical teaching from several faithful men. In 1983, John McIntosh, his wife Carolyn, and their family arrived to shepherd the Simi Valley church. Pastor John has faithfully taught the word of God for the past few decades and the church has continued to grow in relationship with Christ. We don't know what the next few decades will hold for our church but we do know that our passion remains, To know Christ and to make Him known!