The church had its beginning in May of 1969 when the Grace Baptist
Church of Carlisle sent Harry (Mike) Hocker to establish a church in
Shippensburg. Hocker, a recent graduate of Reformed Episcopal
Seminary, began with a Bible study in the family living room.
This timing proved to
be a kind providence as a number of families from both Shippensburg
and Chambersburg were at that time being awakened to the doctrines of
God's sovereign grace and were looking for a church where they would
hear those doctrines proclaimed. This core group was joined by
students from Shippensburg State College (now
Rented meeting space was found in a sheltered workshop on South
Washington Street, and the church, known as Grace Baptist Church of
Shippensburg, was administered by a steering committee under the
faithful oversight of the elders of the Grace Baptist Church of
Pastor Hocker was
ordained to the gospel ministry by the
Carlisle church in April of 1970. In April of 1971 the group relocated to
Chambersburg where they purchased a large three story house on the corner
of Fourth and East Catherine Streets. At that time the name of the
church was changed to The Westminster Baptist Chapel in an effort to
attract the attention of Presbyterian believers in the community.
During the summer of 1976 a constitution and
by-laws were drafted that reflected adherence to the
On July 21st of 1976 the church became fully independent
with thirty one members and duly elected elders and deacons.
Early in 1981 Pastor
Hocker stepped down and returned to secular employment. On
August 1, 1981
Robert O. Carr, a native of New Brunswick, Canada and a recent
graduate of Trinity Ministerial Academy in New Jersey, was called to
pastor the church. He, along with his new bride Joy, moved to
Chambersburg where he settled into a fruitful ministry that would
extend for more than twenty-five years.
Over the years, the Lord also added other faithful men to the
leadership of the church, including Ken Shannon, one of the early
converts from the Shippensburg days, who became an elder in 1980 and
remains an elder to this day, as well as Ron Jones and Barry Knerr.
The group outgrew the
East Catherine Street
building in the early 1980's, and in 1984 purchased the land that it
now occupies on the north side of Chambersburg. In the kind mercy of
God the present building was constructed, debt free, in 1986. With
the move came another name change, and the church became known as the
Grace Baptist Church of Chambersburg.
Missions-minded from the very beginning, the
church has enthusiastically supported the work of missionaries in
various parts of the world. A burden for believers in the former
Soviet republics in the early 1980's eventually led to a visit by
Pastor Carr to Russia in 1993 and the beginnings of a ministry of
translating, publishing and distributing books that continues to this
day (learn more about
RUSSIAN LITERATURE MINISTRY).
Also late in 1989, the church sent Pastor Carr to supply furlough
relief in the Philippines for six months. Through the years, a
variety of short-term mission projects have been encouraged and
Members of the church have been active both in the establishment and
operation of several local ministries. These include Pregnancy
Ministries Inc., the Biblical Education Center Inc., Bible Release
Time, and Providence Christian Academy.
Health issues made it
necessary for Pastor Carr to retire from the ministry in August of
2006. In October of 2006, Craig L. Harris, a graduate of Westminster
Theological Seminary and former Associate Pastor of
in Carlisle, was called to pastor the church. The Lord has been very
gracious through-out that transition.
Our congregation eagerly looks toward the future, praying for and
anticipating the Lord's ongoing direction and blessing, as we seek to
be a means in His hand of making the Lord Jesus Christ and His
glorious Gospel known both here in our own community and to the
uttermost parts of the earth.
On March 14th, 2010 we
celebrated the expansion of our new church building.
Here are pictures from that joyful occasion:
THANKSGIVING SERVICE &
If you haven't visited
our church lately you might like to see some pictures of our new addition in stages as it was being built. Go to