Grace Community Church and Boulder City have intertwined histories. Boulder City began as a construction town for the workers and families of the workers who built Hoover Dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Grace Community Church began as an inter-denominational Protestant religious work and was supported in April 1932 by members of the National Home Missions Council. American Baptist Church, Congregational Church, United Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Methodist Episcopal Church, Disciples -United Christian Missionaries, and the United Brethren Church all supported the new Grace Community Church. The theme of the original organizing group was “Let there be one Protestant church cooperating, not a dozen competing.”
The Reverend Thomas Stevenson from the California Presbyterian Church in Burbank was the first minister. After meeting in the Six Companies’ mess hall, the church broke ground for a sanctuary, on ground leased from the U.S. Government, on September 25, 1932. On January 29,1933, the first service was held in the unfinished basement of the church. Grace Community Church was dedicated on February 22,1933 “to the glory of God and the blessing of Man.” At that time, Sunday School attendance was 260.
The Ladies’ Aid Society became deeply involved in fund-raising, the church was a center for various community groups, and assumed a key role in the development of the community. Reverend Stevenson led the congregation until 1937, when he was struck by an automobile in front of the church and passed away from his injuries.
The Reverend Harold Eymann (1938-1942) was sent to fill the pulpit from the California Congregational Church. Formal by-laws for the congregation were adopted and the church was incorporated under state law during Reverend Eymann’s ministry. The church grew, the Sunday School overflowed into City Hall, the mortuary, and private homes. The original manse and the social rooms were constructed. With the nation at war, Reverend Eymann felt called to serve as a military chaplain and left in 1942. Forty years later he wrote, “I have always held that the closer we came to entering our loyalty in Christ, the nearer we would be to one another, regardless of our differences of Biblical interpretation or theology. It was a great joy to see that happening at Grace Community Church.”
The Methodist Church in Azusa, California sent the Reverend Winston Trevor (1942-1949) to Grace Community Church and the body of people who “in ten short years had helped build the world’s largest dam, helped create a complete city in the middle of the Nevada desert, and had organized themselves into a solid inter-denominational church as unique as the community they helped create.” Bulging attendance forced enlarging the sanctuary, constructing a new chancel and obtaining new mahogany pews. The congregation met in the local movie theater during construction. Radio broadcasts of the Sunday services, participating in “the Heifer Project” to help rebuild overseas, and “Country Store” began. Country Store has endured as a prime fundraising rummage sale and ecumenical event for the entire church and Boulder City.
The Reverend Olaf Stoeve came as spiritual and pastoral leader from the Congregational Church. During his ministry, the youth chapel and Sunday School rooms were completed. Vacation Bible School enrolled 334 children and there were 368 active members in the Sunday School. Reverend Olaf ministered at Grace from 1949-1953.
The Presbyterian Reverend Earl Seymour Fox (1953-61) found the congregation growing and recommended that two services be held on Sunday, and that a building be added next to the American Legion Hall. This became Fox Hall. The by-laws were revised, six stained glass windows were installed, paid for by the congregation and Women’s Association; the 25th anniversary was celebrated; and in 1959 the church library was established. In the late 1950s, the federal government started thinking about relinquishing Boulder City as a federal entity. The population of the city dropped, and church membership followed. Reverend Fox resigned and accepted a call to a Presbyterian Church in Brigham City, Utah.
Boulder City incorporated as a Nevada Municipality in 1960 and inherited all government land leases. The Reverend Guy Holliday (1961-1978) became the minister, and Grace Community Church entered a 50-year lease for the land under the church facility. A new Allen organ, new hymnals, new members, and two Sunday services were held in the early 1960s. In the late 60s, changes in attitudes were reflected as people showed less interest in volunteering their time and efforts to church work. The teen center was dropped, Reverend Holliday resigned, but then rescinded his resignation. The church became affiliated with the United Methodist Church in January 1971. The living nativity and “hanging of the greens” were started, and by 1975 a summer Youth Director was employed. In 1978, the Reverend Guy Holliday was reassigned after serving 17 years at Grace.
The Reverend Melvin Pritts (1978-1982), from First Methodist Church of Phoenix, succeeded Reverend Holliday. During this time, lay liturgists became standard, a Boy Scout troop was formed, and a local AA Group began meeting in Fox Hall. Many improvements were undertaken both the interior and exterior of the church facility, including the ever ongoing improvements to the heating/cooling system. For health reasons, Reverend Pritts returned to Arizona in 1982.
The Reverend M. Kenneth Criswell (1982-1985) arrived from Ventura, California, in time to give support and leadership to the committee working on the 50th anniversary. He found a debt-free church and a vital, caring congregation. The Rev. Matthew Seargeant came as associate pastor in 1983. In June 1985, both ministers left Grace Community Church for churches in California.
The Reverend Dr. John J. Rousseau (1985-1990) came from serving three Methodist churches in Hawaii on July 1, 1985. The Youth chapel was rented to St. Kenneth’s Episcopal Church and Grace Community Church was used as a counseling center. The Reverend Rousseau was troubled by a lack of clear definition of the relationship between The Methodist Conference and the church. By 1986, the church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During Rev. Rousseau’s ministry, the basement ramp was completed and the all-congregation birthday party was started. A retirement dinner and program was held for the Reverend Rousseau in 1990.
The Reverend Dr. Richard Smith (1990-1999) was serving Grace Community Church when the land was purchased from the City of Boulder City in 1990. The church decided to remain connected to the Methodist denomination, and some members decided to form a new church – Faith Christian Church. Grace Community Church became the 3000th church to enroll in the Stephen Ministries program. The Un-Retired Renovators, organized by Smokey Haist, was formed to provide necessary maintenance work. Reverend Smith conducted several well-received Bible teaching classes. During this time, the Methodist denomination pressured Grace Community Church to move from the covenant connection with the denomination to become a full Methodist Church. The vote was to remain as a non-denominational Protestant Christian Church. With this, Reverend Smith left, as did several members who then started a new Methodist here in Boulder City.
The Reverend Dr. Ronald S. Freel (1999-2004), who was worshiping with and volunteering as an Associate Pastor, became the senior pastor. The Silver Lining Singers, under the direction of Carol Simak, helped set the tone of worship. Reverend Freel’s loving, caring leadership encouraged all the members of the church. Grace Christian Academy, a Nevada licensed private school for grades kindergarten through six, became a church mission. Reverend Freel’s unexpected death, on June 4, 2004, occurred a short time before his scheduled retirement. The Associate Pastor, Gard Jameson, served the church during the interval between Reverend Freel’s death and the arrival of the new senior pastor.
Pastor Kevin Roach (2004-2008), preached his first sermon on July 18, 2004. Grace Community Church celebrated their 75th Anniversary in April 2006 as the official anniversary, and again at a historic dinner hosted in June of that year, in which all prior Pastors were invited to attend. Reverend Roach resigned his position in February 2008.
Pastor David Hugh Graham (2008-Present) came to the pulpit for his first sermon in November 2008. He is committed to the growth of our church and the investment in young families, as well as the support of our entire congregation. He has reinstituted Confirmation Classes for the youth, and guided the update of the Grace Chapel and the refurbishing of the Prayer Room.
Grace Community Church
1150 Wyoming Street, Boulder City, Nevada 89005
Phone: (702)293-2018 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography Copyright Christian Lentz