After a number of months of prayer, reflection, and visioning, the congregation of the Ocala, Florida, Grace Brethren Church voted this past July 18 to dissolve the Ocala church as an independent entity, and become a campus of Grace Church of Sebring, the Grace Brethren Church in Sebring, Fla. Sebring pastor Randy Smith said, “They willingly have submitted to follow the leadership of the elders at Sebring, who prayerfully accepted them with joy.”
his decision to rebirth the Ocala church, which had been without a permanent pastor for some time, was based on a work that God had been doing for months, according to Smith.
He explained, “About a year ago the leadership of Ocala Grace faced a real problem. Their dear elders had served faithfully into their 80s and knew they needed help to keep going. They are men of integrity, but they felt unable to keep forging ahead. The spirit was willing but the body wouldn’t always cooperate.
“Closing the church seemed to be an answer, but what of the vision that planted the church a generation ago? They could not simply give up. Through the visionary leadership of FGBC Fellowship Coordinator Tom Avey, they were connected to the Grace Church of Sebring. The pastors at Sebring met together with Tom and the Ocala elders, and they began a cooperation that led to the July 18th congregational vote.
“In the immediate future, Ocala Grace will continue to meet as before, but something is happening. An exciting rebirth is underway. Pastor Matt Wheelock, the administrative pastor at Sebring, has been at Ocala teaching, and says, ‘They are a precious group! We cannot abandon them, and we will not back off the mission to reach into their neighborhood. Our churches cannot back up; the need is too great. Stay tuned; the best is yet to come!’”
Smith continued, “Sebring Grace is openly seeking God for the tools needed to get the job done. We ask the sister churches across the FGBC to pray for our work. Florida has receded far enough; it is time to replant. We have plenty of sunshine and soil that needs new seed. Lord willing, an even greater harvest is ahead!”