Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship is an evangelical, non-denominational and charismatic church located in Rockland County. Founded in 1970, it was a "daughter church" of Salem Gospel Tabernacle, a historic Pentecostal church in Brooklyn, NY. We were originally called New City Gospel Fellowship.
The original members had come together in a home Bible study in the apartment of Kaare and Helen Titland. A young man by the name of Tom Hatcher, who had come from rural California to work with Teen Challenge's drug rehabilitation ministry in New York, was called to pastor this fledgling assembly. For several years the church met in rented facilities and finally in a large three-car garage before purchasing property on New Hempstead Road. The original church building was erected in 1975 through the toil and sacrifice of several of those early members.
In 1977 the fellowship called its second and present pastor, Carl Johnson. Over the years the church has seen a steady growth of its ministries and of the number of people attending. A daycare and nursery school was begun in 1981 with a Christian elementary school being formed within the following three years with the pastor's wife, Sherry, serving as director and principal of these ministries. These ministries now service over 175 pupils each week.
In 1987 a second Sunday worship service was added due to increased attendance and one year later plans were begun to expand the facility. Financed through a bond issue and the sacrificial giving of so many in the congregation, the newly renovated and enlarged facility was dedicated in October 1991.
Busting at the seams
Since our first expansion in 1991, we have actively sought creative ways to minister to a growing congregation. We experimented with different service times, and different locations. All the while we continued to see increase, adding again a third service, this time on Saturday night, with a new approach and without the same time constraints.
Another recently realized dream of at least 20 years, is the acquisition of 43 acres of property adjacent to our present site. Some 18 years ago the church had a contract with Mitch Miller (yes, the Mitch Miller - for you old-timers) to purchase three acres. When we were not able to obtain subdivision approval in a timely manner, the entire parcel of 43 acres was sold to a developer and an attorney. For 17 years they attempted to gain approval from the town for 23 building lots. Due to various issues, including wetlands and the matter of the parcel existing in two townships, their efforts were repeatedly frustrated.
During this time the people of God were praying for room to grow and expand the church, school and daycare facility. In 2001 an offer was made by the owners of the property to sell five acres to New City Gospel. However, this never came to fruition, again because of the inability to subdivide the property. Finally, we wrote to the owners asking again to buy five acres, their response was NO... BUT, "would you be interested in buying the whole parcel - 43 ACRES?"
After many months of of negotiating and scrutinizing the terms of the contract, we were able to sign a contract of sale on Good Friday, 2003 and announce the purchase on Easter Sunday. For many, who have been praying and "dreaming", this was God's answer. We are convinced that God has brought us to this river to cross, this mountain to climb, this enemy to defeat, this opportunity to take advantage of, for His Glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.
The acreage has given us the opportunity to build a larger sanctuary, to increase parking, to accommodate the people who worship here and those who God desires to bring our way. We've expanded our many ministries including those of Sonshine Nursery School (ministering largely to the surrounding community) and Cornerstone Christian School (ministering to the Christian community of Rockland). We hope to include other "mercy ministries" on this parcel of land.
If Jesus tarries, there is a lot more history to be written about Gracepoint. Our prayer is simply to be a channel of blessing to the people of Rockland County. He has given us a strategic place geographically and certainly a strategic place spiritually in the region. Years ago prophetic words spoken here predicted that this church would be a lighthouse, a beacon of truth. Though already fulfilled, we desire the greater fulfillment of that word in years to come. "A city set on a hill cannot be hid." We hope to continue to shine forth in the darkness until Jesus comes again.