Our Story


Grace First Baptist Church was originally organized on June 6, 1975, by Rev. Linwood F. Russ with three family members; wife, Blanche A. Russ, son, Linwood and daughter, Audrey. The first business meeting was held on June 18, 1975 with twelve persons in attendance. Brother Furman Burton was appointed Church Clerk and Sister Bertha Booker was appointed "Mother of the Church.”

On June 22, 1975, the first worship service was held at the Pastor’s home with 20 visitors attending including his 3 family members. The first public worship service was held at the J.B. Passmore Elementary School Auditorium on June 29, 1975. During this worship service, 6 visitors united with Grace First Baptist Church. By December 1975, the membership had grown to 83 members. The members resolved to purchased property for a church building and on May 23, 1976, it was formally decided to build the church on the purchased property. By that date, the membership had grown to 94 members.

On June 22, 1976, Rev. Russ and 7 trustees signed a contract with Berlee Lumber Company to build a single story structure at 2510 Observation Drive, San Antonio, Texas. On December 15, 1976, Rev. Russ and 118 members moved into the new church building. On July 2, 1977, an extension was built to the church and named "Fellowship Hall". By 1979, the membership had grown to 257 members, and additional property was purchased, paved and made into parking lots.

In August 1981, Grace purchased two lots across the street from the church. One lot had a building on it which was renovated and used for Sunday School classes and a Day Care Center. In 1985, Grace purchased property for storage of church owned vehicles. On March 14, 1985, Grace First Baptist Church was incorporated. On May 17, 1986, Rev. Russ succumbed to a massive heart attack. Associate Minister Eddie McCrary, Sr. was appointed as Spiritual Leader until a new pastor could be selected. The church had grown to 449 members.

Rev. Aaron Brasfield, Jr., from Second Baptist Church of Seguin, Texas, was called in February 1987 and formally installed as Pastor of Grace First Baptist Church on June 4, 1987. Grace was blessed with continued growth and accomplishments. On September 16, 1987, it was announced that the Grace had purchased two additional lots immediately south of the church property for $20,000. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the present edifice was held on Sunday, March 20, 1988 and on the February 16, 1992, the membership moved into the present Sanctuary. The site was dedicated by Rev. Aaron Brasfield, Jr., Pastor, and Deacon Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr., Chairman of the Deacon Board. The ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted by Rev. Brasfield, Jr. and assisted by Sis. Blanche A. Russ.

During Rev. Brasfield’s, Jr. administration, the Fellowship Hall was renamed “The Linwood F. Russ Fellowship Hall.” In 1996, Rev. Allen M. Ford joined Grace. On January 5, 1997, Rev. Brasfield, Jr. preached his last sermon as Pastor of Grace First Baptist Church.

On January 19, 1997, Rev. Dr. Walter L. Starks became Interim Pastor of Grace First Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Starks was officially selected as Pastor on October 13, 1997 and formally installed on December 14, 1997. He was a Bible Scholar, Teacher, Community Leader, Organizer, Builder and a Man of God. Under his leadership and administration, Grace First Baptist Church continued to pursue the original dream and press forward with its growth and vision, including being very instrumental in the upward trend in the church’s financial blessings.

On October 15, 2000, Rev. Ford was licensed under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Starks to preach the Gospel, and later ordained on December 19, 2003. Rev. Dr. Walter L. Starks retired as Pastor of Grace First Baptist Church on December 21, 2008.

Soon thereafter, Rev. Allen M. Ford was appointed as Spiritual Leader of Grace First Baptist Church. On April 10, 2010, Rev. Ford was overwhelmingly selected as Pastor of Grace First Baptist Church and formally installed on May 16, 2010.

With guidance from the Holy Spirit, Rev. Ford has installed 11 new deacons, established the Women's Ministry, the Grace Embraces Ministry, the Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Senior Connection Ministry, re-establishing the Young Adult Ministry, starting the Leadership Conference, Men's Retreat, Grace Institute, and our global, short term missions increased.

Completion and management of several multi-million dollar projects under Rev. Ford include the completion of the Linwood F. Russ Multi-purpose Center, a new Healthcare room, an additional parking lot and purchases of a church bus and an additional 2 vans. Several upcoming projects include a pavilion, new playground for children, and an additional building for Children's Church, Senior Citizens, new office space, a library, and food pantry.

Spiritual growth has led to an increase in membership to over 900 plus members and attendees. Rev. Ford, led by the Holy Spirit, continues to preach and teach the word of God so that we can "Building Strong Families through the Word of God.”