Church History

Grace Chapel Church History

Holy BibleDuring the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a revival swept through the southwestern United States. There was a peaked interest in spiritual things; people were getting saved and renewing their commitment to Jesus. The Bible became the standard that these new believers used to guide their lives. Prayer meetings were prevalent, and the ministry of laying on of hands was being used for the healing and the strengthening of the church.

It was an exciting time. During those days, a group of people in Benson began to meet in Martin Williams’ home for prayer. Among these were Maurice Maakestad, Monte and Donna Ball, Roger and Mona Hoppes, and Butch and Sandy Scott. Many of them decided to attend Grace Chapel Tucson for Sunday morning services, as they heard that there was something supernatural happening there. Later Dad Casteel and his son John, who were both from Grace Chapel Tucson, attended the Benson home meetings to see what was going on.

The small group of believers had grown from the living room of Martin Williams’ home and began meeting at the Lions Club on Fourth Street.

Then in November of 1975, the elders of Grace Chapel Tucson encouraged the group in Benson to start a church of their own. They met with the elders prayed and drafted a covenant and signed it, declaring that through the grace of God the people would be a body of believers. The church was born!

This has come to be known as the first signing. In the mean time the church was growing and they needed space for Sunday school and more training. They were able to secure the Assemblies of God building on Fifth Street. God continued to bless the efforts of the group. They installed Dick Bennett, who was from Tucson, as the first pastor of the newly formed Grace Chapel Benson.

About a year later, Grace Chapel Tucson helped Grace Chapel Benson to finalize and incorporate independent of its parent church. The church becomes officially incorporated. This is known as the second signing.

God was stirring in the heart of Dick Bennett to move on to Springfield Missouri and Jerry Coleman was installed, as it’s second pastor in 1976. Jerry was a former Baptist pastor who came to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and found himself with the group at Grace Chapel. He then began working as the associate pastor to pastor Bennett and worship leader for the services.

Those were exciting times for the church. The church was changing and growing, it was on the move and Grace Chapel Tucson confirmed this and helped Grace Chapel Benson financially for a couple of years. (Grace Chapel Tucson was an independent non-denominational church at that time. Since that time, the church in Tucson has become Foursquare, while we continue to be a non-denominational, autonomous church, supported by it’s members.)

As they continued to rent the Assembly of God church for services. God was moving on the heart of Martin Williams to begin the first school at Grace Chapel it was called Grace Christian School. Christian education has been at the heart of Grace Chapel’s existence.

After being at the Assemblies of God facility just under a year, the elders were informed that they needed to be out of the facility in one month. At that point, the church acquired the 10 acres at 1050 S. Post Road and built the current church building. It was literally built in one month, under the direction of Don Johnson. The walls were bare and the ceiling rafters were visible when they had their first service in the building.

The church continued to prosper and the school grew during the 12 years that Pastor Coleman served. Time was passing and things were beginning to change spiritually. Grace Chapel Tucson was no longer as involved with the church locally. There were many decisions that were made involving financial pledges and the continuance of the school.

The church split as the leaders were not able to come to an agreement and satisfy those that were benefiting by the school. Those that left later went and started a new church. They became J-6 Community Bible Church. The churches have long since reconciled. It was not long afterwards that Pastor Jerry later resigned his pastorate and the church was in need of a pastor.

It was in the fall of 1988 that Shiloh Christian Center in Sierra Vista was involved in helping Grace Chapel Benson. The elders of the church went to Shiloh seeking help. Shiloh committed to offer to pulpit supply for a ten-week period. The elders were under the counsel of the elders of Shiloh Christian Center. It was in August that Mark Browning and Lupe Diaz were appointed to help Grace Chapel Benson with the preaching on a rotating basis. Late fall, the church body asked Pastor Diaz if he would consider the office of pastor. Pastor Diaz was serving at Shiloh Christian Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona, as Outreach and Care Group Pastor. In May of 1989 Pastor Lupe Diaz was installed as the third Pastor of Grace Chapel

Most Recent History Things we have done in the past 15 years.

  • Formed an ensemble and had several concerts at various churches and civic activities
  • Started an ACE Christian School 1996
  • Published a Christian newspaper called the Christian Interest
  • Had an attendance of 200 on Easter Sunday 1998
  • 9 Home Bible studies with about 10 members in each group
  • Have seen score of salvation over the years
  • Members have attended various of conferences over the years
  • Youth – Acquire the Fire in Phoenix
  • Fire Proof in Tucson
  • Women – Women of Virtue
  • Men – Promise keepers
  • Worship seminars
  • Educational conferences
  • Prayer summits
  • Marriage seminars in Phoenix
  • Scholarships have been provided for conferences
  • Have gone through a church fragmentation not a split but fragmented and loss of members.
  • Made youth one of the emphasis of ministry and outreach over the years
  • We have had fun seasonal events such as Light up the light (Halloween night), Christmas open house, Christmas Caroling, Memorial Day weekend cookouts.
  • Presided over the Benson Ministerial Association for 14yrs.
  • We gathered several churches for once a month praise gatherings and teaching.
  • Sponsored Christafari Reggae Concert at the city park.
  • We have won several of the prizes for the Butterfield and Territorial days parades.
  • We have done the adopt a block and helped clean trash in a city block
  • Had the van bringing as many as 30 children on a single Sunday.
  • Three members went to Jamaica for a mission trip in 1998.
  • Clowns for Christ marched in parades, visited the children’s hospital in Tucson, did outreaches.
  • We have gone door to door, talked to people at the City Park after parades.
  • Have had large yard sales.
  • Remodeled the church, re-roofed the church.
  • Helped the financially challenged to pay their bills.
  • Offered meeting rooms for AA and NA.
  • Fall cook outs and yearly camping trips.

Some of the standard services we have performed during a course of a year.

  • Baptisms on Easter Sunday
  • Weddings
  • Baby dedication
  • Spiritual guidance (counseling)
  • Funerals
  • Offered classes of various forms.
  • VBS during the summer months