Memories grow sweeter as the years go by! Grace Bible Church celebrated its 90th anniversary in March of 2019. Through all the years, the focus of this ministry has been the preaching of God’s Word, rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15), with an emphasis upon the grace of God which has been manifested through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our prayer that this will remain our purpose until the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
From Cafe Bible Study to Grace Bible Church
The history of Grace Bible Church began in the latter months of 1928 when a group of Christians began meeting for Bible study in a store building on the corner of Hemphill and Magnolia streets in Fort Worth. The class met once each week and was taught by Brother Ike T. Sidebottom. The interest was so good that the group decided they needed a building of their own so that they could meet on Sundays and other times for Bible study and worship.
First Church Building on College Avenue
In March of 1929 the first service was held in the new building they had built. It was located at 615 College Avenue in south Fort Worth. Brother Sidebottom served as Pastor. From the very beginning, the intent was to have a place of worship apart from man’s denominations where anyone could come and hear the gospel and study the Word of the Lord. There was no formal membership. All who were led of the Lord to come were welcome.
In 1965, because of ill health, Brother Sidebottom resigned as Pastor and Brother Charles Wages became Pastor. While serving as pastor, Brother Wages also worked in the school business as a teacher, counselor, high school principal and superintendent. In 1978, Brother Wages retired from the school business to devote full time to the church.
50 Year Anniversary and New Building
In 1979, after celebrating our 50th anniversary as a church, it was decided that a move to a new location was needed. The area around the church on College Avenue that was once residential had become a commercial and medical complex. In order to reach more people with the Word, the church decided to move to our present location on the east side of Fort Worth.
Land was purchased and our present building was built during 1979-1980. On November 22, 1980, we had our first service in the new building; a Thanksgiving dinner and service. The following day, we held our first Sunday School and worship services in the new building.
The name of the church was changed from College Avenue Church to Grace Bible Church to reflect our emphasis on proclaiming the glorious gospel of God’s grace and the studying of God’s Word, “rightly divided.”
During Brother Wages’ years as Pastor, several young men have served as Assistant Pastors with him, including Brother Ken Farmen. In April 1989, Brother Gregg Bing, who grew up in the church, became Associate Pastor here and served with Pastor Wages in that capacity through the end of 2002.
At the end of 2002, Pastor Wages stepped down from the full-time responsibility of the pastorate, though he did not “retire” from the work of the Lord. He continued to be involved in the ministry of the Word for several years after. Brother Gregg Bing became Pastor of the church in January 2003.
We are thankful that the Lord has been so faithful to us in allowing and enabling us to continue this ministry over these many years. We pray that we may continue to serve Him for many years to come and that He may receive all the glory, honor, and praise.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vaine in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
The Pastors of Grace Bible Church and College Avenue Church
Ike T. Sidebottom (1929 to 1965)
Brother Ike T. Sidebottom was the founding pastor of The Church at 615 College Avenue, what is known today as Grace Bible Church. He served as pastor from 1929 to 1965, when he resigned because of ill health. Brother Ike, as he was affectionately called, should be recognized as one of God’s foremost preachers and teachers of the Word of God, but he will, no doubt, be best remembered for his true humility and love.
Brother Ike was a native of Mansfield, Texas. He became a Christian when he was only 8 years old. Though he was raised in a Christian family, he didn’t come to understand the importance of “rightly dividing the Word of truth” and the revelation of the mystery committed to the Apostle Paul until he was grown. He attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Then, he and his wife, Effie Mae, took their little family and went to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. While studying there, Brother Sidebottom worked with Pastor J.C. O’Hair at the North Shore Church.
Brother Sidebottom Focuses on “Rightly Dividing” the Word of Truth
After completing his studies in Chicago, he returned to Fort Worth and began teaching a Bible class in a store building on Magnolia Street. Then, under his leadership, the group built the church building at 615 College Avenue, and Brother Sidebottom became the pastor, a position he held for 37 years.
Anyone who ever had the privilege of hearing him “preach the Word” will testify that the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ was always given, and that the person and work of our blessed Lord was magnified. Galatians 6:14 was one of his favorite verses and seemed to exemplify his life’s calling and work.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Brother Ike was such an astute student of God’s Word, that he was used to lead countless numbers of people to a deeper understanding of the Bible. His emphasis upon a “right division” of the Scriptures brought to the forefront the true Church of this age, the Body of Christ. Many people, confused by religion, were brought to stability by his firm stand for Christ and His Word, “rightly divided.”
A Pioneer in “Social Media”
In addition to his work as a pastor, Brother Ike also had quite an outreach ministry as well. He was a pioneer in radio broadcasting and aired the Scriptures over many stations for most of the years of his ministry. He broadcast in person at stations here in Fort Worth, and then on tape on stations in other areas. This opened up opportunities to go out from place to place to preach and teach the Word. He continued an evangelistic ministry across the country which was used to win many precious souls to Christ.
Brother Ike also began a printing ministry which still continues today. He wrote and printed Bible tracts and booklets and was publisher and editor of a monthly Bible study paper called the Timely Messenger (View 1st issue, 1940). Throughout his ministry, Brother Ike never failed to stand for the truth of all the Scriptures and to emphasize the unique revelation of the mystery given to the Apostle Paul, God’s message for us today.
Training the Next Generation of Pastors
Under Brother Ike’s ministry several young men were trained and then went out to serve as pastors in other areas. These included: Brother Weldon Rightmer, pastor of the Liberty Heights Chapel in Lawton, Oklahoma, Brother Charles Wages, pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas, Brother R. B. Shiflet, pastor of Eleventh Avenue Church in Mineral Wells, Texas, Brother James Roberts, pastor of Peace Congregational Church in Indiahoma, Oklahoma, and Brother Joy James, pastor of Johnson Station Church in south Arlington, Texas. In the latter years of his ministry, Brother Ike would often say that one of the big blessings of his ministry for the Lord was the young men who were saved under his ministry, grew spiritually through the study of the Word, and then gave their lives as servants and ministers for the Lord.
Throughout his ministry, Brother Ike’s family labored with him in the ministry, his dear wife, Effie Mae, who quietly but faithfully served the Lord helping people, giving wise counsel, and setting a proper example, and his daughters, Doris, Sue, and Janie. Brother Ike and Mrs. Sidebottom are in the glory together now and reaping the rewards of labor well done.
Brother Ike would be the first to want us not to give him any praise or glory, but rather to say, “To God be the glory!”
Pastor Charles Wages (1966 to 2002)
Brother Charles Wages started coming to this church in 1936 when he was a teenager. His future wife, Beverly, invited him to one of Pastor Ike T. Sidebottom’s services. A year later, he accepted the Lord as Savior and became a Christian. By 1939 he felt a calling to begin to teach. When he shared this with Brother Sidebottom, the pastor asked him to assist in the work at the church.
During these first years, Brother Wages and his wife, Beverly, did a little of everything around the church. Brother Wages served as treasurer for a time, as Sunday School superintendent, youth director, song leader when needed, Sunday School teacher, and filled the pulpit when Brother Ike was away. He also helped Brother Ike in outside Bible classes and meetings. It was during these years that he started writing messages for the Timely Messenger and helping in the publishing. Beverly taught children’s classes and the Ladies Bible Class. She also helped in the office and in the publication of the Timely Messenger.
On August 23, 1943, Brother Sidebottom and the men of the congregation ordained Brother Wages, as a minister of the gospel. Brother Wages served as Assistant Pastor with Brother Sidebottom for a number of years.
Ministry in North Texas and Invitation to Return to College Avenue.
In 1945, he began a ministry in Denton County. He did radio work for 21 years, pastored a church, and taught Bible classes in most of the cities and communities of north Texas. He furthered his education with degrees in Psychology and Public School Administration from Texas Wesleyan College. He also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. For the next 20 years, Brother Wages stayed in contact and worked with Brother Sidebottom and the congregation of College Avenue Church in Bible conferences, camps, and joint meetings.
In 1965, because of failing health, Brother Sidebottom resigned as Pastor of the church. Brother Wages was asked to replace him. As a result, in the first part of 1966, Charles Wages became Pastor of the church. He held this position for the next 37 years.
While serving as Pastor, Brother Wages also worked in as a teacher, counselor, high school principal and superintendent in the public school system. He served the last ten years as superintendent of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district. In 1978, Brother Wages retired from HEB to devote full time to the church.
Building Grace Bible Church in Fort Worth.
In 1979, after celebrating our 50th anniversary as a church, it was decided that a move to a new location was needed. Land was purchased and our present building was built during 1979-1980. On November 22, 1980, we had our first service in the new building; a Thanksgiving dinner and service. The following day, we held our first Sunday School and worship services in the new building.
Throughout Brother Wages’ years as Pastor of this church, he continued the faithful ministry begun by Brother Ike T. Sidebottom, serving as Editor of the Timely Messenger, directing camps, conferences, and VBS, and teaching and preaching here at this place of worship, leading many people to a better understanding of God’s Word, “rightly divided.” Like Brother Sidebottom, he also helped many young men in preparation for the ministry, including Ken Farmen, who served for 4 years as Assistant Pastor under Brother Wages, and Gregg Bing, who served with him for 13 years as Associate Pastor.
In August of 2002, Brother Wages announced that he was stepping down at the end of the year from the full-time responsibility of being Pastor of this work. In December of 2002 he gave his final series of messages as Pastor, focusing on “Our Wonderful Lord.” Beverly Wages, who served as Secretary of the church all the years that Brother Wages was Pastor, also stepped down from her position. They are both now at home with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord for the faithful ministry of these two dear friends and our fellowship with them over these many years.
Pastor Gregg Bing (2003 to Present)
Brother Gregg Bing, along with his wife, Kimberly, grew up in this church. They have attended services here all their lives. Both of their families, going back as many as three generations, have taken an active role in the ministry of the church for many, many years.
Gregg began teaching Juniors at our Family Bible Camps when he was a teenager. He preached his first Bible message on a Sunday evening at College Avenue Church when he was nineteen. While in college, he served as Youth Leader at College Avenue Church as well as teaching the Youth Sunday School Class. In later years, he began teaching the Young Adult Sunday School Class.
In early 1989, Gregg felt led of the Lord to enter the ministry full-time, and after discussing this with Pastor Wages, his intentions were announced to the congregation. He became Associate Pastor of Grace Bible Church in April of 1989 and was later ordained by the men of the congregation in December of that same year.
Gregg served as Associate Pastor with Pastor Wages for the next 13 years. During these years he began to take on more responsibilities, not only in teaching and preaching, but also in directing the Family Bible Camp, the Winter Youth Retreat and the Vacation Bible School. He also began writing on a regular basis for the Timely Messenger as well as doing the computer layout for our printing ministry.
Gregg became Pastor of the church and editor of the Timely Messenger in January of 2003 after Pastor Wages announced he was stepping down from these positions.
Kimberly teaches and counsels at the Family Bible Camp, the Winter Youth Retreat, and our Vacation Bible School. She also teaches in our Children’s Church and, as needed, in Sunday School. She sings in the choir and is part of the praise team.
Gregg and Kimberly celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in November 2018. They have two grown children: Rebekah and James. Gregg and Kimberly look forward to what God has in store for Grace Bible Church in the years to come, trusting in Him to work out His plan and purpose in the hearts and lives of all who are a part of the ministry of this local church.