In the early 1970s, Howard Jones started a Baptist church in Moorpark, California called Moorpark Baptist Church. The group had people but no place to meet. There was another church in Moorpark with the opposite problem. The independent Moorpark Bible Church had a building with no mortgage, but virtually no people. The two churches merged, as a Baptist church becoming Moorpark Bible Baptist Church.
The property was located about one hundred yards from the state highway. Howard Jones, believed that although Moorpark had only 5,000 residents at the time, it was sure to grow. He secured a deal with the owner of the land between the church and the highway. The church could buy the three acres of land for $30,000. The owner would carry the mortgage, charging only interest for ten years and the church would have a four acre lot on the corner of a state highway.
The congregation charged Jones with fanciful dreaming. They thought the town would never grow and that Jones was only leading the church into debt. Jones stood before the congregation, shook his finger at them and said, "You people have no vision! I won't stay where the people have no vision. If you continue with no vision, God will shut you down!"
Howard and Beatrice Jones had a grandson who at the time was not even a believer. The Jones prayed for their grandson and his wife. They asked God to save them both. They asked God to make their grandson a pastor of a church in Moorpark. Of course, the grandson knew nothing of this.
In 1976, a couple of years after the Jones left Moorpark Bible Baptist and joined Conejo Valley Baptist Church, the Lord was pleased to save the Jones' grandson and his wife. Errol and Frances Hale joined Conejo Valley Baptist to be with Errol's grandfather. The Jones' continued to pray, but did not tell Errol and Frances about their dream.
Two different pastors asked Errol if he had thought about entering the ministry. He hadn't. When a third asked the same question, the Hales sold their business and headed for Bible School.
Upon completing Bible School, the Hales wanted to serve as foreign missionaries. That didn't work out. Errol was offered a position as a custodian at a Baptist church in Simi Valley. The family moved back to their home in Moorpark and served the church in Simi Valley for three years.
Errol received a call in 1984 from a deacon at Moorpark Bible Baptist, asking him to fill the pulpit for two weeks while their pastor was on vacation. Errol said yes, but wanted to meet the people before coming to preach. The deacon invited Errol and Frances to attend the mid-week meeting. When they arrived, it became clear that the meeting was a business meeting. The chief item to be discussed was the dismissal of the pastor.
Errol asked the deacon after the meeting why he had asked him to preach while the pastor was on vacation if the pastor was being dismissed. The reply was that the pastor had two weeks vacation coming!
After preaching for two weeks, the deacons asked Errol to stay as interim pastor. After checking with his pastor in Simi and being encouraged to "get the experience," Errol agreed.
Two and a half months passed. The deacons asked Errol to become the pastor of the church. He said he would only consider the offer under three conditions. First, the current cumbersome bylaws had to be retired. Second, he would write new streamlined bylaws. Third, the church had to virtually begin again from scratch.
The church had to vote whether to make such a bold move. Jack Bailey, the Area Minister for that denomination, encouraged the church to make the change and call Hale as pastor. They never got to vote on whether to call Errol as pastor because they voted not to change the way they were doing business.
Errol preached one more Sunday. He told the people that they had no vision. He said that he didn't want to serve where there was no vision. He warned them that if they continued with no vision, God would shut them down. That Sunday the church made the connection. Errol Hale was Howard Jones' grandson.
Errol and Frances had been holding a Bible study in their home for several years, both before and after they went away to school. A few months after Errol and Frances left Bible Baptist Church, the Bible study group decided to become a church. With the full endorsement of the Hale's pastor in Simi Valley, on January 1, 1985, Shiloh Community Church officially became a church.
Howard and Beatrice Jones saw the answer to their prayers. Their grandson was a pastor in Moorpark.
After two months in the Hale's living room, the group moved into the Peach Hill Homeowners Clubhouse. These facilities were inadequate within a few months as well.
Although only two people from Moorpark Bible Baptist began attending Shiloh, Moorpark Bible Baptist dwindled. Most quit going to church altogether. Eventually there was only one member left. She signed the properties over to the Baptist denomination of which they were a part. The facility was boarded up.
The Jones began a new prayer project. They prayed that the Lord would provide a building for Shiloh at no cost. When they told Errol about this request, he tried to explain that that was impossible.
Shiloh had people but no building. The Baptist denomination had a building with no mortgage and no people at all. Pastor Hale contacted Jack Bailey to see if there was a way to get the two together. In October of 1985, Shiloh moved into the facilities that once belonged to Moorpark Bible Baptist Church.
Because the Baptist denomination didn't have any financial investment in the Moorpark property and because Errol's grandfather, Howard Jones, had gotten the property for the Baptist denomination in the first place, Shiloh only paid ten dollars per year to lease the facilities, and assumed all other financial obligations for the property. Howard and Beatrice Jones saw another prayer answered.
Among the first funeral services conducted by the new pastor were those of his praying grandparents, Howard and Beatrice Jones.
The sanctuary could only seat 40 or so. Shiloh remodeled and made more seating room. Every time they did, they grew into the new seats. There was no more room to expand. They thought about going to two services, but they felt the two groups would be too small since the church was only averaging around 100. They put up a large shade tarp in the parking lot and moved outside. The congregation grew to that seating capacity. When it was time to come back inside for the cooler months, the church went to two Sunday services.
The church continued to grow. With average Sunday attendance reaching over 200, the church investigated the feasibility of building on the site. The site was deemed to be too small and changes in the city zoning made it virtually impossible. Shiloh decided to move to larger facilities.
In September of 1993 the purchase of a brand new concrete tilt-up building that is four times the size of the old building was finalized. Final interior buildout of the new building was completed in December and Shiloh moved into their new home in January of 1994. Attendance continued to grow throughout 1994. Since occupying the new facilities, the church has slowly but steadily grown.
Shiloh became a member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), an association of Reformed Evangelical churches across the country, that adhere to the historic doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. The purpose of being associated with other like-minded churches is three-fold: fellowship, shared ministry, and accountability.
Preparing to celebrate our twentieth birthday in January of 2005, the leaders began seeking the Lord about the future. After twenty years, the church was in need of freshness. The decision was made to change the name of the church to Grace Bible Church of Moorpark. The church remains committed to preaching and teaching the Bible and sound doctrine, including Reformed doctrinal distinctives. We continue with the same style of worship and a commitment to missions. Beyond that, we are recommitting ourselves to biblical simplicity in all that we do.
In over twenty-five years, first as Shiloh, and now as Grace Bible Church, we continue to look forward to the future, remaining faithful to the original vision on which God began the church: Glorify God, Edify His People, and Influence the World with the Gospel.
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