Grace Tabernacle was born out of a Bible study that started in the home of Davis and Marty Bruton in Tabor City, North Carolina. Pastor Owen Johnson was travelling from Greensboro, North Carolina every Thursday night to the Bruton’s home and driving back to Greensboro the same night. Shortly after the bible study began, God told Pastor Owen and Judy to move to the area and start a church. They moved here in September of 1976.
They had their first official church service on a Sunday night at Willis and Bertie Gauses’s home in Loris. The next Sunday they met at People’s Savings and Loan in Loris. They had sixty people and soon realized the place was too small. They then moved to Paul’s Seafood Restaurant in Loris and stayed there for several months. When they outgrew Paul’s, they moved to the Loris Legion Hut and stayed there for seven months.
Again, they moved to the building that is now Dr. Michael Mills’ office. Once again, they were there for seven months. From there, they went to the old Clio School building on Highway 701, just outside Loris. Finally, after a brief stay there, the Grace Tabernacle family moved to their present facility.
During this time, God gave Pastor Owen and Judy a vision to start a Christian School, grades K5-12th, and a Seminary to train men and women in the ministry. In the summer of 1980, Pastor Owen and Judy went to Lewisville, Texas, for training to begin Grace Christian School. In August 1980, they opened the doors to thirty students. Grace Christian School is now in their 37th year.
In September 1982, Grace Theological Seminary was started. With hard work and determination, students can earn an Associate, Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate of Divinity. The Seminary and Christian School are fully accredited. Numerous satellite churches have started from Grace Tabernacle and many ministers ordained and set into the ministry.
Grace Tabernacle, Grace Christian School and Grace Theological Seminary have endured many tests and trials over the past 37 years. In 1984, they endured two fires, the last one totally destroying the building. But God was faithful; what the enemy meant for evil, God turned it for good. They rebuilt and made provisions for growth in the school. Over the last 37 years, they have grown in wisdom and strength in the Lord.
Grace Tabernacle is built upon “The Rock” and it will stand.