History Of Monte Sano/Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA)
1922 – Monte Sano (M.S.) Sunday School organized in home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Braithwaite
1924 - M.S. Sunday School moved to home of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Barber. 1st Revival held. A lot in Monte Sano Farms was donated by Mr. Frank Gladney
1925 - M.S. Presbyterian Church organized with 23 members. 18’X30’ building erected at cost of $540.
1926 - On April 1, 1926 the Monte Sano Presbyterian Church was received into the Presbyterian Church of the United States. In the summer, Mr. O.E. Sanden conducted a week long revival in a tent in front of 1st church and 54 people united with the church.
1928 - On August 16, 1928 Reverend Sanden was called as pastor and a large auditorium was added to the original building. At this time there were 93 members.
1930-1941 - Mr. T.E. Davis supplied the church as pastor and he was installed as pastor. He served as pastor in other area churches during this time as well.
1941-1968 - In July, Rev. Jefferson K. Aiken became the pastor. Rev. Aiken also was supply pastor of the Baker and Clinton churches. By 1946 the church had become self supporting with 314 members. In 1947 the congregation built a new church (total cost of new building and furniture was $70,000). Rev. Aiken, his wife Jane and two children, Kirk and Jane Kelly, along with Sunday School teachers, church officers, secretary/youth leader Mildred Devall and witnessing congregants greatly touched the local community as evidenced by membership growth that reached 570 in 1955. An 11,000 sq. ft. educational building was completed in 1964 (at a cost of $122,000). The membership reached a peak of 659 members in 1963 and a new manse was purchased on Lambert Drive. After serving 27 years, Rev. and Mrs. Aiken accepted a call to Greenville, S.C. in 1968.
1968-70 Supply pastors filled the pulpit while a Pulpit Committee conducted a pastoral church.
1970- 1991 – On February 15, 1970, Rev. William (Bill) Frisbee became the pastor. Bill, his wife Margaret and children Beth, Cindy, and Ed helped lead the church through several transitions. A new bus was purchased in 1972. In 1973, the 1st annual Missions Conference was held. On June 3, 1973, the Monte Sano Presbyterian Church voted to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church in the United States. M.S. was subsequently received into the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The church sold all the property on Monte Sano Avenue to another church body in July 1978 and began meeting in Tanglewood Elementary School. On March 11, 1979, the congregation voted to change the name from Monte Sano to Grace Presbyterian Church. The church purchased almost 12 acres of land on Joor Road and began construction of a new sanctuary and manse. The new church was dedicated Sunday, September 7, 1980. A new Activities and Educational building was built in 1990 (at a cost of $220,000). During this time period, Bill and Margaret had a dynamic youth group called His People. Rev. and Mrs. Frisbee left August 1991 to minister with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship in Atlanta, Georgia.
1991-2001 – Rev. Robert Lane came to Grace with his wife, Kay, and son, Doug in December 1991. Mr. Pete Mitchell served as youth director in the summer of 1993. In the summers of 1994 and 1995, Mr. Brent Holladay and his wife, Jan, served as summer youth directors. Mr. Charles Lutz joined as youth minister in 1998 and was ordained as Assistant Pastor in August 2000. Other assistant pastors during this time period included Randy Toms and Mack Plunket. Rev. Lane left Grace in February 2001 to accept a call to First Presbyterian Church, Madison, Mississippi.
On April 1, 2001, the church celebrated its 75th anniversary. Rev. Kirk Aiken gave the sermon. Rev. Bill Frisbee attended as did many other past leaders of the church. 32 people were recognized as having been members for 50+ years.
2001-2002 - The Pulpit Committee Supply conducted a search for a new pastor. Supply pastors included Keith Berger and Buddy Gundy and several others. Mr. Julian Zugg, RTS graduate and candidate for license with Southeast Louisiana Presbytery was hired as Student Stated Supply in August 2002. He remained at the church in the capacity of assistant pastor until he was called to Covenant PCA Church, Houston, TX as Assistant Pastor in April 2003.
2002-2006 – A November 3, 2002 congregational meeting called Rev. James Calderazzo as pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church. On February 7, 2003 Rev. James, his wife, Susan, and daughter, Hannah, arrived in Baton Rouge and his first service was on February 16. Subsequent to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, Grace PCA volunteered the Activities building to house first responders and recue and medical personnel who came from other states to assist those in need. Church members worked together to provide cots, linens, meals, snacks, laundry and transportation to EMS units from eight different states. Rev. Calderazzo received and accepted a call to Safe Harbor PCA, Destin, Florida in August 2006. During the interim period, a Pulpit Search committee began work and Rev. Rob Leverett served as supply pastor.
2007-2011 – On June 17, 2007, Rev. James Alexander preached his first sermon as the next pastor of Grace PCA. James and his wife Tari brought seasoned ministry to Grace. James resigned as pastor of Grace PCA effective May 31, 2011 and moved with Tari back to Florence, South Carolina where they have been able to attend to some family needs and also to continue with street evangelism, inner city ministry and to provide assistance to area churches as a supply pastor.
Our thanks go to Paul and Linda McNeil for serving as custodians of our church since 1972 and to Susan Wimberly for expert work as the Church Secretary since 1984.
2011-12 - From May 15, 2011 through the spring of 2012 the Grace PCA Pulpit Search Committee reviewed approximately 100 resumes (e.g., MDFs-ministerial data forms) from pastors whose names were provided from the National PCA Office or who sent their data directly to Grace. Additionally the Pulpit Committee listened to many sermons (online and CD), interviewed selected applicants and brought in those whom the committee were led to hear preach in person. The church elders, Ben Brannan, Kit Bonvillian and Jesse Arnold, along with several supply pastors led church services during the pastoral search period. After much prayer and through the leading of the Lord, Pastor Don Hulsey was called as the 7th pastor for Grace PCA. Pastor Don, his wife Genie and children moved to Baton Rouge on July 1, 2012 and he was installed on July 29, 2012. The two oldest children, Josiah and Abigail, are now attending college out-of-state while the two youngest, Grace and Isaac, are in school in Central. Currently the church has approximately 100 members on its roll with an annual budget of $200,000. There are three active elders and two active deacons.
From this history, it is evident that several generations of families have been touched by the fellowship and Christian spirit of the group that began this foundation 90 years ago. Many young people have been inspired to enter the ministry or to become church officers and leaders in this church and in churches all over the country. We offer thanks and praise to God for the years He has made His presence known to this congregation.