Grace Bible Church had its beginning in the early 1980’s, after the former church was handed over to Bishop Mosa Sono in 1983.
In early 1982, Rhema Bible Church North under the leadership of Pastor Ray McCauley, commissioned a young couple Andra’e and Edana Knoetze to start a church in Soweto. The then mayor of Soweto Mr David Thebehali was instrumental in securing the Mavis Hall in White City Jabavu to be used for the church services.
As the church grew, there was a need to have more full-time workers and thus in 1982 Bishop Mosa Sono and the late Jerry Lechela were approached to be associate Pastors to Pastor Andra’e and Edana. What was unique about the church at that point was the voluntary service that was offered by several church members like Mrs Nonceba Mnguni, Mr Levy, Pastor Cebisa Dwaba, Mrs Jane Shuba and others. The preparation of the hall for the Sunday services was done the day before, with the setting out of 149 chairs, the Peavey Sound System, etc. The Sunday morning intercession which preceded the service was introduced at that point, and this has become one of the values the church embraces.
In mid-1983, Pastor Knoetze sensed a leading to move into field ministry and thus the signing of the handover of the church was done on the 1st September 1983. The church was then officially handed over to Bishop Mosa Sono on the 4th of September 1983. This became one of the “rough periods” for the church as the Mavis Hall venue agreement was unfortunately terminated and with the church having to relocate to a different venue, many members were lost and several key leaders left the church also.
Due to certain constraints to the use of the Rhema name, the church was instructed not to use the name any longer; and the financial support to the church was also withdrawn. In the midst of these challenges, the first service at the new venue, Isaacson Higher Primary School in Moroka on the 18th of September 1983 was marked by an evident tangible presence of God. The name Grace Bible Church was then adopted in 1984.
The church outgrew the facility at Isaacson Higher Primary School, and with the help of Mama Seokolo, secured the use of the church of the Holy Ghost building in 1984. That phase of the ministry was characterised by consolidating the church administratively and house No.8 in Rockville, Soweto (Mr and Mrs Sono’s garage) was used as an office. The Ministry of Helps (Volunteers Team) was expanded and trainings began. The first Ministry of Helps retreat was held on the 10th October 1984. The Financial Board was elected amongst whom were Mr Sono Snr, Mr Job, Mr Ngakane and others. Kenneth Makopo also joined as an associate Pastor.
At that stage the prayer activity intensified with prayer meetings on Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoon services focusing on prayer.
In 1985 the church then relocated to Hlengiwe Secondary School due to rapid numerical growth. Youth meetings were introduced, youth camps, banquets etc. Leaders emerged amongst the young people. Focus on the family teachings were instituted and activities started growing. That year concluded with a first anniversary celebration at Eyethu Cinema.
As the church continued growing further, the board of the church then had to decide to move to a bigger venue. Jabavu Home Makers Festival Ground became the only alternative venue within the radius in which the church had circulated since its inception. The first service was held on the 1st of June 1986. It was in this same year that Pastor Kenny Makopo left to establish a church in Garankuwa. On the administrative side, the church moved its offices from House No.8 Rockville to Dube Shopping Complex. In that year we lost two of our youth leaders in an unfortunate and mysterious accident. At that stage the church went through many attacks – there were false rumours spread about the church and some of our member’s lives were threatened.
The move to Home Makers brought with it hard work and the need for resilience and toughness. From 1986 the church went through different seasons, more leaders emerged, the then young Bishop Mosa Sono got married to Pastor Gege Sono. The church started learning more about its social responsibility and thus established the Community Outreach Department and Missions Department. By God’s grace the church then moved into its self-financed facility in Pimville Zone 1 on the 28th October 2001.
To date, Grace Bible Church has grown from being a one campus ministry, and now has branches spread across South Africa and is willing to venture into new territories.