In 1950, missionaries Valence and Lula Baird felt led by the Lord to start a mission in the newly erected single-storey terrace shophouse built by Singapore Improvement Trust at 50 Odin Square, off Alexandra Road. Starting with a single ‘Story Hour’ in Cantonese, the little mission was jammed with 30-40 children who heard Bible stories in their mother tongue. Less than a year later, church services in Cantonese began and they were attended by the children’s parents and neighbours.
As more adults in the community showed interest, a Bible Study and Prayer Meeting was introduced as a mid-week service. By the end of 1951, the attendance was about thirty, which included adults, teenagers, and young children.
In June 1952, Sister Lau To Chan was recommended by the Principal of the Ecclesia Bible Institute to replace the Bairds who had to go on furlough. Sister Lau worked hard, applied herself to the community, and made frequent visits to the hospitals and homes of the sick, laying a solid foundation in the Chinese community. Assured of the Lord’s leading, she later applied for and obtained Singapore citizenship.
Rev. Jean K. Wagner, an appointed missionary from the Assemblies of God HQ, Missouri, U.S.A. was sent as replacement to the Alexandra Mission in late 1954. Sis Wagner was well-versed in English and she was able to converse in Mandarin, while Sis Lau To Chan was fluent in Cantonese and spoke some English. Both widows laboured in harmony and were blessed of God. Soon the church in Odin Square with a congregation of fifty became congested and they were compelled to seek for a larger premise.
In 1958, a property at 355, Tanglin Road was put up for public auction by the bank. The church prayed fervently about the acquisition of the property. Rev. Wagner went to the auction, not knowing how the church could compete in the bidding. For some unknown reasons, the auction was postponed twice. Because of the postponements, no one was present at the third auction except Rev. Wagner and the negotiation with the bank settled the 41,000 sq. ft. land at $40,000 then, which was an impossible price tag today.
Soon, the church moved into the new location and was named Grace Assembly because it was by God’s grace that the property was purchased at such a good price.
On 26 May 1962, Rev. Wagner died. Her adopted son, Rev. David Nyien, took over Grace Assembly in July 1962. He served as the church pastor for less than four years. During that short period, he made significant changes and transformed the fledging church to an independent and confident one. He led the church to extend the single storey building to one with a second level to accommodate up to 350 people. He invited Rev. Oh Beng Khee and his fiancée, Sis Mary Lee, from Malaysia to come and assist him.
On 1 July 1966, Rev. Oh Beng Khee took over as the pastor of the church. Under his leadership, there were several initiatives to set up satellite and house churches. In 1974, a decision was made to erect a new church building because the congregation was outgrowing the existing building which was in a dilapidated state.
The new building which took more than two years to build, was dedicated to the Lord’s service on 21 October 1979. The sanctuary was filled with voices of praise and thanksgiving as the congregation reflected on God’s faithfulness and goodness towards Grace Assembly.
An education block was subsequently added towards the end of 1989 when the Sunday School faced a constant shortage of classrooms. On the night that the education block was dedicated, Rev. Oh Beng Khee resigned from his pastorate to concentrate on missions work. Rev Dr David Lim succeeded Pastor Oh as the new Senior Pastor of Grace Assembly and was installed in 1990.
In 2004, the church put in a successful bid for a piece of land at Bukit Batok for a new campus to accommodate her growing congregation. By August 2006, Grace@BukitBatok was ready to receive her congregants.
On 31 December 2011, Pastor David Lim handed over the reins of Grace Assembly to Pastor Calvin Lee who became the Senior Pastor.
Pastor Calvin introduced a new leadership direction – New Grace, to the church in 2012 with a renewed focus on loving God, loving people and living life missionally. This was summed up in its vision statement – More People, More Like Jesus.
In his 10 years as senior pastor, Pastor Calvin oversaw the redevelopment project at 355 Tanglin Road, and the Additions and Alterations (A&A) works at Grace@BukitBatok.
Grace Assembly’s premises at 355, Tanglin Road, underwent redevelopment in 2012 and was completed in 2015. During this period, the main Sunday services were moved to Furama Riverfront Hotel. The Young Adults & Young Professionals (YAYP) and Cantonese services were held at My Saviour’s Church while the J333 prayer meetings were conducted at St John St Margaret’s Church.
God’s provision was clearly upon Grace Assembly. Six months before its completion, Pastor Calvin declared to the congregations that the church had raised sufficient funds to pay for the massive redevelopment project of Grace@Tanglin. The congregation moved back to the brand-new building in early October 2015.
Subsequently, A&A works at Grace@BukitBatok also began in 2017 and they were completed in June 2019. Apart from improvement works to existing rooms, new halls, classrooms, and an escalator were added to Grace@BukitBatok.
On 31 December 2019, Pastor Calvin passed the baton to Rev Dr Wilson Teo who was installed as the new Senior Pastor of Grace Assembly till the present day.