History of Grace Presbyterian Church

The story of Grace Presbyterian Church in Starkville, Mississippi is much more than just a collection of cold facts and figures.  Rather it is thriving on the part of a group of believers to seek and carry out God’s will for establishing and maintaining a Biblical Presbyterian Church in the community.

In 1975, Ford Williams was sent to Mississippi State University to be a campus minister through Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), the college ministry arm of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The desire soon arose for these students to have a PCA Church to worship in on Sunday. God had been leading men and women to consider and then initiate planting a church in this community. On April 8, 1978, a few families and several college students met in the Bonanza Restaurant for the first worship service.

By April 1979, a faithful group received approval from Covenant Presbytery to formally be called Starkville PCA Chapel.  George Coxhead, Jr., a rec

Photo of front of front of Grace PCA

ent graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, was sent as the evangelist to the congregation.  George was a young, energetic, personable pastor with a vision for what God could do.  He began drawing a crowd of college students as well as several new families.  The unity and love for God and for each other continued to grow.

In October, 1980 the members petitioned the presbytery to become a church.  On November 16, 1980, Grace Presbyterian Church was formally organized with 26 members and two ruling elders with George Coxhead as pastor.

After several years of prayer and searching, hope and disappointments, the Lord provided in 1980 a beautiful piece of property for a future home.  A parcel of land of 7.1 acres was purchased for approximately $70,000.   Soon thereafter the city bought 2 acres from the church for $35,000 for the Fire Department.

No history can adequately describe the heart of the members as church activities were carried out.  By now the spirit of oneness was very strong as church members continued in Sunday School, prayer meetings, Bible studies (the women’s Bible study was already a vital outreach in the city) and other activities such as the Family Conference in April 1981, led by Gerald and Betty Morgan.  The church members were now indeed a family.

In 1983 twenty-two people became new church members and the congregation earnestly sought God’s will for a building program.  Then in 1984, George Coxhead left to follow God’s leading to go to Greenwood.  Shortly afterwards Ford Williams accepted a call from Grace Presbyterian Church to become its second pastor.  Under his watchful eye and with guidance from Architect Dan Evans of Houston, Texas, plans were drawn and the building begun.  All church members enthusiastically sacrificed and worked alongside the builders to help complete the buildings.  Celebration and thanks to God were great at the formal dedication as the congregation moved into a beautiful building to worship the living God in the spring of 1986.

In the late summer of 1988, our pastor wrote a letter to the congregation stating that he felt that God was leading him to another work.  His relationship as pastor was dissolved by a formal vote from the congregation in May 1989.

In March of 1990, God brought Bradford Stewart as our pastor. Brad served as pastor through December, 2005. During his tenure here, we were blessed to have Assistant Pastors like Charles Godwin and Jon Anderson.

In late 2006, Jason Edwards was called to be our fourth pastor.  He served from late 2006 to late 2011.

In November of 2012, Bill Heard, was called to be our fifth pastor.  During his tenure, the Lord used Bill to foster a great sense of unity, love, and care for one another throughout the church. Bill resigned his pastorate here in the spring of 2019.

Worship Service at Grace PCA

Our sixth and current pastor is Seth Starkey. He began his time here in May of 2020. Seth came to us after serving as an assistant pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC, RUF campus minister at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS, and associate pastor at Madison Heights Church in Madison, MS. Seth is married to Laura Lee and they have three children, Sam, Charlie, and Betsy.

The founding members of this congregation desired to be a biblical, and reformed presence in Starkville and on the campus and that desire continues just as fervently and prayerfully today.

If you have not yet visited Grace Presbyterian Church, we warmly invite you.