Who We Are
The best way to introduce you to our church is to tell you about the church in Antioch (Acts 11-13) and highlight four of its characteristics that we strive to imitate. (A full brochure of our church is available here in PDF)
- Evangelism (Acts 11:20-21) – People were saved in Antioch, not through professionals or programs, but through the faithfulness of ordinary believers. Grace Fellowship is a church where everyone shares the task of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ among their friends, family, and co-workers.
- Training (Acts 11:26) – Jesus said, “Make disciples…teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). The church of Antioch did such a good job of teaching their members those things, their unbelieving friends wondered at their changed lives, and called them Christ-ians or Christ-followers. Like the church of Antioch, Grace Fellowship is a place where believers are trained through the teaching of the Word of God: all that Christ commanded us about doctrine and practice.
- Serving (Acts 11:29) – The Antioch church was a church of servers, not sitters. At Grace Fellowship, we want to be a church of servers—Christians who joyfully and sacrificially contribute to the cement-hauling and bricklaying spiritual tasks of building the church of Jesus Christ.
- Missions (Acts 13:2-3) – The church of Antioch was concerned with more than just strengthening their own church. Therefore, they sent out two of their elders, Paul and Barnabas, as church planters. In the same way, at Grace Fellowship we have dedicated ourselves to planting and strengthening Bible-teaching churches in Southern Africa.
There are many great churches in the New Testament, however, the Antioch church in Acts 11-13 retains a special place in our hearts. We love its evangelism, training, serving and missions, and we have made those things our commitments at Grace Fellowship.
What We Believe and Teach
Our full Doctrinal Statement can be downloaded here.
How We Function
Our Church Constitution can be downloaded here.
Joel James – Elder, Pastor-Teacher
Joel has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Fellowship since February 1995. Joel grew up in the north-central United States in a family with believing parents, and professed faith in Christ at a young age. After graduating from varsity, Joel attended The Master´s Seminary at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. Joel completed his studies in May, 1994, and spent the next eight months serving as an intern in the outreach department at Grace Community Church. During that time, he was ordained and visited South Africa with his wife Ruty. During that visit, the leaders of Grace Fellowship extended an invitation to Joel to be their pastor. Joel and Ruty accepted the call and moved to Pretoria in February 1995. Both their children, Rebeqah and Daniel, were born in South Africa. In 2010 Joel was awarded a Doctorate in Ministry from The Master´s Seminary. His doctoral work focused on teaching pastors how to prepare expository sermons.
Ian Murray – Elder
Ian first attended Grace Fellowship at the end of 1995, shortly after it was planted. In 2002 he joined the “steering committee” which soon thereafter became the Elder Board. He has worked for Sasol since 1968 and still does some consulting for them. His wife, Freda, went to her Lord in 2008 after 35 years of marriage.
In 1992, Dr John MacArthur of Grace Community Church, Los Angeles, toured South Africa, preaching in a number of different cities. At that time, various people approached Dr MacArthur and expressed interest in starting Bible-teaching churches in their own communities. In 1993, Grace Church sent a church-planter to assist these people. With his help, Grace Fellowship Pretoria began holding services in September 1993, with seven people attending the first service. By July 1994, Grace Fellowship had grown to an attendance of about twenty-five. At that time, the church called Joel James, a graduate of The Master´s Seminary and intern at Grace Community Church, to be their pastor-teacher. Joel assumed the preaching and shepherding duties of Grace Fellowship in February 1995. The past decade has seen Grace Fellowship’s attendance grow to about 200 on Sunday mornings. After many years of meeting in various school halls, Grace Fellowship moved into their own building in November, 2005.
Through God’s gracious enablement, Grace Fellowship has planted two churches (one in Sasolburg, and one in downtown Pretoria) and are currently running various training programs to strengthen local churches across the country and continent.
The following ministries form part of our heritage.
- Grace To You – Expository sermons by John MacArthur
- Grace Community Church, USA – The church that originally sent Joel James and provides many different resources for your edification
- The Master’s Seminary, USA – A seminary that focuses on equipping pastors for pastoral ministry with an emphasis on preaching
- Christ Seminary, Polokwane – A local seminary that focuses on equipping pastors for pastoral ministry with an emphasis on preaching
If you are looking for some of the books we use in our various ministries, we recommend you contact Augustine Bookroom.