In 1976, there were much fewer congregations in the country than there are today. In Rishon LeTsion there were none. Baruch and Bracha Maoz were the first to start a church in the area. It begin with meetings in their apartment consisting of just their family. A few months later, other believers from the area approached Baruch with the suggestion that they combine efforts and form “a fellowship” – a regular gathering of believers which would meet to study God’s word and move toward the formation of a church. As the group started to meet on a regular basis, a group of Orthodox Jews embarked on a campaign meant to intimidate them. Yet their efforts had the opposite effect. The posted notices warning the population against the fellowship and articles published in the press acted as advertisement for the fellowship and helped establish a still-wider connection with the general populace.
In February 1977 the congregation chose its first elders. Some months later a Deacon was appointed. Attendance numbered about seventy, making Grace and Truth one of the largest congregations in the country. In May 1978 Grace and Truth congregation formulated a statement of faith as a legal document, enabling it to register as a non-profit organization. By this time, the congregation was meeting in a nearby city, Rehovot, in a small hall, with no added rooms except a little toilet which also served as the children’s Sabbath School classroom. Opposition from the Orthodox Jews continued.
In June 1982 a rift took a place, in which one of the elders came to a conclusion that Jewish Christians are obliged to keep the mosaic law. This same elder led away a large body of congregants from the church.
Meanwhile, “HaGefen Publishing” (CWI Israel) had purchased premises in the industrial area of Rishon LeTsion and kindly made the property available to the church. The church continued to grow numerically, and some of the newcomers were even fit to preach and lead the services. In 1990, two were appointed as elders-in-training and a Diaconal Committee was established.
1990 also saw the beginning of a massive immigration from the former Soviet Union. Grace and Truth then numbered about forty attendants. While the congregation received the first new immigrant families with much joy and love, the church faced substantial challenges regarding how to absorb new congregants. Immediate action was taken to help the newcomers. Translation was provided into Russian, English, Yiddish and Romanian so that all present could understand the services and hear the word of God in their own languages. A tremendous effort was invested in helping the immigrants settle in the land in terms of residence, finding employment, interacting with the authorities and all other matters relating to life in a new country. In 1991 the church initiated the founding of a national social aid fund—Keren Yad Ezer, since then renamed Keren Tkuma—in order to help needy families to purchase homes, obtain professional education and otherwise become financially independent.
The immigrants, on their part, had to invest a good bit of effort to accept the new ways in which the church conducted itself. Everything was different—the order of the services, the acceptable posture during prayer, dress codes, celebration of the Jewish festivals and even the hymns.
In 1996 congregation numbered over 400 and was continuing to grow. The meeting place was crowded beyond description. With the help of friends overseas, the church purchased a plot of land for building a facility that would hold a far larger number of attendants. Due to the overcrowding, the Sabbath worship services were split into a main service in Rishon LeTsion and an evening service in Ashkelon.
In 2003 Baruch, who served the church as pastor for over 20 years, announced his intentions to retire in five years. A committee for seeking a new pastor was established and Grace and Truth pastor’s profile was drafted. Some time after Baruch’s retirement, the church chose an American pastor named Brig Jones, who joined the congregation in 2009 and was ordained in 2010. A few months later the congregation experienced another turning point, when two elders separated to establish a Russian speaking church.
But by God’s grace, the seats in the church began to fill again, this time by families of Ethiopian descendant. Grace and Truth embraced this ethnic minority just as it did the Russian immigrants back in nineties.
In October of 2011 Pastor Brig announced he would leave his position of pastor of Grace and Truth and return to the United States. A few months later the elder’s committee recommended to appoint David Zadok as pastor and the church happily accepted his candidacy, knowing his faithfulness to the church as an elder for many years and his abilities and qualification to serve in this capacity. In January 2013 David Zadok was ordained as pastor of Grace and Truth.
In April 2013 the church held a dedication ceremony of the new church building in Kanot and permanently moved its Sabbath services there in September 2014, still waiting for final permits. Click here to read more about new building project.
Today our Sabbath services are divided into two parts: the main service which includes the sermon, worship songs, prayer and announcements, and the Sabbath school with classes for adults, youth and children. There are four active classes of Sabbath school for children. The youth group and the young adults are very active, and we host several mid-week Bible studies in homes. We see many young people among us dedicating their lives to Christ and getting baptized.
Our church seeks to be active in evangelism through the lives of each and every congregant. The church is also involved in ministering and sharing the gospel with veterans and Holocaust survivors through organizing events to encourage them and demonstrate to them the love of Christ. This ministry is led by one of our deacons and evangelists Eduard Golder.
And of course we desire to widen our social activity and increase the influence of the gospel on Israeli society, while also serving the church in Israel at large. We long to be a center for the study of the scriptures and of everything that pertains to the Christian life.