Bill Bailey is the Senior Pastor at Journey By Grace Church in Belle Vernon, PA.
During a 1972 revival led by Evangelist Frank Peoples at the Boyce United Methodist church in his home community of East Liverpool, Ohio, Bill Bailey became a follower of Jesus Christ. He recalls that when the alter call was given, as he was making his way forward, he heard a voice in his head telling him, “No, this is not what you should do, don't do this; get out of here!” But he persisted. After prayer for salvation, when the weight of sin was lifted by the grace of Jesus Christ, Bill recalls that he, “felt the energizing lightness of this new life.” From that night to the present day, he has been thankful that God saved him from a destructive lifestyle.
Bill had no Biblical foundations at that time, so his pastor encouraged him to begin memorizing scripture. When he began working in the steel mill, Bill used much of his free time to memorize whole chapters of the Bible. The Holy Spirit blessed him with an excellent memory and an insatiable thirst to understand the Word of God. Bill, had often thought that he would like to own a nightclub someday, but it wasn't long until he sensed God's call to a public pastoral ministry.
While serving in the United States Army, Bill began his graduate education at the University of Alaska. He later attended Kent State University in Ohio. After becoming a Christian, he enrolled at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, California. At Azusa he learned to place great value on the Bible's original languages of Hebrew and Greek for accurate interpretation. He later continued his Bible study at Geneva College,PA.
In August, 1975, at age twenty-six and unmarried, Pastor Bill was appointed Pastor, of the Sunnyside Free Methodist Church. The Sunny Side church had a long history. It was established in 1901. As Pastor Bill tells the story, “When I saw that old Sunny Side church building sitting at the top of a hill with thirty eight steps straight up to the front door of that well worn building, I thought I might just refuse this assignment.” "I was dumbfounded!” Thankfully, the Lord impressed upon his heart that this was indeed a Divine appointment. In just weeks, the church began to thrive, especially after a series of revival services which were lead by his now good friend, Evangelist Peoples. During the revival, the church was packed and people stood on the steep steps outside to hear the Word of God. It was a great time for Bill and his new flock.
In the summer of 1976, the growing congregation took a huge step of faith to purchase an unoccupied church building at 401 Second Street, in the city of Monongahela. In 1977, after much hard work and overcoming many obstacles, the Monongahela Free Methodist Church was born and continued to grow in membership.
Recognizing the needs in the community caused by a declining economy, Pastor Bill began a Community Food Pantry in 1986. This “labor of love,” managed faithfully by gracious volunteers from the MonFMC congregation, has provided food, fellowship and a reminder of God’s love to 150 - 200 families for twenty five (25) years now and continuing.
A recent addition to the ministry of Pastor Bill came in 2008 when the congregation made a commitment to support a half hour radio broadcast that he named Journey by Grace. These preaching based programs are now heard on two local radio stations every Sunday and continue to be totally funded with contributions from the congregation.
Under Pastor Bill's teaching, the Mon FMC experienced steady growth. They were continuously remodeling their older church building and their need for a larger facility with more parking became a constant focus of prayer. In 2010, by the providential leading of the Lord, the congregation moved to its current location on Rt. 51 and Journey by Grace Church was born; a church that would answer Pastor Bill’s challenge to be, “The convinced and convincing people of God who provide a place of worship for generations to come."
Pastor Bill’s constant theme for over 35 years has been, and will continue to be, “Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone.”
Pastor Bill has a deep conviction that the word of God must be carefully taught from a grace perspective, in order to equip God's people to live as more than conquerors in this present age. To the present day, his “journey by grace” has touched the lives of many… As Wes Large, who has been in the church since Pastor Bill’s first Sunday says, “Bill has been obedient to God’s word.” “There are those who tried to entice him to other ministries, but he has steadfastly refused them to remain our Pastor for 35 years and counting.” Pastor Bill often reminds us, “ You are worth a Son to God!”