Saved By Grace Church began in 1971 when Victor Gonzalez, Jesse Rivera, and Joe Martinez, all employed at the Main Post Office in San Antonio, (now the Downtown Station) decided to form a new church that would be non-denominational whose teachings would be based on the Bible. Together, along with their wives and children, they were the first members of the church. Since Victor was the oldest in Christ at the time and had received some ministerial training from the Free Methodist Church, all three agreed that he would be the church's first pastor. Using one of their favorite verses in the Bible, they decided on a church name: Saved By Grace. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (KJV) A short time later, the three founders signed the necessary legal documents that enabled the church to receive it's status of incorporation, with Victor listed as it's president.
Our first services were held in the car garage at Victor's house on Yukon Street, deep in San Antonio's Southside. Later that year, SBG was able to buy a church that was for sale and located on Pleasanton Rd at the corner of Robert E. Lee St. The church building was owned by the Foursquare Gospel Church that was led at the time by Pastor Gray. The building was an old, revamped, asbestos-siding military barrack that had been covered in the front section with red brick tiles after being transported to it's new location. All three founders had to borrow money to get the necessary amount needed for down payment on the property.
In 1972 Jesse Rivera separated from the group to start a church of his own. In 1975, Victor Gonzalez left the ministry and that left Joe Martinez to be in charge of the church. After several failed attempts by Joe and several deacons of the church to find a new pastor, the deacons suggested that he be their pastor. He agreed with the understanding that he only be considered the interim pastor because at the time he was fully employed by the US Postal Service.
After two years of serving as a part-time pastor at Saved By Grace, the church officers at the time asked Joe if he would consider being their ordained minister. After much thought, prayer, and consultation with his wife Mary Helen, they agreed and on Sunday, July 4, 1977, Joe was ordained to be SBG's official pastor.
In the early part of 1990, Pastor Joe and several of the deacons of the church approached the Harlandale National Bank (now Bank Of America) with the hopes of acquiring a 100,000 dollar loan for the purpose of building a new church in the same location. The old building was in such disrepair, it could no longer be remodeled or improved upon. It didn't take the bank's loan officer a long time to give us a reply to our request. The answer was no!
The SBG delegation came back to the church very disheartened to discuss our remaining options. Pastor Joe asked Raul Galan, a member of the deacon board at the time, if he thought there was enough money in the church's bank account to at least lay a foundation. Having extensive experience in the construction industry, Mr. Galan said he thought there was just enough for a foundation. With that small ray of hope, the construction of the new church began in March of 1990. After three years of hard volunteer work, generous donations of money and material, and almost weekly Mexican food sales, the new building was ready for it's members to move in. We could not thank the Lord enough for the miraculous way He provided for us, and keeping us from being indebted to the bank for twenty or thirty years in the process. Because of it, the church is debt-free today and it's property is insured for half a million dollars. We could not help but think that during those three years of construction, the bank officer who rejected our loan would scratch his head every time he saw the progress, and especially when the project was completed. There's so much more to the Saved By Grace story, but just in the construction and completion of our present church property alone, what we have seen God do on our behalf is nothing short of a miracle.