Pastor W. F. Bell of Canton, Georgia, began the Free Grace Broadcaster in September of 1970. The first 49 issues were published six times per year under the title The Word of Truth. Then, in November of 1975, issue 50 carried the name Free Grace Broadcaster with the significant subtitle (from the Baptist preacher Samuel Medley, 1738-99):
To humble the pride of man,
to exalt the grace of God in salvation,
and to promote real holiness in heart and life."
Every edition since has been devoted to fulfilling this purpose. These early issues included articles from the pens of Pastor Bell, Glen Berry, Ferrell Griswold, Henry Mahan, Conrad Murrell, and also J.C. Philpot, A.W. Pink, J.C. Ryle, and C.H. Spurgeon. Issue 100 came in March 1984.
In May 1988 with issue 125, Pastor Bell asked Mt. Zion Bible Church's pastor, L.R. Shelton, Jr., to take over the editing, printing, and distribution of the Free Grace Broadcaster because his mailing list had grown to more than 3,000 subscribers. These subscribers were combined with those of Chapel Library, and by faith Pastor Shelton printed 10,000 copies of issue 125! By 1991, 15,000 copies were printed. By God's grace, the 200th issue had a print run of 27,000, including 16,500 subscribers in North America, 2,000 sent in bulk to churches, 3,000 for the Free Offer and follow-up requests during the quarter, 1,000 for our stock, 1,000 sent to other ministries who share complimentary copies with their constituents, and 3,500 sent to 13 international distributors who maintain subscriptions in their own countries.
The FGB became a quarterly in January of 1989 with issue 127. Pastor Shelton loved the old writers; he cut his teeth on Lloyd-Jones, Pink, and Spurgeon. So, when the Lord's people donated for a new printing press, by January 1990 the Free Grace Broadcaster listed 18 available Spurgeon sermon booklets (they now number 95). Today, the Chapel Library catalog is filled with tracts and booklets that first appeared as articles in the FGB during this era. January 1993 issue 143 came with a new title font, which has stayed with us to this day. With issue 150 in November 1994, the Free Grace Broadcaster included articles all related to one theme. This increased its value immensely because God's people could now feast on the best of what older writers had to say on one relevant topic!
Working behind the scenes, Mike Snyder ably assisted Pastor Shelton Jr. in the editing for many years. Pastor Jeff Pollard became the third primary editor of the Free Grace Broadcaster when he moved to Pensacola in August 2002 from Providence Baptist Church of Ball, Louisiana. He and Pastor Shelton co-edited two issues before Pastor Shelton passed away in January 2003. Since then, Pastor Pollard has sought to make each issue a more extensive presentation of the facets of the theme at hand: what it is, what it means, and how it affects the lives of the saints. We believe this increases its value still further because it is now a more in-depth tool for discipleship, training, and sermon preparation, in addition to its role in encouraging the saints in their devotions. As such, it is proving very significant in the training of native pastors worldwide.
The Free Grace Broadcaster Spanish Edition first appeared in 2009 with the addition of international distributors in Mexico and Spain.