Featured DBA Churches
Each month the DBA is focusing on several of our member churches, providing a profile of their history. Of varying length, each history is presented here, with mainly light editing, as written and submitted by churches currently within the DBA. These histories are also included in the history of the DBA, From Age to Age.
Friendship Baptist Church
Friendship Baptist Church
Friendship Baptist Church was born in the hearts of Newark-area Southern Baptists in July 1974. Sponsored by Ogletown Baptist Church of Newark, a home Bible study was started in July of that year. In October 1975, the congregation held their worship services to the same location of the home Bible study.
The home Bible study group began with five families from Ogletown Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church of Elkton (MD). On November 30, 1975, the congregation moved their worship services into the Four Seasons Community Center on Route 896. The first worship service at the Community Center had an attendance of 29 people, but their numbers quickly grew. Later, on January 16, 1977, they adopted the name Friendship Baptist Church. As such the church was constituted, with 56 charter members, at a service led by the pastor of Ogletown Baptist, Rev. Otis Doherty.
One of the first tasks of the newly formed church was to find and develop a permanent place of worship. In November 1977, the church voted to purchase 11.5 acres of land in Glasgow, Delaware, on Route 896, where the church is presently located. Ground breaking for the church building was held on September 20, 1981, and the first worship service was held in the new building on December 20 of the same year.
To the glory of God, many of the church members worked together to build this first structure, a simple rectangular-shaped building. This new building was soon outgrown, as the membership began to grow. A trailer was added to accommodate the children, while the men and youth met in the neighboring Motocross Club building. Construction for additional classrooms and a fellowship hall, identified as the Education Wing, began in June 1985, with construction being completed in 1986. Most of the work was done by members of the congregation. Later an extension, to enlarge the Sanctuary and provide additional office and classroom space, was added in 1991.
Located in the heart of one of the fastest growing areas in Delaware, Friendship Baptist Church is looking forward to a bright and blessed future. They currently have about 70-80 members and continue to grow with God’s help. The pulpit of Friendship Baptist has been held by many men since the beginning in 1974. The latest being Pastor Jim Chevalier, Jr, who has been at Friendship since 2008.
Fruit of Light Korean Baptist Church
Fruit of Light Korean Baptist Church
Presently we are the only Korean community church in Middletown. We had our first Sunday service on June 1, 2014, at the Middletown Baptist Church. It was like more house church format because there were just few Korean families in Middletown, and also I was new to this area. We spent two-and-half years gathering at Middletown Baptist Church (MBC) for Sunday worship and Friday prayer meetings. For those times, although we made a great effort to outreach new Korean families, it was hard to bring them into the church fellowship. Finally, six months after our first service, the Lord led two families to our church.
As being directed by God, Mark Lashey, pastor of LifeHouse Church, invited our congregation to meet at their facility. This arrangement helps for our kids to be educated by a better-equipped ministry team. After moving to LifeHouse on the first Sunday of February in 2017, we added three more families to Sunday worship services. Now we have a Sunday worship service at 11 a.m. at Everett Meredith Middle School with LifeHouse Church, an early morning prayer meeting at MBC on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 a.m., a Bible study at Everett Meredith Middle School on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., and an intercession prayer meeting at member’s house at 7:30 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.
We still have 17 potential people who need to connect to Jesus in relationship. Although we do not have much chance to become a big church, we are following His heart for the lost and wounded. So we are praying that His kingdom will come to their hearts just like he gave his gracious love to us. God called me not to build a big church but to restore at least one, so I am seeding and spreading his Word to my congregation as well as others.
Good Shepherd Baptist Church
Good Shepherd Baptist Church
It was a seed of prayer that was planted by many to start a new American Baptist church in the Bear, Delaware area. It dug its roots in 1989 and sprouted into the Good Shepherd Baptist Church (GSBC). A steering committee cultivated the budding church in its first year until Rev. Sean Lee was named founding pastor.
The central meeting place was at Glasgow Pines Community Center in March 1990. A 4-week phone-a-thon was conducted, with volunteers from other American Baptist Churches making 14,514 phone calls to inform the community about the formation of the new church. On Mother’s Day of 1990, GSBC held its first worship service with 138 people in attendance. The subsequent weeks saw an average attendance of about 60 people.
Over the following months, fellowship continued to grow, as did its ministries and weekday programs. Before long, GSBC has outgrown the Com- munity Center. And the search for affordable property began. Within a short time, the Lord led the search team to its present property, a four-acre lot. In January 1991, it held worship services at May B. Leasure Elementary School. In April of that year, GSBC celebrated the signing of its Constitution and dedication of the newly acquired land.
In April 1992, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new church building. The exterior structure was contracted out. And it took a village to construct the interior with the heartening participation of members of GSBC, along with volunteers from several churches in the area, as well as from other East Coast churches. While the building was still a work in progress, GSBC conducted services on the property under a large Army tent. What an exciting time that was in the life of the church. GSBC celebrated its first worship service and completed construction in November 1992.
Growth in the new building continued, with membership peaking at about 150 members. Near the beginning of 1995, special approval was obtained from the County to expand the burgeoning Sunday school classes into the main floor of the church house, while funds were collected for a new education wing. During that period, GSBC shared in over 100 baptisms, 12 weddings, 30 child dedications, and saw more than 200 souls won for Christ.
On June 8, 1997, Rev. Peter Ely was installed as the first permanent pastor since the founding of the church. Prayer teams were implemented, and they would provide prayer for individuals following the worship service. During this time, a praise team was also formed. Many outside groups began using the facilities, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, a Mom’s Club, an Autistic Group from Newark High School, and a local Jazzercise group. Also, another newly formed church – Grace Tabernacle American Baptist Church began using the facility for worship, Sunday school, and weekday Bible study and prayer.
On July 4, 2001, a new education wing was completed and approved for occupancy. These additions could be afforded, in part because insurance money was made available ($22,300) from damaged water pipes in the church house. In fact, this was just the amount needed to complete the project. The reason funds were low was that the church attendance had dwindled to less than 35, even as the building expanded.
There have been a total of 8 servants of God who each became an instrumental part in laying down the spiritual brickwork of GSBC over time:
• Rev. Sean Lee (1990 – 1996)
• Rev. David Darodd (1996 – 1997)
• Rev. Peter Ely (1997 – 2002)
• Rev. Steve Smith (2002 – 2003)
• Rev. Rick Hill (Aug – Dec 2003)
• Rev. Robert Zimmerman (2004 – 2005)
• Rev. Leland Maxson (2005 – 2007)
• Rev. William Offutt (2007 – 2013)
A new chapter was penned in 2013, when two separate churches intertwined and recognized the mutually beneficial decision to join as one. It became evident that each was the answer to the other’s prayer. The merger marks a major turning point in the history of GSBC. Healing Water Bible Church International (HWBCI) was a next-door neighbor, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Though it had its humble beginnings in 2004, meeting in a trailer located in the parking lot of Ogletown Baptist, its stable growth ultimately reached the full capacity of its subsequently owned residential property on Porter Road, which was utilized as a church facility. Facing zoning issues, HWBCI became an itinerant church with provisions saved up, actively looking for a permanent place to meet.
It was a complementing union, supplying what the other needed. HWBCI had to live out to its name to heal, as it served as the lifeline for GSBC to continue in its course, pulsating in its mission to cater to the community where it’s planted. The HWBCI congregation voted in favor of the merger, in line with the recommendation of its Senior Pastor, Jessie Arce, who piloted a new disposition of embracing cultural diversity for the heavily Filipino congregation. And in turn, GSBC found its doors bustling with foot traffic. The combined leadership decided to affiliate itself with the Southern Baptist Convention.
God breathed life into the situation. But it also called for its members to get out of their comfort zones and stretch their faith to far greater heights than they’ve ever been. A lot of changes were introduced, and it inherently became a pruning phase for the Church body.
Amid all the moving parts, investing in the younger generation to bring about youthful energy into the mix remained a high-priority objective. The big push in this direction would sustain the generational balance and ensure the longevity of the church, training future leaders and activating them to participate in the overall commission. A second vocational position was imminent to help close the gap of engaging younger demographics. In 2012, Pastor Daniel Vaughan was hired into the role of the first Student Pastor and hoisted into the middle of the action for this divinely appropriated progression. In 2016, his function expanded to become the Associate Pastor.
In June 2016, the GSBC leadership challenged its members to be mission-minded through the Capture The Vision (CTV) campaign. The church embarked on a major renovation of the facility to create an open layout at the rear end of the building and have a conducive and inviting fellowship hall. The intention was to build a community hub, strengthening local missions and outreach, while promoting biblical generosity.
It was timely and fitting that in February 2017, GSBC welcomed its third pastoral staff in the person of Pastor Paul Vaughan who now serves as the Discipleship and Outreach Pastor. He has filled a real need to equip and train all the Elders, Deacons, and Ministry Leaders to be cognizant of the vision, mission, and purpose of the church. He is looking to mobilize all the small groups and march forward in one accord.
Throughout its history, GSBC has established a stronger sense of identity, survived transitional periods of internal conflict, and emerged with a new vision and excitement for ministry. It continually pursues to reach into the community as a colorful mosaic projecting the diversity of the people it serves. The Gospel is for all, regardless of background, age, ethnicity, or social-economic status. GSBC welcomes everyone into the family. We are Disciples making Disciples through:
- Genuine Relationship
- Bold Evangelism
- Sacrificial Service
- Committed Community