Faith Bible Fellowship Built: 1950
FAITH BIBLE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH (as of 1973)
Faith Bible Fellowship Church, formerly known as the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church, can trace its history to the time when the great religious Reformation was spreading throughout Europe. The term Mennonite stems from the name of a man born in Holland in 1496, Menno Simons. He was one of the early reformers, a student of Latin, Greek, and the Scriptures. During the Reformation he lived a life of poverty, constantly threatened with imprisonment, persecution and death. At the same time his was a life of loyalty to his spiritual convictions, of service to his fellow men, and of peace with God. Because of Menno Simons’ commitment to his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, he had many followers—the Mennonites.
In 1874, the year following the incorporation of the Borough of Fleetwood, the Reverend S. Lambert conducted meetings in the brick chapel on the North Richmond Street in what is now the old building belonging to the Missionary Church. The Reverend William Gamman, one of the founders of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church of Pennsylvania, was pastor from 1878 to 1880.
Under the ministry of the Reverend W. B. Musselman in 1884, the work in Blandon was organized. It was the beginning of the Fleetwood-Blandon circuit. There were a number of years however, when the work was young, that no pastor was stationed at this place. The Reverend E. N. Cassel came to Fleetwood in 1901 and held tent meetings on a vacant lot on Elm Street where the first church was erected under his leadership. In 1934, under the pastorate of the Reverend Alien G. Woodring, it was improved and enlarged to seat 250. The present church, on the northwest corner of Richmond and Cedar Streets, was built in 1950; a three-floor educational annex was added in 1964.
In 1959, the denominational name was changed from Mennonite Brethern in Christ to Faith Bible Fellowship Church. This change was made to define more clearly the purpose and “image” of the church. Each word in the new name was chosen for a specific reason: BIBLE indicates that the church accepts and proclaims the Bible as the inspired Word of God, the final and only authority for doctrine, practice, and moral conduct; FELLOWSHIP signifies that the members accept a common way of life with a heartfelt concern for others in the community, endeavoring to present Jesus Christ as Saviour and points out their commitment to Him as Lord; CHURCH acknowledges that Jesus Christ is the head of His church, which bases its life on His revealed pattern in Scripture. The church is governed on earth by Christ, through a Board of Elders—the pastor and laymen elected by members.
Faith Bible Fellowship Church seeks to meet the spiritual and social needs of the entire family. The Sunday School has excellent facilities and dedicated teachers who teach the Bible with a daily-life-related concept. Sunday morning and Sunday evening services, though not strongly liturgical, have an orderly and methodical distinction. Faith Church is endowed with exceptional musical talent, vocal and instrumental, which is a tremendous asset to the church program. The mid-week Bible study and prayer service is tailored for the entire family and continues to be exceptionally well attended. Great emphasis is given to the ministry of children and teen-agers so that the youth will mature to be fine Christian people and good citizens. The ladies of the church meet each month as a missionary society seeking to learn of the needs of missionaries at home and abroad so that they can effectively work with related projects.
The Bible Fellowship Church of Eastern Pennsylvania is a fellowship of more than forty churches which owns and operates: Victory Valley Youth Camp, near Zionsville, Pennsylvania; Pinebrook Bible Conference, near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; Pinebrook Junior College, Stroudsburg; and a Home for the aging, near Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Vitally interested in home and foreign missions, it supports missionaries on five continents working under various boards.
The Reverend Austin G. Shelly, present pastor, is the twenty-seventh since the inception of this church in the community. Before coming to Fleetwood, he was missionary for twelve years in Venezuela with the Orinoco River Mission.
A list of pastors from 1900 follows: Reverend E. N. Cassel; Reverend J. G. Shireman; Reverend W. J. Fretz; Reverend W. W. Zimmerman; Reverend W. H. Steinmetz; Reverend F. M. Hottel; Reverend J. F. Barrell; Reverend B. Bryan Musselman; Reverend G. F. Yost; and Reverend Woodring, who served from 1923 to 1945 (At a service on November 27,1945, he was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from a grateful community for his long and faithful pastorate). Ministers who have served the congregation during the past quarter century: Reverend Joseph B. Henry; Reverend C. Edward Kirkwood (now ministering in Wallingford, Pennsylvania); Reverend Timothy D. Gehret; Reverend George E. Herb; and Reverend Austin G. Shelly.
The present Sunday School Superintendent is Norman L. Reed and the Board of Elders includes: Robert Hummel, Ralph Leibig, Norman Reed, Ephraim Rissmiller, Ronald Turner, William Turner, and Clayton Weber.
It is the purpose of Faith Bible Fellowship Church to carry out the great commission as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, 28: 19-20 and to take seriously the mandate from the Lord to be witnesses of His saving grace to all people in our community and the world around us. It invites and urges “whosoever” to be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.