History

As cars arrived and people began to enter the home of Roy and Pat Cunningham on September 15, 1991, it is fair to say that most everyone felt a direct intercession of God. That meeting in September concluded with these stated goals:

Go forward with the idea of starting a new church ministry in order to:

Reach the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Edify and build up the saints in the church
Roy Cunningham, Ron Brucker and Dan Clement accepted the responsibilities of leadership only after they had gained much godly counsel from Dr. Charles Scheide who was the Pastor at Faith Bible Church in Vineland, NJ. On Sunday, October 13, 1991, the inaugural service of newly formed Fellowship Bible Church was held in the Little Red School House in Mickleton, NJ. Approximately forty people came to that service, responding to flyers placed in local stores and telephone calls made to potential attendees. Some came just to lend support to the fledgling ministry. The church’s first message was given by Gary Holden of Word of Life who returned on several more occasions to minister God’s Word. The first youth outing that fall saw two teens come to claim the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior, a direct answer to the prayers of the leadership.

Although God’s hand on Fellowship Bible Church was apparent from the very start, this did not keep the young church from facing a challenge that almost unraveled it before it was even a month old. The Little Red School House was only to be a temporary location, for permission to use the facility was withdrawn. After only two meetings, Fellowship Bible Church was soon to be without a home if a new location couldn’t be found in less than two weeks. Frantic searching began as the members canvassed the area for a place to meet.

A request was submitted to the Clearview Regional High School Board of Education to use their facilities for Sunday meetings. In what was a specific instance of God’s direct intervention in the affairs of Fellowship Bible Church, the school board representative said it had just been decided that week to open up the school facilities on Sundays. Furthermore, through perfect timing, the use of Clearview Junior High School was granted with just three days to spare. Fellowship Bible Church had once again found a home!

Godly Men

Through the assistance of Dr. Scheide and others, experienced speakers were brought to minister God’s Word to the church. After searching, Peter Hook, the Chairman of Pastoral Studies of the Philadelphia College of Bible, was appointed as first interim pastor. Tom Allen, our second interim pastor, was introduced by family members who were involved with the church from its very early days. He was an exceptional teacher, fostering excitement about the work of God. Our third interim pastor, Herb Mitchell, came to us after retiring as Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Maple Shade, NJ. With great zeal for the Lord, Herb Mitchell used his gift of encouragement and years of experience to bring consistent Bible teaching to the quickly growing ministry.

A number of speakers were brought to the church as the pastoral search committee looked for the right man. One of the first candidates was Pastor Scheide who had become so excited by the work God was doing that he gave a great deal of thought and prayer to the possibility of accepting the call as full-time pastor. Although highly qualified, this move was not in God’s plan, and the search continued. Another candidate, Dr. Donald Eade, was approached and was very well received by the congregation. However, before he could be asked to serve, God called him to the mission field. In the midst of this disappointment, God directly intervened again.

During the same week that Dr. Eade received that position, Ron Brucker received a call from Pastor Scheide stating that, “There is someone at Word of Life that you need to consider.” After two messages and a short candidacy, it was apparent that God had brought Fellowship Bible Church its full-time pastor. For one-and-one-half years, Fellowship Bible Church had waited for God to provide the right man. For the same amount of time God had burdened that man with the desire to seek out a church ministry. God’s perfect timing prepared His ministry for His man and His man for His ministry. After a unanimous vote Philip Moser was invited in as Fellowship Bible Church’s first full-time pastor. With a burden for this congregation and a dedication towards teaching the Word of God, Pastor Phil has become an important tool in the continuing growth with which Fellowship Bible Church has been blessed.

As attendance has steadily increased at Fellowship Bible, God has made clear, at appropriate times, the need for additional pastoral help. One of those times came even before we entered our new building. As God has done so many times in the past, He lifted up a man from within the congregation who was already serving on the Deacon Board. With flexibility and humility, Pastor Hal Russell quickly turned his compassion and care into practical help, establishing and/or overseeing numerous ministries including adult Sunday school, evangelism outreach and visitation ministries.

Additional pastoral help has also come in the persons of Joe Schenke and Jack Klose. With an ever-increasing burden for the congregation and community at large, the leadership at Fellowship Bible was strongly led to address the need for a biblical counseling ministry. With just such a background, Pastor Joe Schenke was brought on staff in June of 2003. He has lovingly helped many from within our congregation, but also helps an increasing number of people who have no prior affiliation with our church. God has used Pastor Joe not just to address the needs of Fellowship Bible Church, but as another way in which we can minister to the people in our community.

Along with increasing membership came a wonderfully explosive growth in youth ministries. Our church has always benefited from the dedicated and tireless work of the volunteers, and this was certainly true of the way Paul and Kim Griffiths loved and led our teens. As word spread through the surrounding area, God brought ever-increasing numbers of youth to our doorstep. And, as in the past, He also provided a dedicated soul to assume the task of organizing Fellowship’s ministry to our youth. Pastor Jack Klose came on staff first part time in November of 2003, and then full time in July of 2004. With overwhelming support from a network of volunteer leaders, Fellowship Bible’s various youth ministries continue to thrive as God uses them to touch the lives of youths from all types of backgrounds.

Godly Stewardship

Over the course of the last few years, God has granted us a long line of blessings, many of which serve as defining moments for our church. During the summer of 1995, God led us to what was then an eight-and one-half acre tract of land at the intersection Breakneck and Jackson Roads. Although a beautiful plot of land, its price of $250,000 seemed beyond reach. However, when God’s plan was done, that eight-and-one-half acre piece of ground expanded to nearly twelve-and-one-half acres while its price dropped to $200,000. In yet another example of God’s direct intervention, our banker informed us that in order to mortgage the land, we would need to provide fifty percent of its cost up front. By the time we purchased the land, God had already accumulated the $100,000 that was needed. God continued to show His blessing by allowing the church to pay off its five-year note in less than one year! On Easter Sunday 1997, Fellowship Bible Church held its first service on our property. With folding chairs and portable equipment, the Lord was worshipped while the sun rose over the property He entrusted to us. On a special service held on the church property, the growing church family committed to giving over $400,000 for the new building project.

The construction of God’s building here at Fellowship was also to be a learning experience for our congregation. With advice from architects and other experienced professionals, a final building layout was decided upon and construction on the facility was started. Even before the foundations of the building were laid, however, a God of protection intervened by making it clear that the cost of the building presented to the building committee, and on which the church had authorized construction, was significantly underestimated. With much prayer and consultation, the construction manager in charge of the project was released and a search was undertaken for a new builder. In this troubling time, God led us to Mel Weaver of the Weaver Construction Company from Lancaster County, PA. Mel’s team was able to change the floor plans to accommodate our ever increasing attendance while using the same construction dimensions and, therefore, eliminating the need for significant, additional approvals through the governing agencies. In another example of God’s intervention, at the end of the bidding process Weaver Construction informed us that the cost for these changes was less than expected which saved us more than $50,000, an amount that equaled almost to the dollar what was lost when the original construction manager had to be released!

Finally, construction was underway and what glorious times were spent watching as God steadily raised His building in the alfalfa fields of Mantua Township. Happiness entered the building even before it was completed as we joked with the Amish foreman who had to be driven to the site and sang hymns with our “full-throated” painter as he changed colors for a third time with the patience of a true believer. We were eager to occupy our new home and maybe even a little impatient as the time grew closer. As always, God knew best. In His perfect timing, the doors of Fellowship Bible’s new home opened for our first Sunday worship service on September 2nd, 2001, just 9 days before 9/11. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Fellowship Bible kept its doors open 24 hours a day for prayer, as caring members prayerfully ministered to the grieving, confused community. As a shelter and refuge for those looking to understand the events of that day, Fellowship Bible ministered to its new neighbors and experienced the first influx of new attendees in God’s new building.

Godly Friends

Over the course of the last few years, God has granted us a long line of blessings, many of which serve as defining moments for our church. During the summer of 1995, God led us to what was then an eight-and one-half acre tract of land at the intersection Breakneck and Jackson Roads. Although a beautiful plot of land, its price of $250,000 seemed beyond reach. However, when God’s plan was done, that eight-and-one-half acre piece of ground expanded to nearly twelve-and-one-half acres while its price dropped to $200,000. In yet another example of God’s direct intervention, our banker informed us that in order to mortgage the land, we would need to provide fifty percent of its cost up front. By the time we purchased the land, God had already accumulated the $100,000 that was needed. God continued to show His blessing by allowing the church to pay off its five-year note in less than one year! On Easter Sunday 1997, Fellowship Bible Church held its first service on our property. With folding chairs and portable equipment, the Lord was worshipped while the sun rose over the property He entrusted to us. On a special service held on the church property, the growing church family committed to giving over $400,000 for the new building project.

The construction of God’s building here at Fellowship was also to be a learning experience for our congregation. With advice from architects and other experienced professionals, a final building layout was decided upon and construction on the facility was started. Even before the foundations of the building were laid, however, a God of protection intervened by making it clear that the cost of the building presented to the building committee, and on which the church had authorized construction, was significantly underestimated. With much prayer and consultation, the construction manager in charge of the project was released and a search was undertaken for a new builder. In this troubling time, God led us to Mel Weaver of the Weaver Construction Company from Lancaster County, PA. Mel’s team was able to change the floor plans to accommodate our ever increasing attendance while using the same construction dimensions and, therefore, eliminating the need for significant, additional approvals through the governing agencies. In another example of God’s intervention, at the end of the bidding process Weaver Construction informed us that the cost for these changes was less than expected which saved us more than $50,000, an amount that equaled almost to the dollar what was lost when the original construction manager had to be released!

In ways that are often unfathomable to man, God will complete remarkable works. It was in this manner that Fellowship Bible was introduced to the sacrificial servants who comprised the congregation of Grace Bible Church of Turnersville. As a group, led by their pastor, Steve Feralio, this flock of believers joined with Fellowship Bible in June of 2002 after a prayerful exploration of God’s purpose for their congregation. With them, however, they brought a gift in the form of their property in Washington Township. In recognition of God leading them to a new home and in the truest example of a steward’s heart, the title to the property was signed over to Fellowship Bible Church. God’s blessing on this act of sacrifice quickly became apparent in multiple ways. First, because of the introduction to the bank holding Grace Bible’s mortgage, Fellowship Bible was able to refinance our own mortgage at what can only be described as a “miraculous” interest rate, just in time for our invitations to Pastors Joe and Jack. Second, the sale of this property to a young, neighborhood ministry has been used by God to provide a foundation for a new church while, at the same time, allowing Fellowship Bible to invest even more fully in the work God has led us to complete. Finally, and most importantly, many of the members of Grace Bible Church became an active, faithful, and valued part of Fellowship Bible Church.

A Heart for Missions

Missionaries have been a great concern of Fellowship Bible Church from its very beginning. Mission work had begun even before the formation of our church when Harry and Rachael Powell were our own full-time missionaries to Chile. The church’s first Missions Conference brought Lou and Jan Felo to us. At this conference an even greater burden was placed on our hearts and eventually led to our first short term missions trip. This trip to Hungary by Warren Spence and Phil Sica took place in October of 1997 and was the beginning of reevaluation of our approach to missions work at Fellowship Bible. In large part through the ministry of Lou and Jan, headquartered here in our midst for a time, our congregation came to realize that it was not enough to simply subsidize missionaries in the field, but that our calling was to go out into the world personally and profess the name of Christ with our own voices. With Lou and Jan’s help, members from within our congregation have conducted numerous trips to both Bosnia and Afghanistan on short term assignments. Although delivering food and supplies to those in need, the real purpose of these trips was to put forth the gospel of Christ to people who hunger for answers. Whether the trip was a large undertaking to foreign soil or a family’s sacrifice of a vacation week spent refurbishing the facilities of a state side ministry, Fellowship Bible has been drawn closer to the heart of Jesus by submitting to the call-to-service on behalf of those in need.

Defining Moments

God often seems to use the calling Home of his people as a means to focus the spiritual vision of those left behind. This has been the case here at Fellowship Bible as well. One of our defining moments took place on June 13, 1995, the day we said good-bye to little Philip Siner. At his memorial service, filled beyond capacity, the Holy Spirit touched the hearts of believers and non-believers alike. Although little Philip was never able to walk or speak, he was still able to communicate the love of Jesus Christ. Through the circumstances of Philip’s brief time with us, Fellowship Bible Church experienced a time of increased unity and a greater dedication to serve the Lord.

Another of those moments came with the passing of Michael Sottile. Michael’s story was one of continued suffering as he battled heart disease, cancer, two strokes and eventually a blood disease that finally opened to him the gates of Heaven. His testimony and his outspoken love for Christ impacted the lives of young and old alike. When God called him home in March of 2004, Fellowship Bible hosted not a funeral, but rather a “Life Celebration” in which Michael’s family and friends distributed New Testaments to hundreds of people whose lives were touched by Michael’s remarkable faithfulness. Michael’s complete confidence in God’s plan for his life taught us all that if we place ourselves in God’s hands, regardless of our trials here on earth, He will give us perfect peace.

Maturing As a Body

With a large staff of committed volunteers our Kids’ Klub ministry continues to touch numerous young lives for the Kingdom. The children are encouraged to have a daily quiet-time, while they learn from God’s Word each Wednesday evening. For one week out of the summer our Vacation Bible School touches hundreds of young lives, and culminates with a concert for the parents and community. With classes for all ages on Sunday morning, we attempt to minister to children up through adults. Through ever-growing adult and children’s choirs we teach and encourage one another through songs, hymns and spiritual songs.

Even as God provided direction for the building of Fellowship’s physical foundation through the diligent prayers and studies of our pastors and deacons, He equally provided for our spiritual foundation. With sovereign application, God burdened our leaders with the need to teach us our individual obligation to become more Christ-like, more godly. From this teaching came a challenge to answer 20 Questions; questions like: “What is the church?” “Who is the adversary?” “What is Jesus’ purpose for the church?” “Who will lead us?” “What is the mission of the church?” and “Who will be the church when we’re all gone?” We studied through these issues and, in the process, a momentous time began for our church. God chose to work in the hearts of our people, burdening them with the need to recommit themselves to His purpose and His direction for their lives. Commitments to attend small groups, called “Godly Men” and “Godly Women” meetings, were made and, as a body…small group by small group…, we began to submit ourselves to God’s plan.

In 2003 we revised our Constitution to move our church from a single pastor-led church to a more biblical position—that of a plurality of elders. This provided opportunities for the additional responsibilities of deacons, deaconesses, and various other committees of service.

A Submissive Future

With a large staff of committed volunteers our Kids’ Klub ministry continues to touch numerous young lives for the Kingdom. The children are encouraged to have a daily quiet-time, while they learn from God’s Word each Wednesday evening. For one week out of the summer our Vacation Bible School touches hundreds of young lives, and culminates with a concert for the parents and community. With classes for all ages on Sunday morning, we attempt to minister to children up through adults. Through ever-growing adult and children’s choirs we teach and encourage one another through songs, hymns and spiritual songs.

Even as God provided direction for the building of Fellowship’s physical foundation through the diligent prayers and studies of our pastors and deacons, He equally provided for our spiritual foundation. With sovereign application, God burdened our leaders with the need to teach us our individual obligation to become more Christ-like, more godly. From this teaching came a challenge to answer 20 Questions; questions like: “What is the church?” “Who is the adversary?” “What is Jesus’ purpose for the church?” “Who will lead us?” “What is the mission of the church?” and “Who will be the church when we’re all gone?” We studied through these issues and, in the process, a momentous time began for our church. God chose to work in the hearts of our people, burdening them with the need to recommit themselves to His purpose and His direction for their lives. Commitments to attend small groups, called “Godly Men” and “Godly Women” meetings, were made and, as a body…small group by small group…, we began to submit ourselves to God’s plan.

In 2003 we revised our Constitution to move our church from a single pastor-led church to a more biblical position—that of a plurality of elders. This provided opportunities for the additional responsibilities of deacons, deaconesses, and various other committees of service.