Celebrating 25 years
Fellowship Bible Church in Shenandoah Junction celebrated its 25th anniversary last weekend with a large banquet, special program and guest speakers to highlight milestones over the years. Saturday evening began with a welcome by senior pastor, Van Marsceau, prayer by associate pastor, Everett Vocature, and dinner for over 500 attendees, and was held at Jefferson County Parks and Rec community center to accommodate everyone.
Pastor Mark Johnson from Independent Bible Church in Martinsburg read a history of FBC, and special guests, Greg and Dreama Alderman from First Baptist Church in Damascus performed musical numbers. The evening’s program also included an unveiling of a future building expansion plan, and concluded with a memorial slideshow of former attendees who had passed away.
Sunday morning’s service, also at the community center, brought everyone together in one service (instead of the regular three) for the first time since 2008. Church leadership at FBC wanted the congregation to all worship together for this milestone event.
What began as a living room Bible study with just a few couples gathered in a house in Bakerton, has grown into a facility that is home to around 600 attendees on any given Sunday, and a beacon of community outreach to thousands of others each year.
Woody and Jeannie Beddow of Bakerton had been attending Independent Bible Church in Martinsburg, but wanted a church closer to home. Searching for a Bible church in their community left them frustrated, so they decided to take matters into their own hands. The Beddows invited Pastor Johnson to come and teach a weekly Bible study at their home. They also invited neighbors, Jim and Sue Cybulski, Sonny and Pat Kidwiler, and a some others. After a few months, they began to see the need to start a church.
So it was that on October 6, 1991, the Zion church building in Bakerton held the first assembly of what became the Zion Independent Bible Church. Johnson would travel to the Civil War era church in Bakerton early each Sunday morning for an 8 a.m. service.
IBC came along side the fledgling church by helping to refurbish, as well as providing some financial assistance, a keyboard, and helping with publicity and leadership. IBC even provided a keyboardist in Joey DiGuglielmo, a young man who faithfully came each week to play piano.
Attendance climbed into the 40s and 50s in the months that followed. The church was ready to be led by a pastor of its own. Bob Lee fulfilled that roll and moved the church meetings to C.W. Shipley Elementary School in Harpers Ferry, where each Sunday, attendees would set up and tear down chairs and haul equipment. It was also at this time that the name was changed to Fellowship Bible Church.
After Lee stepped down, Pastor Andrew Carr took on the role as pastor. The church had ups and downs during this time, but still with steady growth in congregation.
In 1996, Pastor Carr resigned and Van Marsceau, a youth pastor at Independent Bible Church, filled the pulpit as pastor at Fellowship.
A variety of Sunday School classes, Wednesday night youth group, Patch the Pirate Club for children, Junior church, seasonal choirs, retreats for men, ladies, and teens all began to be offered. These were also the years that FBC began supporting their first missionaries, David and Mary Harrop.
Soon, a youth pastor was needed and Pastor Billy Hearn and his wife, Alicia cultivated and nurtured a fast-growing youth program.
In the fall of 1998, FBC was able to purchase a 50-acre parcel of land on the corner of Flowing Springs and Daniel Road.
Long before a church building was erected, that land served as a gathering spot for church picnics and saw the birth of the popular Adventure Kid’s Day Camp.
The leadership of FBC had a steadfast commitment to grow the church and have its own building, but wanted to do it debt free as much as possible. After diligent saving and only borrowing a small portion of the money interest-free from generous contributors, FBC built a church facility and had its first worship service there on November 11, 2007.
In September of 2008, Hearn stepped down from FBC and teamed up with Pastor Lowell McDonald from IBC to plant CenterPoint Bible Church in the Spring Mills area.
As the congregation continued to grow, the need for more pastoral staff was apparent. In January of 2009, Everett Vocature came aboard to be associate pastor, followed by Pastor Mark Henson and his wife Charis in 2011, who lead the ever-growing middle and high school youth group.
“I’ve poured the strength of my adult life into Fellowship Bible Church,” said Marsceau. “I believe it’s God’s work-using this ministry to strengthen families, to help folks grow, to make disciples of Jesus Christ. I believe what every community needs is just a strong Bible church with its light shining for the gospel.”
“In this age where a lot of people are trying to preach what is ‘ok’ or ‘acceptable’ to everybody, we preach the Bible,” said Vocature. “We’re not afraid of taking a stand when it might not be the most popular, but if God’s word says it, we’re going to stand on it. We don’t compromise on our convictions, but we’re going to try to do it in a loving and compassionate way.”
FBC serves as a hub for community activity and outreach. Many local organizations and individuals use the church and grounds for meetings, events, and parties.
The church hosts numerous outreach events like the annual summer camps, archery shoots, wild game feasts and more, in addition to the regular ongoing weekly family ministries and Bible studies. Missionaries around the world are offered support from FBC, and many congregation members routinely provide assistance to aid organizations near and far.
Jim Cybulski, one of the original attenders of FBC said, “It’s amazed me what God has done with Fellowship Bible Church. It’s special for me, being there from the beginning, seeing where God has brought his church today. And hopefully I’ll be able to see in the future what he continues to do with Fellowship Bible Church.”