On Wednesday evening, July 12, 1967, eleven Christians gathered at the home of Mr. & Mrs. David Ash, to pray and discuss the possibility of starting a Southern Baptist Mission. The Presence of the Holy Spirit and the fervent desire of those attending led them to agree to meet again for worship and fellowship. But where would they meet? The story is told that the statement was made that a volunteer was needed. All were standing in a row and all stepped back but Mr. Johnson who was left standing in the front. He did not understand military protocol as well as Mr. Ash. The first Sunday School and Morning Worship Service were held in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Estill G. Johnson.
From this beginning to the present time, the Lord has blessed University Baptist Church and its members in an abundant manner as they faithfully served Him. Soon after its beginning, we were able to rent the Beverly Gardens School, which is south of the Page Manor Military Housing. On September 20, 1967, Huber Heights First Baptist Church agreed to sponsor our mission and they received us as members the following Sunday, September 27, 1967. In four months our attendance almost doubled and God so wonderfully and richly blessed that we could adequately support a full-time pastor. Pastor Elwood “Woody” Hensley accepted the call as our first Pastor in June 1968.
The Pastor of the Huber Heights First Baptist Church was Dr. Howard Rich. His Church being our Mother Church offered much help and encouragement to the Mission. He asked some of his members to come and help the mission when some of the military families were transferred. Paul Payne was the Associational missionary. He and Pastor Rich were helping the mission look for property. The Lord led them to a 2.846-acre lot with a two-bedroom home at 2661 North Grange Hall Road. The property was purchased in 1968 by our Mother Church, Huber Heights First Baptist Church, under the guidance of Dr. Howard Rich.
University Baptist Chapel was part of the Greater Dayton Association of Baptists to participate in a pilot project for setting up a chapel building. The new chapel, a $15,000 mobile trailer approximately 20 feet wide and 50 feet long was originally designed to relieve overcrowded school buildings. Designed in two halves, the chapel was set on a solid foundation and was joined in the center with only one supporting pillar visible. It provided auditorium space for preaching and used screens or curtains to set off classroom space for Sunday School. Rest rooms and coat closets were built-in equipment.
The Greater Dayton Association purchased the trailer and made it available for the University congregation with the understanding that after a period of months, the mission would assume scheduled payments that would pay the building off in three years.
The new Chapel was dedicated on November 12, 1968.
In October of 1970, Jules Soule became the pastor of the mission . In July 23, 1972, Pastor Soule led the Church to launch a building program. The new building was “L-shaped” with one wing serving as the sanctuary and the other as the educational wing. The sanctuary was able to accommodate 180 people. The cost of the building was $67,000. The mobile chapel trailer was pulled away and reused at another mission location in the Greater Dayton Area.
June 5, 1974, University membership voted to adopt a Constitution and requested that Huber Heights First Baptist Church constitute us as a New Testament Church. Membership numbered 153 at that time.
During the next 13 years, the Church continued to grow and new ministries were added. Financial giving increased each year as well as support for Associational Missions, State Missions, and the Cooperative Program.
In January 1987, the Church voted to construct an educational addition to the main building. This decision was preceded by a Long Range Planning Committee, which met to determine the needs of the Church and a Building Committee, planning the new building to meet those needs. However, those plans were obviously not in the long-range plan of our Lord and the attempt to build on Grange Hall Road did not materialize. However, the people under the leadership of Pastor Andrew Hollinger and Dr. Ed Owens, continued to pray and wait upon the Lord.
In 1993, a great opportunity came! A few miles from University Baptist Church on Grange Hall Road, was the University Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee Association). Pastor Hollinger became acquainted with the Church of God’s pastor. That Church was undergoing great financial difficulty but prayed and struggled on with the deep conviction that a Church should be there on the corner of Kemp and Hanes. His proposal to Pastor Hollinger was that the congregations trade church buildings and lands. After much prayer by both congregations, University Baptist Church acquired the church building and 8.5 acres of prime real estate on Kemp and Hanes for our Grange Hall property. The Church also was able to buy another 3 acres of land on the southwest corner of the property, which now gives the Church 12 acres of land and the church building valued at $1.4 million. Praise be given to God!
March 1994, the Church authorized the construction of a maintenance building. This building provided room to work on and store lawn mowing equipment, but also a badly needed classroom that was used by the youth.
In January of 1997, under the leadership of Pastor Jim Dickey, the “Century Project” was undertaken to raise funds for a multi-purpose addition. With the help of the Buckeye Baptist Builders and volunteers from University, the Fellowship Hall / Activity Center was completed. This multi-purpose building added much needed Sunday School space and a gym facility which allows recreational activities for all ages. The Upward Basketball program, for children in grades l – 6, and the AWANA children’s ministry, reach into many area homes. Of course Vacation Bible School, VBS to the children, continues to be an on-going, annual, good time for all. The English as a Second Language Ministry (ESL) began in January 2002. Jim resigned in April 2001.
University Baptist Church called Charlie Russell as senior Pastor, effective May 2002. He resigned effective Jun. 30, 2008.
University Baptist Church called Jim Bjornstad to be our interim Pastor, effective February 2009.
With a unanimous vote, University Baptist Church called Casey Cockerham as Senior Pastor in June 2010.
|Elwood (Woody) Hensley||June l968 – December l969|
|Jules Soule||October l970 – August l973|
|Ray Crumpton||January l974 – May l977|
|Ray Shawa||September 1977 – February 1979|
|Bill Maupin||January 1980 – December 1983|
|Mike Landry||October 1984 – November 1987|
|Andrew Hollinger||August 1988 – August 1994|
|Jim Dickey||February 1995 – April 2001|
|Jim Bjornstad (interim)||May 2001 – April 2002|
|Charlie Russell||May 2002 – June 2008|
|Jim Bjornstad (Interim)||February 2009 – May 2010|
|Casey Cockerham||June 2010 – present|
In September 2001, Mr. Harry Steck and Mr. Dave Jacobsen were licensed to the gospel ministry and authorized to perform all the duties associated with the religious life of our Church.