BIBLE BAPTIST MOVES TO BYESVILLE Grand opening service June 26, 2011
A beehive of activity is creating excitement in a Byesville neighborhood. The Holy Trinity Catholic building, located at 207 South Fifth Street, has become the new home of Bible Baptist Church. The huge stone building, a longtime architectural landmark just off SR #209, is showing signs of life as its new church family begins structural repairs, class room
construction, kitchen and parking lot renovations.
Church members began a building fund over twelve years ago looking forward to the day when they would need a larger church building and a suitable property would become available. Pastor Steve Leathley says, "Simply, we have just run out of room." Although a Byesville location was not chosen as a mission field, Pastor Leathley says, "We are here because our members needed a larger facility and the Holy Trinity building was available."
Cambridge realtor, Dave Ogle, had persistently showed the building to 26 interested parties. Due to the building's size and architectural it was not designed for anything but a large church. This made it difficult to find a buyer. Pastor Leathley and Bible Baptist deacons inspected the facility with Ogle in November and at that time it was decided the property was too large and too costly for their congregation to utilize. Upon Ogle's urging, the property was reconsidered. An offer was presented to the Catholic diocese of Steubenville, which was accepted on April 4.
Originally, Lincoln Elementary School operated on the Byesville site at 207 So. 5th St. until it was closed in 1963. Banker Mick Creavy, associated with the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, purchased the property from Byesville School Board. Bartholow Auto Wrecking demolished the aging school buildings.
On August 22, 1972, a ground breaking was held to build a new 400 seat worship facility. Paul Killiany, of Byesville, was chosen as the General Contractor. A state-of-the-art stone building with a 5700 square foot upper level plus a full lower level was constructed under the leadership of Rev. Fr. William Yontz. Gib Wetzler, resident of Fifth Street recalls, "I watched the old building lowered and the new one built right out my front door every day. The Catholic folks know how to build solid structures, second to none."
In the 75th Anniversary Holy Trinity Church Directory of 1980, it states, "In total, the new church is designed to enhance the meaning and purpose of devotion, celebration and prayer giving the parishioner an opportunity to renew his basic love for Jesus Christ in a comfortable, quiet, and beautiful house of worship."
The late Rev. Yontz was well loved as a priest and a large congregation was maintained until his health began to fail. A circuit priest was called upon to serve the dwindling flock. Eventually the church was closed and the building was placed on the market.
Pastor Leathley, founder of Bible Baptist Church, brought varied experience into his position. His history goes from service in the United States Marines, on to Bible College, then to the far end of the earth serving as a missionary in the Micronesian Islands (1983-1991). Finally, having settled in Cambridge, he was asked to conduct an impromptu Sunday morning church service for a group of hunters during the deer season of 1991. They gathered in the Braden Farm house kitchen, east of Cambridge and Pastor Leathley preached a King James 1611 Bible message. Meetings continued for the next several months with attendance ranging from 2-30. As attendance increased a small banquet room was then utilized at the former Shenandoah Inn on I-70.
In October of 1995 the former LaFlo Glass building (then owned by Fellowship Baptist Church) was purchased by Bible Baptist, whose congregation reached 40-50 at this location. In October of 1996 the church building on Madison Avenue was purchased (from the Christian Missionary Alliance) and the group grew to 70-100 people. In October 2011 Bible Baptist will celebrate their 20th anniversary at their newest location in Byesville.
Bible Baptist is not contemporary in its music or worship style. It is, and will remain much like your grandmother's church. Only the King James 1611 Bible is used. Favorite songs include familiar hymns such as Amazing Grace, Victory In Jesus, Power In The Blood and The Old Rugged Cross. The preaching is Bible centered and instructional as well as uplifting; services are informal and the people are friendly and welcoming. Their desire is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ so that souls may be saved and lives changed.
Bible Baptist has an impact not only in the lives of local people, but its members support 33 church planting missionaries located in 23 different countries. From Mexico to Korea and all around the world, these missionaries will periodically visit the church bringing a report of current work in their respective countries.
Everyone is invited to visit Bible Baptist Church in Byesville for the official grand opening service on June 26. Regular service times are: Sunday School for adults and children at 9:45 AM; Sunday morning worship service at 10:45; Sunday evening and Wednesday services are at 7:00 PM.
Throughout the year there will also be special evangelistic services, a mission conference, Vacation Bible School, and an old-fashioned tent meeting (in the lot east of Cracker Barrel, just off I-70). This totals about 186 services per year that are conducted by Pastor Leathley. Bible Baptist Church does not belong to a denominational organization, but is structured like the churches of the New Testament: autonomous and completely independent. The church is funded by the "freewill tithes and offerings" of its members. No funds are ever solicited from the community in any way. Although renovation and construction of classrooms, office, kitchen and bathrooms has been costly, the project is financed solely by church members. Other renovations will be made upon the sale of the Madison Avenue church building.
Byesville Mayor, Donald Gadd, upon hearing of the building transaction, extended a cordial welcome, "I am very pleased to see a growing, vibrant church moving to Byesville. I never like to see an empty church building."
The Madison Avenue building that has served members so well is listed for sale and will be available for possession. It is in excellent repair and ready for new owners to occupy.
Bible Baptist respectfully thanks the Steubenville Diocese for allowing the purchase of this beautiful facility designed so perfectly for service to our Creator. All who do not have a church home are invited to visit Bible Baptist. For more info call 740 432 7365 or search www.biblebaptistchurchcambridge.com.