God has blessed us with a great facility in which to worship Him. But, as we all know, having a nice facility is not what the church is all about. People are what the church is all about. When we look back at how Fellowship Baptist Church started, we see a spark that was ignited by a few folks being led by the Holy Spirit to do something for God, people who were concerned about other people as well as their own spiritual needs. They had a vision and saw the need to start meeting and fellowshipping with other Christians in their community. It is through this vision and burden for the lost some seventy years ago that we are here today.
In 1940, some people from Metropolitan Baptist Church in D.C., Mr. and Mrs. William Leach, had moved into the Boulevard Heights area and noticed that there were a lot of children not attending Sunday School. So they started a Sunday School in their home. This is where it all began. A seed was planted with a Sunday School class by believers who were burdened for children.
A year later in 1941, there was an old fashion tent revival meeting held beside the Boulevard Heights Firehouse. A Mr. Gordon Stewart attended this meeting and got saved.
Mr. Stewart opened his basement for a handful of people to gather for services. They needed a place to meet and he offered his home. He knew others needed to be saved just as he had been and wanted to share that blessing with others.
It was during this time that our church was organized and given the name Boulevard Heights Baptist Church. Mr. Stewart was one of the fifteen charter members of the church. The Constitution and Bylaws were written and adopted in January 1942, and the church applied for a charter with the State of Maryland on March 1, 1942. At that time the church was accepted into the Southern Baptist Convention.
In April, 1942, Rev. Raymond Crawford was selected to be the first pastor of the church. The church met in an old awning factory which it rented and eventually purchased. The church began to grow and in the latter part of 1943 a man by the name of Francis Chilton was baptized and joined church. A few years later, in March of 1947, Mr. Chilton was ordained by the church and voted in as the pastor. He worked a full time job and served faithfully as the pastor for some twenty years until his health began to fail. It was during this time that the church saw the Lord’s blessing and much growth. In 1951 the first sanctuary was built and in 1959 a new three story educational building was added.
In April 1967 Rev. John R. Littleton was called as pastor. He served until 1970 and resigned to further his education at Bob Jones University. Pastor Littleton was instrumental in directing the church to become an independent Baptist church.
In June 1972 Rev. C. Donald Apperson was called to be the pastor. During his thirteen years of ministry the church moved to its present location in Upper Marlboro and the name was changed to Fellowship Baptist Church in June of 1973. Six acres of prime land was purchased from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., to the amazement of real estate agents and the result of much prayer. The old Boulevard Heights Church was sold to the St. Paul Baptist Church and a new church was built at our new location in Upper Marlboro and completed in March 1975. With the church growing it was decided that a fulltime associate pastor was needed. In 1982 Rev. Charles Jarvis was called to be the associate pastor.
In August 1988 Rev. Barry Mershon was called as the pastor. Under his ministry the church celebrated its 50th anniversary and in 1991 ordained two associate pastors from within the membership; Mr. Doug Reider and Mr. John Burr.
In the fall of 1992, Pastor Dave Owczarski was called as pastor. Under his 18 years of ministry two building programs were completed; a new building with classrooms, a fellowship hall, and church office was completed in 1995 and a new sanctuary was completed in January 2006. In addition, the couples’ retreats were started and two associate pastors were brought on staff from within the membership; Pastor Gerand Walker and Pastor Charles (Chuck) Conrad. In August of 2010 Pastor Dave retired to Michigan.
Our current pastor, Bill Schneider, began his ministry here in January of 2011. Since that time, he has established a strong emphasis on missions and significantly increased our missions giving by introducing Faith Promise. He also followed the Lord’s leading in opening Fellowship Baptist Academy with Rhonda Hillman as the principal. His emphasis on prayer has been a consistent inspiration to the congregation.
In the early months of 2020, the global COVID19 pandemic disrupted the usual way of experiencing church life. God used Pastor Schneider to prudently navigate the challenges presented by the virus, and we have seen God wonderfully provide and care for us through seasons of loss, heartbreak, and restoration.
We thank God for His faithfulness that has brought this church through the calm and troubled waters of our existence. He has graciously blessed us with many godly pastors, who have faithfully preached His word and who have each left their mark in the work of this church through the years.