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. Let me take you back to our beginning.
The scene opens in 1940 with some folks from Metropolitan Baptist Church in D.C., Mr. and Mrs. William Leach, who 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.
Now the scene moves to a year later in 1941 where there is an old fashion tent revival meeting held beside the Boulevard Heights Firehouse. A Mr. Gordon Stewart attended this meeting and got saved.
The next scene is in Mr. Stewart’s basement where we see a hand-full of people gather to worship. 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.
In December 2010 Pastor Bill Schneider was called to be the senior pastor and began his ministry in January 2011. Through his ministry we have seen a new vision for out-reach to our community and for missions.
We thank God for His faithfulness that has brought this church through the calm and troubled waters over these seventy years. 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.
We also thank God for the many faithful members that he has sent our way to help with the work here at Fellowship, many of whom have gone on before us to receive their rewards for their faithfulness. We have also seen a number of our young people go into full time ministry for our Lord. We now support some 53 missionaries. The Lord has blessed us with many young people through the years. We see young people being saved through our AWANA program as they memorize the Word and our Word of Life teen program continues to grow. We have been blessed with many good teachers in our Sunday School and Ladies Bible Study group. We see many children come to Christ during our Vacation Bible School. It is fitting that we now see God’s blessings on our children ministries since our church was started with this desire to see children in church and hear the Word. The Fall Festival outreach has been most effective and brings many families to our church. Our music program and musical dramas have been a real source of blessing and outreach. We have so much to be thankful for as the Lord continues to lead this church forward for His glory.
Many of our members have moved on to other locations throughout the country and the world, and yet on occasion, find their way back here to FBC to visit and fellowship with us. FBC continues to live in their hearts and many consider Fellowship to still be “their church home”.
For this we are very thankful, and forever grateful. May God continue to bless this ministry and use us to carry out His great commission.