History of New Life Christian Fellowship – Est. 1956
Medina Baptist Chapel
New Life Christian Fellowship began as a mission of Fairlawn Baptist Church of Akron, Ohio in November 1956. The first meeting was held in the Masonic Hall in Medina. On November 18, 1956 James Fleet, a young preacher was called to be the first pastor of Medina Baptist Chapel. Ken Foreman of Brunswick moved his letter from Harmony Baptist Church in Cleveland, to become the Sunday School Superintendent. These two families were the first members of the new work.
In February 1957, Fleet resigned his position to enlist in the army. The mission remained without a pastor until June 1957. In May, they moved out of the Masonic Hall and began worshipping in the Assemblies of God building in Medina. Our first revival was held that month with Paul Nevels, the area missionary, preaching and Ken Foreman leading the singing.
On June 2, 1957, Harry Dodd came from Oklahoma to become the pastor for the summer. He came under the Tentmakers program. That summer the mission held its first Vacation Bible School with Paul Nevels and four summer workers helping. 24 children enrolled with 7 making professions of faith and 5 new additions to the mission.
The first baptism was held on June 23, 1957 at Crystal Lake. Jimmy Williams was the first candidate to be baptized. This raised the total membership to 15. In September, Dodd was called to be the pastor on a full time basis and moved to Medina to continue working at the mission.
The second revival was held in October of that year, with Kenneth Hayes preaching. On October 27, 1957 the first adult profession of faith was recorded with the second profession coming the next week.
Medina Baptist Church
On January 12, 1958 the organizational service was held for Medina Baptist Church. Rev. Gerald K. Ford served as the moderator. Charter members were:
Mr. And Mrs. Kenneth Foreman, with David and Gary.
Rev. And Mrs. Dodd, with Nancy and Judith.
Mr. And Mrs. Clarence McCullom with Mary and Raymond.
Sandra and Gary McClure.
Mr. And Mrs. Norman Williams with Jimmy.
Mr. And Mrs. James Williams.
Mr. And Mrs. Ernest Shirley with Weldon and Owen
Mr. And Mrs. Walter Davis with Bill, Wanda, Warren and Joyce.
Mr. And Mrs. Cecil Jordan.
The Church Constitution was presented and accepted as a New Testament Church, and the name was officially changed from Medina Baptist Chapel to Friendship Baptist Church.
In June, 1958 Friendship Baptist Church voted to join the “30,000 Movement” of Southern Baptists by starting another church and Lodi Baptist Mission was started. Dodd resigned later that year, and T. M. Eliot became interim pastor. R R. Engle was called to be the pastor in March of 1959.
Friendship Baptist Church
Rev. Engle served as pastor until August 1962. During this time the church moved to the Security Federal Building in the Medina Shopping Center. In March, of that year the mission in Lodi was organized into the First Baptist Church of Lodi.
In June 1963, Rev. Melvin Clemens was called to be the pastor. He served until July 1967. During his tenure the church continued to grow and in 1964, they moved to the Choral Room in the Medina High School for worship services. They were averaging around 100 each Sunday morning. That same year they purchased some land on Highway 18 on the eastside of town, just east of the Medina Hospital. They purchased the property as a site for a future church building. However, they were unable to follow through on the bond program and the land was sold in 1970.
In October 1967, Rev. Allen Meyers was called to serve as interim pastor. He led the church to buy a house at 707 N. Court Street to convert into a church building.. On May 24, 1969, they dedicated the new building.
In December 1969, Rev. Robert Floyd was called to serve as pastor. He served until July 1971.
In 1972 Charles Rish was called to be the pastor and he served until September 1973. Various supply preachers filled the pulpit until Louis Kali was called in May, 1974. In November of that year, the church sold the property at 707 N. Court Street, and in March of 1975 purchased 16 acres of land on State Route 3 for a future church building. After running into zoning problems, the land was put up for sale. On August 1, 1978 Louis Kali submitted his resignation. On September 3, 1978, the church called Terry Cutrer to be the new pastor. During this time the church purchased the new property on N. State Road.
The church received a loan for the Home Mission Board for $65,000, and with the help of the Ohio Baptist Builders the first church building was built on this property. The dedication of this building was held on October 26, 1980. On January 5, 1983, Cutrer resigned and moved back to his home in Mississippi.
On June 12, 1983, the church called Dahl “Buddy’ Irvin to be the pastor. He served as pastor for thirteen years. During his tenure as pastor, the church experienced growth in both numbers and in ministries. The clothing and food closet were started in his first year. In 1987, Vacation Bible School was started to reach out to the children and youth in the surrounding neighborhoods. In 1989, the new addition was built. The funding for this building was an answer to prayer, and the construction was completed in one day. 1989 was a year that saw the death of two prominent members, Jim Herriage and Virginia Ripper. These experiences helped the members learn how to minister to each other.
New Life Christian Fellowship
1991 saw the beginning of many outreach ministries. Thanksgiving dinners for the community were started, and Operation Desert Storm was initiated by the Ladies Bible study group. It was also during this year that the name of the church was changed from Friendship Baptist Church to New Life Christian Fellowship, and a new church constitution was adopted.
In 1993, the church experienced their “Great Flood.” The sewers backed up into the church building, flooding the entire building and rendered it unusable until it was cleaned up. The church met outdoors during this process. The members learned how to unite together in the face of adversity and God used this negative experience to teach a positive lesson for his glory. In 1993, the church celebrated Pastor Buddy’s 10th anniversary.
The nineties saw more growth, greater unity and larger membership. In 1994 the church went on its first World Changer’s mission trip. This has proven to be very popular and the church and continues to participate in this ministry as often as possible. The youth department was growing and they became involved in the Youth Evangelism conference. However, sometime in 1995, things began to change and finally Pastor Buddy was asked to resign due to some personal and spiritual problems which had rendered him unable to lead the church in the same manner in which he had been leading it.
The church began a decline with many of it members leaving to join other churches. The church remained without a pastor until 1997, when Pastor Calahan was called as the new pastor. He was bi-vocational and only lasted a year, before resigning from office and moving on in his career in 1998. The church continued to seek ways to minister to each other and to the community. They began a Life in the Spirit Bible study, the children began ministering in a local nursing home, and the youth went on another World Changer’s Mission trip. That same year, Chris Stravey was called to be the interim pastor. This was a situation that did not work out very well. He decided that he wanted to be pastor and he pushed for a vote. He was not called, but the process nearly split the church. He left in 1999. Later that year, Duane Miller was called as pastor.
Duane Miller stayed until January 2001, when he resigned due to a difference in leadership philosophy. Under his leadership, the church began a men’s Bible study group called “Joshua’s Men”, care groups, a Seder dinner, and other activities designed to enhance unity among the body.
Upon his resignation, the church realized that the short tenures of its past pastors was not a sign of a healthy church, and decided to enter a Refocus Study to rediscover why God planted them here in this section of Medina. The study lasted eight weeks during which a vision statement, a mission statement, and core values were discovered. Based upon these discoveries, the church was then able to write job descriptions and church policies. New Life Christian Fellowship has begun to experience some new growth which has revitalized many of it members.
On November 1, 2001 the church called Pastor Robert Scott to be pastor. Pastor Bob and Carol came to us from Mississippi after pastoring a church there for 18 years. During their tenure the church saw a strengthening of those in ministry positions. As leader of the women’s ministry, Carol brought many new ideas, one being a Women’s Conference held in February. Morning and evening bible studies were resumed. Awana Clubs were also implemented in 2004. It was also during Pastor Scott’s tenure that New Life sponsored the establishment of Connection Church here in Medina.
April 15, 2007 Pastor Bob and Carol announced to the congregation that they would be retiring and moving to Florida. Pastor Bob continued as Pastor until the end of July.
In January of 2008 after many meetings and much prayer, Brian Liechty was called to be Pastor of New Life. He came to us from Louisville, KY with his wife Kacie and two boys, Jonathan and Thomas.
At the Church Council meeting on August 8, 2010, Pastor Brian Liechty announced he would be resigning. He felt that the church is at a crossroad and is in need of much foundational work. He felt that he is not the person to lay this foundation and after much prayer, he felt that he is no longer called to lead New Life. His last sermon was preached September 26, 2010.
During the time of searching for a pastor, Pastor Steve Carter provided weekly sermons and pastoral care.
On July 10, 2011 Pastor Ted Hall preached his first sermon as pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship. He and his wife Amy, and children Skylar, River and Isaiah come from Southern Ohio by way of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. In 2012 New Life began sponsoring the establishment of Brunswick Community Church a new fellowship in Brunswick, OH.