Sam Luptak Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Lighthouse Baptist Church has been an institution in Bessemer since 1988.
Tomorrow, the church will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a celebration, including special messages by former pastors and a celebration banquet, all to be held at the church.
Lighthouse Baptist began when founding Pastor Gregg Simpson returned to his hometown after graduating Bible College.
“This area lacked a clear Bible message and I felt the Lord leading me to return home and start a church,” Simpson said.
Simpson said that when he was saved at age 23, “It was the very first time I had heard the gospel message.” Having had to wait more than two decades to be told that concerned him greatly.
“I had gone to Bible College, and now the Lord had guided me to return home and begin the work,” he said.
Simpson started the church alone, and hoped people would show up for that first Sunday service. Approximately 20 people came out for that initial service, and many stayed around and continued to attend.
The earliest services of what was then called Mohawk Baptist Church were held in Simpson’s home and garage, as he had been turned down to hold his services at a fire hall, American Legion Post and school. About six months later, the congregation was able to purchase property to build its present building.
In November 1993, the church dedicated and moved into that building. It also changed its name to Stateline Baptist to reflect the church’s new location.
After more than 11 years at the church, Simpson says he felt God telling him it was time to move on. He says that he believes the 14 months without a pastor that followed really made the church a unified and strong body.
“They made so many gains and advances during that time,” he noted. “They drew together and truly became a self-governing local, body of believers.”
Simpson will return to the church and preach the morning service at 11 a.m. tomorrow. He promises that while his message will be laced with fragments of history, it mostly will be about the challenges that Lighthouse, and all believers, face for the future.
Simpson’s tenure was followed by Tim Bowman, who was the church’s pastor for five years. During his time there, the church voted to change its name once more, to the present Lighthouse Baptist Church. Bowman will be the featured speaker at a special 3 p.m. service tomorrow
Between the two services, there will be a dinner provided by the church, and many memories and fellowship will be shared.
Current Pastor Brian Lott has been at the church since 2005. He says this will be a special Sunday for Lighthouse Baptist.
“We are expecting and preparing for 200 people. We have expanded parking and seating capabilities for this event,” he said.
The anticipated 200 will be quite a large number for a church whose normal Sunday service average is around 75 to 80 people.
As Lighthouse Baptist begins its next quarter-century, Lott says that he hopes the church continues to be a lighthouse to the community, teaching God’s word on all age levels and venues, and continues to grow its impact at home and around the world
“That,” he said, “is our goal and mission.”