Our CHURCH'S Story

Frederica Baptist Church

The First ten years
6/25/02 – 7/15/07

On June 25, 2002, a group of 39 interested individuals met with Rev. John Carr, Missionary, Southeast Georgia Baptist Association at the Days Inn on St. Simons Island, Georgia to discuss the feasibility of starting a new Baptist church on the north end of St. Simons Island.

The group met again on July 2, 2002, and the consensus of those present was that God was leading in the establishment of a new church. The decision was made to contact Epworth by the Sea concerning the availability of Lovely Lane Chapel for July 14, 2002, so that we could begin to worship together as a group.

Our congregational life committee, chaired by Patty Gibson, began at the Days Inn on July 7, 2002. This was the first of many covered dish dinners; causing Mike Warren to dub us the Fat Baptist Church. 

On July 28, 2002, we selected our name, Frederica Baptist Church. From the 25 suggested names, the votes for “Frederica Baptist Church” won by a large margin. We also elected the following officers at this meeting: Gary Thorsen, Moderator; Steve Banister, Treasurer; Debbie Gilbert, Secretary. Judy Terry and Janet Mead offered to be responsible for the preschool childcare. Rick Stirewalt agreed to continue directing the music. Ashley Swann was asked to continue playing the piano for our worship services. We established various committees to advertise our existence, secure both temporary and permanent facilities for us, and set up a youth program and an evangelism committee.

On August 11, 2002, Rev. John Carr met with us to offer guidance. He said the Southeast Georgia Baptist Association had some money that was designated for the start of a new church on St. Simons Island.

On August 28, 2002, we voted to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.

On August 30, 2002, Frederica Baptist Church was incorporated. Ernest Gilbert and Mike Warren were designated trustees.

On September 19, 2002, we met and decided how our church would receive members. Individuals joining between 9/22/02 until 12/31/02 would be considered a charter member.

On September 29, 2002, we moved to Oglethorpe Point Elementary School for our second temporary church home.

In October 2002, we met and recorded the members’ thoughts and convictions regarding the qualifications of a pastor. The consensus was that the membership wanted a pastor who believed that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and would bring strong Bible based messages.

On October 16, 2002, the officers of the church called a special business meeting. The church members voted to accept the nominations for a Pastor Search Committee. 

On October 27, 2002, Dr. Earl L. Boyette was called as the interim pastor of Frederica Baptist Church by an overwhelming majority.

At our November 13, 2002, business meeting, Jim Schriber volunteered to chair our missions committee, and our church committed to a goal of contributing 50 percent of our tithes and offerings to missions. We gave $23,817.89 to missions from July 2002 through December 2002.

In January 2003, we completed our mission and vision statements and our church covenant.

On March 9, 2003, the church empowered the worship and music committee and the youth committee jointly to pursue a music and youth minister.

On April 27, 2003, the church voted to extend a call to Reverend Lon Harbin as Minister of Music and Youth.

On May 4, 2003, the church adopted our constitution and by-laws.

On June 8, 2003, we adopted an official logo for the church.

On August 3, 2003, Reverend James D. Davis was presented to the church for consideration as Senior Pastor. At the close of morning worship, the fellowship voted to call Reverend Davis as Senior Pastor, and he accepted the call.

On September 2, 2003, Reverend Davis began his ministry at Frederica Baptist Church.

On September 7, 2003, Reverend Davis was installed as Senior Pastor and preached his first sermon as pastor.

On Monday, December 1, 2003, Linda Nelson began work as our first Administrative Assistant. Linda came to us from Independence, Missouri where she had worked with Pastor J.D. at Rockwood Baptist Church.

On February 29, 2004, we met for our first yearly conference.

Sunday, April 25, 2004, was a very important day for Frederica Baptist Church. Dr. Boyette, founding pastor, and Reverend John Carr, Southeast Baptist Associational Missionary, joined Pastor Davis as we constituted as Frederica Baptist Church and dedicated ourselves to further the kingdom of God on St. Simons Island, Brunswick, and Glynn County. We elected to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Georgia Baptist Convention, and the Southeast Baptist Association.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004, saw the beginning of our Wednesday Night Fellowship Supper under the leadership of Patty Gibson. “G-Force” for children K-5th grade began as part of our Wednesday night program.

In November 2004, several individuals from our church, led by Frank Mead, traveled to Nicaragua on a mission trip that would be followed by many more mission trips in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

On January 14-15, 2005, Pastor J.D. presented his vision of what he feels is the way to reach the island and fulfill the great commission on St. Simons Island.

Pastor J.D. presented the names of six men who had met all of the qualifications to be a deacon and who had felt God’s call upon their lives to serve our church family. The men who were elected to serve as our first servant deacons were as follows: Frank Mead, Charlie Philips, Jim Schriber, Rick Shelnutt, Richard Stager, and Don Varnadoe.

In the spring of 2005, we blitzed the island with information about Frederica Baptist Church. Members gathered on four Saturday mornings and went into neighborhoods with door hangers and handouts.

On April 9, 2006, the church was called into conference to vote on calling Reverend Whitlow Chapman as Minister of Students. The church voted by an overwhelming majority to call Reverend Chapman.

March 11, 2007, marked the end of Reverend Lon Harbin’s ministry with us. Lon answered a call to Atco Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia.

In May 2007, Dr. J. D. Davis read his letter of resignation indicating that he had been called to First Baptist Church, Sparta, Tennessee. On June 10, 2007, the church had a covered dish farewell dinner for the Davis’. Pastor J.D. ministered to our congregation through strong Biblical preaching.
A pastor search committee was created. The members are as follows: Todd Carlson, Cherie’ Hunnicutt, Bill Newbauer, Ken Sala, Rick Shelnutt, Mary Stager and Mike Warren.
At our church conference on November 4, 2007, the Senior Pastor Search Committee recommended that Reverend Whitlow Edwin Chapman be called as senior pastor. The church body rejoiced in this decision as Whit had faithfully led us while we were without a pastor.

On July 14, 2002, we celebrated our first worship service at Lovely Lane Chapel, Epworth By the Sea. Dr. Earl L. Boyette brought the message. Rick Stirewalt led the congregational singing accompanied by Ashley Swann at the piano. Gary Thorsen read the scripture and Beth Hart prayed the benediction. 

On July 21, 2002, Dalton Tornabene made a profession of faith at our second worship service. Dalton was our very first member!

On August 4, 2002, we shared our first communion service. We would continue to have The Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month.

On August 25, 2002, our first baptismal service was held at Glynn Haven Baptist Church.

September 22, 2002, was designated as membership Sunday. Seventy-five people went forward indicating their desire to be a vital part of this new body of Christ on St. Simons Island.

On September 11, 2002, we had a commemoration service for the victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

On December 24, 2002, we shared a very special candlelight Christmas Eve service.

We have had several distinguished ministers, aside from Dr. Boyette, who have filled our pulpit. On October 11, 2002, Reverend Carl Milton was our guest preacher. Reverend John Carr brought the message on November 3, 2002. Dr. David Smith from Brewton Parker preached for us on February 16, 2003, and Dr. Ben Haygood blessed us with his presence and preaching on February 23, 2003.

On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005, the 8:30 am contemporary service began. At church conference on 24, 2005, the church voted unanimously to support this new service.

April 10-13, 2005, Bob Mowery, preaching, and Elmo Mercer, singing, led our first spring revival. Prior to the revival, we had a fellowship at the Varnadoe’s River House to pray for the revival.

The official beginning of our music program was December 1, 2002, when the Ladies Ensemble (Debbie Gilbert, Laurie Gunter, Edith Prescott, Rene’ Shelnutt, Jane Thorsen, Lisa Warren) sang for the first time. Laurie Gunter was named our children’s choir coordinator in December. Our children sang for worship for the first time on December 15, 2002. Gloria Haskins joined us as pianist on January 5, 2003. She was our first staff member. We had our first choir rehearsal in the home of Gary and Jane Thorsen with Janet Mead directing on January 22, 2003. Our choir sang for the first time in a worship service on February 2, 2003.
Reverend Lon Harbin led our music and directed the choir on April 27, 2003, in view of a call as Minister of Music and Youth. We voted that night to call Reverend Harbin, and he began his ministry with us on June 1, 2003.

March 11, 2007, marked the end of Reverend Lon Harbin’s ministry with us. Lon answered a call to Atco Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia. The congregation shared a surprise lunch for Lon at the Jekyll Island Hotel following his final service as Minister of Music.

On August 3, 2008, the church voted unanimously to call Reverend Paul Reed as minister of music. Paul, Debbie, Cameron, and Connor’s first Sunday with us was September 7, 2008. 

On April 19, 2003, we held our first Easter egg hunt.
The week of June 23-27, 2003, we held our first Vacation Bible School “ Son Harvest” at Oglethorpe Point Elementary School with Penny Tornabene and Pam Crosby as co-directors. Fifty children were enrolled and it was a wonderful ‘first’ VBS.

On August 4, 2002, we began our Sunday School program. We met in homes for Sunday School until we moved to Oglethorpe.

Currently we enjoy a very well attended Sunday School program for all age groups.  We are blessed with very dedicated and talented volunteer teachers.

The youth, under the leadership of Lisa Warren as chair of the youth committee, began having fellowship activities almost immediately. Activities included midnight bowling and go-carting. Several youth attended Missionfuge at West Palm Beach, Florida.

Currently we have a strong well attended Youth Program that is very active.

On January 12, 2003, we voted to authorize the facilities committee to put a binder on the property at 1700 Frederica Road to give the church time to evaluate the feasibility of using the building for our home on a temporary basis until we could move to the north end of the island.

On February 2, 2003, in a special called conference, Frederica Baptist Church voted to purchase 1700 Frederica Road for 4.1 million dollars.

On May 7, 2003, after weeks of negotiating, the deal was closed. Mike Warren, Brent Thomas and Billy Gibson were instrumental in securing this property for our church’s use. Larry Bryson provided architectural drawings for the renovation of the space in the building, and Jim Fucetola was the contractor for the work.

On February 13, 2005, we held our annual church conference. At this conference, Mike Warren reported that all units in our building had been rented. He also reported that his committee was looking at the best decision for the church concerning selling the building as a whole unit or selling it as individual condo units. The last item he addressed was the donation of the Sea Island property to Frederica. He had a plat of the land and indicated that we should have the deed in hand soon.

In the fall of 2004, Billy Gibson had approached Bill Jones, III, concerning the possibility of a plot of land. Mr. Jones said that, at that particular time, he did not have land that Sea Island had planned to donate to churches. Billy asked that we make the issue of land a priority in our prayers. Several months later, Mr. Jones told Billy he had identified some land for our church, and it is the present 13 acres on Marshes Edge Lane. We thank God for His answer to our prayers through the generosity of Mr. Bill Jones, III and Sea Island Company. What an absolutely wonderful gift.

At the December 4, 2005, conference, the motion was made and passed giving the officers of Frederica Baptist Church the authority to sign the lease for the property at the north end with Sea Island Company.

In July 2006, a beautiful cross was raised on our property on Marshes Edge Lane. We gathered as a church in the evening of July 14, 2006 to dedicate the land God had provided to his glory and honor.

On August 20, 2006, Frederica Baptist enjoyed a Town Hall Gathering to discuss with the Architectural Design Team, chaired by Dr. Boyette, ideas for our permanent home on the north end.
At the December 17, 2006 church conference, Dr. Larry Boyette, chair of the Architectural Design Committee, reported that the committee had completed visitation to various churches and the committee is moving into the design phase.

At the close of our first year, we had 118 members in our fellowship.

The following are the names of people who, although not members of our congregation, have been especially kind to us during our first year of existence:
Rev. John Carr has been a constant source of information, encouragement and assistance.
Rev. Jim Rush allowed us to worship at Lovely Lane Chapel at Epworth By the Sea and use their preschool building.
Paul Mackenzie with the Glynn County Board of Education and Anne Rogers, principal of Oglethorpe Point Elementary, accommodated us in so many ways by allowing us to use OPES for our second home.
Frankie and Angelyn Mewborn donated our Baptist Hymnals, and we began using these hymnals on September 8, 2002.
Rev. Larry Copley and Glynn Haven Baptist Church have allowed us to use their sanctuary and baptistery for our two baptismal services. They continued to allow us to use their facility in the years to follow.
Jim Williams, Esq., closed the property at 1700 Frederica Road and did not charge attorney’s fees.
Tom Lindsay, realtor with Lindsay Properties, waived his commission for the sale of the building.


July 2007 - September 2012

On July 14-15, 2007, Frederica Baptist Church celebrated five wonderful years of worship and fellowship. God’s provision for His church had been phenomenal, and His church celebrated. With hearts overflowing with love for God and each other, with tables overflowing with scrumptious food, with music to inspire the soul, and with a challenging message from Whit Chapman, our minister to students, we worshiped in spirit and in truth.

September 2012
Frederica Baptist Church celebrated ten years of worship and fellowship. God’s provision for His church has continued to be phenomenal! Again with hearts overflowing with love for God and each other, with tables overflowing with scrumptious food, with music to inspire the soul, and with a challenging message from Whit Chapman, our Senior Pastor, we worshiped in spirit and in truth.