Ed & Gail Kolwaski
Kevin & Jenni Powell
Bob & Helen Smith
Carlton & Pan Houck
Ed & Pat Myer
Ernie & Adelle Sheringer
Charles & Amy Baylor
Sam & Mary Josuweit
OUR HISTORY >>
Starting Date: May 28, 2006
Location: Wyoming Camp Ground
After leaving Fellowship Evangelical Church in December, 2004, Pastor Mark DeSilva became interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pittston from May of 2005 until early May of 2006.
A number of disillusioned families from both of these churches approached Pastor Mark about the possibility of starting a new church ministry in the area.
We decided to begin to pray about God’s leading in this area and met several times at Ed Kowalski’s home to determine if this was God’s will. We began looking for possible locations where we could worship together.
Kevin Powell, who owned a cottage at the Wyoming Camp Ground, approached the owners to ask if we could conduct our services in their camp chapel. They graciously agreed. We held our first service on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28, 2006. We met two godly families from the camp (Ed & Pat Meyers and Ernie & Adelle Sheringer). Both families resided in New Jersey, however, they decided to support out church even though their home churches were in New Jersey.
After the camping season ended in October of 2006, we prayed for a new location to meet. The Lord led us to the West Wyoming Fire House. We rented the Fire House and worshipped there for two years (from October 2006 to October, 2008).
With the help of two godly men, Pastor Gilmore and Pastor Sam, we were led to Plains United Presbyterian Church. We rented and had full use of the building from October 2008 to January, 2010. In January, 2010, the Plains United Presbyterian Church graciously sold us their building for five dollars ($5.00).
On Sunday, May 24, 2006, Living Hope Bible Church Launched its new ministry. Little did we know what lie ahead. None of us, including Pastor Mark DeSilva, had ever begun a new church ministry.
Our first service was held in a small chapel at the Wyoming Camp Ground. The camp had been gracious enough to allow us to hold our Sunday morning services at their chapel, where campers could come and join us in worship. The Myers and Sheringers are two families that still faithfully attend our church (primarily during the Spring and Summer months when they reside at the camp).
Our first service was composed of some such campers along with a number of somewhat disillusioned believers who had been hurt, disappointed and discouraged from previous church ministries.
We had met two times previously in the basement of Ed Kowalski’s home to pray and discuss the possibility of launching a new church ministry. We all longed for a church that would focus on God’s Word and the love of Jesus Christ and not on church politics and power struggles. We wanted a church that would be genuine, warm, and faithful to Christ’s mission of spreading the Gospel Message throughout the valley.
Under God’s direction, we stepped out in faith and began Living Hope Bible Church. Our motto for Living Hope Bible Church was, and still is, “Where hope comes to life and the Son always shines,” as a reminder that God was calling us to help the hurting by providing His hope freely and faithfully to those in our community.
Soon, however, we faced many challenges. One was where we would meet when the campground closed in October. Finally, the Lord lead us to meet at the fire hall at the West Wyoming Fire Department. We remained there for a year until the Lord led us to Plains United Presbyterian Church in October of 2007.
A fellow pastor and friend had passed the church and noticed that their congregation met on Saturdays and that maybe we could be able to meet on Sundays, when the building was not in use. Pastor Mark called and spoke to Pastor Gilmore and, eventually, Sharon Tona.
Several months had passed. At first, it appeared that there was no interest. This was a difficult time for us as a church body because just a few months earlier, we had contacted and met with a church in West Pittston that had given us every indication that we would be able to begin meeting there. Tragically, the Sunday in which they met to vote and which we had been told would be a simple formality, ended with their surprising choice to deny our request.
This had literally rocked us since we knew of a certain group who undermined this decision. Now, after requesting the same from Plains United Presbyterian Church, we were concerned that we might be rejected again.
Finally, Pastor Mark DeSilva received a call to meet with Sharon Tona, Tim Turnbugh, Nancy Baker, Elaine Perta, Eleanor Zukowski, Alice Lewis and others from PUPC to discuss our meeting at the Presbyterian Church. There was another church involved who was also requesting the use of the Church building and they also attended the meeting. The Lord providentially led that meeting and convinced Plains United Presbyterian to offer a rental agreement to Living Hope Bible Church.
Praise God! We began to meet at the church building in October of 2007. Soon, we developed a strong relationship with the Presbyterian Church and began working closely with Elaine Perta and Nancy Baker. Both were mightily used by the Lord to support, encourage and guide us. They were instrumental in helping us build a connection with the community through fund raisers and joint community church services. Over time, they would not only attend our church, but serve as liaisons to the Presbyterian Church Board.
Even so, we still faced other struggles as a church and by the Spring of 2009, Pastor Mark began to wonder what the Lord was telling us to do. That spring, Pastor Mark was contacted by Joyce Jarski. Pastor met with Joyce a few times many years earlier when he had pastored at Fellowship Evangelical Free Church in Dallas. He knew Joyce primarily through her daughter Amy Strausser, who then attended FEFC. Joyce briefly explained that she had remembered him and wondered if he might be interested in helping a small Baptist Church in Parsons which was in need of a new pastor. Not knowing exactly what the Lord was telling Pastor Mark, he decided to meet with some of the church leaders to find out more about their situation. He presented the idea that it might be God’s intention for us to consider joining our two ministries together with the hope of both churches sharing the struggling efforts. He offered to dissolve LHBC. He shared this possibility with Living Hope Bible Church and was met with great surprise.
We would finally decide to try to form a special joint service with Parson’s Baptist Church to see how things might potentially work out. Although the service was powerful, many from the Parsons Church became concerned and even suspicious. At a later meeting, it was strongly confirmed to Pastor Mark that this was not God’s Will. God wanted us to remain faithful to His Word and trust Him to continue to forge ahead. In His great wisdom and providence, God moved the hearts of several families who were attending Parsons Baptist to eventually leave their church and join Living Hope.
Soon, word began to spread and others from the surrounding community and beyond began visiting. Last Spring, a number of other families, disillusioned by their own church in Huntsville, visited and soon joined our church as well.
As we began to grow and establish a strong relationship with the Plains Community, Plains United Presbyterian Church struggled as their once thriving membership dwindled. In God’s great providence and wisdom, He miraculously led the group from PUPC to offer their building to us. Although we had talked previously in the past about the possibility of purchasing the building, nothing was ever seriously discussed. Finally, in January of 2010, PUPC graciously sold us their church building for $5 (Five dollars). Although this was an extremely difficult decision on their part, they desired for God’s ministry to continue here which had begun and faithfully maintained for 140 years.
Soon, God laid it on our hearts to begin much needed renovations. Over the past year through Living Hope’s faithful support and vision, we have been able to accomplish four major renovations.
Despite the beauty of our building, it is vital to understand that a church is not made up of brick and concrete. It is made up of special individuals that God calls and uses for His kingdom and glory.
It is because of God’s faithfulness in using each of you that Living Hope Bible Church exists today.
Corner of Carey Ave
& Horton St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702