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news about the denomination

The following news items apply to (or affect) the Free Will Baptist denomination scattered across the nation and around the world.To read more about Free Will Baptists and the various departments that make up the national organization, visit


Read a brief history of Free Will Baptists in the United States.




NEW DURHAM, NH—Seven men from five states recently gathered in New Durham, NH, to complete phase two of the Ridge Church restoration project. The Church on the Ridge, founded by Elder Benjamin Randall, was the first church in the northern movement of Free Will Baptists. The congregation, which began meeting in 1793, completed the current building in 1820, making it the oldest FWB church structure in existence.

Delegates to the 2007 national convention in Little Rock, AR, voted to help the New Durham congregation (which no longer meets in the Ridge Church) maintain the aging structure in light of its historical significance.


Church on the Ridge


During phase one of the project volunteers added support beams to repair the sagging roof and replaced the worn shingles. In addition, the group removed two deteriorating chimneys and reinforced the worn bell tower.

Volunteers for phase two of the project stripped peeling paint from the building, carefully restoring the surface for painting. Although hampered by rain, the group finished painting everything but the bell tower. In addition, they painted the foyer of the church and installed a drainage system designed to prevent standing water under the building.

Coordinator Ken Akers said, “These men came to paint, and paint they did! We finished almost everything we came to do and had a great time doing it.”

To find out how you can be part of Phase Three, or simply to learn more about the Ridge Church restoration, visit



Free Will Baptist Named "Top Sunday School Teacher
in America

CHURCH HILL, TN—Gospel Light Publications, sponsor of the national Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day, recently named Paul Rector as the “Top Sunday School teacher in America.” Paul was awarded a dream vacation to Hawaii along with a commemorative plaque and resources for his church.

Paul Rector has been teaching Sunday school to the Adult Class at First FWB Church in Church Hill, TN, for more than eight years. His students describe him as one of the most caring and inspirational individuals they have ever met.

According to Senior Pastor Derek Bell, “Paul loves the Lord with all his heart and despite several health issues, he does all he can to put Christ first in his life.” Diabetes has caused several problems for Paul, most notably his ability to see well. A number of surgeries to both eyes have resulted in little improvement, however, Paul has not used his condition as an excuse. According to Pat Stilwell, one of Paul’s students, he has adapted to his eyesight challenge by having his wife Diane read Scripture passages to him. He repeats the verses over and over until they are committed to memory.

Pat says, “Paul might be walking in the dark physically, but spiritually he is walking in the light.” In spite of the health challenges Paul has experienced, he never blames God for his misfortunes. Instead, he is known for saying, “You just have to give it to the Lord.”

According to his class, Paul has a remarkable ability to relate, to connect with all kinds of people and personalities. He sees the humor in things and is adept at getting people to loosen up and laugh with him. According to Pastor Derek Bell, “Paul would be just as comfortable talking to a bunch of bikers, as he would talking to a group of church people.”



ANTIOCH, TN—Nineteen Free Will Baptist leaders from 12 states gathered in Antioch, TN, September 23-24, for the Palmer Leadership Institute. The training program designed for pastors and church leaders was sponsored by the Executive Office and conducted by Dr. Douglas Earls (OK) at the national office building near Nashville. Presented in three two-day courses, the institute will eventually be offered to all Free Will Baptist pastors and church leaders through a series of regional conferences.
“Those who attended the conference gained a wealth of leadership training,” said Ryan Lewis, conference organizer. “Dr. Earls shares practical, real life information in a down-to-earth, enjoyable presentation. I think any church leader will benefit from these sessions.”
A Missouri native, Earls has pastored Calvary Chapel FWB Church in Buffalo, MO, for 19 years. Under his leadership, the church has experienced significant numerical growth. Doug presents leadership training in the nation of Panama each year and has assisted in the development the seminary in Chame.



WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to the recent Wall Street crisis, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which permits investors ages 70 and older to make donations to Free Will Baptist organizations of up to $100,000 per year from their IRAs.
While no income tax deductions are available for IRA gifts, donors may save taxes anyway, when gifts take the place of required minimum distributions (which otherwise are 100% taxable).


U.S. Capitol


To take advantage of this opportunity, donors should contact the Free Will Baptist Foundation as soon as possible—preferably before receiving any required minimum distributions. Transfers for 2008 must be completed by December 31, 2008. Distribution checks should be issued in the name of a FWB charity—not to the account owner—with notification to the charity.
To learn how the IRA gift options can benefit you or the ministry you support, contact the Free Will Baptist Foundation at (877) 336-7575 or visit



©2009 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists