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debt free in chicago

CHICAGO, IL After years of careful work, the Northwest FWB Church in Chicago (a joint project of the National and Illinois Mission Boards) is debt free. Missionary David Potete celebrates this milestone:

I KNEW THAT GOING INTO CHICAGO was going to be very expensive. The cost of real estate in the inner city was a concern for our mission work. For the first two years of the work we met in my living room for worship services and Bible studies. We then met on the second floor of an office building for three months before finding a union hall that would rent to us. Northwest FWB Church met there for over seven years. We were a storefront church. Our growth was slow and limited. We were able to draw a crowd to an event, but people did not consider us a credible church.

Knowing we needed a building, we began a property fund campaign in 1997. By 1999 we were able to begin looking. In early 2000, we found one listed for $675,000.00. We expressed an interest and by the time we made a serious offer, the amount had been reduced to $575,000.00. I met with the Illinois Mission Board and we agreed to make a serious effort to purchase this property. Eighty percent of the inquiries on this parcel of land were from religious groups. However, we were the only group the owners were willing to meet. They viewed us as a credible entity because the Home Missions Department and the Illinois State Association backed us. With financing through the Church Extension Loan Fund (CELF), the seller knew we had the means to buy. We negotiated from March until August. Professional costs relating to the zoning and special use permits ran close to $30,000.00. We negotiated the owners down to $445,000. This seemed high, and it was, but there was no way around it if we were to have a permanent location in the city. After receiving zoning approval, things moved fast, and we closed on the property on September 15, 2000. We kept some cash for remodeling and borrowed $269,000.00 from the CELF program.  We ended up spending well over $100,000 for remodeling, parking, landscaping, a sign, fencing, and various professional costs. Since moving into this building we have seen steady growth and we plan to be self-supporting by the end of 2006.

Beginning in 2001 we began the first of two debt-reduction campaigns. Free Will Baptists responded. Boy, did they respond! Our first campaign was called, “Chicago - My Kind of Town.” We were able to meet every mortgage payment, and by May of 2005, we had the balance down to $91,000! This was becoming a miracle. Our final debt-reduction push was called “Crossing the Finish Line.” I decided to run in the Chicago Marathon on October 9, 2005, as a fundraiser. By the date of the marathon our principal balance was down to $52,000 with over $20,000 pledged. When I finished the marathon (19,575 out of 40,000 runners) we realized we were $30,000 from paying off our mortgage. After sharing this story with the Bethany FWB Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, God used them to complete the miracle. In November, they presented a check for $30,000. We made our final payment of $46,000 and became DEBT-FREE! Through all of this push for freedom from debt, Free Will Baptists continued to support my mission account as well.

THERE IS NO WAY TO THANK EVERYONE who supported this huge effort. Individuals, youth groups, men’s and women’s groups, and churches across the country made this a success. Free Will Baptists have a property in Chicago with about $600,000 invested, and it is debt-free. Our property is appraised at almost $1 million dollars. A special “Thank You” goes to the Illinois Mission Board, the National Home Missions Department, and CELF. Without their leadership and assistance this could not have been accomplished.

Photo (left to right): Gowdy Cannon, youth pastor; Tommy Lewis,
associate pastor; Chris Wright, treasurer; David Potete, Richard Adams



The Home Missions Department welcomes Robert and Holly Ketchum as missionaries to the Seattle, WA, area. Robert and Holly both graduated from Southeastern Free Will Baptist College. Robert served as an intern under Howard Gwartney in Mesa, AZ. He also worked with Rev. Doug Carey in Jenks, OK, and served as youth pastor and interim pastor at the Haskell FWB Church in Haskell, OK.


YORK, PA Allen and Jenny Hall will soon plant a new FWB church in York, PA. The Halls served with Rev. Henry Horne in Chocowinity, NC, and helped Rev. Cliff Donoho plant a church in Davenport, IA. Allen graduated from Southeastern Free Will Baptist College with degrees in Bible and missions.He has a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in Biblical studies. They have one daughter, Allison Kay.


Tom and Pam Jones, along with daughters Bobbie and Mandy, are about to take the challenge of planting a second Home Missions church. After successfully planting the Three Rivers FWB Church in Cranberry Township, PA, the Jones will begin a new church in Greensburg.




LONDON, ENGLAND Several Free Will Baptist pastors enjoyed a tour of Europe, visiting many sites of interest to believers. In London, the men visited John Wesley’s house and museum. The group is pictured below, standing on the steps of Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. Dr. Danny Dwyer spoke from the pulpit of the great Charles Spurgeon. The tour traced Christian heritage throughout England, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.

Pictured (left to right): Richard Adams, Archie Ratliff, Larry Powell, Larry Buchanan, Roy Harris, Cliff Donoho, Daniel Voss, Bobby Bowers, Lee Neill, Danny Dwyer, Roger Tolliver, Ray Williamson, and Randy Sawyer.

This year we will enjoy a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. For a free brochure please call toll-free at (877) 767-7674 or email




©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists