In June of 1994, forty-five people walked into a nearly complete, brand-new structure on 42 acres of land and began to worship. Two months later, Pastor Stan Gillcash and his family arrived to lead the family of God in reaching the community for Christ. It has been challenging but rewarding work (as 86% of the community calls itself Catholic). After five years of reaching into the community, growth began to occur. New Hope Baptist Church was finally recognized as the “church past the mall.” With many intentional efforts, doors began to open, and ministries were started. In 2001, we were blessed with the addition of a full-time Associate Youth and Family Pastor, Pastor Richard Goforth. In July 2002, New Hope Baptist Church hosted the first-ever World Changers event in New York State.
The Lord has richly blessed us here at New Hope Baptist Church! We had to say farewell to Pastor Stan in the spring of 2015, and Micah Stoudt was brought in as a Ministry Assistant. Today, Pastor Micah is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Music, and his wife Vilma is the church secretary. Pastor Mahlon Smith joined us with his family as our new Senior Pastor in 2016, and the Lord has since called Pastor Richard to Pastor a new church in Virginia. Over time, we have been able to reach into the community, and our “family” size has grown. From the initial 45 members, 38 of whom were military, we have grown to around 200 in attendance weekly (excluding those who watch our services live online every week), with 40% of those military and 60% local. God has blessed the efforts to reach the local community with His word.
As a result of this growth, we have completed three expansion projects that have allowed us to see how God provides when you choose to follow Him. The growth has been steady despite the deployment of many of our men and women with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Those who have remained behind have physically worn themselves out building our additions to keep up with growth. The excitement remains high as God continues bringing in many new local and military people.
We continue to seek ways to witness our community and share the good news of Jesus Christ! We support Child Evangelism Fellowship, which goes into schools and can witness to children and share the gospel with them. We have also been involved in numerous projects in which we were able to aid the elderly with home repairs and build wheelchair ramps. In the summer, we have been able to minister to families through our Vacation Bible School program. We’ve also been able to use our new sanctuary for christian concerts and conferences!
We recognize that prayer is first and foremost; this is how God has worked in and through us in the past. We pray that the Lord would grant us guidance and wisdom to make decisions in His timing that honor Him above all. Prayer is needed that we will continue to witness and reach the local people here in the Watertown area (our Jerusalem), our surrounding communities, our state, and the world for His Kingdom. We joyfully give God the glory for all He is doing within this church body here at New Hope Baptist Church!