A Brief History
A 5-year plan to establish a congregation in the North Penn area was conceived in September, 1979 at the annual men’s planning meeting of the Valley Road church of Christ in Warrington, Pennsylvania. As the elders and other men of Valley Road discussed how best to reach the lost in the area, they began to focus on the work in the North Penn area. Although Valley Road had several members living in North Penn, Valley Road was too far away to have a real impact for Christ in the North Penn area.
In 1982 a committee was formed to plan the establishment of a new congregation in the North Penn area. In 1983 Valley Road hired Bill Seiler with the plan that he would be the first preacher for the new North Penn congregation. The planning committee began the search for a suitable meeting place. In the summer of 1983, the committee located the property at 423 Derstine Avenue in Lansdale. The building had been owned for several years by a Hungarian Reformed Church, but the group disbanded suddenly when its preacher had to return to Hungary. The building was for sale for $85,000.
Bill Seiler and one of the elders from Valley Road went on a fund raising trip. Funds were needed for the preacher’s salary and the necessary 20% down payment on an interest-free loan to purchase the building.
The trip was successful in raising the preacher’s salary. However, with only one week remaining before settlement on the building, only $5,000 of the needed $20,000 to close had been secured. Quickly the Lord took care of that also. The bank agreed to let the seller give the church a six month note on the $15,000 down payment. With the Valley Road congregation co-signing the mortgage, settlement was completed on January 31, 1984. After another fund raising effort, the congregation was able to pay off the $15,000 note early with money given as free gifts.
In the spring of 1991 the church became financially self-supporting. During the first 7 years North Penn depended on support from several congregations around the United States. The plan was to be self-supporting by 1992, but the congregation was able to improve on that timetable by one year.
The First Service
For two weeks following closing on the property, the building was cleaned and painted. In an emotional service the Valley Road elder-ship gave a charge to those who would be worshiping at North Penn to go forward and serve the Lord whole-heartedly. The North Penn church of Christ opened its doors in Lansdale on the third Sunday in February, 1984. Fifty people were present that first Sunday morning.
In May of 1989 the church appointed Dave Roberts and Willie Wilson as the first elders. During the summer of 1989 six men were appointed to serve as the first deacons. Since then there have been several changes in those serving as deacons and elders. Currently the following men are serving as deacons, Ken Bailey, Jim Fiant, David S. Garrett, Jamie Jones, Jim Mains, Tim Rody, Dan Wilson, Mark Wilson, Willie Wilson and Steve Young and two men serving as elders, Jim Bailey and Walter Nelms.
In 1986 Ray Bailey joined the work at North Penn as the preacher. In July of 1990, Chuck Smith returned to the Northeast from Arkansas to become the preacher and served in that role until May 2005. From May 2005 until July 2007 David White, one of our elders, filled the pulpit, and then on July 1, 2007, Milton Stanley was hired. Milton came to North Penn, having preached for churches in TN and VA. Milton resigned as the minister on September 26, 2008 and moved back to TN. Galen Harrill and other men from area local churches are doing most of the preaching for us at this time.
The saints at North Penn have always been very active with Camp Manatawny, a Christian Camp of the Greater Philadelphia Region. Delaware Valley Christian Camp, Inc. has served the churches of the Northeast since 1967. Currently two members of the camp’s board of directors are members of the North Penn church. Many members consistently support the camp in various ways.
God continues to bless the North Penn church. There has been continual, steady growth in membership, attendance and local contribution to the work.
Since 1993, the North Penn church has been actively working to accommodate growth and the expected growth of the future. The 100-year-old building serving the church well for the first 21 years of her history became very inadequate to meet current and future growth. There was very limited parking, rest rooms, classrooms, etc., and no room for expansion. In 1997 the church purchased 9 acres of land about 1.5 miles from the current facility and during 2005, built a new building on this property. We had our first service in the new facility on December 11, 2005.