In June of 1973, the Free Will Baptist Home Mission Board started talking about planting a Church in Delaware. A group of ministers from the Maryland State Association of Free Will Baptists determined in 1974 to begin a mission project in the state of Delaware. On May 7, 1975, Rev. Vergel Maness was approved as Home Missionary to the area of Wilmington, Delaware. This would be a joint project between the National Association and the Maryland State Association of Free Will Baptists.
Rev. Maness held his first itinerant service on May 11, 1975. He traveled about four months to raise funds to begin the new mission work. The Maness family moved from Jefferson County, Missouri, to New Castle, Delaware on August 22, 1975. They moved into the house on 409 Moores Lane which is now the parsonage. The first service was held in the parsonage living room on October 26, 1975 with an attendance of 10 people. In December 1975, the congregation started meeting in the music room of the Castle Hills Elementary School. On September 12, 1976, the congregation decided to build a church building. The funds were secured through a $57,000.00 bond program. The groundbreaking ceremonies were held on September 20, 1976.
On October 15, 1976, National Home Missions Director Robert Shockey held a formal organization service recognizing the local congregation as being in full fellowship with the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Fifty-two people were present and the church was organized with 23 charter members.
The first service was held in the new church building on March 20, 1977. A dedication service for the new building was held on August 22, 1977. The church later bought the property next door and then tore it down to provide additional parking.
After five years of ministry in Delaware, Pastor Maness resigned in the fall of 1980. Upon the recommendation of the Maryland State Missions Board, the church called the Rev. Richard Atwood to come as their pastor. He and His family moved from Indiana to New Castle on October 20, 1980 and his first service as the new pastor was October 26, 1980.
Due to increased attendance the church voted in April of 1983 to build a new addition. The dedication service for the new addition was held on March 25, 1984.
In the late 1980’s, Pastor Atwood and the congregation envisioned mothering another Free Will Baptist Church in Delaware. After much praying and planning, the church secured land in the Townsend, Delaware area. After pastoring both churches for about a year Pastor Atwood moved his family to Townsend to become the full-time pastor of the new church. The New Castle Church mothered the new church until it was able to be self-supporting. The Townsend Church grew rapidly and today averages over 400 in attendance.
The New Castle Church eventually called the Rev. Elmer Turnbough to be its next pastor. He and his wife Gladys move to New Castle, Delaware in the fall of 1990. Pastor Turnbough pastored the church until the fall of 1992.
The church voted to call the Rev. Jay Baines to be its next pastor on November 15, 1992. Pastor Baines and his wife, Annette, and family moved from Townley, Alabama to New Castle, Delaware. He served as pastor here for 8 years. He accepted the pastorate of the Townsend Free Will Baptist Church on November 1, 2000.
The church then called the Rev. Wayne Hale as its pastor. Pastor Hale, and his wife Melanie, moved from Lynchburg, Virginia and celebrated his first Sunday as pastor on April 1, 2001. He is currently the pastor of the church.
Many things have been accomplished in the 40-year history of the church. Many lives have been changed and many have gone out to serve the Lord in various capacities. Some of the young people over the years have gone to Christian colleges and are now serving in full-time Christian ministries or have become faithful lay people in local churches across our nation. Many prayers have been answered and the church has grown numerically as well as spiritually.
In 1999 this church along with six other Free Will Baptist churches formed the Mid-Atlantic District Association of Free Will Baptists, with its own representation to the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Our Men’s Retreat, Couples' Retreat, and other group activities are planned on an annual basis by the Mid-Atlantic District Association.
It is exciting to think about what the Lord has done over the last 40 years and to anticipate being a part of His future plans for the New Castle F.W.B. Church.