A Small Beginning

 

This little light for the Gospel on the corner of East Ave and Cone St. began on August 7th, 1884 when the property was purchased by for the princely sum of $600. The construction of the church, which was basically just a sanctuary, 

 This photograph, taken in 1920, includes Blair and the new parsonage shortly after it was built

was completed in 1886. This all happened during the peak of the coal and lumber boom when the population of Tioga County was more than 50,000 people (In case you’re wondering, it’s currently 42,000 according to the 2012 census). The original congregation, of which we know very little, eventually disbanded, and the property was purchased by a group of believers in 1914, to which we owe our real heritage.
 
When the official chapter was drawn up and ratified, the church consisted of about 40 members and was called “Church of Christ, Wellsboro.”
 
The first pastor was Matthew S. Blair, who began in 1914. His tenure lasted until his death in 1931, though he unsuccessfully attempted to resign in 1919 and left to pastor another church for about three years during the 1920s! 
 
                                   
Some Challenges
 

Over the years, like every church, there have been many ups and downs, periods of rapid growth, and even crisis.

Since its inception, the church had been part of a mainline denomination called the Church of Christ Disciples, which was steadily becoming theologically liberal, and ultimately began to reject the historic doctrines of the faith.

In the early fifties, our leadership, desiring to hold fast to the timeless truths of Scripture, left the denomination and became independent. Some years later, the church was renamed, “Independent Bible Church.”

This led to revival in the church body and years of solid testimony in the community. Some of our older current members became integrated into the church at this time.
 
 
Revitalization
 
 

In the early 2000’s the church experienced some numerical decline and needed to reorient its outward focus. It was also obvious that the building needed redesign since it had not been remodeled since the early sixties (think horrific green pews and carpet!).

The elders at that time recognized the need for revitalization and after significant prayer, careful study, and godly counsel; made a series of strategic changes.

It began with a name change. In 2012, the church was renamed “Wellsboro Bible Church” to celebrate our place in the community. Church planter, TJ Freeman, was also hired to shepherd the congregation through the revitalization process. In lieu of traditional evening services, connect groups, which meet in homes during the week, were also launched.

In God’s wise providence, He saw fit to grow the church in breadth and depth. It soon became necessary to create a second morning service and hire two additional pastors to shepherd the new members. The church has been further blessed with many young families and the births of numerous “little disciples.”
 
Going Mobile
 

By the end of 2017, the small size of our old building had become increasingly uncomfortable, particularly for the children’s ministry. While the elders were seeking to explore new properties, they decided to relocate the congregation to the Wellsboro High School gym and auditorium and officially launched our “mobile church” on Easter of 2018. We are thankful for our relationship with the school in allowing us to rent their facility while we endeavor to find or build a permanent place. We are also thrilled that our congregation is able to now meet in one combined service.

The church is now larger than it has ever been but we press on with the goal to reach every man, woman, and child in the area with the good news of Jesus.

 
Some Final Thoughts
 
Though the church does not have a perfect history, we are striving to honor Christ and proclaim the Gospel in this community. Our desire is to resemble what we read about the church in Acts 2:42, a community of believers who are committed to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. By the grace of God, this church remains committed to the same Gospel believed by Christians throughout the centuries, and proclaimed by the Christ who is the “same yesterday, today, and forever.”