Today, we are young and old, black and white, rich and poor. Some of us have been Christians for a long time, and some are brand new to the faith. We are learning together what it means to follow Jesus. Whoever you are, and wherever you are in your experience with Christianity, you will fit in with us.
But our story goes back a lot further than that. Friendship Bible Church is steeped in history, having been in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century. For those interested in our history, here is an abbreviated timeline:
In 1812, Deacon William Churchill moved to Randolph, Ohio
“…….According to the “Pioneer History of Randolph Township” in Portage County, Ohio, by Walter Johnson Dickinson, we find that in November 1812, William Churchill and his brother Stephen, and their families, natives of Wallingford, Connecticut, and from Franklin County, Vermont, moved to Randolph, Portage County, Ohio.
…….William settled on a farm where he began making nails. He was a Deacon and very active in the Randolph Baptist Church where he attended with his wife, Polly. On August 30, 1846 he died.”
Other sources indicate that Churchill was not only active in the Randolph Baptist Church, but that he and several others actually started the church in 1819.
When Alexander Campbell’s “Christian Baptist” paper became available, Churchill read it, and agreed with Campbell’s positions.
On July 20, 1828, Churchill lead in the formation of a “church built on Christian principles” and reorganized the Baptist Church into the Disciples Church. In the original church members’ own words, “On this day came forward the baptized disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord, and acknowledged Him to be their only teacher and lawgiver, and the Holy Scriptures to be their only guide, and agreed to maintain Christian worship according to the aforesaid declaration.” (Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, author A.S. Hayden, Chase and Hall, Publishers, 1875, p. 340)
The church at Randolph was “fostered by the Deerfield church” (ibid), and also became the mother to churches in Mogadore, New Baltimore, Suffield, and Rootstown.
In 1830, the first meeting house was started, and it was completed in 1832.
In 1845 – major church split occurred over the issue of slavery / “comeoutism”. It appears that the church was such a “comeouter” church, going further than the disciples churches as a whole and officially declaring that they were “Not to fellowship with slaveholders or apologists.” This caused a major division / split in the church. (see Buckeye Disciples, by Henry K. Shaw, p. 143)
In 1860, the current church building was erected in the center of Randolph, and has been used ever since.
In 1928, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In July, 2009, the membership unanimously voted to disassociate from the Disciples of Christ denomination and reorganize as an independent, Bible believing, evangelical church, calling themselves the Friendship Bible Church.
Although the church has gone through various transitions in its rich history, having been first the Randolph Baptist Church, then the Disciples Church, then Randolph Christian Church and Randolph Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and now Friendship Bible Church…
… by God’s grace, it continues to exist today, and still proclaims the good news of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to a needy world. Although our building is old, it is up to date and beautiful, just like the message we proclaim, and the Savior we serve. The 2000 year old message of Jesus Christ is just as fresh and relevant today as it was when first proclaimed. We exist to share that relevant, unchanging and vital message with our world. We believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, and recognize it as our only rule for life. We believe that regular Bible study and prayer are essential to spiritual growth and welfare, and so the Word of God has a central role in everything we do. We believe that only through a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ do we have eternal life, and so we strive always to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. At Friendship Bible Church you will always find opportunities for prayer, praise and worship; you will be encouraged and equipped to grow in your faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ. You will be a part of a family that is committed to loving God and loving each other.