Bethlehem Baptist Church Begins Ministry in New Location Gifted by Chamberlayne Baptist Church
A remarkable thing happened on June 13, 2021, on Wilkinson Road in Richmond, VA. After several years of both churches praying, discerning, and making tough decisions, a new chapter began for Bethlehem Baptist Church as it accepted a major gift from Chamberlayne Baptist Church: its entire church facility and property.
For years, Bethlehem Baptist had sought creative solutions to renovate and expand in the Fairmount Avenue church building where they’ve worshiped and grown since 1963, but they were landlocked, and their dreams seemed out of reach. Chamberlayne Baptist, which opened its doors in 1953, has experienced much change in recent decades and sensed God leading them to do something different with their church facilities.
When the leadership of Chamberlayne Baptist began exploring how they might act on what God was calling them to do, an opportunity arose that seemed too perfect to be a coincidence; they believed it was providential. The leadership of both churches began to discuss the possibilities, and though they were delayed by the circumstances of the pandemic, the opportunity became reality in mid-June 2021.
Chamberlayne Baptist Church gifted all their facilities and property to Bethlehem Baptist Church, debt free and ready for them to begin a new chapter with the space and features they needed to grow and minister to their current congregation and to the community around them.
In an excellent article about how the churches came to this agreement, Steve Allsbrook, Interim Executive Director of the River City Faith Network, wrote the following:
The two churches held a joint worship service at the Wilkinson Road site on June 13. This service had the feel of an ending and a beginning, kind of like coming to the end of a favorite book and then opening the first chapter of its sequel. Some of the Chamberlayne folks may continue there. Many will find new church homes closer to where they live now. The Bethlehem folks have more to discern too. Will they relocate or operate in two locations? God will reveal that to them when God and the church are ready, perhaps after God leads them to their next pastor. Whatever God reveals to Bethlehem Baptist Church, it will include discovering how to minister in a new community.
To learn more about this incredible story of God’s faithfulness to both BGAV-participating congregations, you can read this article in the Richmond Free Press, watch news coverage from WRIC, or watch the entire joint worship service of celebration from June 13.