Over two decades have passed since sixty-four like-minded believers gathered for lunch on September 11, 1988, to explore the possibilities for the future. This meeting was the first step toward the formation and establishment of Covenant Baptist Church. On that same Sunday, the congregation of Saint Andrews ARP Church conducted their last worship service. God undoubtedly had plans for this place of worship to house another family of followers. Doors were opened that enabled one hundred thirty-six Baptist believers to meet there the following Sunday.
The early years of the church were filled with planning, organization, and change. Twenty-three members were appointed to comprise the Initial Planning Group that provided leadership for the process of establishing a church and for the necessary organization of worship and other church-related activities. The group diligently reported to the congregation and made sure there was open discussion and agreement on decisions affecting everyone.
On November 20, 1988, the Fellowship adopted a Statement of Purpose, thus allowing the congregation to be declared a church. The congregation voted to affiliate with the Gaston Baptist Association, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Since that time, Covenant has also affiliated with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. One hundred fifty-five people signed the Charter on the first day declaring their desire to become members. By the closing of the Charter on January 9, 1989, there were two hundred five Charter Members.
Joe Roberts of Furman University in Greenville, SC accepted the church’s call to become the interim pastor on February 5, 1989. By mid-1989, the Covenant congregation had purchased the facility that they had been leasing from the local Presbytery. On October 1, 1990, the church called Dr. Wayne Wike as its first full-time pastor. During Dr. Wike’s service at Covenant, a major renovation of the narthex and sanctuary, including a baptistry, was completed and dedicated on March 29, 1997. Dr. Wike ministered to the congregation until May 31, 1998. Dr. Ron Williams of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC became interim pastor on August 23, 1998. Reverend Olin S. Byrum, III began his service as the second pastor of Covenant Baptist Church on September 11, 2000. In 2004, the addition of a fellowship hall to the church was completed.
Many important decisions were made in those first years and continue to be made today. A strong belief in the historical Baptist principles of the “priesthood of the believer” and the “autonomy of the local church” have undergirded the desire to include the congregation in the making of those decisions.
As we look ahead, we will continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gardner Park community and in Gaston County. To God be the glory.