Many people love to research their backgrounds, history and genealogies and the Bible teaches us that our heritage is an important thing to not only be aware of, but to embrace and maintain the legacy laid by our predecessors. In fact, one of God’s commands to Moses in the wilderness was to record the genealogy of each family. The Bible says in Numbers 1:18-19, “And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls. 19 As the LORD commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai.”
However, in the following three passages, the Bible also warns us not to put too much emphasis on physical genealogies as they will only stir up strifes and foolish questions:
Mt 3:7-12 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
1Ti 1:1-4 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”
Tit 3:8-9 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
In light of these Scriptures, we present the following histories of Berean Baptist Church of Wichita. You will find that, like many families in our congregation, our “Family Tree” is more like a “Scrub Bush Beside the Road” than it is a tree! But, despite this, the Lord has blessed His people and their application of His Word and the original blessings and authority which was placed upon the Apostles by Jesus Christ, Himself and from them to the Early Church has continued down through the ages until it rests now on this local body of believers in this present place of time.
The Short Version of our History is there were two Biblically organized bodies of believers who each came together in the unity of the Holy Spirit’s leading to form local Churches. These two Churches, during times of trouble and trials over the course of time, each changed their names and/or charters twice before eventually merging together to form the present-day body of believers known as Berean Baptist Church of Wichita.
The Long Version of our History is: In the spring of 1967, Rev. Max King started a small mission work out of First Bible Baptist Church under the name of Northwest Community Baptist Mission. These believers then banded together with some others and came together on March 22, 1969, with Rev. Russell Farrell to file the official charter with the State of Kansas, of Northwest Heights Baptist Church, on North Meridian Avenue. The Church continued to slowly grow and on March 13, 1986, under the leadership of Rev. Ed Porter, the name of the church was changed from Northwest Heights Baptist Church to Berean Baptist Church of Wichita.
The Church then had some trouble and disagreement among some of its members and several people left the congregation. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Steve Moler was called to be the Pastor. Under his shepherding, the church grew to its peak and had started supporting many different missionaries. Then on February 1, 1999 the decision was made to purchase some additional property to facilitate the growth of the church.
On the other side of this “Scrub Brush Genealogy” is the story of Heartland Baptist Church.
In the Fall of 1972 a small group of believers started a cottage prayer meeting, which eventually grew to the point of needing a permanent place of worship. Under the guidance of Rev. A.J. Wall, these believers came together on December 6, 1973 to officially file with the State of Kansas a charter for West Wichita Missionary Baptist Church and, over the course of the next few years, after meeting in one location or another, the congregation bought 9 ½ acres of property located on N Hoover Rd in Wichita.
The church grew under Bro. Wall’s leadership to not only include a sanctuary building, but in the mid 1970’s the Church started a Christian School and purchased a couple of modular school buildings and placed them on the property. At one time the attendance was running over 200 people on Sunday Mornings and the church was establishing itself as one of the leading Independent Baptist Churches of Wichita.
Through the course of time though, as was typical in many churches in the 1980’s, the church had a couple of troublesome times and several people left the congregation and scattered around the Wichita area into other churches. During this time frame, the Church called Rev. Dwayne Hodges as pastor and the work continued under the new name of Heartland Baptist Church.
Following a few years of struggling ministry, Heartland Baptist Church came into dire financial straits due to declining membership, brought on in part because of the continuing illness of their pastor, Rev. Dwayne Hodges. It was during this difficult period that Rev. Moler and Rev. Hodges led the people to merge the two congregations into one body of believers to serve the Lord. At that time, Heartland Baptist Church was disbanded and all the membership of Heartland were absorbed into Berean Baptist Church of Wichita.
The merge went well and the combined congregations started growing again for a period of time.
During the first week of September, 2007, Rev. Moler resigned as pastor of Berean telling the Church during that Wednesday night service that he had “led the Church as far as he could and felt like God was calling him into the field of evangelism” and he and his family walked out and left the church that night.
The church attendance, which had been declining for almost two years prior to Rev. Moler’s resignation, really went down dramatically over the course of the next few weeks. Outside interests started interfering with the business affairs of the church, interfering with the Pulpit Search Committee processes and, in addition to that, over 60% of the tithing members left the Church. The people that were left were a burdened body of believers. However, God was still at work!! As the Bible says in 2Timothy 2:13, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
The Lord worked in the hearts of the remaining believers and unified them to the point that no outside interest, Masonic influence or any other group of people outside the local body of believers would have control or sway their determination to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and obey the principles of God’s Word. This led the 26 remaining members to then call Rev. Gary Carty as pastor and after a month of announcing and publishing their intent to do so, on January 5, 2008 Rev. Carty became pastor of Berean Baptist Church of Wichita.
Rev. Carty only agreed to answer the call from Berean as an ‘Interim Pastor’ for 6 months and this agreement was under the conditions that the vote clearly show the membership’s unity and that another vote would be held 6 months later to verify that it was God’s intention for him to be the pastor and that the Lord would continue blessing this ministry and body of believers. From that initial unanimous vote of 27 people on January 5, 2008 and the second unanimous vote of 57 people on July 5, 2008, until 2012, God’s hand was clearly seen on this group of believers and their ministry.
In 2012 the decision was made to remodel and update all the structures to current building and ADA codes and almost all of 2013 was spent completely remodeling and expanding the interior into a beautiful place of worship and adding more windows, a brick exterior, a new front porch and a steeple to the sanctuary. The construction was completed just in time for the annual Camp Meeting in October, 2013. The ministry continued to grow steadily during this time and a 5-year growth plan was about to be presented by the pastor when the Lord allowed a lightning strike during a ferocious storm on a Sunday Morning in August of 2015 and over 2/3rds of the roof fell in during that resulting fire! (We guess that a 5-year plan was too slow for what God had in mind. :)
Since then, the gym / multipurpose building has been remodeled and turned into a new, larger sanctuary and the ministry is being blessed abundantly by the Lord. With an average attendance now of around 100 people, the outreach and ministries of the church have grown to include an Annual Camp Meeting / Revival in October, an Annual Ladies Jubilee in November and many other things such as vibrant Sunday School classes, exciting Vacation Bible Schools and many excellent times of worship and praise during our weekly services.
We invite you to come and be a part of our “future history” as we continue to follow the Lord, obey His Word and grow and transform our lives and ministry through the Word of god. As our Church theme plainly says, we provide A Place of Rest and Refuge While Taking The Gospel To The World!