IT STARTED WITH THE PRAYERS OF A BOY.
Concerned for the salvation of the children in the rural area surrounding the one-room New Castle school, Harold Oyer began to pray that God would plant a thriving church.
The beginnings were simple – in 1936 Vacation Bible School classes were held in the one-room schoolhouse. God blessed and Sunday school classes began in 1940. Within the next year regular services were held. Harold Oyer assisted with the preaching and Robert Zehr became the first pastor. When school consolidation threatened the existence of the church the schoolhouse was purchased. New Castle became an independent Bible church and has continued to flourish.
After more than 75 years, with the one-room schoolhouse still a part of our building, God continues to bless the prayers of those who call New Castle Bible Church their home.
“On this spot more than 50 years ago
Godly men met often to pray
Asking God to plant a thriving church
And God answered their prayer.”
New Castle Bible Church Through the Years...
- November 1948 - Services were cancelled when the school building went up for sale.
- December 1948 - Goodfield Mennonite Church purchased the building for $2575 and began remodeling.
- 1958 - A 38x60 addition was built to enlarge the sanctuary. The cupola and school bell were given away as tokens of appreciation for the generous gifts toward the construction.
- 1968 - The mortgage was paid in full.
- 1971 - An Education Wing was built including 15 classrooms and fellowship hall in the basement.
- 1978 - The church parsonage was built.
- 1989 - A cemetery was added to the campus along with a windmill.
- 1991 - The School bell was found, re-purchased, placed in the bell tower, and a steeple was built.
- 1991 - The church foyer was extended.
- 1998 - The north building was built.
- 2008 - The Intersection building was built.
- Current New Castle Bible Church Campus.
People of Interest
- Harold Oyer - Harold grew up with a burden for schoolmates, sharing gospel tracts with them. He later became concerned for the unchurched in his community and would meet with others in the school yard to pray for a church. This spot is now commemorated with a stone in the south parking lot. In 1931 Harold was ordained as minister of the Goodfield Mennonite Church. He and his church continued to pray for the community. In 1947, he became the Pastor's Assistant to Robert Zehr, New Castle's first official pastor.
- Martha Zehr - In 1936 the Goodfield Mennonite Church began a VBS at New Castle School with Martha Zehr as superintendent.
- Robert & Barbara Zehr / Jacob Oyer - In the summer of 1940, Robert & Barbara Zehr along with Jacob Oyer began conducting Sunday school services at New Castle School. Jacob Oyer was a member of the school board who was burdened for the community.
- Robert Zehr - Robert was the superintendent of the Goodfield Mennonite Church. Robert would become New Castle's first official pastor in 1947. In 1949, he became the full-time pastor and was ordained. He served as pastor until 1969 when he accepted a call to a church in Berne, IN.
- Jim Keller - In 1969, Jim served as Interim Pastor.
- Lawrence Chapman - From 1969 to 1985, Lawrence served as the pastor of New Castle.
- Philip Somers, Jr. - From 1985 until his retirement in 2010, Philip Somers served as Sr. Pastor of New Castle Bible Church and coined the phrase, "Thanks, Lord" which is now a common phrase among the congregation.
- Denny Schlappi - Denny served as Associate Pastor/Executive Pastor from May 1987 until his retirement in December 2019. Denny also stepped into the role of Interim Pastor 2014-2015.
- Troy Willey - Troy became the Sr. Pastor in July 2008 until he moved away in August 2014.
- Phil Shields - Phil served as the Sr. High Youth Pastor July 1999 - June 2012.
- Josh Gates - Josh was the Jr. High Pastor 2002 - 2015.
- Ralph Bauer (affectionately known as "Brother B") - Brother B. served part-time as the Associate Pastor of Senior Ministries from 2002-2010.
- Kevin Sauder - Kevin accepted the call to Sr. Pastor of New Castle Bible Church in 2015 and served until 2023.
- Scott Gnuse - Scott joined the staff as Associate Pastor of Student Ministries in June of 2016.
- Shaun Lewis - Shaun served as the Associate Pastor of Care and Discipleship from June 2019 until December 2021.
- Tysin Smith - Tysin joined the pastoral staff in a new position as Associate Pastor or Music and Worship in 2021.
- Josh Gerber - Josh became the Associate Pastor of Care and Discipleship in October 2022.