HISTORY

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.”

church mackinaw il

New Castle Bible Church Through the Years...

Campus Growth

  • 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.
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  • 1991 - The School bell was found, re-purchased, placed in the bell tower, and a steeple was built.
  • 1991 - The church foyer was extended.
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  • 1998 - The north building was built.
  • 2008 - The Intersection building was built.
New Castle Bible Church
  • Current New Castle Bible Church Campus.
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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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Scott Gnuse - Scott joined the staff as Associate Pastor of Student Ministries in June of 2016.
  • Shaun Lewis - Shaun became Associate Pastor of Care and Discipleship in June 2019 and served until December 2021.
  • Tysin Smith - Tysin joined the pastoral staff in a new position as Associate Pastor or Music and Worship in 2021.

History Wall in South Classroom

Current Campus
Current Campus
new castle bible church mackinaw il
New Castle Bible Church with the tree that men once prayed around for a church to be planted
New Castle Bible Church with the tree that men once prayed around for a church to be planted
New Castle Bible Church with north building and parsonage
New Castle Bible Church with north building and parsonage
New Castle Bible Church with Educational Wing
New Castle Bible Church with Educational Wing
New Castle Bible Church with sanctuary expansion
New Castle Bible Church with sanctuary expansion
New Castle Bible Church in winter
New Castle Bible Church in winter
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Students breaking ground for the Intersection
Students breaking ground for the Intersection
High Schoolers turn
New Castle Bible Church pond
New Castle Bible Church pond
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Even today, you can see the details of the original schoolhouse
Even today, you can see the details of the original schoolhouse
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Steeple with the original schoolbell
Steeple with the original schoolbell
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Intersection groundbreaking
Intersection groundbreaking
breaking ground
Rock inscribed to remember the men who prayed for a church to be planted in this spot
Rock inscribed to remember the men who prayed for a church to be planted in this spot
The Rock
Groundbreaking of the north building
Groundbreaking of the north building
8-86 dedication of north land
Dedication of flagpole
Dedication of flagpole
'91 Flagpole Dedication
Newspaper article from 1975 about New Castle Bible Church and Pastor Chapman
Newspaper article from 1975 about New Castle Bible Church and Pastor Chapman
Pastor Denny ordination
Pastor Denny ordination
Denny_Ordination
Instrumental worship
Instrumental worship
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VBS from the 1990's
VBS from the 1990's
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Road sign / Pastor Somers and Pastor Denny working together
Road sign / Pastor Somers and Pastor Denny working together
Church_Sign
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Robert and Barbara Zehr / Brother B.
Robert and Barbara Zehr / Brother B.
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Brother B
Campus with added parsonage
Campus with added parsonage
VBS 1986
VBS 1986
Dedication of windmill
Dedication of windmill
Windmill
Cemetery dedication
Cemetery dedication
1989 Cemetary Dedication
Newspaper article about the dedication of the new educational wing
Newspaper article about the dedication of the new educational wing
Many attended church in the schoolhouse
Many attended church in the schoolhouse
New Castle School Children
New Castle School Children
1950 Annual Report with information about the 1.5 years since the church was dedicated.
1950 Annual Report with information about the 1.5 years since the church was dedicated.
Notice of last meeting at the schoolhouse. Shortly after, God opened the door for the church to buy the schoolhouse
Notice of last meeting at the schoolhouse. Shortly after, God opened the door for the church to buy the schoolhouse
Harold and Goldie Oyer
Harold and Goldie Oyer
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Original schoolhouse
Original schoolhouse
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VBS started it all
VBS started it all
Bible School