PEACH BOTTOM, Pa. (BRN) — “In 2020, we’ve been saying, ‘The best is yet to come,’” said Pastor Ryan Day. “We do believe that the best is yet to come…Jesus is still building His church, and we’re leaning forward into that. We’re believing by faith that the Gospel is still just as powerful as ever.”
Stemming from 88 years of history and steady ministry, this hopeful attitude continues to fuel Pastor Day and his congregation at Wrightsdale Baptist Church in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania.
Wrightsdale Baptist Church is the oldest Southern Baptist church in Pennsylvania, as it was the first of its kind to open its doors back in 1933.
“Wrightsdale really has an amazing history. There were some believers back in the mid- to late-1920’s [and] they lived in western North Carolina and Virginia. They decided they wanted to come to Lancaster County… [it’s] known for its fields and for its good soil…so a lot of folks basically did a northern migration,” explained Day.
“Many of them attended a Baptist church that was located in Maryland, [but] over time, they decided they wanted to see something happen here. They found a small little chapel that wasn’t being used a whole lot, they reached out to a local Presbyterian church that owned the property [and] they started to use it. Slowly, but surely, the Lord was building it up [and] people began to come.”
From its humble beginnings, Wrightsdale continued to expand and have “steady growth” throughout its early years.
“God just continued to use [Wrightsdale], as faithful people were here serving, faithful pastors were preaching, the Gospel was going forward, people were coming to Christ being baptized, [and] there were disciples being made…just steady growth in this area,” said Day.
This steady growth eventually led to the congregation outgrowing its little chapel. In 1960, the members of Wrightsdale built a new building.
“Then as the church continued to grow, they outgrew that. Our current facility kind of has two phases added on to it,” explained Day.
“The first phase was a big gymnasium and family life center, and then back in 2006 we added on the current sanctuary, [which] keeps about 300-350. It’s just been an amazing story…this is just a testimony of God’s grace of long discipleship in the same direction.”
When Day became the lead pastor at Wrightsdale in 2020, he was immediately encouraged by this long-term growth.
“When my wife and I came here in 2020, really at the end of 2019 when we started conversations with Wrightsdale, we were just so encouraged to see such a long track record of a healthy church,” he said.
“It was something that really encouraged us, to see the markers of good spiritual health and growth be present here over such a long time.”
In an effort to keep that growth going, the church decided in 2013 to make family ministry a priority.
“Our church really made a decision that, if we’re going to keep growing, [then] we have to be reaching families. You have to be reaching that next generation of young people, those parents and children, to keep your church growing in the right direction,” said Day.
That same year, the church hired a staff member who was designated specifically for family ministry.
“Our church hired a really dynamic and creative leader, his name is Brad Thorne, and Brad is our Director of Family Ministries. He just brings a ton of creativity [and] outreach ideas.”
Since hiring a Director of Family Ministries, Wrightsdale church has created a number of staple events within the community. These events including “Legopalooza,” “Soaklanco,” and interactive prayer meetings.
‘Legapalooza” features games with thousands of legos spread throughout the church’s gymnasium for families to enjoy.
“Soaklanco,” playing off the reference to Solanco (Southern Lancaster County), in a partnership with local fire departments to provide “a homemade water park” for local families.
“Prayer Connect Live” features an online prayer meeting with live interviews and Zoom calls with local leaders in the community, such as Bryan Cutler, current Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, exposing church members to how to pray for them.
Along with seeing God work through community outreach events, the Wrightsdale congregation has also seen God at work within their own walls.
“Back on the first Sunday of May, we held a special Sunday called ‘Love My Church,’ and as part of that Sunday we invited our church family to give special gifts. Basically, on that Sunday, every single dollar that was collected was to be designated to help pay down our church mortgage,” Day said.
“We were just over-the-moon, so excited, with the way that God and God’s Spirit moved on people’s hearts. By the end of that Sunday, we raised $75,000. We actually paid off our church mortgage in one day!”
The mortgage was a debt that the church had been paying for nearly a decade.
“The most exciting thing about paying off that mortgage, is not necessarily getting out from under a debt – obviously that is a blessing – but the better blessing is the way that it kind of positions us strategically, to think about other kinds of outreaches, other kinds of ministries, and other ways we can still be Kingdom-focused,” said Day.
Day also shared that the church will be holding a “huge celebration” this Sunday to rejoice in this recent blessing and to praise God for all He has done at Wrightsdale throughout the years.
“Really, [it’s] just celebrating what God is doing in our midst. It’s His work, it’s the work of the Kingdom, it’s the work of the Gospel and He gets the credit for that.”
Listen to the podcast interview:
The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!