PEACH BOTTOM, Pa., (BRN) – Near the southern most part of Pennsylvania, just before the Maryland line and inching out of Lancaster County, sits the oldest ongoing Southern Baptist Church (SBC) in Pennsylvania – Wrightsdale Baptist Church. 

Since 1933, Wrightsdale Baptist Church, primarily a rural and farming community, has experienced “a whole bunch of consistent growth and discipling,” according to Senior Pastor Ryan Day, who started shepherding the church in 2020. 

“It’s a great church; very blue collar folks, very hard working. I describe them as salt of the earth people. They’re moral people, and they just love God and love each other,” said Day. 

In May, the church celebrated 90 years, making it not only the oldest SBC church in the state, but also the SBC church in Pennsylvania that has given the longest to the Cooperative Program (CP).  

“We learned from the SBC home office that our church has given over a million dollars to the Cooperative Program since our inception, so that was awesome,” said Day. 

To Day and Wrightsdale Baptist Church, the Cooperative Program equals “strategic partnership.”  

‘It’s a purposeful joining together of our hands, our energies, our monies and our labors to do the work of the Great Commission.” 

Day further explained the CP by pointing to the New Testament, specifically Luke chapter 5, when a group of men are so desperate to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus that they climb onto the roof of the house Jesus is in and work together to lower their friend into the house. 

“To me, that’s a great example of what the Cooperative Program does. It’s people joining together to bring other people in front of Jesus, so that they can have the power of Jesus impacted on their lives [and] to hear the truth of the gospel,” said Day.  

Often, the first stop for SBC churches joining together to give to the CP is inside their own state convention. 

 “Coming to Wrightsdale in 2020, I was actually coming from another denomination…I had not been in an SBC church since I was a little boy,” explained Day. “But coming back into that now as a pastor and experiencing all the blessings, the encouragement, the coaching and things that come from the BRN, for me, personally, was really encouraging.” 

Through generous CP dollars, the Baptist Resource Network (BRN) is able to provide pastors with coaching, wellness resources, encouraging partnerships, evangelism grants, networking opportunities, impactful relationships and so much more. 

Through the aid of a BRN evangelism grant, Wrightsdale Baptist Church hosted 300-400 people for their Eggsplosion outreach.

“It’s not just about the dollars, it’s that those dollars facilitate connections. They facilitate resources; they facilitate relationships, so that, as a pastor and for your church, you can get the resourcing that you need [and] the encouragement that you need,” said Day. 

Over the course of its 90 years, Wrightsdale has “definitely experienced” the benefit of these CP connections and resources. Most recently, through the BRN’s distribution of evangelism grants. 

In the spring, an evangelism grant contributed to Wrightsdale’s Easter outreach event – Eggsplosion. The grant enabled the church to invite 300-400 community members to an Easter egg hunt, complete with food, family activities and a gospel presentation.  

“It was really amazing,” recalled Day. “The evangelism grant that we received from the BRN was huge to make that possible, and I know that ties back in with those CP dollars.” 

He continued: “One of the things that’s so great about when you give to the Cooperative Program is that it lifts the lid on your ministry and allows you to break the ‘glass ceiling,’ so to speak.” A lot of times a church is limited by its own dollars in the budget [and] that’s where you can lean into the BRN.” 

Through BRN evangelism grants, churches affiliated with the network are eligible for funds provided by CP giving for evangelistic efforts. This means a church that budgeted $1,500 for an outreach event could potentially double that budget by applying for an evangelism grant. 

“Our church tries to think about that (evangelism grants) [as] how can we lean into what our state fellowship can encourage us to do [and] do even more ministry, and that’s the CP at work.” 

Day continued: “You’re expanding the opportunity for the church to equip even more people to go out and share Jesus. That’s what’s so great about participating in the Cooperative Program is you’re using the CP to fuel even more gospel ministry and Kingdom advancement.” 

With Cooperative Program funds funneling into many different avenues – including national and global mission efforts, along with local, state specific ministries – it can become a rather confusing concept to understand. 

To help his congregation understand the CP and how it promotes the spread of the gospel, Day shared that he and his staff often utilize videos and other resources provided by the SBC. 

“There are some amazing resources out there from the SBC [and] some amazing videos that are produced that you can get off of the SBC website,” said Day. 

Wrightsdale Baptist Church in Peach Bottom, Pa., celebrates five being baptized.

At Wrightsdale, they aim to inform church members with these videos not just one or two Sundays a year, but also when they have baptisms or other special Sunday services where there are some natural time gaps that need to be filled.  

“It’s exciting because it shows our people what God is doing,” said Day. “We see what we’re doing here, everybody can see that in your local church, but when you show those videos and put those promotional materials out there your church starts to get excited.” 

“You start to fan the flame of what evangelism does and what God is doing in His Kingdom across the states and, of course, around the world.” 

Churches can access promotional materials and videos for the CP here or by visiting the SBC’s Cooperative Program story library.  

Hear more about how your cooperative giving is impacting Pastor Ryan Day and Wrightsdale Baptist Church in this month’s episode of Celebrating Cooperative Missions (this podcast is also available on  SpotifyAppleGoogle, and Amazon Music):