45 years, showing forth the path of life
On Wednesday, April 12, 1972 a group of 19 people met in the living room of Jerry & Libby Yarbrough’s home to make plans for a new church to be born. Good News Baptist Church was selected as the name by a majority of one vote. The first service was held four days later on Sunday, April 16, at the Tall Cedars building on the corner of Bart and Caroline Streets in Portsmouth, VA. The church was officially chartered on that same Sunday as 19 dedicated people attended that first service and contributed $241.36 in the offering. Rev. Dallas Ainsley was the founding Pastor. The following week sixty-five attended with an offering of $469.36.
The first official business meeting was held Wednesday night, April 19, 1972 and the church’s first officers were elected. This little church began with no money or land, but the very next month, May of 1972, twelve acres of land was purchased from a couple who would sell their property only to a Baptist church. It is the site of our present facilities on the corner of Taylor and Bruce Roads. The church soon outgrew the Tall Cedars building and moved into Western Branch Jr. High School in August. It continued to meet there until the original church building was completed. Pastor Ainsley acted as general contractor for the new construction using subs only for electrical, masonry, concrete, heating and air conditioning work. All the rest of the work – the trusses, roofing, ceilings, carpentry, cherry paneling, block partitions, plumbing, trim work, windows, doors and painting – was done by the men and women of the church. On July 1, 1973 the first service was held in the new facilities (which is now our chapel and nursery wing). The building was dedicated on July 8, 1973. Rev. John Halsey was the guest speaker.
In June of 1974 the fellowship hall was constructed and the first Missions Conference was held. By April 1975 church attendance was 330 and in May the bus ministry was started.
The educational wing was completed in December of 1975 . The church membership was 400 by April 1976. Six months later was a “Record Breaking Sunday” with an attendance of 621! With the increased growth, came an increased burden and Good News Christian School opened its doors in 1979 and was active until 1985. With the church averaging 364 by 1980, construction of a new auditorium was required. The church moved into the existing auditorium on October 17, 1982. A larger and more functional fellowship hall was built in 2002 to accommodate over 600 people.
The outreach of Good News Baptist Church has continued to expand. The nursing home ministry began in 1984. In 1988 the Awana program was added. Rev. Mac Palmer became the Pastor in 1984 and served until 1991. In June of 1991, Dr. Walt Coles became the Pastor. In 1992 GNBC became the home of Armed Forces Baptist Missions. In the fall of 1995, the foyer, chapel and nursery wing received a much-needed renovation. In 2001, the church voted to build a larger fellowship hall with additional Sunday school classrooms and a new kitchen. The main auditorium was renovated to its current configuration in 2007. Other outreach ministries include a monthly ladies’ fellowship, a monthly men’s prayer breakfast, military ministry (including a monthly military family luncheon), weekly public school Bible club, teen ministry, summer Vacation Bible School and a bookstore. In 2004, a laymen led Hispanic ministry was started with the goal of reaching local Spanish-speaking residents with the Gospel. In 2010, Rev. Marvin Tobin was called to take over the Spanish ministry and organize it as an autonomous church. The Iglesia Bautista Buenas Nuevas now holds weekly services and reaches out to migrant workers and Hispanic families throughout the Tidewater area. In 2014, Dr. Coles retired as pastor after 23 fruitful years of ministry. In March of 2014, Pastor Ascher was called to follow Dr. Coles as senior pastor.
God is still using the vision of those 19 pioneers who followed His leading back in 1972, and Good News Baptist Church continues to “show forth the path of life” by proclaiming the Gospel at home and abroad.