History

University Baptist Church began in a prayer meeting on October 27, 1965. Three families were present: Mr. and Mrs. James Orem, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hedrick, and Rev. and Mrs. L. H. Gardner. The occasion for their meeting arose from the fact that Armco Steel had just given land for a Miami University branch campus in north Middletown. These three families gathered to seek the Lord concerning the possibilities of a new church that targeted this strategic development. They had a vision for bringing the huge story of God’s gospel to the individual stories of the people in this area.

 

They eventually received the support of the Hillcrest Baptist Church of Carlisle, Ohio. A house was then secured at 3803 Manchester Road where the first formal worship gatherings were conducted on February 13, 1966. For these first four months, a layman Jim Orem, led the new work, first called University Baptist Chapel.

 

In June of 1966, the Rev. C. Nolan Phillips from Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Moore, South Carolina came to lead a revival meeting. Shortly thereafter, the people of UBC called Rev. Phillips to come back, but this time, as “Pastor Nolan,” the church’s first senior pastor. He accepted and came with his family in August of 1966. This event marked the beginning of forty years of Pastor Nolan’s steady leadership.

 

In November of 1972 the church’s meeting place was relocated to where it stands today, a nine acre lot at 4125 Riverview Avenue, and the current sanctuary was originally constructed.

 

Within the first decade of the church’s existence, 218 people were baptized, three men were called into the ministry, the church was supporting two other church plants in the area, and the annual budget had grown from $7,500 to over $53,000. The 1977 church directory lists ninety-two families as “friends and members” of UBC. 

 

God had blessed this new church. UBC had been established with a heart for spreading the gospel and was founded on Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. Further, the church stood for God’s Word with boldness and shared a sweet unity that flowed from their commitment to him. All of these attributes continue to characterize UBC to this day.

 

God not only blessed the first ten years of the church, but he continued to bless decade after decade. Over the forty years of Pastor Nolan’s tenure, UBC baptized an average of twenty-five people per year and grew to have as many as nine hundred enrolled in Sunday School and over three hundred in weekly attendance.

 

In 1979, the office wing was added behind the sanctuary which now also includes the Chaos student ministry area. Ten years later, in 1989, the opposite wing was completed which included the family life center, the children’s area, the kitchen, and the foyer. Later in the 2000’s, the church underwent major renovations that attribute to its current excellent condition. Through all this time, God used UBC to impact the lives of hundreds of families and kept the church financially healthy. Over its history, the church has conducted several giving campaigns to cover the cost of these building projects and for the last fifteen years, has been completely debt free. UBC’s annual church budgets over this recent period have fluctuated between $250,000 and $350,000.

 

In August of 2006, the church celebrated a momentous occasion in Pastor Nolan’s fortieth anniversary. However, this moment also moved the church into a time of major transition because the faithful shepherd of UBC for so many years had announced that he was preparing for retirement. UBC was in search of only its second pastor after four decades of God’s blessing.

 

Who in his right mind would attempt to step into a leadership role that had been held by another man so admirably for forty years? It would take a brave, steady individual who was more concerned about God’s will for the church than the opinions of others yet who also had a warm disposition of trustworthy care. 

 

By December of 2006 the church had asked the Rev. Charles Deglow to serve as the interim pastor which he officially began in January of 2007. Pastor Chuck proved to be the man that UBC needed. Not only had he already been the interim for fifteen other churches which gave him an experienced awareness of what a church in such a situation needed, but he also possessed a grounded fortitude that came from his love for Christ and his Word. 

 

In fact, Pastor Chuck proved to have a wonderful set of skills and priorities for this crucial time in the life of UBC. He is especially notable for his quality expository preaching, doctrinal acumen, and passion for maintaining the health of the church. He was not afraid to question long established traditions and try new ministry ideas. He challenged and equipped members to serve in faithful and fresh ways and brought an urgent emphasis for going outside of the church walls to engage the lost. This passion for the lost also sparked an emphasis on mission trips and support for specific local missions like the church had never seen before. 

 

It is no wonder that Pastor Chuck was eventually asked to serve as the permanent senior pastor of UBC. For seven years, he navigated the pressures, opinions, and challenges of following a long-tenured minister with the grace, joy, and friendliness that only the Spirit can supply. 

 

Along side him, pastors Neal McKinney, Kevin Wilson, and Dale Norris were instrumental to the church’s continued success as all three are notable for their personal integrity and tenderhearted steadiness. This pastoral team encountered a huge challenge in the fall of 2013 when the church faced its worst crisis in recent memory. One of its teenagers was in a nearly fatal car accident that resulted in weeks of fearful uncertainty and extreme emotional upheaval. However, not only did God spare this young man’s life, he also used this crisis to strengthen the church’s unity and bring about a miraculous salvation. God was sustaining and growing UBC.

 

In 2014, Pastor Chuck announced his own retirement from ministry. Like Pastor Nolan before him, he now was in his mid-sixties and looking to pass the torch to the next man God had prepared for this service. Whoever the next pastor would be, he would be blessed to inherit a flock that had been responsibly and lovingly led for forty-eight years and whose qualities as a church family reflected such leadership. The search team decided to target a relatively young man who would share the previous pastors’ same sense of conviction as well as their sincere love for this special body of believers.

 

In this new time of uncertainty, God again blessed UBC through speaking with tremendous clarity to unite the church with its next pastor. Through a concentrated series of uncanny providences, Dr. Glenn LaRue was introduced and confirmed as the successor to Pastor Chuck. 

 

The specifics are worth noting because they testify to God’s watch-care and to the fact that he has an exciting future planned for UBC: Not only was Pastor Glenn a man who shared the same convictions about the Bible and love for the church as his predecessors. Not only had God recently led him to step away from his previous pastorate at the same time that the search team was finalizing their criteria. Not only had God connected him with the search team on a specific date of focused prayer, but also God revealed specific relational connections (with former Student Pastor, Mike Jarrett), city connections (Pastor Nolan now lives in the same town as Pastor Glenn’s parents), and ministry connections (one of our deacons, Mike Croy, had recently served along side a disaster relief team from Pastor Glenn’s former church). These all confirmed God’s moving. Further, the timing of Pastor Glenn’s housing situation had several points of perfect provision. By August of 2014, God’s direction was clear, and UBC called Pastor Glenn to be only its third pastor in nearly half a century.

 

Since Glenn came to UBC, the church has added a children’s coordinator, Stephanie Kingrey, who is working faithfully to help our UBC Kids ministry continuously grow as a dynamic environment for children and a trustworthy partner for parents. The church has also moved through a challenging transition with our minister to students and families. After fifteen years of service among us, God led Pastor Neal to a new role in Port Charlotte, Florida. But as God has always been toward us, he lovingly led us through this time and helped us connect with Ray Jarrett. Our current staff, is working hard to reach the next generation.

 

So now, UBC stands poised and primed for what is to come. Though God’s blessing in the past has been truly special for this body of believers, the church looks with even bigger eyes for his blessing upon the future. Presently, there is a huge contingency of members who came into the church under Pastor Nolan, who further grew through Pastor Chuck, and who confirmed the call of Pastor Glenn. This fact makes for a dynamic of strong continuity that appreciates the past but feels excited and confident about the future. Further, new families and individuals have been joining the church in this new period of the church’s life.

 

Not only has God been writing an amazing story for this church family, but in each of these individual families, God is writing wonderful stories of the redemption and grace that is found in Jesus Christ. Every family that unites with UBC has its own special history, and it is truly wonderful to see how he providentially brings together families with this family. 

 

Of course, a written document could never capture all that God has done in all of our lives. So it is important to ask about each other’s stories, and equally important to be willing to share. Through such engagement and the mutual opportunities UBC provides to encourage and serve one another, individual stories are woven together. It is all part of the relational strand that God started over fifty years ago in a house with three praying families. How exciting to be braided into this strand! 

 

And it is even more amazing to think of the fact that the fellowship of UBC is just one tiny part of the massive kingdom family that God started two thousand years ago through the work of his Son and the pouring out of his Spirit. When one realizes that the entire strand of UBC is just a small fiber in the bulky rope called the family of God that has transcended two millennia of world history, it is even more humbling to know our unique place. 

 

God’s family is big. God’s story is big. We are small. But praise God that he has included us in his massive plan! Praise God that he has seen fit to put his loving eye upon University Baptist Church and to unite us together here and now in such a wonderful strand of the family of God!

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