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 possibility 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 Pastor Nolan to come back to be 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 faithful 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 established this new church. UBC had been founded with a heart for spreading the gospel of Jesus, and the church stood for God’s Word with boldness. God blessed with a spirit of 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 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. Throughout the 2000’s, the church has undergone additional 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 is currently completely debt free. UBC’s annual church budgets over this period have fluctuated between $250,000 and $400,000.

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 during this time it was also announced that he was preparing for retirement.

By December of 2006 the church had asked the Rev. Charles Deglow to serve as the interim pastor. Pastor Chuck proved to be a good man for the job, especially in light of the shoes he had to fill. 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. Chuck was not afraid to make needed changes, and he helped organize and empower the congregation for fresh ministry and mission. He was so effective that he 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. 

In 2014, Pastor Chuck announced his own retirement from ministry. The search team decided to target a younger man, but still he would need to share the two previous pastors’ sense of conviction as well as their sincere love for this special body of believers. At this time, God again blessed UBC through speaking with tremendous clarity to unite the church with its next pastor. Through a concentrated series of confirming providences, Dr. Glenn LaRue was introduced and confirmed as the successor to Pastor Chuck. 

Pastor Glenn is passionate about impacting future generations for Christ and the forward thinking this priority requires. Even as we are grounded in sound doctrine and committed to biblical purity, we want to share Christ with open arms to the lost and hurting. Alongside Glenn, our church has a ministry staff that shares tremendous unity of vision and purpose. Amber Hatfield currently serves as our children’s coordinator and is working faithfully to help our UBC Kids ministry continuously grow as a dynamic environment for children and a trustworthy partner for parents. Our current minister to students and families is Ray Jarrett. Ray has a passion for seeing students’ lives transformed by the gospel. Our minister of pastoral care, Sherrill Sizemore, has years of experience in ministry and helping people in times of need. Our current staff, is working hard to reach the next generation.

So now, UBC stands ready 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 large 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 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 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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