Church plans permanent site on North Little Creek Road
Members of the New Harvest Baptist Church may not be aiming to become the largest church in the city, but they do plan on being a major source of hope, charity and community service for the residents of Dover.
To do that, Pastor Jim McBride said, they need more room.
Since its founding, church members have worshipped in donated space at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Villages. But with 80 members, they’ve outgrown what’s offered by the museum and need to grow both physically and spiritually.
McBride’s flock just took a big step in that direction with the purchase of a 4.7-acre parcel in East Dover, land that soon will become a permanent home of their five-year-old congregation.
“We’ve been looking for space for two or three years,” he said. “We found some places, but the costs were up to $1 million for some of them.”
Through luck, or perhaps some other type of guidance, the congregation found a vacant parcel at 1462 N. Little Creek Road. They just closed on the $350,000 property.
“Compared to some of the other 4- to 6-acre sites, we looked at, that was a bargain,” McBride said.
“I think it’s fantastic,” church property committee member Gloria Underwood said. “I think the Lord led us here.”
“It’s a perfect location,” agreed fellow committee member Bill Spriull. “We’ve got a lot of potential here.”
McBride himself is thrilled about finding such a good property at a good price.
“We’re very excited about it,” he said. “All of our money comes from tithes and offerings, but over and above that our congregation are very strong givers. They believed we needed our own property, and they responded very sacrificially.”
Serving Christ through charitable works
McBride, 73, dedicated his life to God at an early age.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people, wanting to improve their lives by introducing them to Christ and ministering to their physical and emotional needs,” he said.
McBride has served in several key positions in and around Delmarva, including an 18-year stint with the Delaware Baptist Association and as interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Elkton, Md.
“Being a minister is just who I am,” he explained. “My greatest joy is giving people hope no matter how dire their situation. It’s just a part of my DNA”
New Harvest, which is affiliated with Delaware Baptist Association, the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware and the Southern Baptist Convention, began as a Bible study group of people from other churches. With time, however, the idea of founding a new congregation began to take root.
“They felt they needed to start a new church that would provide the kind of worship atmosphere and a safe and secure place where people would feel welcome and loved,” McBride said. “They wanted a church that would reach out to the community, and that’s become one of our priorities.”
McBride was not part of that core group, he said. Instead, he was enjoying a well-earned retirement when he was asked to help get New Harvest organized approximately six months after it was founded.
He describes New Harvest’s services as traditional and contemporary; they eschew large praise teams and bands in favor of no-frills preaching and hymns sung by the congregation or church chorus to the accompaniment of an organ or piano.
“Delaware is the fourth most populous state for retirees and Kent County is a major hub for the 55-and-over community,” he said. “We felt this was the niche we wanted to reach and that God has been sending us.”
“We want to expand and include young families and children, but right now we are out of space. We don’t have room for a quality pre-school and youth area.”
The church reaches out to young couples and families through different means, he said. They sponsor prayer and youth ministries, a missionary group for women and community partnerships throughout Dover, including an after-hours program at Towne Point Elementary School.
McBride thinks the future is bright for New Harvest.
While the congregation waits for permits and architectural plans to be drawn up, they’ll be sponsoring a block party and outdoor vacation Bible school to introduce themselves to their neighbors in nearby North Little Creek Road developments.
“If it all works out, we’ll be in our new building by the fall of 2020,” he said.