Historical Background of Community Bible Church
Over fifty years ago, Community Bible Church was birthed out of one man's heart to introduce people to Jesus Christ. Today the community of CBC continues to reflect God's heart for people.
John S. Hiestand (1909-1992), who founded Community Bible Church (then known as Congregational Mennonite Church), was known for his dynamic leadership and strong pastoral ministry. John Hiestand served as superintendent of the Marietta Mennonite Church, and in 1938 was chosen and ordained by the Lancaster Mennonite Conference as a bi-vocational pastor of the Marietta Mennonite Church. He also worked full-time in local banks, first as a teller and later as a cashier.
Tension soon arose between Hiestand and the Lancaster Mennonite Conference. The tension centered around the issue of the Conference's rules and discipline, which sought to regulate the life of Christian discipleship in many areas of conduct, behavior and dress. By 1950, the tension between Hiestand and the Lancaster Mennonite Conference reached a climax. Hiestand and others had developed a burden to begin a radio broadcast but the Mennonite Conference viewed radio as a worldly intrusion into the home and prohibited its use. Hiestand saw it as an opportunity for evangelism. On Easter Sunday 1951, Hiestand and others inaugurated the Crusade for Christ Hour on the Red Lion station in York County; as a result the bishop board took action to relieve him of his ministry. On Sunday morning, September 9, 1951, a number of bishops arrived at the Marietta Mennonite Church and took charge of the service.
At that meeting, John Hiestand was permitted to announce that the following Sunday he would meet for services at the local community center, and to invite anyone interested to attend. On September 16, 1951, all but one family from the Marietta Mennonite Church joined Pastor Hiestand in forming a new congregation, which met at the Marietta Community House.
As a Mennonite church apart from any Conference, the new congregation experienced rapid growth. Progressives from other area Mennonite churches flocked to the new church in Marietta, sensing a spirit of freedom and responding to the dynamic preaching of John Hiestand and the missionary fervor of the new group.
In the ensuing years, Congregational Mennonite Church moved away from its Mennonite roots and its strict Mennonite theology. By the 1960's, the church had become an independent bible church and in 1970 it adopted the name “Congregational Bible Church (CBC).”
Rapid growth lead to numerous building programs. In the early 1960's, the congregation moved out of the gym behind the Marietta Community House and into its first new building along Route 441. In 1978-79, an addition which included a new sanctuary was added to the existing building.
In 2001, the congregation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and rejoiced in its remarkable growth, its mission outreach, and its bright prospects for future growth and expansion. John Hiestand continued as bi-vocational pastor of the congregation until his retirement in 1970, but his influence and counsel remained until he died in 1992. Other pastors (now full-time) followed in his footsteps. Leonard Anderson, James Reapsome, Ralph Marks and Dave Sheaffer each served for one or more years. Michael Moriarty ministered at CBC from 1995 to 2004, followed by Ron Susek from 2004 through 2006.
In 2007, several significant events occurred in the life of CBC. To better describe the church’s outreach orientation, the congregation approved a change in the church’s name from “Congregational Bible Church” to “Community Bible Church.” CBC also completed and moved into a new and larger facility across Route 441, celebrating its first service in the new building on March 11, 2007. Finally, in July of 2007, Pastor Jeff Burkholder was confirmed as CBC’s new Senior Pastor.