The Northeast Fellowship consists of approximately 180 churches across the Northeast region who share the same doctrinal position.
Ours is an association of independent, Bible-believing, Christ-honoring, Baptist churches. Each partnering church is autonomous regarding its own ministries, decision making, and participation with the association. We recently extended our borders outside the state so other neighboring churches can join us.
Our network of churches coordinate a Spring Ministry Conference and a Fall Bible Conference, along with various annual events that meet the spiritual needs of youth, men, women, couples, senior adults, and pastors.
Under the leadership of our Network Executive Director Rev. Brian King, and Associate Director Dr. Jim Vogel, we also offer ministries of encouragement, counsel, mentoring, and resourcing for pastors, as well as ministry consultation to our churches in strategic planning, outreach ministries, facility enhancement, leadership development, etc.
The Northeast Fellowship is governed by a leadership team called the Network Leadership Team. This group consists of men elected to serve two-year terms. This team works in conjunction with the Executive Director to develop ministry strategy, policy, and resources. The current Network Leadership Team is found on the leadership page.
When it comes to the history of our fellowship, Harold Comings wrote the book . . literally! He did it with a great motif of roads & traveling and he purposely emphasized the beginning.
It was 1942, the middle of World War II. Yet a stronger, subtler war raged as well: the battle for truth! Many church associations & fellowships had started heading down the wrong road. Our spiritual forebears desired to stay on the right road – and to form a convoy!
That’s how it all began: with a commitment to our hallmark, our sharp stripe: doctrine! Modernism and ecumenism had infiltrated the Northern Baptist Convention. Baptists across the country were looking for another way. The GARBC formed in 1932. Thoughts for a state fellowship then followed. Three events in three locations eventually sealed the deal.
First, thirty New York pastors met at LeTourneau camp on Lake Canandaigua.
Second, three of these pastors undertook the leadership of the project: Joe Stowell Sr., of Tabernacle/Ithaca, Clayton Howard Gray of Park Avenue/Binghamton, and Reginald Matthews of Calvary/Norwich.
This led to the first official conference in October 1942 in Ithaca, New York. At this event, the name Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches and the concept of the Council of 10 were introduced.
Some notable surprises included the rapid formation of the fellowship (as a letter dated September 2 invited men to a conference on October 5-7), the accomplishment of this across the many miles, during war time, and also the relative youthfulness of those involved.
Third, a second conference in North Tonawanda one year later in October 1943 made the entire movement official.
Being doctrinally-driven since the beginning has been one of the hallmarks of this Fellowship. It’s a given. The discussion starts there. We have personalities and are thankful for them, but we are not dependent on personalities. The three men at the forefront of this movement had all moved and become pastors in other states before our 10th anniversary!
Devotion has been another highlight. Harold Coming’s book is entitled Remaining True. Our fellowship has been marked by sticking-to, staying true, avoiding compromise, fads and distractions.
A key way this has helped churches and individuals is in our events. So many have commented that our conferences – Men’s Adventure, Women’s Renew (formerly Ladies Advance), Teen ReCharge Seminars, Marriage Refresh – have been the spiritual “shot in the arm” they needed. These events have strengthened and encouraged people in our fellowship to go back to their homes, churches, jobs, and secular surroundings with more joy and resolve.
Maybe that’s the statistic that glorifies God greatly from this fellowship: the number of men, women, and teens that have been positively encouraged and strengthened in their faith at one of our events – or the number of churches that have searched for something like this (doctrinal integrity with practical involvement) and found it in this fellowship.
Along the road, God has sent us 5 LEADERS:
Duane Brown (1965-1970) – known for design
Milo Thompson (1971-1975) – known for detail
Russell Camp (1975-1988) – known for devotion – memorable “Camp”isms
Craig Golden (1988-2012) – known for development – inspiring events
Jim Vogel (2012-2020) – known for deepening – bountiful resources
We want to quickly connect our history . . to our hopes. History forms a helpful and pleasant rear-view mirror, yet the lion’s share of our attention focuses on the windshield.
PASTORS TRAINING NEXT GENERATION PASTORS
In March 2021, our Northeast School for Theology and Ministry opens, which will allow men to train for ministry with a connection to their local church and this Fellowship. They will study under experienced pastors with advanced degrees and benefit from the convenience of online learning from home along with a monthly residency. All of this will be offered at a cost that allows them to graduate debt free.
We work with churches on revitalizing and renewal, with programs to help them move outward, upward, and forward.
The days ahead allow us to minister in an exciting and adventurous time, shining God’s light against the darkness of our day, striving to advance His cause, and serving together as a movement for Christ. . . .until Christ comes for us. We join pioneer missionary William Carey in believing “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”