Welcome to Faith Bible Fellowship
- in one God manifest in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
- in the inspiration of all Scriptures by the Holy Spirit as originally given, and in their final authority for Christian faith and practice;
- in the incarnation and virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who by His shed blood, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection paid the redemptive price for all our sins and for the sins of the whole world;
- in the eternal salvation of all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ and eternal punishment of all who reject Him;
- in the work of God’s Spirit of the new birth, indwelling the believer and causing him/her to grow into the likeness of Christ and filling him/her with the power to live a godly life and to witness for Jesus Christ;
- in the union of all true believers as one body in Christ;
- and in the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to earth bodily to claim His own people, to vindicate Himself, and to set all things in order.
We Practice the Four Pursuits
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
With the psalmist we delight in the Word, but the Word has to get from our heads into our hearts. We can fill our heads with the best teaching in Christendom and still live in darkness.
The early church understood that. It emphasized four activities, listed in Acts 2:42: the apostle’s teaching, prayer, fellowship, and the breaking of bread.
When we pray together, fellowship together, and eat together, we move beyond filling our minds and begin to exercise what we know. In fact, we can’t exercise the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and goodness — until we have an arena for such exercise. We can’t love and show kindness until we surround ourselves with those who need our love and kindness.
So on Sundays and during the week, FBF builds into its schedule times not just for sound teaching but for prayer, fellowship, and shared meals. We want to help one another live the truth, not just soak our minds with it. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). We encourage our members to truly live together as Christ’s body, to move beyond superficial or exclusive friendship to servanthood, not only in the church but also in the community.
We can’t grab believers by the collar and make them pursue such a life of intensity, but we can help them grow in that direction by structuring our Sundays and meetings throughout the week with all four of the activities practiced in the early church: teaching, fellowship, shared meals, and prayer.
When you attend a service at FBF, you’ll know without a doubt that we take God’s Word seriously.
Our worship hymns and songs are generally based on scripture, followed by several scripture readings introducing the sermon. The sermon itself, whether expository or thematic, is based squarely on the Word, bringing to life the wonder of what God wants to tell us.
We also have Bible studies during the week with more time for in-depth probing.
Because salvation and discipleship depend on the authority of God’s Word, we make biblical teaching the basis for all we do. We encourage honest and open inquiry into the Scriptures to discover how they can enrich our daily living.
2 Timothy 3:16–17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When planning a new building for Pixar movie studios, Steve Jobs insisted the whole organization be housed together, unlike most studios that separate by division. Jobs designed a central atrium that forced people to run into other people they wouldn’t ordinarily see. That’s what sparks creativity, he said — random conversations that give us new perspectives and new delights.
That’s doubly true for believers! We’re wired that way naturally and wired that way again supernaturally when we enter into the life of Christ. We can’t be lone rangers. The body of Christ is about living and working together.
At FBF we offer a fellowship meal every week. Some just enjoy the food but most make a diligent effort to catch up with others and offer encouragement and tangible help when needed.
Then we clear the tables and have a share and prayer time. Topics range from casual to life threatening, and we laugh or cry together accordingly. Sometimes we lay hands on people in great need. Often we hear how others are reaching out during the week. By getting a sense of how the Spirit works in the lives of others we learn how he can work in our own lives.
Sometimes sharing time looks a bit like a dinner party, sometimes like a conventional prayer meeting, but at its best it fosters a deep sense of our mutual life in Christ. We’re in this together, and we need each other to persevere to the end.
BREAKING OF BREAD
While many churches interpret the breaking of bread as the communion service, we believe the common meal shared by early believers was critical in and of itself.
By eating together we demonstrate our commonality with one another and our equality before God. The apostle Paul discussed at length the struggles the Corinthians faced in this area. Eating together is a wonderful test of whether we really believe what we say we believe.
So we learn to help the young mother struggling with her infant and exercise grace with the young teen hoarding desserts. We look out for those on special diets and willingly give up our portions when something runs short.
Teams take turns preparing our fellowship meal, itself a venture in cooperation. Families get together, exchange recipes, and delight in blessing others with tasty delights. The young people take a turn as do the men.
Throughout the scriptures, stories abound of God’s people eating together. We like to think we’re part of that steady stream heading toward the marriage feast of the Lamb!
Sometimes newcomers attend one of our prayer meetings and find to their surprise that we pray the entire time. We don’t tack 15 minutes of prayer onto the end of a devotional but make it our focus, the hard but delightful work of waiting on God and beseeching him with fervent intensity.
We also build much prayer into our Sunday gatherings. Before the sermon we have several minutes of quiet time to allow worshipers to prepare their hearts to hear God’s Word. After the sermon we have a response time with quiet singing and congregational prayer during which worshipers can seal in their hearts the truths they have heard.
Then after our brunch and sharing time we spend several minutes in prayer giving thanks and voicing new requests.
In prayer, we can check off the items on the list and move on, feeling we’ve done our job. But if we’re really going to enter into the struggles and joys of others we must probe deeper.
The museum visitor who lingers at the exhibits, soaking in the displays, will come away with a much deeper appreciation than the hurried tourist. So too in our prayer meetings we linger on one situation at a time, trying to discern through the Spirit and others what the person in need must be thinking and feeling. Such prayer makes us more sensitive and better equipped to offer encouragement and concrete help.
Faith Bible Fellowship was organized in July of 1975 by Lee Copeland, with the assistance and prayer support of Anita Holbrook and her son Jim Nesbitt. *
The Fellowship met informally for several years, first in Anita Holbrook’s house, then in three successive McClintock houses and the Seventh-Day Adventist building on High Street.
In 1977, the Fellowship appealed to Norfolk Tabernacle Church for help in becoming a non-profit organization in accordance with Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Norfolk Tabernacle adopted us as a daughter church; on March 5, 1978, its elders ordained Lee Copeland to the ministry. In November 1979 the Fellowship moved and began to meet in the living room of Bert Richardson’s house on Greenhouse Street.
In 1991, because our congregation was growing too large for Bert Richardson’s basement (which we had remodeled in 1989 to seat the congregation), the elders and congregation bought the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Farmville, recently vacated by its congregation, and remodeled it as a meeting place for the Fellowship. We first met in the building on September 1, 1991. In 1999, a substantial addition was constructed at the rear of the building, containing a fellowship hall and Sunday School rooms.
After serving us for 40 years, Lee went to meet our Savior on October 13, 2015. After waiting on the Lord for many months, the church called Sam Rabon to be its second pastor on February 12, 2017.
* Anita Holbrook had been praying for many years for a Bible-teaching church in the Farmville area. When her son Jim Nesbitt started teaching at Grace Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, she asked him to post a notice on the bulletin board, to see if anyone was interested in going to Farmville to plant a church. The Lord led Lee and Betty Copeland to answer that call; they moved to Farmville in June 1975 with two children.
We are an elder-led church, and the elders agree to submit to the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit as they govern (Titus 1:9).
Sam Rabon is our teaching elder and also serves as Director of Resource Development and Marketing for the Piedmont Habitat for Humanity. He is a graduate of Furman University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as youth and children’s pastor at Heritage Baptist from 2005 to 2014, and he served one year as an interim pastor for Jamestown Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Camille, have three sons.
Jon Marken works a few hours a week helping plan and coordinate various ministries within the church including worship, fellowship, small groups, and outreach. He is a freelance writer, editor, and graphic designer, and holds a B.A. from VCU and an M.A. from the University of Delaware. He joined with Faith Bible Fellowship after moving to the area in 1984. He and his wife, Sherri, have four daughters and two grandchildren.
Richard McClintock had a long career at Hampden-Sydney College, where he began as a classics professor but quickly moved on to his real passion, publications. As Director of Publications for 40 years, he refined the College’s branding and won awards for his design. He was among the earliest members of Faith Bible Fellowship. He and his wife, Deborah, have one son, three daughters, and 10 grandchildren. He holds a BA and MA from UVA and a PhD from UNC.
Al Quinlan moved from Norfolk to Farmville to build custom log cabins, and to this day he continues to ply interesting trades such as saw milling and blacksmithing. When his partner met an untimely death, he took employment with Appomattox River Company. He came to faith through Navigators while serving in the Navy. He and his wife, Darlene, have three daughters.
John Utzinger is retired from the telecommunications industry. He lived in several states necessitating the finding of a Christ-centered Bible-focused church in every new location. The Lord always provided. The churches included various denominations, which enabled the gaining of valuable insights into the breadth and depth of the workings of Christ’s church. He had the privilege of serving as a deacon in three different denominations. John was widowed after 31 years and has three sons and six grandchildren. He holds a BA degree from Hope College and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
We have designated Servant Leaders for our various areas of ministry. Most of the ministries listed here involve additional leaders as well. For example, we have seven teams that take turns preparing the fellowship meal, each led by a team leader. Also we have seven music choosers who take turns preparing each Sunday’s praise and worship. Members are encouraged to engage in whatever areas of ministry God leads them.
Nursery, Kendra Allen and Darlene Quinlan
Children, Camille Rabon
Teens/college age, Sam Rabon
Call to worship, Al Quinlan
Worship leader, Jonty Kikkert
Choir (seasonal), Sherri Marken
Communion, Richard McClintock
Fellowship meal, Sherri Marken
Sharing time, Al Quinlan
Precepts Bible study, Jean Noone
Wednesday night prayer, Hilde Watson
Saturday men’s prayer, Paul Caruso
Junior-senior club, Richard McClintock
Missions, Darlene Quinlan
Visitation, Conrad Taylor
Treasurer, Jake Allen
Assistant treasurer, ET Noone
BUILDINGS & GROUNDS
Building upkeep, Paul Brenneman