Christ Will Build His Church: Maple Glen Church Revitalization


In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new Bible Fellowship Church in town! Welsh Road Church in Horsham, PA, opened on April 2nd and is the result of a well-coordinated revitalization effort over the past couple years by many BFC hands. A brief history: In 1906, Salem Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church was founded to minister to men and women living in the greater North Philadelphia region. By 1963, they had sold their church building and parsonage and began meeting at the Germantown YMCA for a brief season, until in 1965 when new property was purchased in Maple Glen, PA, where a new church building was constructed. Upon completion a new identity was forged: Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church.

Maple Glen BFC in the Past

Maple Glen BFC has served members and the local community ever since. A church with strong convictions on the supremacy of God’s Word, as well as a passion for missions, the spiritually lost and the vulnerable. Many bold voices for the Gospel have led in the pastorate here, including D.T. Kirkwood, W.B. Franklin, C.K. Spackman, D.W. Riddell, and most recently L. Prontnicki. Each pastor faithfully continued the church’s legacy by serving successive generations of men and women in Christ in the Maple Glen community. Despite having such a notable heritage of faithfulness and service, challenges emerged that, in part, were unavoidable. As recent as the late 1990’s church attendance had been in steady decline. Within 3 years regular Sunday morning services shrank by almost half, to the point in 2000 where attendance was averaging only about 50 people. With the imminent retirement of the senior pastor several years later (there being no candidates serving on-staff or otherwise identified) and the combined effect of COVID, additional members departing, a void of new visitors, and saints going home to be with the LORD, the congregation was reduced to a small handful of faithful families waiting on an answer from God about their future.

Evaluating Options

The BFC responded by appointing Pastor Bob Sloan and Pastor Dan Williams as surrogate elders to advise and oversee whatever changes would follow. All the typical options were under consideration:

  1. Find a church looking for a new home and merge them into the BFC
  2. Close the church doors permanently and then sell the property
  3. Close the church and rent out the building to a congregation searching for real estate
  4. Start over with Maple Glen becoming a BFC church plant

As with other organizations who merge, sell, or close, each option presented serious consequences for the congregation, as well as the greater Maple Glen community. Who could they merge with that would represent a strengthening of faithful obedience and preaching of God’s Word? How would closing the church’s doors permanently affect members spiritually and socially? Could selling the property inadvertently subvert all previous years of Maple Glen BFC’s efforts in the community if purchased by a non-Christian worship group that then works counter to the Gospel? None of the options seemed to point to a clear and bountiful answer from God. So Maple Glen sought a 5th option that would stabilize and grow the efforts they faithfully worked to produce in years past.

Church Revitalization

Having helped orchestrate a successful renewal at another BFC church (Northern Lehigh BFC), the denomination looked for other particular churches who might be able to help revitalize Maple Glen. Upon asking them to consider the task, Faith BFC, Harleysville, PA, answered the call and began to take steps needed to partner with Maple Glen by assuming the organizational and legal responsibilities to help it stabilize, rejuvenate, and grow back into a thriving congregation.

The first order of business was to attend to the church’s spiritual needs and lead a call for a new senior pastor. In early 2022, Faith BFC formed a search committee, who upon reviewing and vetting multiple candidates called A.J. Miller to serve as pastor of Maple Glen BFC beginning on October 1, 2022. A recent graduate of Westminster Seminary, Miller had already been seeking God’s call to serve in fulltime pastoral ministry. “I was graduating and was already looking for a place to serve. It was as if God was saying ‘Yes, I have something for you, but be patient’”, says Miller. “Everything then just fell right into place. God had already been preparing the church for the retirement of Pastor Lou and eventually called Faith BFC to help facilitate everything that He had planned from the start. It’s just amazing to see how God has preserved this congregation!” Faith BFC also formed a launch team comprised of multiple families to transition to Maple Glen BFC, to worship and serve in ministry there each week, provide additional elder oversight, and make it their new church home.

Facilities Reboot

With spiritual leadership needs addressed, a physical reboot was also in order. Much of the original facility’s infrastructure and related fixtures had not been replaced or upgraded since 1965. The two churches worked together to raise funding and together were able to provide renovations for the following:

  1. Parking lot line painting
  2. New church sign on front of property
  3. Sanctuary re-painted
  4. New church computer network and Wi-Fi installed
  5. Security camera system installed
  6. New sanctuary audio system installed
  7. Church building re-keyed
  8. New church website

A New Name: Welsh Road Church

Finally, to capture all the faithfulness and goodness of God over he past year, as well as reach into the community in a fresh and engaging way, the venue was renamed as Welsh Road Church (WRC).

With so many changes, church leadership continues to measure and implement them with one goal in mind: the people. Miller affirms, “Healthy things grow, so our top priority and focus is overall church health, not the building, but its members. Every change and improvement has this one single purpose in mind. We must know the people, know their stories, and love them. If we truly love them, they will grow, and so will we as a church.”

“It’s incredible what God has done”, says Maggie, a long-time member at Maple Glen/Welsh Road Church. “Change can be hard but God never left us. God never changes, it was I who was the one who was being changed but His gentle hands. God has rekindled our hearts! And I personally thank God for Faith BFC. They have sacrificed their people to come to be part of us that we could be part of them. Thanks be to God!”

Miller’s enthusiasm summarizes everything, “This was it, there was no ‘Plan-B’. We eagerly looked forward to what God was going to do. If God was not in it, our efforts were destined to fail. Even while surrounded by the fiery darts of the evil one, God builds his church … and God has indeed been building Welsh Road Church. On October 1st, there were roughly 35 people attending WRC. Praise be to Him as our church has grown and now averages over 60 people each Sunday morning. Not only is attendance rising but WRC has received 4 new members as well as conducted its first child dedication service. There is great excitement over what God has done and great anticipation for what He does next. if you find yourself in the Horsham area on a Sunday morning, come visit with us and see how God moves in the lives of everyday people.” ALL GLORY TO GOD!

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Gregory Alderfer serves on the BFC Communications Committee and is a teacher in the adult discipleship ministry of Faith BFC in Harleysville, PA.


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