In November of 2009 Harold Donis, chairman of the board of First German Church, placed a phone call to Tom Rempel, pastor of Faith Bible Church (www.faithbiblelincoln.org), asking if Faith Bible would consider helping revitalize First German. The congregation was dwindling in numbers, to the point that they feared soon having to close their doors. As God’s timing would have it, the elder council at Faith Bible had been praying for God to lead them toward a possible church plant, something that was a part of the vision of Faith Bible from its inception. The elders committed this unique request to the Lord in prayer and agreed that God was wanting them to respond in faith. And so God’s renewing of a small church in a depressed area of Lincoln, known as the South Bottoms, simply began.
The First German church board asked Faith Bible to put together a proposal of what they felt would be necessary to breathe new life into this 120-year-old church, once one of Lincoln’s biggest and most active churches. After more prayer and thought, the elders put together a comprehensive plan, feeling it would be better to lay it all out right up front than to surprise First German later with attempted changes that could potentially be divisive. To truly rejuvenate it, Faith Bible felt it would take an extensive commitment of a pastor who would invest himself full-time in that ministry; a leadership team of godly, proven, elder-like men who would provide plurality leadership, wisdom and a sharing of the shepherding load. An open invitation was also issued to the church body for any to respond to God’s stirring of their hearts to go be part of this mission. To this end the elders appointed Pastor Robb Rexilius to be the new pastor of First German. Additionally, Chad Parker, Mike Cox and Scott Dworak each sensed God leading them to make up the leadership team that would go with Pastor Robb.
On January 20, 2010 the elders submitted the proposal to their board, which approved it conditionally, pending congregational approval. On Sunday, February 7, Faith Bible proposed it to First German’s congregation, who voted almost unanimously to accept the proposal. God had opened a great door of opportunity—as only He could do! We then invited the church body to prayerfully consider if God would have them go, and around 30 individuals and families (about 75 in all) responded and went.
God has continued building His church afresh at South First and F Streets. On Sunday, June 6–only by the amazing work of the Spirit of God–the original congregation voted one last time to (1) move toward becoming an elder-led church, (2) set aside its 122-year-old constitution, and (3) change the name from First German Congregational Church to First Street Bible Church. Immediately following that meeting, the governing board disbanded, forming a hybrid “transition” team to lead the church through the process of selecting its first elders.
Since that historic moment, God has continued to add people to the church body and to guide us into making forays into the community through children’s ministry, weekly food distributions, and clothing give aways. In February of 2011 we appointed our first elders and in December, 2011, we appointed our first deacons. How thankful to God we are!
Truly God has privileged us with an exciting increased stewardship—for the glory of His name. Pray with us as the gospel goes forth to another part of Lincoln to touch people’s lives with Jesus Christ.