The time is right for Friendship Baptist Church to move into its own home, said the Rev. Kenneth Cademartori.

More importantly, the location is right. Friendship is leasing the former St. Paul (Mount Pleasant) Lutheran Church at 14874 Winterstown Road in North Hopewell Township.

"We believe that we can be a blessing to the community from that church," Cademartori said. "We believe it's a holy place."

Friendship Baptist has an option to purchase the church, said the Rev. Howard Edmondson of Family of God Community Church, which owns the building.

A congregation of about 75, Friendship Baptist will hold its first services in the church at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday.

The Southern Baptist congregation formed seven years ago and has met ever since in a converted industrial building off Harvey Court in Shrewsbury Township. In a 2006 interview, Cademartori said he felt led by God to start a new church in the Jacobus-Loganville-Hametown area, where many people who commute to Maryland and Washington, D.C. were settling.

The church offers Sunday school, two Sunday services, and Awana on Wednesday nights. Awana is an international, nondenominational, Bible-centered youth organization that provides weeknight clubs and programs for children from 3 years old through sixth grade.

"We're going to do everything that we've been doing better," Cademartori said. "And that, of course, is better for outreach. Being a Baptist church, we're very concerned with meeting lost people."


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Meanwhile, the former St. Paul (Mount Pleasant) Lutheran Church continues to evolve. Led by Edmondson, the church initially changed its name to St. Paul Community Church and went through a contentious split with many longtime members.

Certified letters were mailed to about 10 worshippers last spring, informing them they were no longer welcome at St. Paul and that they would be charged with trespassing if they returned.

Edmondson moved his congregation out of the church and took them to Red Lion. He is now listed as the pastor at Family of God Community Church at 147 First Ave. The church website is familyofgodcc.com.

Edmondson declined further comment.

In other religion news around the region:

New pastor: The Rev. Steve Warner was installed Jan. 13 as pastor of Grace Baptist Church, 3920 East Prospect Road, Windsor Township.

Warner joined the pastoral team at Grace Baptist in 1999 and has served in full-time Christian ministry since 1994, the church said in a news release. He and his wife, Jayne, have two sons and two daughters.

After serving six years in the Navy, Warner earned his bachelor's degree in ministry from Evangelical Theological Seminary in Florida. He is pursuing a master's of theological studies at Liberty University.

Warner has served Grace Baptist as youth pastor and as a member of the pastoral leadership team.

New program: Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown is launching a new Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program. It is also being offered in a new hybrid format, combining online and on-campus education.

"Both the business world and the ministry world are looking for a combination of competence and character -- not just a talented leader and not just a dedicated Christian," President Tony Blair said. "The world is in search of leaders who are authentic, who value what is true and good, not just what 'works.'"

The program is offered in a cohort format, so all coursework is completed along with the same group of classmates. With team-taught classes, each educational experience includes both "leadership and spiritual formation as well as real-world learning opportunities," the seminary said in a news release.

Students in the new program will meet regularly with a spiritual director and a leadership mentor. Although the majority of the two-year program will be completed online, students will come to Evangelical's campus in Myerstown five times a year for weekend residencies.