History of Bible Baptist Church
Dr. Norman Gunther
In 1981, a few years after retiring to the Holden Beach area, Norman Gunther felt led to start a Bible Study in his home. Along with Gunther’s family, two other families became the original members of this group; Loren and Bernice Wheatly, and Bob and Margaret Wheatly with their 5 children who had moved to the Holden Beach area from Syracuse, NY, and were all reformed Roman Catholics. After less than a month, as the study began to grow in number and interest, Norman Gunther felt a calling to begin the first Independent Baptist Church in Brunswick County, and set out to secure property for that purpose. Isaiah Fulford offered a church building on his property in Civietown, rent-free until a permanent location could be established. This offer was accepted and Norman Gunther, along with his wife, Victoria, and three sons, Mike, Jeff, and Keith began this Independent, Fundamental, King James Bible-believing work and called it Bible Baptist Church .
In 1982, a church, Seashore Mission, was meeting in a cinder block building on Seashore Road, and were without a pastor. Its members, including the property owner, Fannie Robinson, approached Norman Gunther with a desire for him to move his current work to this building and property, which would be donated to Bible Baptist Church as it’s permanent location. After much prayer and searching what God would have him do, Norman Gunther accepted. The Seashore Mission was absorbed into the work Norman Gunther was leading, and Bible Baptist Church moved to it’s permanent location on Seashore Road near Holden Beach.
Pastor Norman Gunther led Bible Baptist Church until shortly after his wife’s passing in October 1996. Through some pastoral contacts in a pastor’s fellowship, Pastor Gunther acquired some assistance during this difficult time. It was through this assistance that Mike Reniger came to preach at the church on occasion. Pastor Gunther felt led to resign as pastor at this time and Mike Reniger was voted in as his successor.
In November 1996, Pastor Mike Reniger, along with his wife, Susan, and three children, Cara, Justin, and Blaine led Bible Baptist Church until December 2000.
Through contact at a youth camp where the Bible Baptist Church youth were attending, Pastor Reniger met Pastor Chris Swiatocho. Later, feeling led to resign as Pastor, Reniger contacted Pastor Swiatocho and asked if he might be interested in candidating as pastor of Bible Baptist Church. He was interested. Reniger bought his intention to resign before the church, and recommended that the church have Pastor Swiatocho candidate as pastor. This was accepted and agreed upon by the church. Pastor Swiatocho came to preach a Sunday mid-day service soon thereafter and was voted in unanimously by the church that same day to become the succeeding Pastor of Bible Baptist Church.
In December 2000, Pastor Chris Swiatocho, along with his wife, Leslie, and daughter Keely came to shepherd Bible Baptist Church. Since that time God has blessed and added to their family another daughter, Abby and a son, Shepherd. Under Swiatocho’s leadership our membership and ministries have continued to grow and expand, new properties purchased, and a new building has been erected. The first service in the new building was in November 2005. The original building was then used for the Christian School, Holden Beach Christian Academy, fellowship hall, classrooms, Junior Church, youth activities, and for Summer Mission Camps for the youth from ours and various other churches.
The original cinder block building was demolished in 2008 to make way for a new building which will accommodate Holden Beach Christian Academy, which is now open to the public, a fellowship hall, Junior Church, additional classrooms, and a gym. Permits have been obtained and approved to begin construction of this vision Bible Baptist Church has as we strive to further our work for Christ’s kingdom.
Respectfully submitted, Robin Johnson Gunther