The History of New Beginnings
Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Brent and Becky Barnett began leading a small Bible study in their home in Sheffield, IL, under the supervision of Pastor John King (of Riverside Community Church, Peoria, IL). Though small, only 10 members at the time, the Holy Spirit was obviously at work. Pastor King decided it was time for this Bible Study to evolve into a church plant. This little “church” then received its first prophecy. Pastor King gave them a Word from Esther: “for such a time as this”, saying that God was doing His work there in their small study to become a church for “such a time as this.”
The night before their first church service, the Children’s Pastor, James, from Faith Christian Center in Washington, IL, prophesied over Brent and Becky again saying that this would be a different ministry than what was considered the “norm” and that God was making rivers in the desert and roads in the wilderness (from Isaiah), meaning that where there seemed to be no way, God would make a way.
Faith Christian Church held its first service on September 1, 1998, at 2 p.m. in the Sheffield Grade School gymnasium. The Praise band from Washington led worship and Pastor King delivered the sermon. Seventy-five people attended and several responded to the Salvation call and pledged to support the new work. The place was filled with excitement and anticipation. The congregation continued to hold services in the grade school gym each week.
In 1999, the leaders of Faith Christian Church (FCC) were presented with the opportunity to purchase a church building. Brent believed that they would just be given the church, although everyone else thought there was no way this would happen. However, the leaders of the Congregational Church in Buda decided to offer the Barnetts the church for only $1 (an exchange of money was required to make the purchase legal). FCC bought the building, moved in, and held its first service in Buda right after Easter 1999.
In 2002, FCC felt the call to move. Plans to relocate began. The verse given to the congregation at this time was Genesis 12:1: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” FCC’s motto for the relocation project was “Expanding our borders to expand His kingdom”. They first considered purchasing the old grade school in Neponset, but God had better things for them. They found 10 acres of land for sale in Manlius, across the street from the newly build Bureau Valley High School. This land had been for sale for many years, but the sisters who owned it, Natalie and Gloria Winslow, refused to sell the land every time an offer was made. They later told a friend that they had always prayed that someday the land would somehow be used for God’s purposes. The sisters gladly accepted the offer made by FCC. FCC then entered into its first building program and began making plans to build a new church.
In June 2003, the congregation assembled at the new property around a “X” painted on the dirt where the altar would eventually be. In the rain, the congregation prayed over the land, asking God to bless the land, the future building, and their efforts in the new church. Then each ministry leader took turns breaking the soil.
Construction of the new building began soon afterwards. Brent and his father-in-law, Russ, did most of the construction themselves, sometimes working well after midnight. The two received help from people in the congregation and from several construction teams from other Assembly of God churches in IL. The building was completed in 2004, and the first service was held on Easter that year.
The new building was dedicated on October 16, 2004, with several District and Sectional officers attending. The message was given by Brother Larry Griswold.
The winds of change began to stir once again in 2009. After eleven years of ministry and many internal changes, the congregation felt as if they had “come into their own”, meaning that they had forged their own identity as a congregation and didn’t have to pattern themselves after their “mother church” or any other church. To celebrate the uniqueness of their own identity and calling, the congregation voted to change the name of the church. This outward sign would be symbolic of their inward changes. As they celebrated the church’s 11th anniversary on September 12, 2009, the church officially became known as New Beginnings Church. The congregation continues to challenge its members with Bible-based preaching that is never sugar-coated. Every Sunday parishioners walk away challenged to renew their relationship with God and to accept the “new beginning” we are all offered daily.