In the summer of 1978, five families in the Bradenton area realized a need for a new independent Baptist Church in Manatee County. This small group began meeting in the home of A.D. and Cele Marlow. John McCall, pastor of the Faith Baptist Church of Sarasota agreed to help these people to find a pastor for this new work. While vacationing in the area, Gary Byram visited Faith Baptist Church and was told of the new work. Pastor McCall arranged a meeting between the Byrams and the five families looking to begin a church. The meeting took place in the living room of the Marlowe’s home. After two hours of questions and answers, the decision was made to ask Brother Byram to preach a trial sermon. After ten days, Bro Byram and his daughter Paige flew back to Bradenton to preach Sunday morning and Sunday night. That night, the families agreed to ask Bro Byram to become their pastor. Six weeks later, John Lemon and Art McKibbin rented a truck and drove to Washington, Illinois. They loaded the truck with all of the Byram’s earthly possessions and returned to Florida. Pastor Byram and his family arrived on Friday September 15, 1978. On Sunday morning September 17th, he preached his first sermon as pastor of BBC.
God blessed in a wonderful way and we quickly outgrew the Marlowe’s home. The Lord provided a place to meet at the First Commercial Bank next to the Desoto Square Mall. On December 17, 1978 the church was officially charted with 66 members. In six months, the church was averaging 180 people on Sunday mornings. Again, the church needed a place to meet. The Lord once again provided an excellent place. Out east of town on SR 70, there was an empty recreation hall in the Gateway East Subdivision. There were two buildings. The smaller building served as a nursery and Children’s church and the larger room was used as the auditorium.
For the next two years, while meeting in the recreation building, the Lord blessed over and over again. People were being saved and lives changed in the most wonderful way. The ministry grew so quickly, we had to find a third building to hold Sunday School and Children’s Church. We were able to use the South County Youth Building (later renamed the John C. Marble Building)for this purpose. In the summer of 1980, the church located a property on Morgan Johnson that is now home to Bible Baptist Church. After some negotiations, the landowner agreed to sell the 30 acre property for $150,000. We gave him $40,000 down payment and he agreed to hold the mortgage. On Thanksgiving day, 1980, we had our groundbreaking ceremony.
Jarvis Construction Company, owned by Ron and Joel Jarvis (members of BBC), served as the general contractors. Men and women donated their money, time, and labor. By the first Sunday in June 1981, we moved into our own building. Everything was paid for except the land.
Bible Baptist Church continued to grow and prosper under Bro Byram. In 2003, Bro Byram announced that he would be stepping down as the pastor of Bible Baptist Church. After months of searching for the right man of God for the position, the Lord lead Dr. Mark Campbell to become the second pastor of Bible Baptist church on January 1, 2004. Under his leadership the church has experienced tremendous growth. In 2007, Dr. Campbell laid out the vision to construct a 1,000 seat auditorium that could accommodate the growing numbers of people coming. After months of preparation, BBC moved into its new home just before Easter of 2009.
Since opening the new building, God has lead in the purchase of an additional four acres adjacent to the main property on Morgan Johnson road and has allowed the church to secure a lease from the county on the John C. Marble Building on SR 70 to use as an activity and outreach center.
In September, Dr. Campbell resigned as the pastor of BBC. After a period of six months Bible Baptist Church elected its third pastor, Dr. Sal Yannizzi, who was serving as the Pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Coatesville, PA. The Church continues to grow in number and influence in it's community. We are thankful for God's blessing and favor upon our ministry.