Covenant Reformed Baptist Church
The church was begun in March, 2008, first as "Covenant Fellowship", meeting in the Caswell County Parks and Recreation Gym, as an experiment seeking if their area needed a new church "committed to being Reformed, Inter-racial, and active." After a three-month exploratory stage, the initial congregants decided to go forward, naming themselves Covenant Reformed Baptist Church (CRBC), seeking a founding membership willing to be committed to the church's covenant and statement of faith, being inter-racial and active in out-reach. That "formation stage" of the church ended in November 2008 when it members ratified a church constitution and called as pastor Dr. John Carpenter and as a lay-elder Joe Scruggs. In early 2009 the new church purchased the gymnasium originally built for the Piedmont Academy, a now defunct segregated school in Providence, North Carolina, which has since served as it's main facility.
Professing to being "Reformed" is exceptional in North Carolina. It designates a theological commitment to what are known as "the five point of Calvinism" Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints. In the case of CRBC, it also shows a commitment to specific matters of church practice, in worship and polity. For example, the church eschews high pressure altar calls or manipulative use of music. The church aligns itself to "The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church", thus professing support for expository preaching through all of the Bible, meaningful membership, and church discipline. Taking Colossians 3:16 literally, the church sings a psalm every service, sequentially singing through the psalter.
From its origins the church has sought to be "inter-racial". John Carpenter said, "We're not playing church, not cultural Christianity for just one kind of people but a loving flock for all of God's people." In February 2009, the church took a group of youth from its area to see the Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia. The church, led by Mary Yeo of Singapore, has reached out to and included the area Chinese community. Besides welcoming Chinese into membership, Yeo brought back a small library of Chinese language Christian books. John Carpenter said, From our beginnings in 2008, we've sought to be a truly inter-racial church, with black, white and now Chinese. We don't believe in segregated churches. . . . Here there has been a shameful racial segregation. We're working, with Jesus' love, to bridge those gaps and let Jesus build one church out of many believing people." Upon the death of an 13-year old African American boy, Demion Farmer, who attended the churches functions, Carpenter wrote, "We're also reminded of why we've been called to be a church for all kinds of people. Our building was originally built in the 1970's for a segregated school, to keep the races apart. But apparently King Jesus decided that He had a better use for that building: to welcome all kinds of children (and adults) in."
The church professes a commitment to evangelism and says that because of that commitment it purchased a gymnasium. The church runs two programs geared toward outsiders: Gym, Jr and Gym. Gym, Jr is for children ages six to twelve, led by Justin Scruggs, a certified Physical Education teacher. GYM is an acronym for "Godward Youth Ministry". The youth ministry, for those 13 and over, allows local youth to use the gym and the church provides snack and Biblical instruction.
John Carpenter earned a Ph.D. in church history studying Puritanism (Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago). He also has a B.A. from Samford University; an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary; and a Th.M. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Some of his sermons are available through YouTube and at the church's web-site. He is the author of "The Fourth Great Awakening Or Apostasy: Is American Evangelicalism Cycling Upwards Or Spiraling Downwards?" and various other articles.
- Covenant Reformed Baptist Church pamphlet
- "New Church Forms and Expands," The Caswell Messenger, November 12, 2008, p. 11.
- "Covenant opens new building in Providence," The Caswell Messenger, March 2009.
- DeVane, Steve. "‘Reformed’ in church name shows Calvinism’s growth," The Biblical Recorder, November 24, 2008. http://www.brnow.org/News/November-2008/%E2%80%98Reformed%E2%80%99-in-church-name-shows-Calvinism%E2%80%99s-growth
- "Another Milestone for new church," The Caswell Messenger, September 2008.
- The Caswell Messenger, March 2009.
- "Covenant reaches out to Chinese community," The Caswell Messenger, July 2011.
- Carpenter, John, "Loss of a Child," The Caswell Messenger. February 22, 2012.
- "Church refurbishes Providence Gym, since purchase in 2009," The Caswell Messenger, July 13, 2011, p. A9.
- "Gym Jr celebrates Christmas for local children," The Caswell Messenger, January 2, 2013, p. 9.
- "Church refurbishes Providence Gym, since purpose in 2009", The Caswell Messenger, July 2011. Covenant Reformed Baptist Church pamphlet.
- http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEWT0r86ch_R0bMwt1p4V2ZnheUiMBtCS. www.covenantcaswell.org.
- Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/4 (December 2001) 647–70. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/44/44-4/44-4-PP647-70_JETS.pdf