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PO Box 3254 • Erie, PA 16508 • (814) 836-1018 • Email: prbcerie@yahoo.com
History of Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Providence Reformed Baptist Church was constituted on June 25, 1995 with 16 adult members. Though its official existence began in 1995, its framework had begun to form in the congregation of Bible Baptist Church many years earlier.

Bible Baptist Church was planted in Erie in 1979, by Pastor James L. Johnson, a graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. The church was established as an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church. During its first six years, the congregation purchased a 7-acre parcel of land and built a 7,000 sq. ft building, placing a heavy debt-load on the young church. Financial pressures eventually took their toll on everyone, and Pastor Johnson resigned in 1985. He was replaced by Pastor Terry Sopp, also a graduate of Baptist Bible College. Over the next two years, Pastor Sopp attempted to correct the church's financial tailspin, but was unsuccessful, and resigned in 1987.

About that same time, John and Debbie Swindlehurst returned to their hometown of Erie, Pa. from Va. Beach, Va., where John had previously served for three years as Pastor of Family Ministries at Atlantic Shores Baptist Church, also an Independent, Fundamental Baptist church. During his time in Va. Beach, John realized that he WASN'T an Independent, Fundamental Baptist. He didn't know what he WAS, he just knew what he WASN'T! He returned to Erie to regroup and figure-out where he best fit in the kingdom of God. When Pastor Sopp made the decision to leave Bible Baptist Church, he knew John was in the area, and asked him to serve as Interim pastor until God provided the church with a Shepherd. John agreed, and on August 16, 1987, he began his duties as Interim pastor. Three months later, the congregation of Bible Baptist Church voted unanimously to call John as their pastor.

He made it clear that he was NOT an Independent, Fundamental Baptist, and that he was in fact, on a spiritual journey of sorts, to learn where he belonged in the kingdom of God. They indicated that they wanted to go on the spiritual journey with him. And so began the journey that ultimately ended with Bible Baptist Church being eclipsed by Providence Reformed Baptist Church. Time does not permit us to chronicle all the events that transpired over the next 8 years, but God was pleased to work in the hearts and minds of His people, and brought them to embrace the Doctrines of His Sovereign Grace. Consequently, on June 25, 1995, Providence Reformed Baptist Church was born, to the glory and majesty of our great and magnificent God.

Let Him be magnified!