EAST MANATEE -- Two years ago, Bible Baptist Church moved into a gleaming new sanctuary at 2113 Morgan Johnson Road that can easily handle 1,000 worshippers on a Sunday.
Even in a time of economic downturn, church membership has continued to grow, adding several hundred worshippers in recent years.
The Rev. Mark Campbell, 43, has been preaching since he was 16, and attributes the success of Bible Baptist Church to verse-by-verse study of the Bible.
“We are definitely a Bible-preaching church,” Campbell said.
Worshippers bring their Bibles and follow along, reading the same verse as their pastor.
Sunday, they will most likely study a passage from Revelation, always a hot-button topic, Campbell said.
“We love to hear the word of God. People still want to know the truth. Does God still have something to say? We tell them he does,” he said.
It may sound like old-time religion, but the word of God is just as relevant today as ever, he said.
And while good times and bad times may come and go, the Bible and its message are eternal, he said.
Campbell, a native of Westminster, Md., has been at Bible Baptist Church for eight years. He is only the second pastor in the history of Bible Baptist Church; The Rev. Gary Byram was the first. The church was founded in 1978.
Campbell has been in the ministry 21 years, and has been preaching since he was 16.
Right out of high school he enrolled in Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, where he met his future wife, April, and then went on to seminary.
They have been married 21 years and have three children: Carissa, 18; Autumn, 17; and Boaz, 12.
April Campbell is an integral part of the team, signing sermons for the hearing impaired and serving as her husband’s administrative assistant during the week.
A native of West Chester, Pa., she says the most exciting life is that of an obedient Christian.
“Because God blesses the obedient,” she said.
Mark Campbell is a strong proponent of missions, both locally and abroad.
Bible Baptist has deep- ened its outreach in the Spanish community has an assistant pastor who works full-time in the Spanish ministry.
The church also operates a fleet of six buses, to bring children, teens and adults to worship from Pride Park, Oneco, Palmetto and other neighborhoods.
“No one watches gas prices more than me,” he said.
Recently, the church entered into a partnership with Manatee County government to operate a community center at John H. Marble Park, 3675 53rd Ave. E.
Among the programs offered at Marble Park are activities for teens, and Reformers Anonymous on Friday nights for those battling addiction.
Planned for the near future are tutoring for students who need a little help and English classes for Spanish speakers.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.
IF YOU GO
What: Bible Baptist Church
Where: 2113 Morgan Johnson Road, Bradenton
Services: 8:30 and 11 a.m., and 6 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. Wednesday
Pastor: The Rev. Mark Campbell
Information: 941-746-6221 or www.4bb.org