Our History

New Faith’s Journey

Since 1976, we have grown as a community of believers. Explore our journey through this timeline.



The New Faith Baptist Church held its first service with 67 people at the Blackhawk Elementary School in Park Forest on January 4, 1976. New Faith began as a result of the efforts of the Rev. Junius Dudley, who in 1975 completed a study of the Park Forest area in which he found integrated churches, but they all lacked Blacks in leadership and they also lacked the Black worship experience. He also did not find any Black Churches. Because of his concern for the community, he made an appeal to Rev. Dale Cross (of the Southern Baptist Convention) for funds to start a church, and New Faith began as a Southern Baptist Mission with supplemental income for the pastor, and all the resources of the SBC.

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New Faith grew rapidly and had 150 members in December 1978 when the Rev. Dudley resigned as pastor.

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The church had grown to over 100 members when Rev. Donald Johnson became the second pastor on June 3, 1979. Under his leadership, the church had a split in membership.

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December 1980, Rev. Johnson moved New Faith to temporary facilities at Emmanuel Seventh Day Adventist Church in Chicago Heights. The group that remained at the school constituted as a church and named themselves Greater Faith. Rev. Johnson resigned as pastor of New Faith on April 12, 1981.

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On January 10, 1982, Rev. Frank Thomas was called as the third pastor of New Faith. The membership, which had fallen to 30 active members, began to grow again, and the congregation sought to move from the rented facilities to its own edifice. In September 1982, New Faith purchased five acres of land in Matteson, Illinois.

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On October 12, 1984 the church broke ground for a permanent facility.

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On February 22, 1987, New Faith moved to its first home at 25 S. Central, Matteson with 287 members. After moving, New Faith had phenomenal growth. New Faith’s staff positions now included the Minister of Pastoral Care and Minister of Music.

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In 1990, New Faith was blessed with the addition of the staff positions of Director of Administration (formerly Director of Operations) and Youth Director. Barnabas, an all-male ensemble, made its debut at the 1990 Revival. In September 1990, an additional 22 acres of land was purchased bringing the total land ownership to 27 acres. Also in 1990, New Faith was blessed to receive its vision from God as revealed to Pastor Frank. The vision of New Faith was: To move prayer and bible study into the center of congregational life. In 1991, a second worship service was formed.

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In March 1992, a third service began on Saturday evenings and October 1992 the Children’s Church and Sunday school were moved to Woodgate School. With the addition of these ministries, the staff positions of Minister of Christian Education, Minister of Justice and Minister of Youth and Family were filled. The Building Program for the construction of new facilities was completed and the Ray/Dawson P.C. architectural firm was hired to design a 22-acre Master Plan and design and lead construction of future phases. In October 1992, New Faith members contributed $101,245 to make the final payment of $192,000 on the 22-acre land acquisition. As of December 1992, the membership had increased from 414 to 2,347. New Faith has developed a diversified program to meet the needs of the church with emphasis on its Bible education program. The program includes Sunday school, and the Victorious Christian Living Institute (VCLI). Currently over 52 ministries have been developed. The total membership to date is over 2,000 and there are 40 employees (full and part-time). In addition, outreach to youth has necessitated the development of a youth ministry which targets high school and junior high school students with such programs as J.A.M. (Jesus and Me) and H.Y.P.E. (Helping Young People Excel). The addition of these programs has also created the need for a Minister of Youth Programming and most recently, a Minister of Youth Spiritual Life.

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To date New Faith had completed the renovation of its present facility, increasing its size to seat 960. In addition to renovating the other areas, a new Activity Center was built in 1997. This center has two additional washrooms, eleven classrooms, a large activity area, and a second narthex and reception area. This facility, costing over $1 million, was paid for with cash donated by the members of New Faith. A Wall of Recognition Plaque was designed to provide eternal recognition for all whom made a financial sacrifice toward the building of this Activity Center.

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In May of 1998 the Wall of Recognition Plaque was installed in the Activity Center, which was named after Kenneth Harvey, a member of New Faith Baptist Church who died in 1998. Also, because of the increasing membership, a new parking lot was built on the northwest corner of the church proper, allowing for additional parking spaces.

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On July 1, 1999, Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas resigned as Pastor to accept his calling to pastor Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. After two years of praying and fasting, God sent us a shepherd, the Rev. Dr. Trunell D. Felder, a man after God’s own heart, who served as the co-pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia.

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On July 28, 2001, the entire New Faith family came together in overwhelming numbers to vote for our Senior Pastor. In August of 2001, Pastor Felder was confirmed by a large majority vote of the active membership. On October 1, 2001, our Senior Pastor began his official duties as Shepherd of New Faith Baptist Church. His first sermon was entitled Living For An Audience Of One; which set the stage for the type of leadership he embodied and the kind of people we were to be.

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On Sunday, January 13, 2002, Pastor Trunell D. Felder shared the next level of service and worship to our God and King through the new vision and mission for New Faith Baptist Church. Within the short time Pastor Felder has been the shepherd of New Faith, our membership has grown from 2,200 to over 6,000 adding a 4th worship service (1-Saturday and 3 on Sunday 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am). We have been heavily involved in evangelism and community efforts within Matteson and surrounding communities. We have even taken the love of Christ (God’s Son) outside of Matteson to Ford Heights with the New Faith Baptist Church Ford Heights Faith Fair. Ford Heights being one of the most impoverished communities in the State of Illinois (pop. 4,000), New Faith provided free health screenings for adults and children, free school supplies for every child in the village, free baby supplies, a care package for the residents, job fair, a carnival and a gospel concert. Many lives were transformed and hearts turned toward Christ.

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On May 15, 2003, New Faith members along with the CNA Foundation and KaBOOM! built a playground for the children in Ford Heights. While transforming lives, we have also changed the face of our facility. The NF staff was housed in a trailer for 8 years. Within the first year, under the leadership of Pastor Trunell Felder, we built our administrative wing debt free.

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In 2005, we became an international ministry and our name became New Faith Baptist Church International with 15 churches in Ghana, West Africa, six Christian schools in Ghana, West Africa; and six churches in Cape Town, South Africa. Pastor Trunell Felder and Dr. Alexis Felder are founders of The Joseph Assignment Global Initiative, a Christian global humanitarian organization impacting the lives of over 320,000 people living in extreme poverty throughout the world by drilling clean water wells, planting farms, hosting free medical clinics, building schools, feeding and housing orphans. The website is: www.josephassignment.org.

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June 1, 2012, the Lord expanded our territory with a new sanctuary that we might care and serve more of God’s people. We have more outreach projects planned and to date (2016) we have witnessed to over 375,000 people worldwide. It does not yet appear what we shall be as we continue to seek the heart of God and share the love of Christ with the world- until all have heard.

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