Our Church History
Sherman Bible Chapel
Sherman Bible Chapel has a history dating back to 1843. Its founder, Rev. Willard Parsons, birthed the church based on the principle of Scripture in Matthew 25:40, to help “the least of these”. In keeping with this Scripture, he began bringing children up to Sherman from the inner city of New York City so they could experience a true country vacation in the fresh country air. The program came to be called “The Fresh Air Children”, and the fledgling church became the birthplace of a ministry to children that continues in this region to this day.
Fast forward to April 12, 1981 when a young, energetic Bible College graduate took hold of his dream to come back to his hometown and begin a Bible believing church. Joe Axtell, lifetime resident of Deposit and Pastoral graduate of Liberty University, felt the call of God to raise up a church that honored God and His Word and taught families Biblical principles enabling them to raise Godly generations. Originating in his small apartment, Calvary Bible Church was birthed with a nucleus of 11 people who shared his vision to reach the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After unsuccessfully searching for a building for their growing congregation, a move was made to another member's home, and then to the new home of the Pastor. The congregation steadily grew over the next two and a half years to around 25. In August 1983, while in the hospital with his wife who had just given birth to their second child, Pastor Joe was approached by the Dean of Student Affairs at Practical Bible Training School to come and "fill the pulpit" for four weeks at Sherman Mission Chapel, as he was unable to get a student to do so for that month.
Pastor Joe agreed and held a 9 a.m. service for the Sherman Church, then came back for his own service at 11 a.m. After doing this for three weeks, some of his own members asked if they could come to the 9 a.m. service and meet the people of Sherman. The parishioners were delighted to have guests and after several weeks of this, the two groups discussed joining the two bodies of believers into one church. In October of 1983, the two churches transitioned into one. The merger was smooth and the church name was changed to Sherman Bible Chapel to reflect the purpose of the church. The congregation, now around 30, was delighted to benefit each other; one needed a building, the other needed a preacher, and they both needed each other to grow.
God's hand has been at work ever since those eventful days in October 1983. The congregation continued to grow, needing to expand to two Sunday Morning Worship Services, then in April 2011, moved to a larger facility in the town of Deposit to accommodate the ever-increasing congregation and to have the opportunity to have the whole flock worship together in one service.
Around the same time the church relocated, Sherman Bible Chapel also purchased a house in Deposit just across the street from the church building that serves as the official church office, Youth center, and Counseling center; this building is appropriately known as “The E.D.G.E.” (Every Day Grace Experience), a name carried over from Sherman’s Youth Ministry. Pastor Joe completed his Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and, along with his wife, Chris, and other trained counselors, the Counseling Ministry was birthed. The ministry of the church has had a tremendous impact on the residents of Sherman, Deposit, and neighboring communities as they work toward reaching the many who have never heard about Jesus.
Sunday School, Small Group Bible Studies, an active Junior and Senior Youth program, Biblical Discipleship and Counseling training seminars, Marriage and Family Seminars, Sherman Gospel Music Festivals (recently changed their logo to Wooden Cross Music Festival), counseling ministry, sledding parties, church dinners, participation in the National Life-Chain, church work days, Ladies Teas, Prayer Retreats, Camp BaYouCa invasions, Ladies' Conference, skeet shoots, Vacation Bible School, community outreach dinners, and many other activities unite our church body together. Once a tiny "light" in the neighborhood, God has richly blessed this congregation that has been faithful to Him over the generations, and made it into a very expansive "light" to our community.
In the early morning hours of October 29th, 2012, our beloved Pastor, Joseph Axtell was called home to be with his Father in Heaven. The mantle was passed to the leadership of Sherman Bible Chapel to continue on with the vision that was in place for the furtherance of the Gospel message in Deposit and surrounding communities, ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of our community members.
The next few years brought a flurry of activity as we pushed forward. In 2013, an Interim Pastor stepped in to help the congregation as they began their search for a new pastor. The following year, Sherman Bible Chapel was able to purchase the defunct Deposit Elementary School, the classroom annex building and schoolyard for the expansion of the Lord's ministry. This purchase ultimately gave us a parking lot on the site of the now demolished school building, and the classroom annex became a starting place for constructing a new Ministry Center. Then in November of 2015, Steve Aldridge was appointed as the Senior Pastor of Sherman Bible Chapel.
The next few years we continued on our quest to renovate the acquired property and have been diligently working toward bringing the building back to life again with classroom space and plenty of room for growth of the youth ministry. The notorious year of 2020 brought many changes to all of our worlds including the transition of the pastor to a different ministry in another state. Currently, we are seeking the Lord’s direction for a new Senior Pastor who will continue to shepherd this flock that God has established as a bright light in a very dark world.
April 12, 2021 marked the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Sherman Bible Chapel where the original Biblical principles of this church have been faithfully passed on to the many who have come through the doors over the course of the last forty years. Young and old have gleaned from the faithful adherence to the Sufficiency of the Word of God which will continue to carry the next generations as we reach our communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are grateful to God for those who have faithfully given of themselves, their prayers, and their resources to sow into the Kingdom through this community. We look forward to the great things that God has in store for us in the days and years ahead. May Jesus Christ be mightily glorified through all that is done through this ministry we call Sherman Bible Chapel.