Cornertone Baptist Temple First Service
Cornertone Baptist Church Building Dedication
In June of 1985, meetings began in Pastor Siler's home in Beavercreek as we sought God's will regarding the possibility of beginning a new independent Baptist Church. During that summer over thirty people were saved in the home and God's direction was made plain. As we met in the family room, bedrooms and on the lawn, God blessed us with beautiful weather every Sunday. We had a high day of 140 and thanked the Lord for understanding neighbors.
After much prayer, the decision was made to organize the Cornerstone Baptist Church. We were having some wonderful services in the home, but soon realized that we needed to seek a permanent place to worship.
God led Pastor Siler to the old Wagner School on Harshman Road. This building housed our Sunday School, offices and nursery.
Negotiations began with the Mad River Schools and within weeks a purchase price of $118,000 was agreed upon for the building and the 3.5 acres. It was with much prayer and sacrifice that we were able to raise the $30,000 for the down payment. The bank was very apprehensive about loaning money to such a new church with no financial record, but God had other plans.
On March 10, 1991 we had our first service in the new building. On Easter Sunday of that year, we had 684 in attendance with nine saved and six baptized. Praise the Lord!
Our attendance continued to grow, and in April of 1993 we again began two worship services. we are started making plans for a larger auditorium. Our prayer has always been that we might be known as a church with a heart for missions. We have seen our missions program grow steadily with a budget for 1994-1995 of $130,000. We were supporting then over 140 missionaries and mission stations around the world.
Our Property Pay Off Campaign began on Easter of 1995 with our goal being to burn the mortgage on Easter of 1996. God allowed us to make that goal. Through His help we were able to pay off the fifteen year loan in only five years!
All that has been accomplished for God here, at Cornerstone, has been made possible by our Lord through an extraordinary group of people who love Him and are willing to give of their time, talents and treasury to build a work for Him.
We praise Him for all He's done these past years. Our prayer and praise is "To God be the Glory . . . Great Things He Hath Done." We trust that He will continue to bless us and use us to accomplish even greater things in the years to come.
In the early 1950's there was no aggressive soul-winning fundamentalist church in Dayton. Gerald Fleming was a student pastor at the Central Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, during his last two years at Bible Baptist Seminary, Forth Worth, Texas. Young Fleming had been praying for more than a year about beginning a church in Dayton or one of four other cities in Central Ohio. Edwin Dunn, an older man and Dayton resident, came to the annual fellowship meeting at the seminary, held in conjunction with graduation, looking for a young man to start a fundamental church in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Harry G. Hamilton directed Mr. Dunn to Pastor Fleming, who, learning of this open door opportunity, immediately resigned his church and made plans to go to Dayton. Dr. Fleming and his wife left their two-year-old son with their parents in Kansas City, Missouri, arriving in Dayton about June 20, 1951, full of expectation and, according to his confession, "with stars in our eyes." Pastor Fleming had borrowed $25 from his father to get to Ohio, but instead of finding a nucleus of people ready to start an old-fashioned church, he found several elderly folks who were disgusted with liberalism, but they were not interested in starting an aggressive soul-winning church to reach the city of Dayton.
Even though the prospects were meager and he was broke, Dr. Fleming testified, "We would not be discouraged because we felt that God had led us to Dayton." Just when Pastor Fleming's money ran out, he and his wife were invited to use Mr. Dunn's quarters, since he had plans to be out of the city for several weeks on some business. The situation being what it was, they gladly accepted and moved into Mr. Dunn's sleeping room when he left the city. A preacher friend in Troy, Ohio, about twenty miles north of Dayton, referred Pastor Fleming to Dr. Dallas F. Billington, pastor of Akron Baptist Temple, who had a daily broadcast that covered Dayton, because he might know of prospects to start a church. The next day Pastor Fleming drove to Akron and walked into the office of Dr. Billington, a man he had never personally met The pastor of the world's largest Sunday School graciously put the young couple in a hotel for the night, provided food, and next day provided a church secretary to go through the files, where Dr. and Mrs. Fleming found 128 names in the Dayton area. It took Brother Fleming five days to visit the prospects, most of whom were not interested in helping to begin a New Testament church.
As a young lad, Dr. Fleming came through the Depression, when his family lost everything. His father was an old-fashioned "sharecropper" farmer who preached in little country Baptist churches on Sundays. Due to the drought, floods, and bad crops over a period of several years, the family was forced to move into the small town of Independence, Missouri, where the father could get on W.P.A. As a young boy in Independence, Gerald delivered papers in the fall, winter and spring months all over the town; in fact, even to Harry Truman himself! During the summer months he worked on the farm, riding a bicycle 14 miles one way to work ten hours and then riding home in the evening. Also he sold aprons and hotpad holders his mother made on an old Singer sewing machine, from door to door, in order to supplement the meager family income. That prompted him on one occasion, when greatly discouraged, to tell his mother, "I'll never do anything again where I have to knock on doors." Today he admits, "Sometimes God makes us eat our words." The success of Dayton Baptist Temple is Dr. Fleming's aggressive door-to-door visitation.
He was saved at ten years of age, when his family took him to a little basement Baptist church, Waldo Avenue Baptist in Independence. During his teen years he got away from God and spent the latter part of World War II as a merchant marine, sailing around the world twice.
After the war, upon the insistence of his father, he heard Dr. Wendell Zimmerman preach, pastor of Kansas City Baptist Temple, and went forward for rededication. It was here he first began to serve God, leading singing in the young people's department, witnessing on the streets and working in the Sunday School. After young Fleming surrendered his life to the Lord for full-time service, Dr. Zimmerman recommended to him the Bible Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, where Pastor Fleming studied under Dr. J. Frank Norris, who made a great impression on him.
One of the secrets of the continual growth of Dayton Baptist Temple is the dogged patience Dr. Fleming has exercised in carrying out the ministry. He testifies, ''I keep going when others quit; I've always found another door to knock on when the others have gone home." On one occasion in the early days of the church, in the very beginning, Dr. Fleming and his wife had visited all day and had had trouble finding the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell, finally locating the house at six o'clock in the afternoon. The young preacher said, "Honey, this house is too 'rich looking.' You wait here; I know it won't do any good, but I'll at least meet the people since we've come this far." Pastor Fleming knocked on the door and told the lady he had been called of God to start an independent Baptist church. Mrs. Caldwell cried, "Praise the Lord, we've been praying for two years for someone to come to Dayton and start an independent Baptist church." The Caldwells insisted that young Fleming go immediately and call on their friends, the Carlton family. Mrs. Carlton came out of the basement where she was doing the washing, wiping her hands on a towel wrapped around her waist, and said, "Praise God! He sent us a preacher." Dr. Fleming and his wife were hungry and she most lovingly sat them down and gave them meat, sandwiches and milk. According to the young couple, "It was like manna from Heaven." Later that night Pastor Fleming found the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Orme but it was very late, about eleven o'clock, too late (by normal standards) to visit Mr. and Mrs. Orme, with adult members of several other families, were sitting around the dining room table, discussing what church they all should attend, because they had, just a few weeks previously, been saved in a Hyman Appelman citywide crusade and felt they ought to be actively attending a church. Since the lights were on, the young preacher knocked on the door and said, "My name is Gerald Fleming. I've come to Dayton to start a Baptist church." All four of these families came to the church and all of them are still in the Dayton Baptist Temple after 21 years of miracles.
The next day Pastor Fleming got a job as a shoe salesman in Rikes Department Store and then located an apartment He had to return to Kansas City, Missouri, and get his child and meager possessions, but he didn't have enough money for gas, let alone food, along the way. Dr. Fleming knew that God had provided thus far and would continue to do so. At five o'clock the next morning, he came out to get in his car. He had told his wife, "We'll drive as far toward home as we can, then phone my father to come and get us." On the dew-wet grass in front of the rooming house Pastor Fleming found a $5 bill and four $1 bills, enough, with the few dollars he already had, to get him to Kansas City, where he borrowed another $25 from his father and returned to Dayton. The following Tuesday evening, at the first meeting of the infant congregation, with sixteen people present in the front room of a home, Pastor Fleming preached on the parable of the ten virgins. One person was saved and there was an offering of $16.25. Every person present in that first meeting is either still in the church or is now in Heaven.
That week Pastor Fleming rented the old Townsend Hall at Fifth and Main in downtown Dayton for $12.50 a Sunday and the young church met there for five weeks until they got organized. But the church needed a more permanent home. Dr. Fleming appeared before the Dayton school board and asked for the rental of a school The board initially turned down his suggestion, but an old German stroked his white beard and asked, "Young man, why do you want this building?" Without flinching, Pastor Fleming told him, "I want to build an independent Baptist church to win people to Jesus Christ" The elderly man beamed at Fleming's determination and said, "I make a motion we let the young man have Brown Elementary School for the next year."
Dr. Fleming is eternally grateful for the encouragement he received from Dallas Billington, who announced the young church's meeting over his radio station. The well known Billington also held a Tuesday-through-Thursday revival meeting that gave the infant congregation instant status in Dayton.
There were 120 saved during the first year of the church and on the first anniversary there were 147 in Sunday School without any special-day activities - that was the average attendance.
The church needed $4,752 to pay for three acres on Ohmer Avenue, the planned location for the new church. Early in 1952, while the church was only months old, Fleming raised $3,200 in one Sunday from the small congregation of 75 people, some giving $5, others $20, and a few people as much as $100. The offering on that day was a good down payment. According to Dr. Fleming, "This was one of the greatest miracles in the life of our church, even though people today might think the amount small in comparison to today's astronomical figures." Some ten years later the state took the back half of the church's parking lot for an Interstate expressway, and paid the church $94,500. According to the pastor, "This was a blessing and a curse at the same time." The expressway put the church in immediate access to everybody in the greater Dayton area and the sales price gave them a financial basis for expansion. However, half of the parking space was lost, and now the church had to expand by buying individual houses at the rate of $20,000-$25,000 per house. Lack of parking held down Sunday School attendance greatly from 1963 to 1967, but that problem is now being solved.
During the second summer the church held three evangelistic crusades in a large tent on the new property. Each crusade ran two weeks with a space of two weeks between them. Dr. Fleming now looks back and reflects, "Those were days of great blessings; many people were saved who still attend our church and the evangelistic outreach into the community was accompanied with the power of God that many churches seldom realize.
The young church grew rapidly, and that fall a basement church was built to accommodate 350 people. When the congregation moved into the basement, there was only pitrun gravel on the floor and the flat roof leaked; but people came and stood around the walls to hear Pastor Fleming preach. That auditorium was always full, and in those days they used no promotion, no giveaways - just the preaching of the Gospel The basement was expanded in each of the next few summers so that the Sunday School was averaging 900 before the first permanent auditorium was actually built in 1958.
The Dayton Baptist Temple began a Sunday School bus ministry during its second year of operation, not with big plans in mind, but because Dallas Billington had used buses successfully. Dr. Fleming rented four buses from the local bus company at $12.50 each and each one brought in between 25 and 30 people per Sunday.
In January, 1970, Pastor Fleming realized that the bus ministry had to be changed from a transportation department to an evangelistic outreach. In two weeks he raised enough money for 12 buses, paying between $1,295 and $1,495 each. Since that time there has been constant growth in the Sunday School so that today they bring in a total of almost a thousand riders each week.
The church was one of the first to institute the deaf ministry," according to Dr. Fleming, "simply because there was a great need in our city." Also, the church was one of the first to work with retarded children. A mother of some retarded children came to Pastor Fleming in tears, indicating there were many such children in Dayton. For many years the Sunday School class for the retarded averaged 25.
The church supports 156 missionaries in 28 countries around the world in its total ministry. The 5,000 members contribute almost a half million dollars a year.
In 1968 a three-story Sunday School building was completed to handle the 300 students now enrolled in Temple Christian School. The school started out with Kindergarten and grades 1 through 8. In 1982 Temple Christian School graduated their first senior class.
During the fourth year of existence, when the Sunday School was averaging about 500 in attendance, an evangelist challenged Pastor Fleming to the largest attendance in the history of the church. Brother Fleming then worked for a large Sunday crowd to close out the revival. A prayer chain link was used for a promotion, and 1,152 attended Sunday School, an unheard of crowd in those days. Only four or five well known churches had such large numbers, at least as far as most Dayton folk knew, but the crowd made the people of Dayton sit up and take notice of Dayton Baptist Temple.
A few years ago Dr. John R. Rice indicated that only about twenty churches were baptizing 200 a year, but Dayton Baptist Temple has been baptizing that many almost since its beginning. Dr. Fleming has not made a habit of "tooting his horn," with the result that the church has grown steadily without the crowd applause from the American public. Last year Pastor Fleming baptized 587 and, according to him, "Anybody who is doing anything ought to baptize 200 a year." As a matter of fact, Fleming baptizes approximately 200 each year from his own visitation alone.
The church has a 51acre farm and youth camp located in Bellbrook, Ohio, that can accommodate 400 campers a week. Many Fellowship churches in the area participate in the camp program.
Dr. Fleming broadcasts a quarter hour daily, in addition to both Sunday services. Cassette tape ministry provides all of his sermons on tape for those who write in and request them.
The well-rounded church offers five junior churches in addition to a complete music program under Mr. Duard Bowron, who has been with the church since 1952. For the first few years he was a layman, working with the Journal Herald, a Dayton newspaper, before being called as Minister of Music in 1955.
Two of the keys to the success of Dayton Baptist Temple are: first, an aggressive visitation program that's geared to winning souls to Jesus Christ; and second, strong biblical preaching with enthusiasm. In the beginning years, Pastor Fleming made 200 visits a week. Although he has been in the ministry for over 20 years, he still gets excited when God does something and he still sheds tears when touched with the feelings of his people. He doesn't give a lot of illustrations in his preaching, but keeps his people in the Word of God. Many have realized that the power of his preaching has stemmed from the number of notes he has written in his Bible in the past 22 years of study. The church, which uses no printed literature, studies the Bible only, reflecting the love that Dr. Fleming has for the Scriptures.
Pastor Fleming experienced health problems in the early '80's. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and retired to be pastor Emeritus in 1985.
Pastor Fleming lived the last eight years of his life in Riverview, Florida, where he was faithful in his attendance and support of the Lord's work.
Pastor Fleming had a great love for his family. He especially cared for Mary, the wife of his youth. Mary's faithful and diligent care for Pastor Fleming during his long illness is a great tribute to her love for him. Pastor Fleming is survived by his wife of 46 years, Mary; six children, Steve Fleming of Tampa, Florida, Paul Fleming and his wife Carolyn of Brandon, Florida, Nancy Wornstaff and her husband Terry of Gibsontown, Florida, Carolyn Fultz and her husband Ken of Dayton, Ohio, Marilyn Smith and her husband Jim of Charleston, South Carolina, and Rachel Fleming of Charleston, South Carolina. Bro. Fleming is also survived by four brothers, Robert, James, Bill and George; one sister, Betty; and presently 12 grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Pastor Fleming's favorite verses: Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 37:3-6. Pastor Fleming's favorite Bible character: Joseph.
We met for the first time at the new location in a basement room on November 3, 1985 and opened up the membership for charter members for the next three months.
After several months of renovation and many hours of labor by the growing congregation, the first services were held in the upstairs auditorium (currently the youth chapel) on Easter Sunday of 1986.
This year became a year of many firsts for our young congregation. We had our first baptisms, first Foreign Missions conference (preached by Dr. Gerald O. Fleming) with $9,600 promised for the coming year, and our first Jewish Missions Conference (preached by John Bell of Chosen People Ministries). Other firsts were the youth camp held at Camp Butterworth (all ages combined) and our first two bus routes captained by Tina Begley and Sandy Fogle. On our 1st Anniversary we had 209 people in attendance.
The congregation continued to invite others and in the late 80's we found it necessary to begin and early worship service to accommodate the growing numbers. On Easter of 1989 we had 325 in attendance.
We saw the need for a larger auditorium and began a building fund. With the wise counsel of Rev. Joe Lewis and Bro. Doc Shenefield, the plans for the new building were completed. The ground breaking was held in November of 1990 with Bro. Doc shoveling the first dirt. He was in failing health at that time and did not live to see the building completed, but we know he was looking down from Glory and praising the Lord. The fellowship hall was named after Doc and his dear wife Gladys. They also began a ministry of sending tapes to our missionaries, which she continued after his death.
The History of the Dayton Baptist Temple (50 years):
This history was taken mostly out of “The Church Built by a Determined Man” – Reprinted from Great Soul
Winning Churches, Elmer Towns, 1973
The Dayton Baptist Temple has, as of last year (1972), the twenty eighth largest Sunday School in America, with an average attendance of 1,907 last year; an annual budget of almost half a million dollars; and the eleventh largest number of baptisms, according to The Sword of the Lord. This large, dynamic metropolitan church, located in the heart of the north central industrial states, was begun with determination, miracles and money borrowed from the preacher's father.