Our story begins over 43 years ago on March 9th 1975. It is a glorious story of how God in His faithfulness to spread the Gospel lead in planting a New Testament Baptist Church in the historical State of Rhode Island. Being one of the New England states, Rhode Island is rich in early American history. Providence, its capital city, is known as the place of the First Baptist church in America, founded by Roger Williams in 1634. Though a place of spiritual roots and great revivals, Rhode Island with its 38 towns and cities, along with the other five New England states has suffered a spiritual dearth for over a half century - religious, but without regeneration; churched, but without Christ; great cathedrals, great statutes, great culture, great education, but without our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not surprising that some have said that New England in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, was one of the greatest mission fields in America.
On March 9th 1975, Pastor Tom Crichton, his wife Ginny, and their 5 children, along with 23 welcomed guests, held the first service of the Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple in the Pied Piper Nursery School in Johnston. Surely the hand of the Lord was revealed from the beginning as the Gospel was preached and personal evangelism practiced. Souls were saved, followed by believers baptism, and the Lord began to add to the church gradually but continually. A Membership Class taught the Biblical Principles of the Purpose of the Church, the People of the church and the Pastor of the local New Testament church. From the onset of GRIBT, the importance of discipleship was acknowledged and carried forward one on one, as the church grew others were trained to disciple new believers.
By the fall of 1975, the church had outgrown its nursery school facilities and moved to an elementary school in North Scituate, Rhode Island. Nearly 5 years were spent at that location, which saw the membership grow significantly. New outreach ministries were born; in addition to the already growing Sunday School and Bus ministry. The Sunday School and Bus Ministry have proven to be a effective arm in personal evangelism, reaching boys and girls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is estimated that the bus fleet of the GRIBT has for the past 43 years traveled a combined mileage of over 100,000 miles…over 4 trips around the world. GRIBT bus workers have transported in that same time thousands of bus riders. From the very first Sunday, the Sunday School has been vital to reaching and spiritually developing toddlers through adults. Sunday School teachers were trained and equipped through Teacher Training, then Refresher Classes as needed. From the Sunday School have come workers to teach, assist and serve the Lord in many various ministries.
In 1978 the church was approaching 4 years of existence, and the Lord opened the door for a tract of land on the 295 interstate to be secured as the location of the future home of the GRIBT church family . . . 671 Greenville Avenue in Johnston. Great lessons were learned as Pastor Crichton and People stepped out by faith to purchase the 10-acre parcel of land. Faith won the victory, and in June of 1978, a dedication service was held on the land with a spirit of anticipation as to what God would enable this body of believers to do next. For the next several months, prayer meetings were held by the men on the land, asking the Lord for enablement and financing to proceed with plans to build the new church facility.
Then came the news from the North Scituate School Board that the church would have to move from the school facilities within 30 days. God had closed a door, but not without opening another. Within one month, the congregation of the GRIBT had secured and prepared the vacated Williams School in Johnston. This would be our temporary home for 1 year. It would be obvious in a few months that God was doing something behind the scenes. During this same time of moving and accomplishing the massive task of making an abandoned building a temporary place of worship another door of opportunity opened unto us.
A bond issue was chosen as the means of financing a church building that was at that time on the drawing board. Within 2 weeks after launching the bond program, nearly all the bonds were sold, and in June of 1980, the first shovel of dirt was turned over, and in the following 2 weeks, a great hole was in the ground, a cavity for the first level of the new home of GRIBT. In the days that followed, there would be much toil and long hours by God's people to maintain the ministry operations and to construct the massive project. The dedication and physical investment of the many members of the GRIBT are known best by Pastor Crichton who is grateful to all those who faithfully worked beside him until the project of building the church was completed.
In June of 1981, the first service of the GRIBT was held in the new facility, and in August of that same year, the building was dedicated to God, to be used to reach souls and raise up disciples for the glory of God. Through the years as the church grew numerically, ministries were added, which include the Deaf Ministry, Teen Ministry, Nursing Home Ministry, Music Ministry, and Master Club. Vacation Bible Time (VBT) was an annual outreach to children in the Providence and surrounding cities. The people of the GRIBT gave of their time and effort to proclaim the Gospel that hundreds of children received Christ through the years at VBT.
The Lord increased the vision of GRIBT to purchase additional land adjoining the property. With additional property GRIBT Summer Games were held annually for twenty years. Summer Games, a New England wide two day Teen Conference challenged teens to surrender their lives to the Lord. Music Seminars instructed the Scriptural truths of godly music . . . which GRIBT upholds with conservative music values. Men’s Conferences and Ladies Seminar’s, as well as, Couples Retreats have over the years been used to instruct, and encourage spiritual growth. The faithful workers of the GRIBT have given themselves to the task of reaching our communities, our State, as well as, New England with the Word of God.
Yet, the ministry of the GRIBT extends beyond the borders of Rhode Island and New England. Believing that it is God's mandate to the local New Testament church to evangelize the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the GRIBT has expanded from supporting 1 missionary 40 years ago, to presently supporting over 100 missionaries and missionary endeavors. A highlight of our year is our annual Missions Conference in October when again our faith is challenged for missions. Each week many of the members of the GRIBT give a faith promise offering, over and above their tithes for the purpose of furthering the Gospel message around the world. God has abundantly blessed our ongoing outreach ministry of missions. GRIBT has also extended its outreach by preparing men to serve the Lord in other ministries as Church Planters and servants of the Lord. From GRIBT, there are six men serving as Pastors in New England and five serving as Pastors in other parts of America.
In 2012, Pastor Tom Crichton resigned as Senior Pastor after 38 years. He was succeeded by Dr. Jeff Amsbaugh, who was used of the Lord to see the ministry go forward in growth and advancement of the gospel through World Missions. Annually on our church anniversary, Pastor Tom Crichton was asked to recognize a Church Planter for their faithful endeavor to plant and establish a New Testament Baptist Church. In 2017, Pastor Amsbaugh was called to be the Senior Pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia.
In 2018, the demographics of the immediate area around GRIBT changed dramatically with the new development of the 100 acre Citizen Bank campus for 3000 employees. Another major change was to the 295 interstate creating exits and entrances in front of our church which has enhanced the accessibility, as well as, the visibility. The opportunity to reach greater numbers of people with the gospel message is before us! The future of GRIBT is resting upon the Foundation that it was founded on over 43 years ago . . . the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of His Church.
The Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple has continued to hold to the truths of Scripture with the priority to exalt the preeminence of Christ. We believe it is our solemn duty and our singular privilege to fulfill the Great Commission in our area by living the Gospel and by proclaiming it to others. As the Great Commission is not complete until we have taught others to “observe all things” that are found in Scripture, we make every effort to be thorough in making disciples for Christ. Our church emphasizes faithful preaching, ministry and service, hospitality and love for one another, conservative music and traditional worship, Biblical separation from the world, and holy living.
For the past 43 years, God has lead multiplied hundreds to come, some only to visit being curious, and some searching for the truth. Many people have found and experienced something far beyond the riches of this world . . . for through God's loving grace they received Christ as their personal Savior, were Scripturally baptized and were discipled in the Truths of God’s Word. They are people who believe in the infallible word of God. They are people who witness to a lost world, that includes friends, neighbors, and family. They are people who work for God. This is our church family. This is our story, a people saved by grace, blessed of God, endeavoring to rescue sinners with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our family is never too big or too busy to have you come and join us.
Thank you for allowing us to share a brief segment of our story, only a fraction of the goodness of God to our church family has been told. The story of changed lives through the past 43 years could be told by hundreds. To God we give the glory for everything that has been accomplished. To the dedicated people that have faithfully given their services and substance to the work of God in this place, we wish to sincerely thank you. Thank you for investing your lives in the ministry of the GRIBT. As we look to the future, we look to the One that has valiantly brought us thus far, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we go forward we shall, by God's grace and with His great power, lift up the name of Jesus.