When Kevin Spears started the Fellowship Baptist Church, the only members were his family.
In 2008, Spears moved to DeKalb from Kentucky to start a church. His family was involved with a ministry at a nursing home and it was shut down. He took the closing the home as a sign and felt God wanted him travel to begin anew in DeKalb, the city he was born in.
“It was the Lord moving us toward starting a church,” Spears said.
Spears decided to become a pastor in 1998 and graduated with a B.A. in theology from the Commonwealth Baptist College in Kentucky. When he got to DeKalb, the only place he could hold services for his new church at was at the Haish Gym at 303 S. Ninth St.
He didn’t have a job at the time and only had what his family kept in savings for money. He started from scratch and the church consisted of him, his wife and his first two sons. The Haish Gym was a place that was relatively inexpensive for his needs.
“When you have zero dollars, you have to start from somewhere,” Spears said.
He saw the need for a “good, old-fashioned, independent” Baptist church in the community. His church strictly adheres to the King James Bible and derives its teachings from it. The church is not governed by any other institution, he said.
Each Saturday he would set up the church at the Haish Gym and each Sunday he would have to take it down. He was able to fit the whole church in the back of his car. Despite these meager beginnings, he said he made a lot of great memories and met a lot of people who would help with the church.
The membership of his church eventually began to grow. The main way he made contact with potential members in the community was to go door to door handing out invitations. He said he remembers handing out more than 5,000 invitations. The church was going to be something built on personal contacts, he said.
“Make contacts, solve problems and build relationships,” Spears said.
In 2009, the church relocated to a building at 129 E. Locust St. in DeKalb and was able to hold a Sunday school service along with Sunday services. The church received more than 150 visitors that year, according to its website.
After receiving approval from the Sycamore City Council for expansion in December, the church then moved to another location at 2425 Bethany Road, Sycamore, as it has more space and a better location for the growing congregation, Spears said. The first service was held May 5.
“The preaching, reaching and teaching is the same, just under a different roof,” Spears said.
While the church initially started off at the Haish Gym with just Spears and his family, it has grown to more than 55 members. The church also works with and supports several missionaries from places such as South Korea and Togo, Africa.
“The Bible says we’re to reach out to surrounding communities and people in far-reaching nations,” Spears said. “Not only in North America, but the entire world. And that’s a way we can accomplish [that goal].”