Prior to 1968, Ralph and Marietta Samppala were
fellowshipping at Northern Hills Bible Chapel in Cincinnati,
Ohio. In 1968, the Samppala's accepted work in Wilmington,
North Carolina. During that year they met Robert and Blanch
Duncan who had previously fellowshipped with the Northgate
Chapel in Durham, NC.
The Samppala's and Duncan's met together for Bible study and
fellowship and desired to have an assembly in Wilmington.
They began to break bread and advertised in "Letters of
Interest" for others who were interested in meeting
according to New Testament principles in Wilmington. George
and Linda Bowman, originally from Houston, Texas, were
relocated to Wilmington and responded to the advertisement.
These three couples were the nucleus of the assembly in
Wilmington. In the beginning, they broke bread on a regular
basis and listened to taped ministry. Michael and Rosamay
Beal soon joined them after moving to the area.
The Christians in the Samppala home began to invite gifted
speakers from around NC to minister to them. A veteran
missionary from the Philippines, Sandy Sutherland, while on
furlough, would come down and encourage the saints, because
of a burden on his heart for an assembly work in Wilmington.
William and Mary King were invited to come sometime in '68
or '69, and were encouraged to return and help with a
Vacation Bible School in the homes of the Samppala's and
In August of 1970 the King's came and conducted home Daily
Vacation Bible School in the homes of these two couples.
Mary King conducted a ladies Bible Study in Blanche Duncan's
home and had a good number to attend. There were some
professions of faith in the bible schools, and the King's
were approached about helping out the little assembly.
From September of 1970 until February 1974, the King's
traveled down to Wilmington on every Thursday and one Sunday
a month to visit, encourage, and help with the Bible Study.
After meeting in the Samppala's and the Bowman's homes, the
assembly needed more room, and a place where visitors would
come. Blanche Duncan was very helpful in securing the
Conference Room of the El Berta Motel, which they used for a
short time until they rented a three-bedroom house on 43rd
St. in Winter Park. By this time the Hartsfield's,
neighbors of the Duncan's had come along. Richard
Hartsfield was the first adult convert and continues to
faithfully serve at Wilmington.
Also in 1970, from September until Christmas, the little
group grew from four to nine families. Preston Keith was
invited to come and speak, and being a part time contractor,
offered his service if they wanted to build a building to
meet in. By the middle of 1973, the group had outgrown the
little house on 43rd St. and was looking for land to build
on. A benevolent builder in Wilmington, Raiford Trask,
offered them land on which to build.
In 1974, the King's moved to Wilmington, and the first
service in the new building was held the first Sunday of
March. Everyone worked very hard to bring the unsaved in,
and there were years of blessing. The first Daily Vacation
Bible School was held August 1974 and at least 170 children
came. Contacts were made in the neighborhood, and at one
time, 25 families from the immediate vicinity were attending.
An AWANA club for girls was started as a result John and
Karen Little from Houston, Texas. And the attendance began
to climb in those early years.
Gary and Vivien Michael moved to Wilmington and were very
helpful, and then were commended to the Lord's work in
Colombia, South America, the Chapel's first commended
missionaries to the field.
Still more to come. . .