The Beginning Period – 2003
The Canaan story began when a family of Christians in Wilmington, Delaware, was displaced from their former place of worship; and told if they were “unhappy there they should just move on.” From this disenfranchised flock, thirteen members (William Allen, James Bonds, Donald J. Bowman, Sr., Kermit Brooks, Connie Cabble, Iris Craighead, Earl Green, Jr., Penrose Hollins, Michael James, Christopher Joyner, Dianne Michael, Ernest Purnell, Sr., and Kia Wyatt) met on December 6, 2002 to discuss the possibility of forming a new church. That meeting set into motion, a series of events that led to the formation of what is known today as Canaan Baptist Church.
The thirteen friends were inspired by the love of Jesus, and driven by a vision to inform the mind, reform the spirit, and transform the human condition. Deacons Donald J. Bowman, Sr. and Earl Green, Jr. who served as Chair and Co-Chair of this new beginning called the group together for a meeting, which was held in Chris Joyner’s State Farm Insurance office, at 1033-1035 N. Lincoln Street, Wilmington, Delaware. The invitees to the meeting were individually suggested by Reverend Dr. Christopher Alan Bullock, former Pastor of the historic Eighth Street Baptist Church, where these believers had been long time members. This family of believers wanted to make sure that they were led by the Holy Spirit, so they turned to Acts 16:6-10 as their compass. They also wanted to make sure that they were on a Christian path in planting a new church in the Wilmington metropolitan area, so they asked Reverend Bullock to be their spiritual advisor. At the time, Reverend Bullock was serving as Pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois but with his heart still in Delaware, he agreed to assume the role.
They further wanted to make sure that they were disciplined in the culture and doctrine of the Baptist Church, and above all, they felt duty bound to a firm belief of accountability before God and toward each other. Therefore, they obtained the counsel of Reverend Dale Miller of the American Baptist Churches, Inc. to verify the need for a new church.
These 13 founding members became known as the Core Planters of the new church. They dedicated themselves to a movement of which the future members of the church would be eternally grateful. Individually they represented diverse backgrounds and talents and contributed to the development of the church through a variety of special gifts and blessings:
William L. (Bill) Allen– made very generous contributions to the church’s financial challenges; and he established very creative fund raising opportunities to help the church meet those challenges.
James Bonds– served as one of the first Deacons and the official church photographer.
Donald J. Bowman, Sr. – Chaired the Core Planters and served as the first Chair of the Deacon Board. He also spearheaded the church’s incorporation process.
Kermit Brooks – The Core Planters held several planning meetings at hishome. He also served as one of the first Trustees.
Connie Cabble – located the site for the first administrative office, established the Pastor’s Aide Ministry, and served as its first President. She also hosted meetings in her home during the early planning stages.
Iris R. Craighead – was noted for bringing many worshippers, including family members into the fellowship because of her humble and contagious spirit. She was also responsible for starting the Music Ministry and served as its president until 2008 under the direction of Sisters Lydia Anderson and Arvis Strickling-Jones.
Earl Green, Jr – served as Co-Chair and secretary of the Core Planters, and served as one of the first Deacons. He assisted with the filing for the Church’s Federal Tax ID number and secured the tax-exempt status as a 501(C) 3 under the American Baptist Churches, Inc.
Penrose Hollins– served as chair of the Worship site selection committee, located the site for the church. As County Councilman, he served as liaison to New Castle County government during the land development process; which included preparation of application for the parking variance, and assuring adequate sewer capacity was made available. He also co-chaired the relocation team along with John Osby and Jose Wilkins.
Michael S. James – represented the only ordained minister among the Core Planters and served as assistant secretary.
Christopher Joyner-served as the finance chairperson of the Core Planters group and was appointed the first Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Canaan Baptist Church. He also hosted the first meeting of the Core Planters in his State Farm Insurance Office in Wilmington, DE.
Dianne L. Michael – created the first church bulletins, along with Sister Charlene Benson, under the guidance of Reverend Dr. Roy L. Thompson. She purchased the church’s first communion trays and was a member of the first Usher Board; she also assisted Sister Connie Cabble with the Pastor’s Aide Ministry. Dianne along with Julia and Howard Gross purchased the Communion table in memory of their daughters. Dianne hosted several planning meetings in her home.
Ernest Purnell, Sr. – the elder member of the group provided scriptural guidance and wisdom.
Kia Wyatt – purchased the first pulpit chairs and transported the furniture to our various worship sites. She is also the youngest member of the Core Planters.
On Feb. 10, 2003, the church adopted the name of Canaan Baptist Church, which means The Land of Promise. Reverend Bullock being very familiar with the Core Planters journey, suggested the name to inspire a spirit of hope, liberation and prosperity.