The history of New Life in Christ Church is marked by dependence on and surprises by God. While hope in the Lord’s plan for our church stirred us to action, some dreams did not materialize and others were postponed. Yet throughout the past thirty-five years the Lord has led us to fulfill what He wants for us.
In 1975 a small group of Christians from several denominational backgrounds, who had bonded as believers committed to each other and the work of Christ in Fredericksburg, called Doug Kittredge to serve as pastor. The early years of New Life were characterized by this small group of people meeting at each other’s homes, in borrowed buildings, schools and even a barn. It was at a TV station on August 31, 1975 that we celebrated our first communion service and the message of the Gospel through New Life has been cast broadly ever since.
It did not take long for us to realize that our growing congregation needed a permanent home. A congregation that moved from one location to another only temporarily met our needs. The Lord gave us a creative direction. Rather than construct a new building, we took an old warehouse and made it fit our needs. Resourcefulness and ingenuity have been operative characteristics of New Life from the start. In November 1978 after many months of reconfiguring and improving the warehouse, we held our first service in our own building at 632 Kenmore Avenue.
The Kenmore Avenue facility gave us the space we needed for our first phase of major ministerial growth in programs such as Awana, the puppet ministry, and Child Evangelism. Other associations and efforts blossomed with Fredericksburg Christian School, the Ralph Bell Crusade, and 90 Joy radio, among others. Pastoral interns learned under the guidance of Pastor Doug. New Life Community Church of Stafford was planted by the nurturing of Dennis Rupert, Pastor Doug and members of New Life. The Lord worked with us in and outside our building’s walls.
As the congregation grew, more staff came onboard and more ministries were initiated. In 1984 Bob Becker began service as youth director. The first international missions trip to Mexico came under his leadership. Several domestic missions trips were organized, as well. Local ministries such as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Bethany Christian Services gained support from New Life. In all, the missions focus of New Life solidified during the 1980s. Growth meant more people and fewer seats for Sunday service. As a result we went to two services, thus reducing the opportunities for our whole congregation to meet at one time. By the mid-1980s we began to assess our long-term plans for growth.
It was in 1985 that we purchased property in Spotsylvania County, our present location, through the contact between Mrs. Pearl White and Pastor Doug. The property cost $72,000. We began a capital campaign to raise funds for the planning and construction of our current facility. With Vision Ahead, the stewardship campaign, brought a challenge to New Life and we pledged over $400,000 over a three-year period. Although the building project in fact would end up costing nearly $900,000, the faithfulness and good stewardship of New Life’s people, who responded to the abundant provision of God, yielded a paid property within the decade. Our first service in our new building came in 1988.
During the later 1980’s and early 1990’s New Life increased its foreign missionary support as members sought Gospel opportunities in places such as Austria, France, Japan and the Philippines. More church ministries, particularly for our youth, emerged. The music ministry expanded profoundly in scope with the leadership and talents of Jonathan and Veronica Allison and so many gifted musicians and composers in our congregation. Over time, Esther Servais developed our drama ministry which has provided dramatic presentations and musicals for our church and community. Two full length musicals have been written, produced and directed through our drama ministry, one based on the life of Esther and the other based on Daniel.
Being greatly blessed with a growing congregation, our new building provided the necessary space for our Sunday services. For the first time in a number of years we were able to have one rather than two worship services. Further, our Sunday School attendance boomed and we had room for all children’s grade levels as well as three adult classes. Fredericksburg Christian School’s elementary program moved to our facility. We were able to accommodate the banquet space needs of several local ministries.
The 1990s into the first part of the current decade began the period of self-examination to our congregation in the reassessment of our vision. While the Lord richly blessed our material needs, He challenged us to define our spiritual, governmental, doctrinal and out-reach aspects. The growth of these years was a maturation and clarification of God’s purpose for New Life and a strong reminder that we are always in complete dependence on our God for every part of our corporate, family and individual lives. Indeed, the Lord is faithful. We struggled. God refined. In 1998 New Life in Christ Church came under the care of the James River Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.
New ministries and affiliations emerged and old ones expanded in the late 90s into the present. Pioneer Girls, Christian Service Brigade ministries, and the youth baseball ministry came about. New Life Korean Church was started through NLICC in 2018, after hosting Korean Agape Church for 17 years.
In 2005, the Lord graciously provided Pastor Sean and Julie Whitenack with Sean serving as Assistant and then Associate Pastor of the church.
In 2011 we finished our "Delighting in God" building campaign, which culminated in the compleation of a large addition of over 20,000 square feet at the back of our church building. That space provided for additional classrooms, a music room, and a youth room.
In 2019, Pastor Doug Kittredge, together with his wife Mary Jane, decided it was time to step aside and ask God to provide the next leader for the church. Convinced of his call to continue service to New Life in Church, the church elected Pastor Sean Whitenack to be the next pastor of the church. Pastor Doug continues to serve as our “Founding Pastor” and Pastor Sam Capitano received the call to serve as Assistant Pastor for Congregational Life. In 2019, Skip Tyler was ordained to the gospel ministry and serves as Assistant Pastor of Congregational Care and has been instrumental in building support structures for aging member.
As part of our mission “to build the Kingdom through training leaders, New Life has served as an extension campus of New Geneva Theological Seminary since 2002. In 2007, Pastor Leonard Bailey and his wife Amy came to Stafford and planted Hope of Christ Church in 2008. A church planting network was established with a view to planting more churches together with the vision to plant more churches in our region, the nation and the world. In 2013, God blessed our church planing network with another new church in Spotsylvania, which was named Evident Grace Fellowship. Through the Jerusalem Gateway Partnership, we are assisting three congregations in Israel and one in Bethlehem to plant a congregation. Mission trips to Israel, Peru, and Cherokee, NC continue each year, as well as periodic trips to other parts of our county and the world. We continue to see those from New Life called to gospel ministry and to missions.
Our building is a home for these ministries. New Life is a family that supports all those who serve in our community and internationally.
Our desire is to magnify and exalt the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord is our joy and delight. May He strengthen us as we offer ourselves to God through this stewardship effort. Let us continue to feed on His faithfulness and delight in Him.