On February 10, 2002, one hundred persons gathered in the dining room at Eastern Mennonite High School (EMHS, Harrisonburg, VA) for our first worship service. A month later, the Shenandoah District Board approved our request to be recognized as a new church "project" by the Church of the Brethren. An initial Steering Committee consisted of Terry Coffman, Bill Crist, Charlotte French, Ron Hedrick, Phil Stone, Sr. and Cherrill Stone.
On March 10, 2002, we began holding Sunday School classes following our worship. A choir was also formed that month.
Having met the requirements, the Shenandoah District Conference approved our request for "fellowship" status on November 2, 2002. The following Sunday, November 10, we observed our "Charter Sunday" which was the first opportunity for persons to officially become members of the congregation. On that significant day, 107 persons joined Sunrise Fellowship Church of the Brethren during the morning worship by transfer of letter and reaffirmation of faith (including two Associate Members). That afternoon five more were baptized by trine immersion, for a total membership of 112.
A year later, the Shenandoah District Conference approved "congregation" status for Sunrise Church on November 8, 2003. This achievement was celebrated in our morning worship the following Sunday, November 16, with Joan Daggett, Associate District Executive, in attendance who led us in a Service of Consecration and officiated at the installation of J.D. Glick as pastor. Having previously adopted a new Plan of Organization following the latest denomination recommendations, the congregation on December 21, 2003, elected a slate of leadership using an "open" ballot process.
From the beginning, there has been a dream of having our own building. A Location Committee was appointed as early as May, 2002, "to be aware of available suitable buildings for rent or sale." While the Peoples Baptist Church property was considered early, it was decided to not pursue its purchase at that time. On January 25, 2004, a new Location Committee was called. After exploring many different options, including purchasing property in anticipation of building and other facilities on the market, the congregation on September 26, 2004, voted with 86% approval the purchase of Peoples Baptist Church for $700,000, contingent upon a successful Capital Campaign. A Capital Campaign Committee was appointed to seek financial support for this purchase.
This purchase was closed on February 4, 2005. The generosity of members and friends, including a grant from the Shenandoah District. enabled us to make a 50% ($350,000) down payment. On February 13, 2005, the third anniversary of meeting in our temporary home, the congregation met for the last time in the dining hall at EMHS. The following Sunday, February 20, 2005, (the 55th anniversary of the first worship service in the Peoples Baptist Church building), we first met in our new church home at 1496 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg.
Our Church Name...
The name "Sunrise" was selected by the congregation to suggest:
- The dawning of a new day with new opportunities
- The freshness, energy, new life and promise of the awakening of God's creation
- The resurrection of Jesus which is central to our faith
Our Mission Statement...
The Sunrise Church of the Brethren acknowledges Christ as our living Lord and affirms the value of all persons as we worship together and use our various gifts to do God's work in the world.
Our Core Values...
- Believes Christ is the Son of God, our risen Lord, and our example for living.
- Acknowledges the church is the body of Christ in which the gifts of all are used to do God's work in the world.
- Affirms the value of all persons by sharing with them the love of God in word and deed and by committing to live peacefully together.
- Promotes spiritual growth through worship, Sunday School, prayer and Bible study.
- Practices responsible stewardship of all God has entrusted to us.
- Embraces the Brethren heritage and practices.
- Began in Schwarzenau, Germany in 1708 in a effort to put into practice the teachings of the New Testament.
- Found a haven for religious freedom in America in 1719.
- Is noted as one of the historic peace churches.
- Headquartered in Elgin, Illinois with its' seminary in Richmond, Indiana.
- Has historically been engaged in mission work in India, China, Indonesia, Ecuador and Nigeria.
- Is know for its service programs through Brethren Volunteer Service, Church World Service/CROP, Heifer Project and the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Maryland.
- Has over 1000 congregations in the United States, with nearly 143,000 members (of whom approximately one-half live in Virginia and Pennsylvania).
- Is affiliated with six accredited liberal arts colleges (including Bridgewater College locally) and one theological seminary.
- Is affiliated with 27 retirement homes (including the Bridgewater Retirement Community locally) and one hospital.
- Participates in a united witness the the Council of Churches - world, national, state and locally.
- Locally is organized with a congregational style of government.