Wednesday, March 15, 2023

New Bible Study: The Gospel of Luke - begins 3/22 at 7 PM


The Wednesday evening Bible Study group will begin the Gospel of Luke on 3/22 at 7 PM.  

Those able to join us in-person are welcome to attend, this study is for non-Christians interested in learning about the Gospel and God's love for them, new Christians looking to learn more about Jesus' life and ministry and how it impacts their lives, and Christians who have known faith for many years but still have a desire to grow in wisdom.  In other words, anyone can join us.

We will look at look verse-by-verse, reading and discussing as we go.  Questions are welcomed.

For those not able to attend in-person, the study will air each week on Facebook Live at this page: First Baptist Church where it can be viewed at anytime from 7 PM onward.

Also, for those interested in the audio only, it will be available at Pastor Powell's blog: Bible Study podcasts within a day or two.  This site currently has audio recordings of studies for most of the Bible organized in one hour segments from previous weekly groups.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Franklin Christian Ministerium's warning against the Torah Clubs and the First Fruits of Zion

To the Christian community in Venango County,                                                                                February 2023

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, as men and women called by God and entrusted with the responsibility to shepherd the sheep and protect the flock, it is our responsibility to shout out a warning when dangerous individuals, groups, or ideas affect our communities and churches.

This is sadly the case with regards to the spread here locally of Torah Clubs sponsored by the First Fruits of Zion.

While we enthusiastically support deep study of the Bible, including its Jewish cultural and linguistic roots, all such study should occur within the framework of a Church history-based orthodoxy, and an apostolic understanding of the Gospel.

Why do groups associated with the Hebrew Roots Movement, in general, like the First Fruits of Zion, in particular, fail this test?  Our accompanying documentation will demonstrate from primary sources, in their own words, that the First Fruits of Zion organization, and the Torah Clubs materials they publish, are replete with the following theological errors and/or heresies:

1.       A non-Trinitarian view of God in the forms of two ancient heresies rejected by the Early Church: Modalism and Subordinationism.

2.       A substandard hermeneutic {including the use of paraphrases and word substitutions resulting in more palatable texts} for interpreting scripture that contends that all relevant passages have been wrongly understood throughout Church History, and in fact mean nearly the opposite of what the Church has always taught.

3.       A hostility toward the Church which is seen as the ‘mission field’ in need of correction to bring it back to its supposed roots as a Torah observant movement within Judaism.

4.       That the books of Moses, the Torah, are more fully the words of God than other portions of holy scripture, making them the lens through which all scripture must be interpreted.  Even Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, has no authority to establish anything beyond the Mosaic Law.

5.       That Jesus did not fulfill the Mosaic Law, rather it is still operative and normative for all of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles alike.

6.       That there is no covenant with the Gentiles, thus all followers of Jesus Christ accepting the Gospel must be grafted into Israel by ‘becoming a Jew’ in spirit, and in Torah observance.

7.       That on this basis true Christian discipleship requires the keeping of the Mosaic Law, including the dietary (kosher), Sabbath, and festival provisions, which is how Christians demonstrate their love of God.


If the tree is diseased, so will its fruit be.  We would warn against the use of bible study materials produced by the Watchtower Tract Society (JW) or LDS (Mormon) organizations, even if locally 100% of the parent organization’s theology was not being adopted.  The risk that heretical teachings would gain a foothold is simply too great.  If the desire is to learn from Judaism or Messianic Judaism, a host of materials from an orthodox point-of-view are available for Christians to use in our churches, to use that which comes from the FFOZ is an unnecessary risk, plus a union with an organization whose stated goals would harm the Church and warp the Gospel.

In the end, while protesting that they do not offer a works-based salvation, and claiming that faith in Jesus is sufficient, this movement is built upon and structured around the claim that all faithful Christians will begin observing the Law of Moses once they become followers of Jesus, that faithful Christians will, in essence, live like Jews.  They may not outright claim the Law of Moses as the gatekeeper to salvation and Christian discipleship, but when you make it the gauge of genuine faithfulness you are adding it to the Gospel message, casting dispersion upon the faith of 99% of the world’s Christians, both past and present, and spreading doubt and division within the Church.  This movement is no benign appreciation of the scriptures, but rather an aggressively proselytizing misappropriation of them contrary to the established teachings of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Churches alike.

Given this, our duty requires that we warn our congregations against participation in these groups, and call upon those who do so now, and especially those who are promoting them, to repent and return to the faith our ancestors rejoiced in as, “you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12)

By unanimous affirmation of the Franklin Christian Ministerium,

Rev. Shawn Clerkin, Vicar/Pastor, St. John’s Episcopal Church/Grace Lutheran Church, Franklin

Deacon David Betz, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Franklin

Rev. Dr. Darrell L. Greenawalt, Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin

Rev. Larry A. Myers, Polk Presbyterian Church

Rev. Eric Phillips, Redeemer Anglican Church, Franklin

Pastor Randy Powell, First Baptist Church of Franklin

Pastor Chad Troup, Fox Street Church of God

An Examination of the unorthodox beliefs of the First Fruits of Zion, their Torah Clubs, and the Hebrew Roots Movement in general - by the Franklin Christian Ministerium - our 10,000+ word primary source documentation of what the Torah Clubs and FFOZ believe and teach.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Victorian Christmas Concert enables a significant donation to Mustard Seed Missions

An update on our Victorian Christmas Concert donation: The total raised for Mustad Seed Missions is $3,178.50.  

This total more than triples the previous high that we've been able to achieve through one of our Christmas or Mother's Day concerts.  The local generosity is a tremendous blessing to our community.

Thank you to each an every sponsor:

Miller Construction

Carbaugh's Barber Shop

Joseph Liotta, Attorney

Paul Como, Allstate Insurance

Dr. Padin

Antonucci Masonry

VFW #1835

The Franklin Elk's Lodge

Moose Lodge #83

Mr. and Mrs. Chris Rakow

Anderson's Greenhouse

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Upcoming Event: Victorian Christmas Concert, 12/2 at 7 PM - free, all are welcome


We are happy to announce that after a two year hiatus, our Christmas Concert series, organized by our own Dennis Geib is returning, complete with many of the favorite performers whose talents we've enjoyed in years past.

Once again, this is a free concert, no tickets or reservations necessary.  We will be taking up a collection to support Mustard Seed Missions of Venango County, a local para-church charity that has assisted more than 5,000 families since its inception in 2012.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Upcoming Event: County-wide Thanksgiving Service - November 20th at 6 PM at Victory Heights UB


I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness

A County-Wide Thanksgiving Service

Sunday, November 20th

at 6 PM

At Victory Heights United

 Brethren Church

    5978 US-322

Featuring: Congregational Singing,

Scripture Readings, and a message

from Pastor Zayzay Kpadeh of

Seneca United Methodist Church


This event is free and open to the

public, all are welcome

An offering will be collected to support the food pantries of Franklin, Oil City, and Seneca

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Upcoming Event - What Every Christian Should Know About: Church History, 6-8 PM 10/13, 10/20 & 10/27

What Every Christian Should Know About:

Church History

A three-part educational discourse created by Pastor Randy Powell

First Baptist Church of Franklin

1041 Liberty St.  Franklin, PA 16323

6:00-8:00 PM

Thursday, October 13th, 20th, and 27th

Will include segments on: The Early Church, Early Heresies regarding the person of Christ, The Ecumenical Councils, The Great Schism, Monasticism, St. Augustine, The Crusades, the battle for supremacy between Popes and Emperors, The Reformation, The 30 Years War, The Modern Missions Movement, and the status of the Church in the world today.

This event is free and open to the public, no reservations necessary, and will include time for Q&A

For more information, please call 814-432-8061

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Pastor Powell's writing featured by the Project on Rural Ministry (of Grove City College)

Recently I was asked by Pastor Charlie Cotherman if there was something about rural ministry that I might write for the Project on Rural Ministry (of Grove City College).  After a short period of thinking the obvious choice was to write about the lessons learned from the success of the non-denominational parachurch ministry, Mustard Seed Missions, that I was blessed to be part of the founding and have continued since it began in 2012 as its President.  

Stand in the Gap, Together: How Cooperative Ministry Can Empower Small Churches - by Pastor Randy Powell

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Upcoming Event: History of the Bible - May 9th, 16th, and 23rd (6-8 PM)


The History of the Bible

First Baptist Church of Franklin

1041 Liberty St. Franklin, PA 16323

May 9th, 16th, and 23rd  

6:00-8:00 PM

Presented by: Pastor Randy Powell 

This event is free, open to the public, no reservations needed, and will be helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible.

It will also be livestreamed on 1st Baptist Church of Franklin Facebook page

This seminar will cover the history of the copying, preservation, and translation of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, to the modern English translations we use today.

Upcoming Event: Good Friday Crosswalk (10 AM) and Ecumenical Service (7 PM)


Good Friday Crosswalk
10 AM
Begins at St. Patrick Parish (Liberty St.)
Ends at Christ UMC (Buffalo St.)
All are Welcome

Good Friday Ecumenical Service
"The Seven Last Words of Jesus"
7 PM
at St. John's Episcopal Church (Buffalo St.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Upcoming Event: Prayer vigil for Ukraine - Tuesday, April 5th from 6:00-7:30 PM


Ecumenical Prayer Vigil for the people of Ukraine

Tuesday April 5th from 6:00-7:30

@ 1st Baptist Church of Franklin, 1051 Liberty St.

Hosted by 1st Baptist Church and Redeemer Anglican Church


6:00-6:30 – guided prayer and scripture readings

6:30-7:00 – individual prayer and supplications

7:00-7:30 -guided prayer and scripture readings

(Come for a portion of the vigil, or for all of it, all are welcome)

Friday, March 25, 2022

Upcoming Event: County-Wide Palm Sunday Service, 6 PM at Trinity UMC


County-Wide Palm Sunday Service

April 10th, 2022     6:00 p.m. 

Trinity United Methodist Church

2 Center Street, Oil City

Sponsored by:

Featured Speaker: Pastor James Abenroth
Oil City Church of the Nazarene
"Lessons from the Colt and the King" - Luke 19:28-38

Offering to Benefit: Hope Twenty-One

The service concludes with our county's pastoral leaders joinging
together to sing, "Rejoice the Lord is King!"

Light refreshments and fellowship to follow

Monday, December 20, 2021

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 PM


Please join us for an evening of singing, worship, and joy culminating in our lighting of the candles while we listen to a recording of Lois Ann Schaefer's rendition of O Holy Night.

{The video above was recorded during our service in 2018}

Upcoming Event: What Every Christian Should Know About - World Religions (at St. Patrick Parish)

What Every Christian Should Know About:
The Religions of the World

A four-part educational discourse created by
 Pastor Randy Powell of First Baptist of Franklin, PA

At St. Patrick Parish
949 Liberty St. Franklin, PA 16323
6:30-8:00 PM
January 31st, February 7th, 14th, and 21st

Will include: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, and Scientology

How do they differ from traditional Christianity?
What are the barriers to the Gospel in each?

This event is free and open to the public,
 no reservations necessary,
 and will include time for Q&A
For more information
 please call (814) 437-5763

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

What is GPS? (That thing Pastor Powell is doing in 2022)


A GPS Strategy

A week or so ago, through Constant Contact, we told you all the WHO. Now we will tell you all the WHAT …

To assist ONLY during the transition period between Frank’s stellar leadership and what the Lord has in mind and in store for our more permanent future, a GPS strategy has been envisioned, approved, and will be begin starting January 1, 2022. 

You ask yourself, so what is The GPS Strategy? Great question! Here’s the answer.

GPS stands for “Geographic Pastoral Servants. These are SIX pastoral leaders, whose names you now know, some leading local churches and some not, in six different geographies of our two-state region. These individuals will serve the equivalency of one full day a week doing regional ministry in addition to their present responsibilities. This ministry will focus on making contacts, having conversations, and building on existing pastoral and congregational relationships. They will provide support, encouragement, and coaching as needed in the contacts and connections they are making. They will also serve about eight weekends during the coming year being in one of their geographic churches, representing the region family at a church event, associational function, or service of celebration or commemoration. This will allow Mark and Jeff to continue in their own responsibilities as well as dividing up Frank’s duties as they serve starting January 1 as our co-executive pastors. The GPSers will keep Mark and Jeff and really the whole region family informed of their regional ministry by posting to social media as you have already become familiar with and excited about. Starting in January, you will now see on our Facebook page besides Mark writes, Jeff writes, people like Cristy writes…, Bob writes…, Randy writes…, and so on. They will also be able to point pastors and church leaders to the many, many resources available in our region as well as encourage overall mission support, more critical now than ever before, not the least of which is giving to the Partners in Ministry offering, where 100% stays right here in ABCOPAD and makes this transitional strategy and so many other things possible, allowing the region’s leadership to focus on a vision process to discern and determine what we believe the Lord would have us look like and do in structure and function in the future. This is an exciting time for everyone involved, including you!

To stay connected as staff, Mark and Jeff along with our two other fulltime staff, Denise and Caryl will convene bi-weekly meetings with these six GPSers as well as also oversee our existing Regional Ministry Associates. Besides the duties already mentioned, the GPSers will assist the ABCOPAD Leadership Team as time permits and they are able. It should be noted that the GPSers presently serving in the local church context will ALWAYS make their local church their number one priority with their regional ministry complementary.  Please keep in mind, we will be learning as we are living this strategy, so making adjustments as deemed necessary throughout this coming transitional year. 

STAY TUNED, more information is to come. If you have ANY questions at all, please don’t hesitate to direct them to Mark ( or Jeff ( and they will be happy to answer them. 

Your prayers will not only be appreciated but are needed as we move forward. We thank you now for them! We thank God now for you!

- Co-Executive Ministers (Acting) Mark Mahserjian-Smith and Jeff Johnson

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Pastor Powell entrusted with additional role for ABCOPAD in 2022

My church has known this was coming for a few weeks, but now it is official: Starting in January, I will be serving as the Geographic Pastoral Servant (GPS) for the NW region of ABCOPAD, encompassing the 45 churches from the associations of French Creek, Beaver, Oil Creek, Clarion, and Allegheny River.

This is not instead of any of my responsibilities for First Baptist Church of Franklin, Mustard Seed Missions, or the Venango County Christian Ministerium, but an additional commitment for 2022. As such, I'd appreciate your prayers for my time management and organizational skills (don't take my desk as an indicator, I'm not hopeless on that front), as well as my travel to visit these churches throughout the year.
In addition, I thank Jeff Johnson and Mark Mahserjian-Smith as well as the executive committee of the ABCOPAD regional board for their faith in myself and the other five entrusted with this role, plus the willingness of the members of 1st Baptist to share me with our denominational brethren.
Itching to get started making connections to the churches in the area that I don't already know, and building upon the existing relationships that I have.

- Pastor Powell

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Upcoming Event: VCCM county-wide Thanksgiving Service, 11/21 at 6 PM


Give Thanks unto the LORD

A County-Wide Thanksgiving Service

Sunday, November 21st at 6 PM

At 1st Baptist Church of Franklin


Congregational Singing, Scripture Readings, and a message from Msgr. Herbein of St. Patrick Parish*

Due to health concerns, Msgr. is unable to speak at this service, Pastor Chad Troup of Fox Street Church of God will be speaking


This event is free and open to the public

All are welcome

An offering will be collected to support the food pantries of Franklin, Oil City, and Seneca

Friday, September 24, 2021

Help Wanted: part-time Building Maintenance worker

Help Wanted: Building Maintenance

First Baptist Church of Franklin is seeking a part-time Building Maintenance worker.

Flexible days, hours
Some experience and/or know how necessary
Duties to include, but not limited to: plumbing, electrical, painting,
        masonry, and seasonal upkeep of property grounds.
Integrity and reliability a must.
Hourly rate TBD in accordance with experience and skills
Questions or to apply, call Pastor Powell at 814-432-8061,
        or email:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Upcoming Event: What Every Christian Should Know About: The Bible @ 1st Baptist of Meadville

In this three-part series, Pastor Powell delves into important questions about the Bible: What is it?  How did it come to be?  What does it contain?  How we can understand it?  How can we utilize it in our lives?

  The series focuses upon the following topics: Revelation, Inspiration, and Inerrancy (part 1), Composition, Organization, and Literary Style/Genres (part 2), Interpretation, and Application (part 3).

At First Baptist Church of Meadville

353 Chestnut St.  Meadville, PA 16335

6:00-8:00 PM

Thursday, July 22nd, 29th, and August 5th  


This event is free and open to the public, no reservations necessary, and will include time for Q&A

For more information, please call 814-432-8061

Friday, May 14, 2021

Update to 1st Baptist COVID-19 policy

 In response to the new recommendations from the CDC regarding social distancing and mask wearing for those who are fully immunized, 1st Baptist will no longer require that those who are immunized wear masks in the common areas of the church (we had previously lifted that requirement in the sanctuary when the local infection numbers declined).    

Given the available space in our sanctuary, open pews will still be socially distanced for the time being for the benefit of our young people and any others who are not immunized as they retain a higher level of risk.

Let us give thanks to the Lord, and honor to those in the healthcare field and other essential workers whose faithful service has helped us reach this point or near normalcy.