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New church plant: From Donuts to Deliverance

By Barbara Denman

August 28, 2012


What was once a donut shop on Marianna’s Highway 98 catering pastries and coffee to customers has become a house of deliverance offering praise and proclamation as a testimony of God’s goodness.


Deliverance Baptist Church, the only African-American congregation in the Chipola Baptist Association, was launched in February, 2008, meeting in the hallway of the association’s ministry center. Quickly outgrowing the space, the new church plant moved to the associational office and again soon filled the facility.


As church leaders searched for a piece of property which could house the new plant, in 2011 they found a foreclosed storefront building on Marianna’s busiest thoroughfare, Highway 98. While it had previously housed a donut shop, the free-standing building had been vandalized and was in total disrepair—fixtures pulled from bathrooms, appliances jerked out of the wall, and walls torn down throughout.


But Pastor Will Daniels saw beyond the shabby condition and envisioned how the people of God could turn messes into beauty, much like people’s lives.


After receiving a $100,000 interest-free church site loan from the Florida Baptist Convention’s Maguire State Mission Offering, the congregation in November purchased the property for $80,000 and used the additional money to repair the facility.


In the process, they found that fellow Baptists in the community, as God’s compassionate people, wanted to lend a helping hand to the new church plant. The volunteers worked alongside church members to paint, repair and move walls, provide electrical wiring and lay flooring. Other churches donated used furniture, carpets and met additional needs.


Now the donut sign outside the building has been replaced with a sign of hope and forgiveness—“Deliverance Baptist Church.”


On Easter Sunday, the congregation held its first worship service in the bright, beautifully renovated building as church members and others in the community praised God for new beginnings.


“Now it’s a fortress for Jesus where people can come and safely worship,” said Daniels.


The pastor is a 21-year veteran of the Army, where he served as a First Sergeant in the Ranger Battalion and “never lost a soldier” as he led them in wars and conflicts, he said. When he retired, he felt called to the ministry and enrolled in The Baptist College of Florida and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


During a seminary class on church planting, Daniels became committed to starting new churches; and while ministering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he became passionate about reaching people through evangelism.


He leads the congregation of 80 into the poorest neighborhood in Marianna to offer spiritual deliverance through block parties, outreach events and transportation to worship.


“We are a doorway of hope. We are the only church that goes out into public housing areas where crack is being sold and murders are taking place,” Daniels said.


Co-pastor Dennis Libert said the congregation is actively “searching for lost persons. We are willing to go to places where other persons will not go and tell them what God has done for us.”


Coba Beasley, director of missions for the Chipola Association, said the combination of Daniel’s dynamic personality and the new location will create an even stronger evangelistic church in the future.


“He is vibrant, plugged in to the community and outgoing. He gives strong leadership to the congregation,” said Beasley. “I think the potential of this church is limitless. It has high visibility in the community on one of the busiest corridors in town. I think they will outgrow this facility in a few years, but it is a great investment.”


Beasley believes Deliverance Baptist Church will serve as a catalyst for other church plants in the future. “Our goal is to start a new church in the next year.”


From donuts to deliverance to delivery from the birthing of a new church, gifts to the Maguire State Mission Offering are at work in Marianna.

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