Our History

Hope Philadelphia Church has been in existence and in the same building since 1922.  We have a rich history of reaching out to those around us with the love of Jesus and our past has shaped who we are today.

Below are just a few monumental dates in our history:

Important Dates in the Life of Hope Philadelphia

1920 – Salem Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church in North Philadelphia (which has since moved out to Maple Glen, PA and is now known today as Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church) begins having Prayer Meetings in homes in the Near Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Wissinoming.

September 14, 1921 – The Salem Trustees purchase property at 3206-12 Van Kirk St. for $5,000 as the property for its daughter church in Wissinoming.  The original property contained a vacant lot (where the church would be built), a shoe-repair shop to the left, a house to be used as a parsonage, and a barn at the back of the vacant lot.

November 26, 1921 – Congregational minutes show that authorization is officially made to build a basement church building “42 ft. front and 60 ft. deep on the vacant lot known as 3208 Van Kirk St.” (which would later be re-numbered by the City of Philadelphia to 4414 Van Kirk St.)

April 20, 1922 – Under the pastoral leadership of F.M. Hottel, the basement church in Wissinoming is completed and opening services are held.  This  marks the official “birth” of the Wissinoming Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church, later to be renamed to Calvary Bible Fellowship Church, then  Wissinoming Bible Fellowship Church, and now, Hope Philadelphia Church.


Hope Philadelphia Church was originally a basement church.

 1957 – Under the pastoral leadership of W.B. Hottel (son of F.M. Hottel), the second floor of the church building is completed.  The  shoe-repair shop is torn down.

 1959 – Having undergone changes in its doctrine, the Mennonite Brethren in Christ denomination embraces its Reformed theology and officially  changes its denominational name to the Bible Fellowship Church.

1965 – A new parsonage is purchased two houses down from the church, the old parsonage house is demolished, and the subsequent lot is converted into the church’s parking lot.

November 2, 1984 – Under the pastoral leadership of G.W. Clapier, the lot on the corner of Van Kirk St. and what was known as Jackson St. (Now Harbison Ave.) is purchased.

September 12, 2005 Under the pastoral leadership of G.W. Clapier, the house at 4422 Van Kirk St. is purchased from the Beuhler family.

December 31, 2014 – Under the pastoral leadership of J.L. Hunter, and approved by unanimous congregational vote,”Wissinoming Bible Fellowship Church” is renamed “Hope Philadelphia Church”.

The above information was taken either from Pastor Louis Prontnicki’s history of the Maple Glen BFC book entitled Tracing the Hand of God: One Hundred Years of the Lord’s Work in the Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church, 1903-2003 (Morris Publishing, Kearney, NE, 2005; pages vi, 42) or Pastor G. Wayne Clapier’s historical paper presentation for the Historical Society of the BFC entitled ” The Bible Fellowship Church in the City: Philadelphia in General, Wissinoming in Particular” (Oct. 25, 2003).  Pastor Clapier’s paper can be found here.


Hope Philadelphia’s History of Pastoral Leadership

Hope Philadelphia has had the blessing of being served by faithful, inspiring preachers of the Word.  Below is a collection of Hope Philadelphia’s pastors, starting from its birth through to the present.  We thank God for providing these leaders and pray for the ones that are leading by His grace now.



1922 F.M. Hottel (pictured right) FmHottel copy
1923-24 Gospel Herald Society Preachers
1925-26 R. Berstresser
1927-40 J.B. Henry (pictured right) JBHenry copy
1941-47 E.B. Hartman (pictured right)
1948 T.E. Turnbull (pictured right) TETurnbull copy
1949-56 W.B. Hottel
1957-61 L.S. Heller (pictured right) LSHeller copy
1962-65 W.B. Hottel
1966-70 K.E. Plows (pictured right) KEPlows
1970-73 Pulpit Supply: K.L. Yoder (pictured right) KLYoder
1974-76 Pulpit Supply: T.N. Tareila
1977-78 Pulpit Supply: R. Minnig
1979 None
1980-2011 G.W. Clapier (pictured right with wife, Phyllis) GWClapier
2011-2015 J.L. Hunter (pictured right with wife, Cherie and daughter, Aurora) Rev. Justin L. Hunter (Pastor/Teaching Elder), wife Cherie, and daughter Aurora