The history of Colonial Baptist Church is a testimony of the “great and awesome wonders” of God as He has knit individuals together to form a church body for His glory. Each person He has brought to Colonial has a unique role to serve and a story to share of God’s grace. As we look back at all that God has done, we should be challenged to continue to trust Him as He holds our future.
Colonial’s story begins thirty years ago. Newly graduated with a Masters of Sacred Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, Stephen Davey arrived in the Triangle area to plant a church. Stephen and his wife, Marsha, trusted God as they took this step of faith and moved across country with their twin infant sons. God took care of the details – from guiding Stephen to the location, to providing money for the rent. An advertisement in The Cary News announced the new church, and Colonial Baptist Church began with Sunday services on September 7, 1986. Twenty-eight people were in attendance for the morning service in the band room at East Cary Middle School.
From the beginning, Stephen preached in an expository style, and as word spread of the church’s solid scriptural foundation, the new fellowship began to grow. “God has given us a ministry that isn’t built around one man or one program,” Pastor Davey says.
"Sola Scriptura, the Scriptures alone, remains the primary compass for everything we are doing, planning, teaching and pursuing.” It was on that solid foundation that Colonial chartered its first members in 1987. The 45 members-to-be participated in the prototype Greenhouse class – a Saturday morning session in a church family’s basement. Also in 1987, Colonial began supporting its first missionary. By 2006, more than $5 million had been given to global missions.
In 1989 plans for a church building began to intensify, and groundbreaking on a new building at 6750 Tryon Road occurred in 1991. By that time there were more than 450 regular attenders, and a second service was added at East Cary Middle School. Services were first held in Colonial’s new home in 1992, but within months, the congregation voted unanimously to relocate as the building was quickly outgrown. In 1993, we installed temporary classroom trailers next to our building to accommodate the growing population of children. In 1995, we added a third worship service. By the time we left that property we had converted all of the offices into nurseries and moved the offices off-site. On Sunday morning, we were renting two public schools for children and student Sunday school, and adult Sunday school was meeting in an office complex.
It took 9 years to find our current location – land that had been owned by one family since the 1850’s – and the congregation raised nearly 2 million dollars and purchased this strategically located corner property in 1995. The first phase included the Worship Center and the buildings now known as the Administration Center and the Family Center. Our first services at 6051 Tryon Road were held on Easter, 2001. In 2007, Student and Children’s Centers were completed which added to the growing Campus a beautiful Chapel, Café, Library and new classrooms for elementary students along with classrooms capable of streaming Shepherds seminary courses around the world.
In September of 2016, Colonial celebrated 30 years of God's grace with a special service, outdoors on the Courtyard.
“Church growth was never our intention, and it still isn’t!” Pastor Davey says. “We’ve simply responded to what God is doing.” While God has provided richly for the needs of the church, the history of Colonial is so much more than numbers and buildings. It’s a story about individuals serving, growing and learning together as part of a living body. As the church grew, new ministries developed to equip the body and reach out to the community. Ten key ministry departments and Shepherds Theological Seminary provide opportunities for growth and service to the 4,000 people who attend Colonial and to the community beyond. More than 110 different ministry programs are operating and are staffed by over 2,000 volunteers. Additionally, by the end of 2014, the Colonial Family had given away $11 million dollars to missions enterprises around the world. Now, those are numbers to celebrate!
“To this day, I am more excited about tomorrow than yesterday,” Stephen says, “and I remain convinced that our greatest step of faith is the next one.” The tomorrow that Stephen is excited about is a church that invests in other churches and multiplies believers – a church that in 2013 added to its bustling schedule national events such as the ACBC Conference to train biblical counselors. Colonial also launched their annual National 360 Shepherds Conference for Church Leaders in 2014 which allows Colonial the opportunity to mentor churches on a regional and national level. CLICK HERE to learn more about our strategy to multiply our ministry impact.
For Stephen and the entire Elder Team, this isn’t just a vision for Colonial. As in Colonial’s early days, it’s just a matter of “responding to the work that God ignites, establishes and advances.”
- August, 1986 - Stephen and Marsha Davey move to Cary NC.
- September 7, 1986. Twenty-eight people attend the first worship service of Colonial Baptist Church in the band room at East Cary Middle School.
- 1987 - Forty-five people become the “Charter Members.”
- 1987 - Colonial begins supporting it’s first missionary.
- 1989 - Groundbreaking of the first church property.
- 1992 - First service is held on Colonial’s own property.
- 1992 - The members vote to relocate to a larger facility after just a few month in the new building.
- 1993 - Temporary classroom trailers are installed to accommodate growth,
- 1995 - Start of a third Sunday morning worship service.
- 1995 - The members vote to purchase the current property which was then a farm.
- 1998 - All of the church offices were converted into nurseries and the offices were moved to rented space.
- 1996 - The 10th Anniversary is celebrated under a large tent on the vacant church property.
- 1999 - Two public schools and an office facility are rented each Sunday for children, student and adult Sunday school.
- 2001 - The first worship services are held on the current property.
- 2003 - Shepherds Theological Seminary begins on the Colonial Campus.
- 2005 - The international radio ministry, Wisdom For The Heart, begins.
- 2006 - Colonial surpasses $5 million given to global missions.
- 2007 - The Student Center and Children’s Center additions were completed.
- 2011 - Colonial celebrates it’s 25th Anniversary with a service and fireworks at a local amphitheater.
- 2014 - Cumulative giving to global missions surpasses $11 million.
- 2016 - Colonial celebrated 30 years of God's grace with a special service, outdoors on the Courtyard.
- 2017 - Colonial launched Shepherds International, a sending agency for global workers in strategic parts of the world.
- 2017 - In partnership with Shepherds Theological Seminary, Colonial launched The Shepherds Network to plant and equip churches in the United States.
- 2018 - With funds from our church family's giving to Grace Promise, Colonial gave financial assistance to five church plants – 4 in Africa and 1 in North Carolina.
- 2019 - Colonial reaches over 52,000 annual live stream views, from 49 states and 32 countries.
- 2020 - Colonial accomplishes a three-year goal of planting/revitalizing 20 churches by 2020; cumulative giving to global missions surpasses $14 million.
Our Pastor / Teacher
Stephen Davey, the son of missionary parents, was raised to love Christ and the gospel. In his last year of high school, Stephen committed his life to serve Christ vocationally wherever God chose to assign him in ministry. His first part-time opportunity was as a college student, serving one summer alongside his father, who had recently planted a church in Virginia Beach. As a part-time youth pastor, Stephen saw the Lord impact the lives of students with His timeless word.
Ministry Preparation and Marriage
When Stephen began his collegiate studies at Liberty University in 1976, he majored in Bible and minored in World History. He finished his studies at Tennessee Temple where he met his future wife, Marsha (Gladney). They married soon after graduating from college together in 1981. God has since blessed them with four children (twin boys and 2 girls) who’ve given them six perfect grandchildren!
Stephen’s love for history, combined with a desire to teach the scriptures verse by verse, led him to enroll in seminary for further training. Stephen earned his first master’s degree (MDiv) at Detroit Seminary and then his second master’s in theology (STM) from Dallas Seminary.
Church Planting and Pastoring
Following graduation from Dallas in 1986, Stephen and Marsha moved with their infant twin sons to Cary, North Carolina, to plant Colonial Baptist Church. From the very beginning, Stephen preached expository sermons, while Marsha created the nursery and children’s programs. In those early days, word of the new church’s commitment to Bible exposition and the doctrines of grace spread rapidly, and the fellowship was soon overflowing with attendees. Today Colonial sits on 35 acres, engaging in more than 100 ministries carried out by several thousand volunteers. In September of 2020, Stephen reached 34 years of pastoring this wonderful ministry and church family.
Shepherds Theological Seminary Leadership
Throughout his pastorate, Stephen longed to plant churches and train men and women for ministry roles in the church. That vision became a reality in 2000 with the inauguration of Shepherds Theological Seminary where Stephen serves as president.
With an outstanding faculty and growing student body, Shepherds currently meets on the beautiful campus of Colonial which also allows Stephen to interact with the students as well as teach Pastoral Theology and Creative Bible Teaching.
Shepherds Seminary is one of Colonial’s most strategic church planting initiatives and it is a rare privilege for our church to be able to support and participate in training our students for pastoring, counseling, teaching, military chaplaincy and a host of additional roles in ministry. As a result of our partnership with STS, Colonial continues to play a vital role in launching church plants, filling numerous pastoral and ministry roles and serving the body of Christ at large. Shepherds now has more than 240 graduates, serving in 28 states and in 13 different countries around the world.
Wisdom for the Heart Begins
For several years, two faithful volunteers from Colonial had been recording and reproducing sermon cassettes as well as typing out sermon transcripts. When Trans World Radio’s president approached Stephen about producing a radio broadcast, he agreed. After adding a program producer and taking a big step of faith, Wisdom was ready for production. In 2001, Wisdom for the Heart went on the air via TWR’s transmitter in Bath, England.
Several years later, the Bible Broadcasting Network began airing Wisdom throughout their North American network. Additionally, they began translating Stephen’s sermons into Spanish and airing the program on their South American network, reaching a vast audience.
Today, by God’s grace, Stephen’s verse-by-verse teaching is heard around the world in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Mandarin and Arabic. Wisdom's website offers Stephen’s archives of sermon transcripts and audio teaching, free of charge.
Stephen has authored more than 40 books, study guides, commentaries, and booklets, published by Ambassador/Emerald House, Kress, Charity House, and LOGOS. Stephen is scheduled soon to release a commentary on James in the New Testament Exposition Commentary series, published by Regular Baptist Press.