“What God has done is miraculous.” This was the recurring statement made by Mike Edwards when interviewed about Heritage Baptist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dr. Edwards has been the pastor for thirty-four years.
The story of Heritage Baptist Church is a story of the grace, glory, and power of God. Heritage began when God placed a vision in the heart of a young youth pastor and his wife in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In June of 1981, Mike and Nancy Edwards moved to Woodbridge along with their three children and founded Heritage Baptist Church.
On August 9, 1981, in the band room of Potomac Senior High School, Heritage Baptist Church was officially chartered. Those forty charter members called Mike Edwards to be their pastor.
In October of 1981 God worked a miracle for the young church. He allowed them to negotiate a lease-purchase agreement for a church building and three acres of land on Telegraph Road in Woodbridge, Virginia. The church had a place they could call home and saw tremendous blessings as the church family grew.
Since then, Heritage purchased an eighteen-acre parcel of land and has added new buildings, ballfields, playgrounds, and pavilions to the church facilities so that their community might be reached. Through the use of preaching and worship Heritage Baptist Church strives to present the timeless message of Jesus Christ in a clear and relevant way.
Pastor Edwards has been married for forty-three years and has three grown children. His oldest son Chris pastors the Graceway Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Your Church Has an Emphasis on Christian Education and Training the Next Generation. How Did That Begin?
I feel if a generation is to be trained, it is best if they are immersed in Christian education. I think the Christian school is a tremendous tool for the families in our church. We started the church in 1981 and the Christian school in 1984. We have a very qualified team of educators. We have seen a generation of Heritage graduates who are better prepared to serve the Lord than had we not had the Christian school. I know we have been a blessing to families because of that ministry. So our commitment to Christian education goes to the very beginning of our ministry.
What Are Some Blessings You Have Seen from Pastoring for Thirty-Five Years?
Our church has a commitment to missions. It is the reason we exist. We have a number of families out of our church on the mission field. We have a real zeal for church planting. We have planted seven churches in the last several years.
If you could look at Heritage and ask “Why has God blessed Heritage?” it certainly would not be because of personalities. It would be because the emphasis has been on personal soulwinning, godly families, and worldwide missions. And I think God has blessed for that reason.
We have seen God do some significant miracles. We started in a public high school back in the 1980s. Not far from us was an Assembly of God church that could not sell their building. So they called us and asked if we wanted to rent. We did for two years. Then we purchased it for $220,000.
A year after that, the largest outlet mall on the East Coast was built across the street from the church and the land had greatly increased in value. The old site was sold to the Levitz Furniture Corporation, and the church purchased an eighteen-acre parcel of land. That allowed us to buy the eighteen acres where our church is now located.
It’s been those kinds of miracles that has proved the power of God in our lives. It wasn’t that we were so wise—we just wanted an old building to get out of the property, but God orchestrated those circumstances in our favor.
Over the years God has given us a faithful staff. I am the only pastor our church has had. My principal, Brian Kosa, is the only principal our school has ever had. He has served with us for thirty-two years. Our assistant pastor, Mike Tangeman, has been at Heritage thirty years. Most of our staff are long-term staff members. I believe that stability has brought great blessing as well. It isn’t about personalities. It’s about faithfulness.
Tell Us about the Dynamic of Being near the Nation’s Capital.
We serve a dynamic congregation. Many work in the military. These are men and women who have seen the world. They know about the needs that exist. They are very interested in missions.
They see what a spiritual dearth has done in our government, in the halls of Congress, and in the agencies that serve this nation. And instead of being discouraged, they are encouraged to be a testimony for righteousness.
It is a great place to pastor. Our community is very transient because of the military, but even that has its blessings. It gives us a constant inflow of young men, young women, young families who are interested in serving the Lord. So it keeps an older church young in that aspect.