Formation and First International Assembly
The International Fellowship of Bible Churches, Inc. was formed in August of 1988 at Siloam Springs, Arkansas, after months of deliberation by a steering committee directed by Dr. Donald E. Hicks and Rev. Kenneth Arnold.
The organization’s first International Assembly convened on August 16, 1988 at the Baptist Camp Ground at Siloam Springs, Arkansas. With several hundred in attendance, the organization was formalized at the close of Assembly.
The Spirit of God attended the meeting. The officers of the organization were elected and the Constitution and Bylaws were approved by the afternoon session on Wednesday, August 18. The remainder of the week was given over to camp services and organizing the International Coordinating Council (ICC). A spirit of enthused expectation prevailed throughout.
This first International Assembly established bylaws and elected a 20 member board which it named International Coordinating Council (ICC). The ICC was comprised of 10 ordained elders and 10 lay leaders from the quadrants of the United States. In turn, the ICC elected two men to serve in the capacity of Chief Executive Officers – Rev. Kenneth Arnold and Dr. Donald E. Hicks.
Immediately after the first Assembly, the two men began working their way across the United States meeting with ministers and churches to consolidate the organization. Rev. Ken Arnold resigned his post in 1991, and Dr. Donald E. Hicks continued his work as the Chief Executive until 1998.
In 1993, the International Coordinating Council (ICC) appointed William Sillings, senior pastor of New Hope Worship Center in Oklahoma City, to serve as its Administrative Coordinator. And in March of 1994 the ICC approved the establishment of its Administrative Office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where the Fellowship’s publications and administrative interests are organized.
At the 1994 International Assembly, delegates voted to move from an annual assembly to a biennial assembly and to edit the bylaws to reflect this change in policy.
At the fall 1997 meeting of the International Coordinating Council (ICC), Dr. Donald Hicks revealed his intention to retire from his position as CEO at the 1998 Assembly, and recommended that the ICC appoint Dr. William Sillings to serve as the new CEO as of that date. ICC members voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation, and Dr. Sillings assumed the role of CEO in July 1998. Dr. Donald Hicks continued in a part time role as Pastor to Pastors, serving as a traveling liaison for IFBC until his death in 2004.
At the 2002 Assembly, voting members of the Assembly voted unanimously to replace the Chief Executive Office with the office of General Superintendent. The General Superintendent is elected by and amenable to the Assembly, rather than appointed by and amenable to the ICC. The Assembly considered the Superintendency to be more theologically appropriate for an ecclesial organization such as the International Fellowship of Bible Churches. Dr. William Sillings was elected to serve in the office of General Superintendent, a role in which he has continued to serve to the present.
The International Fellowship of Bible Churches, Inc. has supported world mission endeavors in the Republic of the Philippines, Honduras, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, and Lesotho, Africa. The organization has also established co-missional links with Barbados, Guyana, India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, and the islands of Haiti and St. Lucia. IFBC remains committed to global evangelism and mission. On the home front, IFBC helps sponsor a mission to Nepalese, Pakistani and Indian populations in Lexington, KY.
The International Fellowship of Bible Churches, Incorporated also sponsors, supports and/or engages in co-missional activity with a number of affiliated parachurch ministries which serve specific areas of need. The Cornerstone Foundation and Fundamental Wesleyan Society/ Publications are two of the more recent affiliates.
The Fellowship, a news and spiritual interests publication, was begun by the end of 1988, and served for several years as the official communication tool for the Fellowship. The Fellowship has been replaced by the official publication, Fellowship Leader, which provides news, inspiration, biblical reflection and organizational leadership for its readership.
IFBC has also published an expanded statement of faith entitled Fellowship Foundations, which is currently in its second American Edition. The book has also been published in an African edition, a Korean edition, and a Spanish edition – which has enjoyed great acceptance in Central and South America, and Cuba. Fellowship Foundations is also currently being translated into French.