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A Brief History of Community Covenant Church

March 11, 2020 | Gregg Caruso


1970 – Joe Pardini opened The Christian Gift and Bookstore on Bank Street in downtown Attleboro. (Geri Boyes managed the bookstore.) Joe read and was deeply affected by the book “Nine O’clock in the Morning” by Episcopalian Priest Dennis Bennett about the Charismatic Renewal that was sweeping through many mainline churches and denominations around the world.

1971 – We started meeting in Joe’s living room every Friday night about a mile and a half from our current location, where we were seeking God for greater understanding about the gifts and working of the Holy Spirit. Most of us were still attending the Baptist church on Sundays. After a couple of months, we were about 25 people and outgrew the living room.

We made the decision to become a church (Faith Bible Chapel, a charismatic church for the first 30 years) and started meeting on Sundays in the Sweet Memorial Clubhouse in Attleboro. The church was led by a plurality of elders who shared responsibilities for teaching on Sundays; Joe was the primary preacher.

During this time Dennis Baril and the team of the Ark Coffeehouse that met in Pawtucket become a part of us. Somewhere in this time frame and the move to Norton, Dennis was appointed an elder and led the youth group/coffeehouse ministries.

We had a loose connection to the ministry of New Wine Magazine (or, as it is more widely known: The Shepherding Movement) which became noted for its seminal teaching on prayer, spiritual warfare, worship, discipleship, family life, church structure, and many other emphases that were picked up by a broad diversity of streams within the charismatic movement and larger body of Christ.

After about 2 years we outgrew the clubhouse at about 80 people—adults and children.

We bought a 16-acre property in Norton, MA, a mile from the center toward Taunton on Rt. 140.

While in Norton we built a church building on the back of a large garage/barn and moved the Ark Coffeehouse to the basement of the new building. The Ark became the longest-running Christian coffeehouse in New England at the time (about 14 years). We also built Elim Housing (24 units) on the property, which is still providing comfortable living for the elderly.

In 1983 the Elders sought to bring in a full-time Sr. Pastor. The first was Tom Gossett, from Indian Trails Missions in Arizona. The second was Dave Hannon, the pastor of the Plainfield, NJ Assembly of God, who when we were forming our church, drove up every two weeks to teach us. After about two years when Dave accepted a position at 12th Street Baptist Church in NYC, Dennis Baril felt called to leave his position as a national account manager with AT&T and was named Senior Pastor Sept. 30, 1988.

In 1986 the church sold the Norton property and moved closer to where most congregants lived in the Pawtucket area.

We met in the Hyman Fine Elementary School on Oak Hill Ave. in Attleboro until we found our current property a couple of years later. We moved into our current building in 1990, holding services in what is now the café area, and changed our name to Community Covenant Church.

Over the next decade, the church was enlarged to serve growing needs with the addition of the Worship Center and extensive renovations to the first floor and basement.

In March 2000 we shifted away from an active charismatic renewal focus to a Purpose Driven Life focus.

Community Covenant Church was named a recipient of the 2004 Church Health Award by Purpose Driven, the church leadership affiliated with the ministry of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Community Covenant was one of 80 churches worldwide honored with the award, which was presented during the annual Purpose Driven Church Conference.

We became one of the early host sites for the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in 2002

2005 – We became intentional about serving the community through some specific projects, including:
  • Boys & Girls Club of Taunton, Taunton, MA – November 2005
  • Greenlock Therapeutic Riding Center, Rehoboth, MA – October 2007, 2008, & 2011
  • Camp Finberg, Norton, MA – October 2008
  • Old Colony Rest Home, Attleboro, MA – September 2009
The Bono interview at the GLS in 2006 inspired our ongoing work in Haiti – including economic development, 2010 earthquake relief, and the founding of Teachers Training Teachers.

Dennis Baril retired as Senior Pastor in 2015 and Brandon Lemois became the Lead Pastor that same year. 

Brendon Lemois resigned in May 2019 and Gregg Caruso, a Managing Partner with VitalChurch Ministry, became the Intentional Interim Pastor on Sept 1, 2019.

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