Senior Pastor, Stephen Eckardt
Born in 1947 and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, he came to know the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior at the age of five. Dedicated his life to Christ in the middle of his 16th year and began working in Christian work in 1964 as a janitor in his home church. He also started preaching in that year at the age of 17.
Entered full-time Christian ministry in 1965 with Word of Life Fellowship, moving to Schroon Lake, NY and graduating high school at the Schroon Lake Central School in 1966. That year he enrolled at Northeastern Collegiate Bible Institute in Essex Fells, New Jersey. He met Ellen there and they were married in May 1969 at the end of his junior year. He graduated from Northeastern in 1970 and was ordained into the ministry on October 11, 1970.
He began his pastoral duty as the Assistant to the Pastor of the North Plainfield Baptist Church and later took on two interim pastorates. In 1973 he was called to take on the pastorate of the Christian Church of Rural Grove in Rural Grove, New York. He had promised the Lord during his years at Northeastern to take on a “small” church if the Lord so directed. The Christian Church of Rural Grove had only four active members when they called him and Ellen to come. They were given a parsonage to live in, had their utilities paid for and received $50 a week salary.
The Rural Grove Church grew to a membership of 35 and had about 55 people on average attending Sunday services. Pastor Eckardt started a young people’s Bible study on Tuesday evenings. Even though the church was literally rural, the Bible study attracted nearly 25 teenagers on average every week and over 60 came to faith in Christ during the six years that Pastor was there.
In 1979 he was called to take the pastorate of the Calvary Baptist Church in Pitman, New Jersey where he ministered for nearly 16 years.
In 1995 he took on the Associate Pastorate of St. Paul’s House rescue mission in New York City. He had served that mission back in the ‘60’s for three years. He spent 9 more years at that mission serving as Intake Coordinator and Overseer of Volunteer Ministries. During those years he had two interim pastorates, one at Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church in 1996 during their 100th Anniversary year. The other interim pastor was at the First Baptist Church of Woodbury, NJ.
In 2002, he was called back to Mt. Ephraim Baptist, first to serve as an interim pastor and then as senior pastor.
He holds a Bachelor of Religious Education from the Northeastern Collegiate Bible Institute and took half the courses necessary for a Masters Degree in Religious Education at Liberty University.
Pastor and Ellen have three adult children and reside in Pitman, NJ.