Respecting Our Legacy
Irene Wenholz was sent by Calvary Baptist Church of Altoona, PA to serve in North Africa in 1922. By 1945, Irene had been joined by Mary Mellinger, a recent Moody Bible Institute graduate. Their combined ministry attracted co-workers that shared their burden. As additional personnel went to the field, it became apparent that the ministry would need to be formally organized, as early documents put it, “to represent the work and workers, interview new candidates and transmit funds.”
Mary Mellinger asked her Pastor, Rev. Ralph Boyer of the York Gospel Center to establish a mission board. Since the church was affiliated with the Independent Fundament Churches of America (now IFCA International), Pastor Boyer asked four other IFCA churches to join in the formation of the Morocco Evangelical Fellowship in November of 1950.
As the result of the Sahara Desert Mission’s expression of interest in joining Morocco Evangelical Fellowship, the Mission expanded its purpose and changed its name in 1959 to the Fellowship of Independent Missions.
In 1992, Dr. Richard Ruth became the Mission’s first full-time Director and led the Mission through a move to its present Home Office facilities in Allentown, PA and a name change to Fellowship International Mission. Upon Dr. Ruth’s retirement, Rev. Ray Shive became the General Director.
In 2001, the Board of Directors called Dr. Steve Wilt to serve as General Director. Additional staff members have been added since then to enable the Mission to become the agency it is today.
In 2017, the Board called Dr. Paul Barreca to serve as the eighth General Director of FIM. Before joining the mission, he served as a pastor for thirty-three years in four churches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Paul now utilizes his pastoral experience and discipleship tools to assist missionaries and churches through the ministry of FIM.