History 2017-08-27T18:15:28+00:00

church history logoNorthstar Church began in 2003 as an intentional church plant led by Bob Jackson in cooperation with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. At age 56, he was not the typical church planter. Blacksburg would provide one last opportunity for Bob to try his hand at the church planting experience after almost 20 years of denominational service.

The story of Northstar is a dynamic one that has grown to minister to a families, college students, grad students and their families, and internationals in the New River Valley. In 2013, Northstar planted a new campus in Pulaski. We have desires of planting additional campuses in the future.

Since its early days, Northstar has enjoyed the hospitality and kindness of the Montgomery Country Public Schools as we’ve met for the past 10 years in Blacksburg Middle School. Our strategic team began to meet in 2012, and we prioritized finding a location for Northstar to create a future ministry facility. After a lot of searching, Northstar purchased 10 acres of land on Prices Fork Road in 2014.

We’ve experienced continued growth as a church, numerically and spiritually, and we are humbled by how God has provided and led His people to serve in countless ways in the NRV and the nations in the past 10+ years. The Immeasurably More campaign is a three-year initiative to raise funds to build our first permanent ministry center. We are committed to this path, and we invite you to join us through your prayers and giving.

What follows are the highlights of each year of a growing faith community that calls itself Northstar Church:

2002: Research & Networking

  • Consultation with Darrell Cook, director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Virginia Tech
  • Late summer – Jackson began a book called The Architecture of a New Church which laid out plans for Northstar Church, including:
    • Contemporary style of worship
    • Target audience of young adults
    • Philosophy of operation
      • Strong pastor-centered leadership (to avoid getting bogged down in committee-style structure)
      • Membership class
      • Home Bible studies (small groups)
  • October – five people from Blacksburg invited to a retreat in Abingdon to share vision for Northstar and pray.
  • December 5 – first meeting of Northstar Core Team

2003: Planning & Launch

  • VBMB provided a church planting grant of $15,000 for expenses for church start-up and a pastoral salary assistance package of $700/month
  • Sunday, February 23, 3:00 p.m. – first publicized gathering of Northstar. “An Afternoon with Northstar” was held at the new Blacksburg Middle School. The Sounds of Liberty, a student-led group from Liberty University provided music. Bob shared vision, and 50-60 people came.
  • Montgomery County School Board approved application to hold regular services at BMS
  • “Practice worship services,” two Sundays prior to Easter
  • Jeremy Garrett, a student from Liberty, hired to serve as first worship leader
  • Easter Sunday, April 20 – first official worship service; 13 people attended
  • April 27 – first membership class at the home of Gene & Mary Wilson; 8 people signed the membership covenant
  • First home group hosted by Jason and Debbie Christian
  • May 25 – first baptism service held at Blacksburg Baptist Church
  • Great influx of graduate students led to early growth
  • July – canvassing of neighborhoods to meet new people; first Vacation Bible School at Caboose Park assisted by members of Green Valley Church in Lebanon, VA; outdoor services in park
  • Fall – after-church college lunches
  • Participated in Saddleback Church’s six-week study 40 Days of Purpose and launched Growth Groups
  • Matt Morris serves as leader of Growth Group ministry


  • April 25 – celebrated first anniversary of being a church
  • May 4 – Mother’s Day; hired a professional photographer to take individual and family pictures as a ministry
  • Blair Pippin, staff member for Campus Crusade begins serving as worship leader after Garrett joins staff of Knoxville church followed by Jimmy Via, BCM Director at Radford University
  • First youth group meets, led by Carla Edwards and Sandra Jackson; Kelly Corvin is first “youth” (her brother Tyler was first hired summer youth intern)


  • Chris & Karen Hanley commissioned by the International Mission Board for service in Asia


  • August – Northstar hosts an international student dinner after the annual BCM International Furniture event; North Star Baptist Church in Bristol provided the meal

2007: Crisis and Ministry

  • April 16 – VT massacre. 32 people are killed, and Northstar responds in prayer and ministry with other churches and campus organizations
  • Summer – Ordination service for Mark Appleton, Associate Director of VT BCM

2008: Staffing & Retirement of the Leader

  • May – Shane Carter hired as associate pastor
  • Summer – Cody Davenport hired as worship leader
  • June – Bob Jackson announces his retirement, effective in August
  • Fall – Administrative Team begins to formulate a formal constitution and by-laws
  • Pastor Search Team forms and begins to look for new pastor
  • December 14 – Christmas services held in the Lyric Theater with one of the largest audiences Northstar had seen to date

2009: New Leader, New Vision

  • April-May – Pastor Search Team narrows candidates to three, then one as it presents Jeff Noble pastor of Journey Church in Monticello, Arkansas to the church
  • May 31 – church votes unanimously to call Jeff as pastor
  • July – Noble family arrives in Blacksburg
  • Fall – worship attendance grows to averaging 150
  • December 4: December Nights is launched with a concert in VT’s Burruss Hall featuring Shane & Shane and Phil Wickham with over 600 in attendance

2010: Redevelopment & Organization

  • Church budget approved in the amount of $250,000 (from $178,500 in 2009)
  • Two services for Palm Sunday and Easter
  • Ten people baptized during first half of year
  • Attendance breaks 200 several times
  • April – first Volunteer Appreciation Night at NLCF’s facility on Jackson Street (movie theme)
  • May – Northstar’s offices moved to the historic Lancaster House on Washington Street
  • November – first Missions Sunday held, followed by lunch at Custom Catering; Bryson Smith, pastor of Fieldstone Methodist, spoke; 200 attend; missions partnership with Spain announced
  • December Nights begins with Micah Watson Band at BMS; other gatherings took place at the VT BCM
  • Due to BHS roof collapse from weight of snow in the previous year, BMS is moved to Christiansburg, and BHS moves into the BMS facility; the church buys a trailer after losing its “closet” in the BMS hallway

2011: Discipleship & Movement

  • Spring average attendance swells to 325
  • Easter crowd of 450 in two services
  • Volunteer Appreciation Night hosted at Blacksburg Rec Center (western theme)
  • Summer attendance reaches 150
  • Summer discipleship emphasis on “Building a Discipling Culture” led by Jeff at Blacksburg Library
  • Transition Team begins rewriting Northstar’s membership materials and structure
  • Spain missions partnership initiated, and a team of 12 is sent in June-July
  • Fall – three worship services are launched – 9:00, 11:00 and 6:00 (initially at BHS but later moved to Fieldstone Church)
  • Michael Kelley, coauthor of Transformational Discipleship and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life preaches at Northstar
  • Average attendance grows to 425
  • October – Ministry partnerships formed with Love Church and Valley Bible Church in Radford; Northstar worship and children’s ministry leaders assist Love Church (Kacie D’Allesandro and Marisa Fraley)
  • Jason Dukes, pastor and author of Live Sent, speaks and leads seminar
  • Cody Davenport releases his debut CD in a worship event
  • 33 people baptized


  • Average attendance grows to 475 during school and 200 during summer
  • Over 720 attend Easter worship at VCOM’s conference center
  • The first few weeks of fall saw attendance swell to over 700
  • Northstar moves its offices to the historic Lancaster House on Washington Street, gaining a visibility in town and presence near the Virginia Tech campus
  • Northstar celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special Sunday in October
  • December Nights held at the old Main Street Baptist Church in Christiansburg
  • Pastor Jeff Noble publishes his book Super Center Savior
  • 28 people baptized



  • Average attendance grows to 515 during school and 235 during summer
  • Over 840 attend Easter worship at BMS, with services in the gymnasium
  • The first few weeks of fall saw attendance over 600
  • Northstar launches its Pulaski campus with Dave Farris as campus pastor
  • Ministry Team created as Northstar’s growth requires additional leadership
  • 28 people baptized



  • Average attendance was 440 during school and 215 during summer
  • Over 700 attend Easter worship at BMS, with services in the gymnasium
  • The first few weeks of fall saw attendance over 500
  • Major staff addition with the hiring of an associate pastor, Neal Nelson
  • 23 people baptized
  • Mission Partnership initiated with Montenegro; team of 6
  • Northstar purchases 10 acres of land on Prices Fork to be the home of its future ministry center
  • Offices relocated to Country Club Drive location due to growth



  • Northstar aligns with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, becoming dually-aligned with both Southern Baptist state denominations in Virginia.
  • In September, the Immeasurably More campaign is launched to help secure funding for the future ministry center


Staffing: Northstar has been blessed by great leadership in its staff.

  • 2003 – Jeremy Garrett, worship leader was first staff hire
  • 2004 – Blair Pippin, Jeremy Via, worship leaders; Tyler Corvin, summer youth intern
  • 2008 – Cody Davenport, worship leader; Shane Carter, associate pastor
  • 2009 – Jeff Noble, pastor; Viktor Orekhov, GAP leader; Tim Duggins, youth; Norm Vaughn, small groups leader
  • 2010 – Dave Farris, Connections Team leader (also helped with youth, assisted by Carolyn Noble), Cynthia Rancourt, children’s ministry
  • 2011 – Viktor Orekhov, small groups coordinator; Hannah Sewell, children’s, Interns: Abby Novak, Phil Cumbia, Jacob Moyer, Ar Moehrle
  • 2012 – Dave Farris, small groups coordinator; Julie Jewell, children’s, Carolyn Noble, administrative assistant; Interns: Tucker King, Katie Surratt, Maggie Sims, Wes Williams)
  • 2013 – Adam Wilson, discipleship; Ryan Goude, youth; Karin Goude, worship assistant; Lauren H, children’s assistant; Hollie Paiva, administrative assistant; Tucker King, pastoral apprentice; Dave Farris, Pulaski campus pastor; Interns: Courtney Edwards, Lauren Scheid); Paul Miller, small groups coordinator
  • 2014 – Alex Kacere, youth; Neal Nelson, associate pastor; Taunya Bruton, administrative assistant; Interns: Jessica Groves, Brandon Radford)
  • 2015 – Megan Evans, administrative assistant; Interns: Joe Holman, Kaylee Waldrop, intern


Children’s Ministry has always been a key component to Northstar’s growth and development. Leaders have included:

  • Sandra Jackson
  • Debbie Christian – initiated age-level children’s education in BMS classrooms
  • Cynthia Rancourt – introduced Orange curriculum from Northpoint Church, led in team development and training
  • Jenna Deal  
  • Hannah Sewell
  • Julie Jewell


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