About Us

Our History

December 1955

The Committee

A group of First Baptist Spartanburg church deacons were passionate about sharing truth and wanted to expand the reach of the ministry God had given them. The Deacon’s Television Committee approved twenty deacons who each recruited four men to contribute weekly so that the morning service could be televised for a period of six months. During that time 120 men pledged $2 a week for this specific cause.

September 1956

Live On Air

On November 18, 1956 First Baptist Spartanburg Church began televising Sunday services on the local WSPA television station. Over the next several years, God blessed the television ministry and it became evident that there were new opportunities for growth.

August 2004

The Ministry

Building on the original generosity of 120 men, the decision was made to create a new 501(c)(3) organization separate from First Baptist Spartanburg church. The mission was “to glorify God by teaching and preaching the message of Christ to all we can, by every available means, in such a way that people accept Christ and become active followers of Jesus through a local Christian Church.” An anonymous donor gave a substantial faith gift to launch The Encouraging Word ministry.

March 2005

National Broadcast

On Easter Sunday 2005 The Encouraging Word national broadcast ministry began. Each week tens of thousands of people heard the word of God proclaimed with power and thousands more worship weekly with a church they called their own. People tuned in to hear the consistent life-changing message of Don Wilton as he shared God’s truth without compromise introducing them to Jesus Christ.

December 2006


The Encouraging Word became a member of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). ECFA is an accreditation organization dedicated to helping Christian ministries earn the public’s trust through adherence to Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, which focus on board governance, financial transparency, integrity in fundraising, and proper use of charity resources.

December 2022


The Encouraging Word built upon the legacy of 2005 by expanding God’s Truth on various radio and national broadcast networks under the leadership of Dr. Don Wilton until his retirement on December 11, 2022. “We are living in exciting times and I have every confidence that the ministry of The Encouraging Word is going to grow stronger and be even more effective with the coming of the new pastor. The best is yet to be!”

January 2023


In the spirit of truth and transparency, whoever serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church Spartanburg also serves as the president of The Encouraging Word. The Encouraging Word is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry, and a separate entity from the church. We covet your prayers and continued support during this period of transition and beyond. Please unite with us in prayer: “Dear God, please send to us the man you have chosen to be our next Senior Pastor.”

The Encouraging Word continues to build upon the legacy of 2005 by proactively sharing God’s truth with a searching world. We exist to provide answers. Based on the authority of God’s Word, we believe the Answer is Jesus Christ.

May 2023

New President

We are excited to announce Dr. Mike Harder was unanimously affirmed as the next Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Spartanburg and president of The Encouraging Word. Dr. Harder’s first Sunday at First Baptist Spartanburg will be Sunday, August 6, 2023. Thank you for praying with us. The Encouraging Word legacy continues!