As a child Pastor Cumberland hunted in Forest County. During those trips he never had the opportunity to attend church because there was no Baptist church in the area. He always had a burden for the area. After completing Bible college he continued to have this burden. In 1981 after serving as an assistant to pastors for four years he felt God was moving his family (wife, Nancy, and daughters, Heather and Elizabeth) to Marienville to start a church.
The church held its first service as Redclyffe Mission on August 31, 1981, in the old Redclyffe Methodist Church building. The cemetery association graciously leased the empty building to the small group of believers for twelve dollars a year. The first year the group added a heat source, painted, and reroofed the old leased building. In 1983 with a desire to own property for a future building of their own they purchased two acres and were given two acres of the adjoining Christmas tree farm from Dana Logue. The original boundaries of the property were later adjusted to give additional road frontage.
The church was chartered and incorporated as Redclyffe Baptist Church in 1982. This name was later changed to Forest Area Baptist Church.
After the property was acquired the group of about 35 believers got busy building the infrastructure on the property. A road into the property was built, a spring on the property was developed, gas and electric lines were installed, a septic system built and hundreds of Christmas trees removed for preparation for buildings. A Christian insurance man from Brookville gave the group his old office building which was a remodeled single wide trailer. It was moved onto the property for Sunday school rooms.
In 1984 the church lost their lease with the cemetery association and began to have all services in the Sunday school building. Also, at that time a savings account was set up as a building fund for the new building. By 1986 the church had enough money saved for a down payment. Blueprints were drawn up and approved in Harrisburg for the new building.
In the first five years of the church there is recorded that thirty-two were saved and twenty-five were baptized (most in the Clarion River.) And the church was supporting three foreign missionaries. During this time Pastor Cumberland worked carpentry to support his family.