Daniel Long visited Utah 12 times before moving here as a single man. He's a pastor for the Berean Bible Studies, which is an independent, Baptist-minded, Bible-based ministry.
"Each time I visited Utah my God-given love for the people in Utah grew," said Pastor Long, age 40. "I first visited as a teenager."
Long grew up in the home of a pastor in Michigan where his family still lives. "My time growing up was a positive experience for me but had no bearing in my decision in being a pastor myself," he said, adding he's following the Lord's direction.
The name "Berean" comes from Acts 17:11 in the New Testament calling the Bereans noble and who searched the scriptures daily. "We are evangelical Christian by religion and Baptist by denomination, not to be confused with the Berean denomination," he added. "Our focus is not in religion nor in denomination. Rather, we want to study the Bible daily to accurately understand God's truth."
Long has been preaching in Utah for nearly 11 years. He's been busy working to build two churches in the state and moved to Orem "to start Bible studies for anyone who has a desire to know God's word better." Berean Bible Studies has met in Orem for about 18 months.
Long graduated from Northland Baptist College in Dunbar, Wisc., with a Bible and pastoral studies major. The Parma Baptist Church in Parma, Mich., commissioned him as a church planter in 2003. Long preached in churches for five years before moving to Utah.
While Long was an associate pastor in Sandy, his wife-to-be, Aja, came to Utah to help with the church there for a week. They were married a little over a year ago and have a baby boy named Dawson, who is 3 and a half months old. "We look forward to rasing a family in Utah," Long said.
Church membership in the Berean Bible Studies has not yet been instituted, but when it is the pastor said, "We will require that they are saved as we see defined in the Bible and then followed with a believer's baptism to become a member."
Sunday services draw six to 12 people each week. "We do not want to force anything on anyone," he said, "but we do welcome anyone to come. We invite those in our community to join us by knocking on doors, by getting involved in community projects and by meeting people in our day-to-day lives."
Budd and Kristel Vogrinec of Saratoga Springs attended the Berean Church in Sandy before they moved to Utah County. Now they attend Orem's Berean Bible Studies.
"This is kind of a satellite church to the one in Sandy," says Budd. Both husband and wife consider themselves members of the studies group."Pastor Long is very knowledgeable, very familiar with the Bible and Christianity. Besides he's patient and a very good teacher!"
The Bible is his group's guideline of Christian living, Long said, adding, "The Bible tells us that God's grace enables our righteous living."
Concerned for families in the U.S., Long said, "Divorce seems to be the norm, and children are becoming more and more disconnected from their parents." The answer to problems in the family like this is the Bible or as he said, "In short, Christ is the answer. We love to explain God's answers to those desiring them."
Regarding Utah Valley's predominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Long said, "Even though we do have some friendships with those that are LDS in our community, for the most part many have not befriended us but have been kind to us.
"We love all the people in our community no matter what their beliefs are and we are looking forward to building more friendships with them."
There are no day jobs -- other than Berean Bible Studies -- for the Longs. "We want to be available to the people in our community," he said. "Our only goal is to glorify God. We would love to see our ministry grow and to help many people to enjoy a relationship with God. However, we just serve God and allow those results up to him."
He said he also enjoys the fishing in Utah Valley!