“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.”
1932 – 1945
Miss Marietta Fancher opened a Sunday school in the Big Tree public school basement on June 1, 1932. She faithfully visited homes and held prayer meetings with those who had a heart to reach Big Tree with the Gospel.
With a building lot on Fairview given by Mrs. Caldwell and donated labor and materials, a one-room chapel was erected in 1938 as a non-denominational church named the Big Tree Bible School.
After Miss Fancher’s death the work was led by students and teachers from Houghton College from 1943-46.
In May of 1946 the members voted to give the work to the Lockport Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, renaming it the Wesleyan Methodist Mission of Big Tree. The resolution requested a minister and regular church services.
Rev. Everts and Foster served in local Wesleyan Methodist churches and ministered here on Sunday afternoons.
In 1949, it was decided to add a basement. When high winds toppled the building into the newly dug basement, Rev. Hartway called it a “blessing in disguise”. The insurance money made it possible to replace everything, in addition to pouring basement floors. Pastor Lewellen drove an old school bus to bring people for Sunday School and church.
On November 21, 1953, the church was organized as a Wesleyan Methodist Church with nine full members. Under Pastor Day, the property was mortgaged in 1955 to begin construction of a parsonage. The seven room house was dedicated on June 17,1956.
1946 – 1956
1957 – 1972
The church chose “Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart” to put across the remodeled pulpit area. Redecorating of the church interior continued under Gene and Becky DeGraff. Everyone pitched in to help in special programs and contests. The church grew until Pastor Gene felt a full time pastor was needed, recommending Pastor Black.
Pastor and Autho Black answered the call. Pastor gave his dream for Big Tree in his first sermon , “Without Vision the People Perish.” From the tower room, looking out over the neighborhood, others joined Pastor Black in prayer claiming this hill for God.
As the church grew and space was needed, the tower was torn down and the old sanctuary extended and remodeled. Work was done by volunteers and $4000 raised by people picking worms and selling them to Jack Strawbrich.
The bus ministry restarted in 1973. Soon properties along Fairview were purchased to accommodate the growing church and a new sanctuary was built and dedicated in October 1976. Harold Blew served our growing children’s ministry from 1976-83 and in 1984 our two-story education wing was dedicated.
1973 – 1988
1989 – 2002
Tim Studaker came in 1989 and served as Youth Minister until 1997. Pastor Surbrook came to lead us in 1997. During his leadership we have purposefully looked back in a personal Focused Living and then in corporate Refocus Summits to better assess where God is leading in future ministry. Purpose Driven Life was the catalyst for many small groups, producing greater fellowship and spiritual growth.
Faith Promise Giving, which began in 2002 and several Short Term Mission projects have increased missions giving and awareness. We remodeled the upstairs classrooms and redecorated the sanctuary, fellowship hall, foyer and nursery.
In the 50th anniversary book, Pastor Black wrote “I want to challenge you that all the blessings of the past cannot suffice for tomorrow…let us move…toward our 75th, believing God for great and mighty things.” Let us remember our heritage and rejoice in our future.
2003 – 2005
Pastor Doug Ingersoll, saved under Pastor Black’s ministry, has been the Senior Pastor since 2006.