Lamont Wesleyan Church History
In the winter of 1929, Reverend Howard K. Busby and Reverend John H. Philpot came to Lamont and held a four-week revival meeting in an empty store building on the south side of Main Street. This revival was seed God used to raise up a church in Lamont. The four weeks included Christmas Day. The first message Rev. Busby gave was from Matthew—“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
Reverend Busby and Reverend Philpot stayed in the basement of L.L. Sauder’s new house and cooked on a monkey stove. Bitter weather plagued them, but the people continued to come to the vacated store building with the fixtures pushed back against the wall. The gospel was preached, altar calls were given, and prayers of penitence were heard. It was a very exciting time for the town of Lamont, and it was a wonderful place to be having evangelistic meetings because of the influx of people due to the oil boom in the area. These meetings created an interest in God’s work, and the people of the community requested that Reverend Busby drive up from Fall River one Sunday each month to preach. He did this for one year. The work continued to prosper, and the second year he came two Sundays a month.
In 1931, with Reverend Busby and Reverend Philpot deeply involved with evangelistic work, a Pilgrim Holiness Church, which met at Hilltop School, was organized and Reverend Guy Slate was hired as the first pastor of the organized church. He was paid $10.00 a week for his service to the Lord. The original parsonage was a three-room shotgun house at the west end of Lamont. During these times, they had revivals at least twice a year. From November 26 to December 14, 1932, a two-week revival was held at the Hilltop School, and the evangelist Brother Waddell received $13.64 for the two-week meeting. In 1932 the church gave $13.95 for foreign missions, and they paid $12.50 for the district budget and $5.00 for the general budget.
In 1933, even though money was scarce and times were extremely difficult, people continued to show their love for one another. One particular event that demonstrates this was when a man named J.J. Uncoffer, a poor oilfield worker, died. The church paid for his burial, which cost $241.04, an astronomical amount of money for that time. Also, during January 1934, Sam Winzeler allowed the church to move from Hilltop into the vacated Lamont school building. Later, in July of that same year, Guy Slate was replaced by Howard Busby, who remained as pastor until 1935. When Reverend Busby arrived, his wife was ill, and their prize possessions consisted of a Model-A and a goat. Reverend Busby was paid $32.00 a month for his services, and the church reached out to help them in many other wonderful ways. For example, they provided them with food, and one man, George Schwab, even provided hay for his goat. As far as the church, one report in July 1935 states that there were 174 total services, including 57 preaching services, 53 church prayer services, 44 revival services, and 10 other services. There were 14 members and all of them were listed as tithers. The total receipts for the year were $836.51, the expenditures were $832.23, therefore leaving a yearly balance of $4.28. Sunday School average attendance was 42. Towards the end of 1935, Reverend Busby left and E.W. Burton became the new pastor. Reverend Burton remained as pastor for only one year, whereupon he declined the offer given him by the church board at that time. From 1936-1939 two more pastors filled the pulpit; Wayne Plummer from 1936 to 1937 and Herman Engle from 1938 to 1939. During this time, the church members continued to make great sacrifices for the Lord’s work.
1. God cares about people, even people in out of the way places. He did not overlook the people of rural Lamont.
2. People have needs. A truly caring church reaches out not just with words, but in deeds.
3. Following God requires sacrifice and faithfulness.
4. Good preaching was a part of our start.
In January of 1940, at the regular church board meeting, there was much discussion of the matter of taking care of financing the church pews. The total cost for the 13 pews, which were to be made of plywood (a relatively new invention at that time), was $117.00. Pledges were made from $5-$10, which was a great amount of money then. Another indication of the faith of the church members was that this money was pledged in January 1940, and the down payment was due by March 1. In the latter part of that same year, Rev. Ray Jellison became the new pastor, and he remained so for the next four years. They continued to have an evangelist twice a year, but were now paying him $50 for each two-week meeting, the amount of which was again paid for by pledges from church members. (Another note of interest was that in January 1941, board minutes indicated that $7 was still owed on the church pews!) During these years, the church continued it’s outreach in the following ways: (1) Supporting the Beulah Rescue Home; (2) remembering the ill people in the community with a card or a flower; (3) bringing in meals to serve the evangelists’ families during their two-week stays; (4) providing Colorado Bible School with supplies; and (5) supporting the Light family after they lost their home in a fire. Other points of interest were that there were 15 members of the church at this time, and the pastor was paid a yearly salary of $476. Also, in 1943, there was a great emphasis on the remodeling of the church’s interior. In addition, it was a time in which patriotism was extremely important, and the church board voted to buy both a Christian flag and an American flag for the sanctuary. As a matter of concern, the board also voted to buy 2 ½ tons of coal since there was a short supply during wartime. They also voted to tear down the old piano and use the steel sounding board to support the war effort since there was a high demand for metal at that time.
Evangelism continued to be of great significance, and revivals were a priority. Furthermore, a cement foundation was built under the parsonage, which had up until that time been on blocks. Rev. Busby was District Superintendent during this time, and he continued to conduct annual meetings at the Lamont church. In May of 1944, Rev. Jellison was released for home missionary work, and Rev. Busby filled in for him until a new pastor could be found.
Later in that same year, Elmer Jantz became the new pastor, and at this time, the church attendance averaged 33. Some things to be noted were that the coal situation continued to be of concern. It was also a time of continued outreach as flowers were sent to those who were ill, and home visitations were made to both non-members and members. Also, there was discussion in relation to the possible purchase of a four-room, oilfield house for $135, but it was never purchased.
During this time, the church was actively involved in the support of missionaries, which historically has been a priority. Moreover, in March of 1946, the church body took a huge leap of faith when they voted to sell the old parsonage at the best possible price and to buy some property from Fred Luthi, providing the debt was no more than $500 after pledges by church members were received. Interestingly enough, the community of Lamont was also invited to support this purchase. In June, only three months after the initial step of faith, the new parsonage was purchased for $1,800, and only $25-$30 was left for the remaining balance. This was evidence of the generosity of God’s people in a time when money was very difficult to come by; it was definitely a time of sacrifice.
In May of 1947, Pastor Jantz spent several weeks in Hutchinson building the district parsonage, and in June of 1947, after agreeing to stay on for another year, Pastor Jantz asked for and was granted permission to be gone for two weeks on wheat harvest. There was also a “coal bill offering” which was taken in the form of pledges, as coal was still of primary concern during this time. Also, in May of 1948, Rev. Jantz, after four years of serving as pastor, felt like his work in Lamont was finished and did not choose to stay in Lamont.
Rev. Elliott was fresh out of Bible College in Michigan, and Lamont was his first pastorate. He and his family had many adjustments to make, including living in a house without running water, and they got their drinking water from a cistern at the side of their house. To supplement his salary of $80 a month, Rev. Elliott carried the mail to Madison, and used his own car as a school bus to pick up children.
In February of 1951, while Pastor Elliott was burning off grass around the church building, he saw smoke coming from the corner of the church. A weed had grown up in a crack and was burning. As Rev. Elliott pulled off the board, the fire roared up inside the wall and he had no water to use other than the pump. Even though the men of the town came to help, there was nothing that could be done to save the church, and all they could salvage was the pews and piano. After that, the Elliotts cleared out their living room, and it was used as a chapel.
This was an especially difficult time for the church, and attendance decreased. Statistics show that the church averaged 14 in Sunday School during this year. Some thought that the church would close, but God had other plans. There was a small committed group of people who were faithful during this time. They met three times a week (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night) for worship and prayer.
A short time later, Summit School, located north of Lamont, was purchased and used as the church. There was a large barn east of the parsonage, and largely through the efforts of Sister Bertha Busby, it was torn down and the school building was moved to that site. The Elliotts, long-time friends of the Busbys, moved before the first service in the “new” building, and Rev. Busby accepted the call to pastor the church.
Beginning in late 1951, Rev. Busby began his pastorate, and until 1956, he continued in this capacity. Again, evangelism was held as being extremely important during this time. Rev. Busby’s faithfulness and the dedication of the people of the church resulted in a dramatic increase of attendance with many new people coming to church. By 1956, attendance was in the thirties and by 1958 LWC was in the forties.
During the spring of 1957 during a revival in Indiana, Rev. Busby learned about a man named Willis Snyder, whose desire it was to become a pastor. He asked the man if he would be willing to move to Kansas. Rev. Willis Snyder, his wife Patty, and their two children moved to Lamont. Upon their arrival, they found it necessary to make some of the same adjustments that pastors before them had made. There was still no running water or indoor plumbing. Also at their first service, which was a prayer meeting, one of the members told Pastor Snyder that they would clean the church for him the first week. The pastor got the picture—he was also the janitor! The first Sunday for the Snyders was on May 10, Mother’s Day. Attendance was small, as was the pastor’s salary–$20 a week! To supplement his income, Rev. Snyder drove a school bus, and his wife took a mail route. During the next two years as he pastured the church, Rev. Snyder saw the church go from an average Sunday attendance in the mid-twenties, to a rally day attendance of 87. It was a good time for the church body.
When Rev. Snyder was called to pastor another church, a former pastor, Ray Jellison, returned to Lamont. Unfortunately, due to serious illness, he was only able to pastor a short time before he died. During this time, he continued to serve the Lord by witnessing to people and praying for them that they might come to know the Lord. As a patient in the hospital, he would leave his own bed to visit other patients and pray with them. After his death in 1960, his wife completed the next year as pastor in Lamont.
In 1961, Claude Overholt came to pastor the church in Lamont, and he remained here for two years. During this time, the average church attendance on Sunday was 33, and this remained stable throughout his ministry here. Pastor Overholt is remembered as a man who was hard-working, reliable, and loved the Lord.
When Rev. Overholt was called to pastor another church in 1963, Pastor David Moore replaced him. During this time, the average Sunday attendance remained stable at 35. He is also remembered as a faithful preacher of the Word.
From 1964 to 1968, two young student pastors, Tim Rovenstine and Eldon Fry, from Bartlesville Wesleyan College, filled the pulpit. This was an exciting time for the church as they often brought along special singing groups and other students who helped witness and minister to the church. Even though there was no resident pastor during this time, and in spite of the fact that the Lamont School closed in 1967, the church attendance nevertheless continued to remain stable. Also, this was the same year that the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America merged with the Pilgrim Holiness; this church now became known as Lamont Wesleyan Church.
The next resident pastor to come to Lamont was Joseph Aguilar, who pastured here from 1968 to 1970. This was a difficult time for the church in that the average Sunday church attendance fell to 22.
1. LWC has a heart for taking care of those in need.
2. Through thick and thin, evangelism has always been important to LWCers.
3. LWC takes good care of Pastors who are hurting.
4. The importance of good pastoral leadership.
1970 – 1997
In 1970, our founding pastor, Rev. H.K. Busby retired from being the District Superintendent and began full-time ministry in Lamont. At that time he was 67 years old. Originally Rev. Busby agreed to fill the pulpit for one year. That grew into a 27-year ministry with Rev. Busby preaching until three months before he passed away in 1997.
During this time period, Lamont Wesleyan Church generally averaged 40 to 50 in attendance. When Rev. Busby arrived in 1970 the church was averaging 22. Within a few short years the average was over 40. By 1981, LWC had the highest year ever with an average of 65. When Rev. Busby passed away in 1997 attendance had dropped back down to 35.
The Busbys’ ministry was marked by their willingness to love the community and to reach out to people in need, people who were hurting, and people who were neglected. Mrs. Busby had a large garden and shared much of the produce from that garden with those in the community. Rev. Busby spent hours visiting people in nursing homes, hospitals and in their homes. He also went fishing and hunting with different individuals as a way of ministering to them.
One of the ways that the church was revived in the early 1970’s was a renewed youth ministry. Regular trips to Kansas City on Sunday nights to attend Youth For Christ conferences and worship services, along with Dan and Claudette Busby coming to Lamont to minister to the teens helped the youth group grow and helped rebuild the church.
The church also benefited from a number of layman retreats that church members attended that were sponsored by the Wesleyan Church. These retreats provided training as well as a sense of camaraderie between the church members. Another highlight of this time was the Sunday night fellowships at the home of Elmer and Bonnie Ott. After the evening service, everyone joined Elmer and Bonnie for light refreshments and visiting. With the active youth ministry, the outreach of Rev. and Mrs. Busby into the community, and the renewed spirit in the church, many new families were attracted to the church in the late 1970’s. This led to the previously mentioned record average morning worship attendance of 65 in 1981.
During this time, a number of renovations were also done at the church. In the early 1970’s the church added indoor plumbing, with two restrooms and one classroom added. In 1971, the sanctuary was remodeled and paneled. In 1980, the heating stoves were replaced with central air and heat, and a fellowship hall was added in 1986.
The 1980’s presented a number of challenges for the church. In 1981, the average attendance was 65. By 1989, the average was down to 32. One of the main challenges was the 1980’s farm and oil crisis that devastated the community. Numerous families lost their farms or lost their oil field related jobs and moved away. Rev. Busby also faced a difficult time during the 1980’s, with Mrs. Busby suffering a stroke in 1980, eventually being moved to the Madison Manor Nursing Home where she lived until 1990 when she passed away. The church suffered in several ways during the 1980’s from these events. Sunday evening church and the fellowships that followed were cancelled in the mid to late 1980’s. By 1989, there was no youth group.
The church family took a number of steps to seek to keep the church alive during these tough years. A group of men went to Promise Keepers in 1983 and had a positive experience. Evangelist Rev. Sam Dalton conducted a number of revival meetings in the late 1980’s.
Toward the end of the 1980’s the church faced a number of challenges. While Rev. Busby ministered to the community in tremendous ways, helping hundreds of people, the church attendance continued to decline. Many who were ministered to outside the church simply did not become a part of the church body. Rev. Busby also was getting up in years. The church, however, encouraged him to continue as the pastor of the church, which he did faithfully. In 1995 Rev. Busby resigned as pastor, but the church encouraged him to stay on, which he did until his death in 1997. During this time, the people of the church were faithful to Rev. Busby as his health and abilities declined significantly. With the loving care of the LWC family, Rev. Busby was able to pastor the church until his death in 1997.
There can be no doubt that the end of Rev. Busby’s ministry was a time of major testing for the church. Without the leadership and pastoral care of Rev. Busby and the dedication of the core leaders, chances are the church would have closed.
1. God blesses a church that honors its pastors. We believe that not letting Rev. Busby resign and providing him emotional and spiritual support is one of the reasons that God has blessed the ministry of Lamont Wesleyan Church. Rev. Busby was not the first pastor the church has blessed in this way. In the 1960’s, they ministered to Rev. Jellison during a prolonged illness. They allowed his wife to fill the pulpit when he passed away in 1960.
2. There is great joy in rising above the difficulties that we face. While these years were challenging, there was also a lot of fond memories of this time and many good things happened.
3. During this time we learned to avoid conflict by keeping still and waiting on God.
4. We learned that God honors faithfulness and obedience.
5. Finally, the God factor is the most important principle to this church. We believe that God is at work in the world, and that it is our job to find His will and to do it.
1997 – 2000
On August 15, 1997 our faithful and loving pastor Rev. Busby went to be with the Lord. With his death the church faced a crisis. Many in the community and in the district felt that the church would close. The people of the church however truly believed that God had something more that he wanted to do in Lamont.
The time of grieving was greatly helped by Rev. C. B. Colaw. Rev. Colaw had been a long-time friend of Rev. Busby. When Rev. Busby’s health finally prohibited him from preaching, Rev. Colaw drove from Bartlesville, OK to Lamont every weekend to minister to the people of the church. He did this for three months. He helped the church through the difficult time of losing their pastor. As he ministered to them he encouraged them to trust God to do a miracle in the church.
In August of 1997, after the passing of Rev. Busby, Lamont Wesleyan Church welcomed a new pastor, Rev. Rick Cook. The Cook family continued to live in Manhattan while ministering in Lamont on Wednesdays and weekends. To prepare for his ministry, the people of the church remodeled the old parsonage that had not been inhabited for a number of years. This became a home away from home for the Cook family.
Pastor Rick had just come out of a painful ministry experience. As he served LWC, the congregation was able to minister to him as he ministered to them, encouraging him to return to full-time ministry. In doing this Lamont continued to be a church that ministered to it’s ministers.
Pastor Rick brought a number of significant changes to the ministry of the church. He restarted the youth group and in 1998, the youth group averaged 12 in attendance. Rick also challenged the board to become more active. As a part of this, he began to take the board through specific training opportunities. As an example, he took the board through a study of The Purpose Driven Church in 1998.
Pastor Rick also led the adult Sunday school class through the book Experiencing God. In that book, Henry T. Blackaby teaches what he calls the “Seven Realities of Experiencing God.” They are:
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
This teaching resonated throughout the entire church and has become required reading for people in leadership at LWC.
Rick also led the church in starting a number of outreach activities including Friend Days, Fall Round-Ups, Pumpkin Patch outreach, hay rides, and a number of events geared to bring unchurched people into the church. Rick also led the church through a transition in worship style upon arriving. The church went from a song leader to a worship team, began incorporating a number of choruses into the services, and began using an overhead projector.
These times were extremely challenging for the church. With Pastor Rick living in Manhattan, many members had to step up and lead or serve in these various ministries. Pastor Rick strongly encouraged other church leaders to become actively involved.
In addition, Pastor Rick brought a number of significant changes to the direction of the church. These changes were not all easy to accept. The members of the church, however, truly believed that God was at work and were willing to surrender their preferences in order for the church to effectively minister to the community.
The church also experienced financial changes during this time. Rev. Busby had been retired and did not require a significant salary. Overall offerings were rather low and spending decisions were primarily made by Rev. Busby and the treasurer. As the church grew during this time, so did the offerings. The church needed to pay Rev. Cook a wage suitable for the work he was doing. The Board began to make major financial decisions. This was challenging for all involved.
The results, however, of these challenges were tremendous. In 1997 the church averaged 41 in morning worship attendance. By the summer of 2000, they were averaging 60. The church also experienced a number of tremendous outreach events including the 1999 Fall Round-Up with 150 people attending this event.
LWC was also challenged by Pastor Rick to develop a plan of discipleship for believers. He contended that members were ministers and that every believer had a place of service in the church. He encouraged the board to develop a plan that would lead believers into places of service.
As the church began to rebound, it became clear to the congregation that if the church was to have continued effective ministry they would need a full-time, on-site pastor. It was believed that in order for this to happen, the church would have to have a parsonage large enough and nice enough to raise a family in. This was a daunting challenge.
Several options were considered in how to meet this challenge. One option that was considered was moving a farmhouse that a family was willing to give to the church to Lamont. A second option was to build a brand new parsonage. This challenge became a matter of faith for the congregation. In the spring of 2000, after much prayer and discussion, a new parsonage was built and fully paid for with no debt.
After serving in Lamont for three years, Rev. Cook felt that God was calling him into church planting. As the church made plans for the new parsonage, Pastor Rick shared that it was not his intention to move to Lamont and become the full-time pastor. The church immediately began to pray that God would send the right minister to take the church to new levels of ministry. Rev. Cook ministered until July of 2000. In August of 2000 the parsonage was completed and Pastor Steve McVey and his family moved to Lamont.
1. Change is difficult, but very necessary.
2. The church needs a full-time shepherd. While Rev. Cook’s ministry was very effective, the fact that he lived in Manhattan and not Lamont presented a number of challenges.
3. During this time of ministry the congregation learned the importance of accepting the reins of leadership. Every member is a minister. Everyone can and should serve.
4. God honors a church that steps out in faith.
5. God provided the workers and finances necessary for the parsonage and sent a family to live there.
6. The goal of the church is discipleship, not just evangelism.
7. God builds new houses in old towns.
2000 – 2006
The building of the parsonage and the arrival of a full-time pastor established great momentum in the ministry of Lamont Wesleyan Church. In the six years that have followed, the church’s average attendance has grown from 60 to 205, and today the possibilities for future ministry seem endless.
One of the first signs that Lamont Wesleyan Church was experiencing a new season of ministry was seen in the growth of the youth group in the fall of 2000. Pastor Steve revamped the youth program and led a number of youth oriented outreach events in his first year at the church. The youth group averaged 40 in attendance that first year. This growth continued to the point that the youth group was running over 60 by 2003 and outgrew the youth house where they had been meeting. Many of the teens that attended youth group also attended on Sunday morning. Their presence in the service created an atmosphere of renewed life and vitality.
Some of the highlights for the teens have included the summer camp ministry, with as many as 23 teens attending Youth Camp in Maxwell, Nebraska. The teens have also enjoyed the ministry of two interns, Josh Wright and Chris McFadden, over the last few years. Today, our youth group runs around 40 under the leadership of Jola Casey.
The phenomenal growth that LWC has experienced over the last six years can be attributed to four major areas.
One of the ways LWC has grown is through the transfer of groups from other churches. In October of 2001, seven couples that were a part of a small group that met in Gridley started attending LWC. This small group had been formed as a ministry to people who were hurting because of difficult church situations. This group felt that God called them to Lamont Wesleyan Church rather than starting a new church. As of 2006 all seven couples are actively involved in leadership positions at LWC.
A second area of growth in the church has been from individual families transferring from other churches. In most cases these transfers were initiated by a painful experience in the former church, or families looking for ministry for their teens and children. They came to LWC in pain or looking for more than they were getting, were ministered to, and in many cases eventually became leaders in the church themselves.
A third area of growth has been LWC’s ability to attract new families in the community. As people have moved into our surrounding communities and have looked for a church, they quickly hear about the reputation of LWC, the friendliness of it’s people, and the variety of active ministries.
Another area of growth has been in families that were only minimally involved in churches or who were unchurched who were invited to LWC and experienced a spiritual renewal.
Increasingly LWC’s growth has come from the unchurched. Baptisms and confessions of faith are on the rise. The goal of reaching the unchurched remains our focus.
As the church has experienced these waves of growth, a number of changes have had to take place. Several people who transferred into the church had come from a tradition that included communion being served on a weekly basis. So in the summer of 2002 LWC began to take communion on a monthly basis. The Board was expanded to a total of nine members to give new leaders an opportunity to have a voice in the decision making process.
With this new growth LWC has experienced a number of new ministries. Today LWC is more active than some would have ever dreamed. In addition to the youth group, some of the new ministries include Hammerheads, Nursery, Wiggle Worms and God Followers (toddler and junior church), Linger Longer Lunches, monthly Men’s Breakfast, monthly Movie Nights, New Visitor Follow-Up (cookie ministry) and the formation of home groups.
Missions have also become a focus of Lamont Wesleyan Church over the last few years. Missions Director Melissa Harlan has coordinated the church’s efforts in supporting six different missions works throughout the world. A team of over 20 LWC members made a trip to a Native American mission in South Dakota in the summer of 2005 and completed numerous physical improvements to the church and youth center. Most recently seven LWC church family members traveled with other Wesleyan Church members from all over Kansas to Ecuador for a a work project.
One of the most significant new ministries is Dare-to-Care. As the church began to minister to multiple communities and grew beyond the ability to know everyone, the need to provide care to the church family became more difficult. Dare-to-Care addressed that need by providing people with the opportunity to pray for, send cards to, make calls to, and bring food to those in need. As of today over 40 people receive the Dare-to-Care information sheet on a weekly basis and numerous people are ministered to as a result.
In addition to these new ministries, LWC has also experienced a number of significant events at the church. With the help of a new portable baptistery, we offer baptisms on a fairly frequent basis; there have been several Friend Days, including our Fall Round-Up in 2004 that was held in the shell of our new building with over 250 people attending. In 2003 over 60 people from the church attended a KC Royals ballgame together taking a chartered bus and tailgating before and after the game. In the fall of 2004 twelve new members were received into the church on one Sunday, and membership Sundays are a regular part of church life. In the fall of 2003, people experienced Lamont’s largest banana split, with over 20 feet of delicious goodness shared by the church. On Valentine’s Day of 2003 over 60 people attended a Valentine’s Day banquet. Our annual summer Vacation Bible Schools regularly minister to over 100 area children.
LWC continues to grow in the area of finances. This has been a learning experience for the leaders and pastor. One of the challenges has been to understand the implications of hiring a full-time pastor. Throughout the church’s history there had never been a pastor whose sole source of income was the ministry. That changed when Pastor Steve came in 2000. In 2002, Dan Busby met with the church to explain the needed financial package to retain a full-time pastor. The church Board responded to the challenges being presented and has taken active steps in this area.
There has also been a tremendous change in the way financial decisions are made. Today the church operates with a budget. Significant financial decisions are made by the Board, while smaller financial decisions are made by ministry leaders.
LWC has also seen a significant increase in giving along with the other areas of growth. Our regular offerings in the 1999-2000 conference year were under $40,000. The church’s current budget (2006-2007) calls for giving of over $185,000 in addition to our building fund revenue.
A financial team now oversees the church’s finances. This team includes the church treasurer, who writes the checks and is primarily responsible for financial reporting; a financial secretary who tracks giving and makes deposits; and a team of tellers who count and document the offerings.
The worship style of LWC has also evolved over the last six years. Dan Busby donated a data projector to the church in 2002. This began improved uses of technology in leading the church in worship. On any given Sunday announcements are displayed on the screen before the service, lyrics to the worship songs are projected, and the pastor’s sermon notes are also projected on the screen. The church no longer uses hymn books. Several members have been added to the worship team, along with the formation of a youth worship band. Additional instrumentation is now a part of the worship experience as well, including drums, guitars and a bass.
The growth and changes at LWC have not been painless. While the people of LWC go to great lengths to reach out and be accepting of new ideas and of new people, there have been some areas of challenge.
These challenges have included the struggle of incorporating new people into the church. At this point it is impossible for anyone to know everybody. The goal of LWC is to make each person feel welcomed and wanted. As we have grown, this has become increasingly challenging.
LWC also works very hard to accommodate the many diverse traditions that people have. On any given Sunday there will be people who were raised Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Christian, and Presbyterian worshiping together. LWC strives to make the services as comfortable for these many people as possible, but acknowledges that it is a challenge.
The number of communities that we minister to also stretches LWC. LWC actively ministers to seven communities: Hamilton, Madison, Lamont, Hartford, Virgil, Gridley, and Burlington. Offering pastoral care in each community is an ongoing challenge. High gas prices and long travel distances make it hard for everyone to attend on every Sunday. Developing a sense of community in the church is one of the main goals.
A major challenge continues to be developing a plan of discipleship in an expanded setting. With many new people coming to church, it is difficult to know where they are in their walk with the Lord. When the church was smaller, discipleship could happen on a one-on-one basis with the pastor and key church leaders. As growth continues, the need for a specific discipleship plan has become increasingly obvious.
In 2003, the congregation began to actively study the possibility of building a new church to accommodate growth. Like the parsonage, this project was going to take a tremendous amount of faith. Initial studies revealed that a new building would cost at least $300,000, nearly four times as much as the parsonage had cost. Much prayer went up asking God for his leadership in this big decision.
Dan Busby met with the church Board in the summer of 2003 and shared a financial plan for the building project. This plan included specific goals and deadlines that would need to be met before the church went forward. The main goal was that 50% of the needed finances would need to be available before beginning the building project.
The capital campaign for the building project began in November of 2003. The goal was to have $150,000 cash in hand by Palm Sunday 2004. This goal was met and exceeded with over $215,000 being committed on the first day of the campaign, and nearly $250,000 being available by groundbreaking day on Palm Sunday 2004.
As it became obvious that the funding for the project was going to be available, the church began the process of planning the floor plan and design of the new building. During this process the church continued to grow, plans were rewritten numerous times, and in the end a floor plan was chosen that would accommodate a congregation of 350 with a cost close to $470,000.
One of the main challenges in building the new building involved the limited availability of property. The church discovered that it did not own the tract of land behind the church making it difficult to plan a building big enough for the church’s needs. Lloyd Haas generously donated the old lumberyard to the west of the church to be used as a parking lot. Other surrounding neighbors also agreed to vacate the road in between the Haas property and church’s property. These acts of generosity made it possible to go forward.
When ground was broken in the spring of 2004 Lamont Wesleyan Church began the largest project it had ever faced. Over the next year hundreds of hours were given to build the new church. Over 200 loads of dirt were brought in to prepare the site, several hundred yards of concrete were poured, and the entire interior of the building was built by the people of the church. The new building was dedicated on July 10, 2005.
God again honored this tremendous step of faith. Even though the final cost of the building was over $470,000, the church now owes under $33,000 on the mortgage. This was a tremendous answer to prayer. In addition, the church’s attendance jumped from 160 to 200 with the dedication of the new building.
LWC is looking to the future with expectation! God has a plan far bigger than any of us would have imagined for Lamont Wesleyan Church. One can only imagine what He will do next. As our current pastor states at the end of every worship service, “Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Ephesians 3:20 LIV)
1. The church is for everyone, not just the saved. While our goal is discipleship, our church needs to be a place where everyone feels welcomed.
2. Everyone needs to be a part of the decision making process in order to have ownership of it. The church should be led by teams of people committed to common goals.
3. Evangelism and discipleship need to be pulled together into a plan of action. Developing and implementing these plans has been a continuing goal.
4. As the church continues to grow we need to be aware of pastoral burnout and provide for their needs.
5. Our expectations of the pastor change as the church grows.
6. The church responds to good leadership.
7. The foundation of the church needs to grow to support the growth that we’ve had.
8. Change is painful. Changing our worship, the pastor’s role, the ability to know everyone, and the way we make decisions has been difficult. The rewards, however, are great.
1. We have had a history of ministering to hurting people. Whether it is pastors suffering from illness, family struggles, ministry hardships or crises, or parishioners coming from difficult church or family situations, LWC has always been a place where hurting people have found healing.
2. Lamont Wesleyan Church has had a history of avoiding unhealthy conflict.
3. Lamont Wesleyan Church has always honored its pastors.
4. Calling people to commitment and discipleship has always been a challenge for our church.
5. LWC has a foundation of strong faith and a belief in a big God.
6. Lost people have always mattered at LWC.
2006 – Present
The Story Continues! (Updated in the summer of 2015) The previous chapter of this history section was written in 2006. It was part of a project called “Refocusing’ that the whole church went through that year. In the years since, LWC has again been transformed by God. Today LWC has multiple services in multiple locations, with amazing plans in the works.
In 2013 we started Saturday evening services in the New Strawn/Burlington area. Soon after we started these services we had a fire at our New Strawn worship center. For a time we met in numerous locations. After a few months of this we were approached by the Church of the Nazarene in Burlington. They gave LWC their building and property. We have remodeled it and are using it for our Saturday evening services.
Our pastoral staff has also grown. Today Pastor Ryan Akers serves an assistant pastor. He focuses on building discipleship groups and shares the teaching/preaching responsibilities with our lead pastor, Pastor Steve McVey. Pastors David and Shaunna Sturgeon lead the New Strawn/Burlington youth group (The Station 3:16) and Shaunna is the worship leader for our Burlington services. Pastor Mark Adams is the youth pastor for our Madison/Lamont area ministries (Unchained). He and Sarah live in Madison and represent LWC in the Madison area. We currently support three Wesleyan missionaries from our regular budget.
We regularly support Hope Community Church, an inner city church in Kansas City. We have a monthly work day at Hope Community and help them with outreach events. We also strongly support a partnership with Mission Discovery in Haiti. We regularly go on mission’s trips to Haiti to build churches, work at an orphanage, and lead a ministry addressing the needs of Haitian women.
Our next steps will be to start a Sunday morning service in Burlington, build a new sanctuary in New Strawn that will replace the Burlington location, and work to bring Pastor Mark Adams on full-time as a ministry coordinator, in addition to his youth pastor responsibilities.
In all this we say, “Praise the Lord!” He has done great things and is still working. God loves people and will bless us as we demonstrate that love to our communities.