If you’ve been around Emmanuel Faith for 8 weeks or 80 years, you have likely seen people who love Jesus, abide in his word and trust in his faithfulness. God has blessed us abundantly, but not without trials and pruning.
In October 1939, Emmanuel Faith Community Church was established with the desire for a church where “the Word would be its sole foundation.” This community of believers was dealing with the aftermath of the Great Depression and the new impacts of WWII. After five years, our first pastor, Earl Morgan, was called away to pastor our servicemen. The pruning began.
Coy Maret became our new pastor and served faithfully for 27 years. In the 1950’s, theological and constitutional discussions arose which, through much prayer, were eventually resolved and unity remained. By 1970, the church had grown such that the current property could no longer meet the congregation’s needs. The decision was made to purchase new land and start building. Pastor Maret continued to preach, counsel and lead, but was becoming increasingly saddened by the unhealthy state of marriages, families and individuals in the church. God was growing the church, yet many were struggling to find wholeness in Him. While on a much needed vacation, Pastor Maret suffered a heart attack and went home to be with the Lord. The congregation was in shock. How could God take their beloved pastor? Yet the words of 2 Corrithians 12:9 rang true, “My grace is sufficient for Thee.”
In 1972, Dr. Richard Strauss was hired as our third pastor. He moved his family across the country and proceeded to lead a grieving church. Building continued, our Constitution was amended and a new Statement of Faith was approved! These all produced anxiety, long discussions and much prayer; yet, as the pruning continued, unity prevailed as God graciously guided. On a Sunday in 1989 Dr. Strauss announced that he had cancer. For seventeen years Doc had taught EFCC how to live for Jesus. While enduring cancer treatment, he continued honoring God as his physical body deteriorated. Doc’s death was the first of many staff members who died over the next two decades. More grieving, more pruning.
Pastor Dennis Keating was then called to lead. Missionaries continued to be sent out and churches were planted, all of whom experienced pruning of their own. Fires ravaged our community, yet those affected not only stood and declared God’s sufficient grace, but they used the experience to share Jesus’ love. In 2019, after decades of faithful service, Pastor Dennis felt called to hand over the reins to a new leader.
God called Ryan Paulson as our fifth Lead Pastor. Transitions alone are difficult, but then COVID hit, and brought with it not only discouragement and disillusionment, but also great opportunities. Looking back at our history, we see how the loss of people and relationships has often been the pruning. Connecting has become difficult during COVID, yet, the constrictions have hopefully caused us to turn our hopes towards God. Worshipping outside or in the comfort of our home has brought about a new awareness of His presence as we feel the breeze, listen to the birds or sip a cup of coffee. God is in the pruning, and from it he promises abundance, for His grace is sufficient for each and every one of us.
Director of Counseling & Soul Care