What is our heritage?
A small group of people met at 612 Elmer St. in the home of Mrs. Elsie Rodebough for Prayer and Bible Study and seeking God for direction. On March 8,1953, forty-four people met together and voted to establish a new church with Donald Mank as their pastor.
In 1954 property was purchased at 1413 E. Chestnut Ave., and on February 25 the footings for a church building were poured.
In 1955 Rev. John F. Garrahan was called to serve as pastor, and on Easter Sunday the dedication was held in the basement which was the first phase of the building.
In 1958, Rev. William Scott became the pastor after Rev. Garrahan's resignation. The parsonage was purchased on Chestnut Avenue next to the church.
After Pastor Scott's resignation in 1962, the church called Rev. Harry Snook as its new pastor. Thirty-five members greeted the Snooks as they began what would become sixteen years of ministry. Under their leadership, a sanctuary was added to the original building; and the congregation grew measurably during that time.
On the first Sunday in December, 1976, Rev. Ralph and Marilyn Snook accepted the call to pastor Chestnut Assembly. The church had gone through great gains during the Jesus Movement under Pastor Harry's ministry but had since fallen on hard times due to some internal struggles. After experiencing times of renewal, the congregation once again grew measurably until the sanctuary was full to over-flowing. Double morning services were conducted to accommodate the crowds.
The congregation, in their annual meeting in March, 1986, voted to relocate their facilities to a larger parcel of land and chose 26 acres at the corner of Chestnut Ave. and Brewster Rd. This was also the year the congregation launched their Capital Stewardship Program through which they pledged $1,647,000 over a three-year period. It was also thought that with the forecast of what would happen to property values after route 55 was completed a sale price of 1.6 million dollars could be realized from sale of the old church property. The goal was to move into the new church debt free!
In 1988, Mr. Nick LaRosa who was a charter member of Chestnut Assembly volunteered to serve as construction manager. Nick was a seasoned building contractor, and his service would keep costs down to a minimum. Bro. Nick suffered a stroke near the beginning of the project that incapacitated him and left the church in a very difficult situation. Shortly after, the architectural firm that served us filed bankruptcy and left the church in a more difficult situation.
The years 1989 through 1992 were very bleak for this Assembly. Although the church services were still very anointed, the morale of the people reached all-time lows. The bottom fell out of the real estate market, so we could not find a buyer for the old church, and attendance slacked off. Pledges weren't being paid, and the building fund dried up. The half-finished church was the picture of desolation. Only by God's grace did we make it. It was during this time that God used four people - three of whom were not known by anyone in the church - who called or wrote with a Prophetic Word from the Lord. These supernatural encounters served as shots of adrenaline at needed low points to help keep the vision before us.
In 1993, an agreement of sale for the old church was reached with the New Covenant Voice of Deliverance Church. Even though the price was nearly one quarter of what was originally intended, there was enough capital available to restart the buidling process. The Minister's Benefit Association released the additional funds to get the building finished.
Fory and Cindy Vanden Einde became God's gift to us in 1994 through the Home Mission's Department of the Assemblies of God. This couple devoted themselves to come at their own expense to serve as construction managers to finish the project. Nearing completion, a devastating fire set by arsons ripped through the back portion of the buidling. Damage came to $780,000 and another set-back in the time table. After a time of reorganizing, reconstruction began and everything started to fall into place.
On January 26, 1995, the first service was held in the new church. What God had promised, He was able to perform. Since then we have seen the mighty hand of God intervening on our behalf. Time and again we have proven God to be faithful to us as a church. Scoffers said we would never make it this far, but we have, and we will continue to make it until Jesus comes again. He is still performing what He has promised!