God’s Country Church, for Real
About 2,000 years ago is when the history of
God’s Country Church begins. There was a time when the people started to assemble in the wilderness because they heard a message being preached that was long awaited. They came and gathered to listen to a new message with old prophectice roots that had been spoken of since God first made this promise; that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.(Gen 3:15) As John preached the coming of the Messiah the people assembled to hear this message that they long hoped for; now when they believed, they were
Baptized, Ever since the day when the Lord came to John and was Himself baptized that His message went forth which is repentance and the Kingdom of God is at hand. BUT His true mission was to destroy the works of the Devil.
Jesus was crucified because of the truth in the message he brought; this crucifixion caused the assemblies of believers to scatter into diverse nations.
Now those who believed assembled where ever they could and when they assembled Christ was present and His Spirit taught them.
They met in believers’ homes and open places usually cemeteries. These gatherings were for believers and the making of disciples, followers of Jesus.
They didn’t build buildings they just assembled when and where they could so then others went out from them into the world to continue making disciples.
Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout
Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace. The
number of people increased as people lived
in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the
Christians were marginalized and persecuted always struggling for a place in their culture. Christian freedom and privilege began around 324 AD when Constantine was the Roman Emperor. It was he who helped Christians escape their minority status in the culture. He wanted Christianity promoted and accepted.
To establish Christianity as a strong religion he ordered the
building of church buildings. It was in this age that brought Christianity into the spot light of the world stage and gave Christians place in the culture. Constantine began the first effort of making the church great.
Since this time past, there has been every kind of attempt to make church buildings… Many attempts were made to make them important
by constructing gothic castle style cathedrals (12th century) and even when building churches of stick and mud; all were made to be important in the towns and villages. Even after all the effort not one of these buildings is the Church (big C). That which defines the Church are the people who are filled with the Holy Spirit each one is a temple
in which the spirit dwells.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body
is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in
you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
When two or more are assembled together that makes a congregation; not a building. Assembly is the definition of the word Church; In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both
words meaning simply an assembly, the character of the Church is an assembly of believers; each assembly is a part but not the
whole Body of Christ which is the Church (big C).
[Col 1:24 I am happy to suffer for you now. In
my body I am completing whatever remains of
Christ’s sufferings. I am doing this on behalf of
his body, the church.]
[Psa_111:1 Praise ye the
LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole
heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.]
There’s an assembly usually of elders that is within a congregation; thus the assembly can be within the congregation but the congregation is not the assembly because not all the congregation is upright though it strives to be.
Now be warned that an assembly can be an assembly of the wicked not a true congregation of believers who are followers of Jesus.
[Psa_22:16 For dogs have compassed
me: the assembly of the wicked have
enclosed me: they pierced my hands and
Psa_26:5 I have hated the congregation
of evil doers; and will not sit with the
Pro_5:14 I was almost in all evil in the
midst of the congregation and assembly.
Mar_13:22 For false Christs and false
prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs
and wonders, to seduce, if it were
possible, even the elect.
Buildings are actually unnecessary however we find buildings
convenient. In my experience I found as we met in homes our meetings
became like a bridge club.
We had good meetings but it is work for those who are working people
needing time to prepare their house for guests, and then provide snacks as well as some other things that cause a burden on the host.
Also adding new people is not easy because of limited space. The first
known church was in Syria, Dura-Europos around 232 AD, this was a
home remodeled by tearing out a wall to accommodate larger assemblies in this case was up to 70.
As a new believer I was a part of home group and remained with some
in part through the years. As this group grew we went from meeting in
homes to finding free public places in which to meet. Eventually our group dissipated into other congregations that met in various buildings. This is the root of how we came to this building because you see there are some of us are still meeting together.
Our history concerning this congregation begins In the early 1980’s; first by establishing that this building was already here. I have tried to date the building but I seem to have trouble getting dates. Actually the history of the church building and long past congregations is hard to pin down. We have some reasons to believe the building is 200 years old. I have heard stories how this was once a black church in which slaves that escaped the south began to assemble here. This is interesting and needs more research to confirm this. Certainly the building is old enough for this to be possible.
The building dating back to the early 1800’s then has obviously housed many various assemblies for the past 200 years or so.
The best I have been able to do is date it from the grave yard. Why the
graveyard? Graveyards are also called church yards which were a part of almost all churches even from the days of Constantine which had their memorial grounds and cemeteries. This is another rabbit trail; but just to mention many modern church buildings don’t have cemeteries or memorials anymore; something to ponder.
The graveyard across from our property dates back to 1832 as near as I can tell. The property does not belong to the church and there is no record it ever did.
Asbury Cemetery is close enough so it is not hard to imagine the folk buried there would have had something to with Asbury Church, we know from the recorder’s office the church building was here then. We
know there are two war verterans buried there there one from War of 1812 and one from the Civil War.
It would be interesting to know more details from times when the church was heated with potbelly stoves and to know about the families; I wish I could share that.
I only have the knowledge of recent history which I will share.
Seeds were planted for this present congregation back in 1980
when Elaine, I affectionately call sister sandpaper, was attending
and maintaining the church building. The pastor at that time was
Seburn Blankenship. He moved to WV from that time the
congregations had various pastors. Meantime Elaine and friend
Marie kept the building cared for a couple of years. When people
stopped coming to the church Elaine thought it was because of her.
So she remained home one Sunday. The only Sunday she stayed
home she got a call from Marie telling her to get to the church now;
so she did.
When she entered the church there was a man standing in the
Sanctuary tall and strong; imagine Reverand Mr Black. She immediately identified as a preacher. He confirmed
that he was and he shared with her a vision he had while living in
Arkansas. Bart Warren was his name. He said he was to come to
Somerville, Ohio a find a church to tell the people there would be a
great gathering. He had packed his wife and four children to deliver
this message that was why he was here. Prior to coming to Asbury
Freewill Baptist Church Mr. Warren and his family visited and
attended several other church buildings in the Somersville area. He
didn’t find the right place so he was taking his family back to
Arkansas. While in route they spotted Asbury Freewill Baptist
Church and stopped that particular Sunday. Then and there he said
he found that place he was looking for and remained for a season
as Pastor Warren. During his pastorate it was decided to change the
name of the building. The entire congregation participated by
writing the name they wanted on a paper and put it in a hat. The
name drawn was God’s Country Church. I think it was a miracle for
the name explains who this building truly belongs to.
Sense I am reporting the history I will state my first experience with GCC. It was 1975 or 6 when I my wife and I were invited by some friends to come to a Christmas program. I would remember this building because of the strange elevated floor that was chest high from the ground level entrance. It seemed to make little sense. Note the floor is an import part of the story Most people would notice this unique thing. I never thought about it until I visited again which reminded me of being here before because the impression of raised floor. My second visit was when my new friend Ron invited my kids and me to a festival which was outside. They set up a stage and had some lively Christian bands playing. Imagine Ron and his interest in music. This was around 1989, I was then a new born as some would say. I don’t recall who the pastor was then, it wasn’t the youthful Ron. We had just begun fellowship in the home group mentioned earlier.
Now we leap forward to 1990s to another congregation, the pastor of the congregation at that time left for unknown reasons. Once again the need for a pastor comes to the building now called God’s Country Church. The congregation at that time asked Dr. loyd Moore to pastor the church. He was attending and hosting home Bible studies. Dr. Moore was converted and Born Again late in his life. He was not a
seminary trained teacher but a brilliant man he gained knowledge quickly, and he received some good counsel from guess who? Yep, Elaine. Under Dr. Moore the congregation grew as many of his patients also started coming. I began to attend his home studies at invitation of the Benedicts.
In 1996 Pastor Moore became ill with cancer. At the time he was dying he knew the church needed leadership and three days before his death he asked Ron Benedict to take his mantle. With the acceptance of that a new season began for God’s Country Church. Pastor Benedict was working hard both in ministry and a job. The congregation began to
change. Our scattered group of the past home group was ow given a place that we wished for.
This is the building we inherited from former congregations. It wasn’t like we just moved in and kicked others out. It was overtime while Ron was preaching here that some of us found our way here and began to make this our church home. Now people come and go as it is with the story of this building and Ron and Elaine seem to be the anchor for many years. With Ron as pastor the church seemed to grow and filled with those of us from the early home group as wel as others who were with Dr. Moore and folk from the area. It was doing well. At that time our church was well managed we even had associate pastors such as Rick Lower and Dale Baker. Somewhere in the sequence of events I as asked to be an Elder which I reluctantly accepted. I also was given the task of organizing business meetings. The church was doing well by that I mean well attended and there were activities within the congregation. We even had a worship team with Rick Lower and his children Hanah and Jessie. There were no paid positions so there was no competition for money or pressure to ask for money for anything except the light bill.
All good stories have a villain. Tragedy and Glory was our saviours story. Now comes the roaring lion who creeps about seeking whom he may destroy. As our church assembly was prospering there he was lurking in the shadows to sow discord among the body. Doctrinal issues can and will arise and disagreement will always be a part of
assemblies People who read and study will differ. even as Paul and Peter disputed. For the Congregation the pastor sets and maintains the standard under the guidance first of the Holy Spirit then with the elders and deacons which is the assembly within the congregation.
Within the congregation some disagreement concerning the taking of communion was brought up. A surprise meeting was called at hearing this there was concern of a coup. The meeting took place and some remained disgruntled. In summery some folk wanted change for their cause, but Truth prevailed. After this our congregation was smaller brought closer and stronger continuing in the word. We have since up dated our by-laws addressing how differences should be handled. So good comes from what was meant for evil…
Our church assembly has never grown to the size it was then but our outreach has grown larger. We are a congregation that works together and builds together. We know the building is not the church though we may use that terminology. We recognize each induvial as a part of the Body and the congregation as a larger part waiting for the true shepherd to return for HIs little flock. Luke 12:32
About 8-9 years ago it seemed to be the end of our time with this building. All that was left paying the bills was Ron, Elaine and me. The church was a heavy burden to maintain and we found ourselves wondering if we should continue. I was ready to move from Delaware. I said I would buy the building and make a living quarters and art studio out of it. I planned to leave a part of the chapel in tack in case there would be some come to meet here. I started bringing stuff to begin the project. I looked forward to living out here in the country.
I was troubled because when I sat in the chapel now called a sanctuary it didn’t feel right to not have this space to meet in. I was not sure it was right to close the church though I was excited with the idea of living here. One day I got a call from Elaine telling me some people
stopped by and wanted to come to church here. We hadn’t stopped services but attendance was often 2 or 3. I thought then and was reminded that what I once heard from the Lord that this was His church and we were his servants. He would do good things here and it will prevail. This was a word I had many years ago and nearly lost faith that it was true.1/16/2016
Here comes Kim and Dana Fishbaugh and some more families. Well there went my housing project with the prepper plans and the whole idea was tossed. A new season for vision and hope I am very glad of that because this building has been here for many people for many generations and it is God’s Country Church.
Now in 2015 there were three different guests that have visited with a message to Pastor Ron that he should get ready for a great gathering of many at this church. On July 26, 2015 The Pastor stepped in faith remembering the vision that the man from Arkansas brought. lowering the floor was/is part of the preparation for the time coming.
Thus the floor from my first remembrance was significant. Pastor Ron announced the project to lower the floor would begin at the end of that
With only $200 in the treasury and a move of faith the project began some with vigor and some not so sure but all remained in agreement.
By direction of the Holy Spirit Tim Sanders was directing the project and given the vision and he did according to what he was told. Others
showed up at various times exactly when he needed someone to help. Even Bicycle Bob who rides from FL stopped to help with one of the most difficult task of fixing the foundation on the east wall. Funds came with donations, yard-sales and faith that Lord would see this project through. The project was finished for around $18,000 without loans or interruption once the project began. On June 26, 2016 the first service was held in the remodeled sanctuary.
Who knows what will come and go but we know God is always with us and we are His servants. The Vision…
Habakkak 2:2 And Jehovah answereth me and
saith: `Write a vision, and explain on the tables,
that he may run who is reading it.
It is vision that gives us direction and this direction is given
by God, this Hope.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for
you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare
and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith
without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And
let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to
good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
together, as the manner of some; but exhorting one
another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
We meet at God’s Country Church assembling with hope in
our hearts and with a vision written on the table Let
the great Gathering begin…
Let’s Make the Church Great Again