In the spring of 1988 a group of 12 people began to meet with the vision of planting a church at Charlie Lake, B.C. They were from various denominations and were supported and commissioned by the Calvary Baptist Church of Fort St. John, B.C. The first worship service was held on September 18, 1988 in the Charlie Lake Community Hall with 14 adults and 10 children in attendance. On February 12, 1989, the group voted to become recognized as a church and affiliate with theBaptist Union of Western Canada. The foundation service and official church status were celebrated on May 27, 1990. 27 people were inducted into membership.
The church body continued to grow, bringing the church to a decision to purchase land and build a permanent church home. On June 12, 1991 a 4.5 acre parcel of land overlooking Charlie Lake was purchased from the Charlie Lake Community Club. On September 18, 1991 the church voted to acquire the Boundary Lake Esso complex and move it on to the lot. The complex consisted of four Atco trailer units that were to become a sanctuary (2000 sq. ft.). Attached were two modular units (3000 sq. ft.). Over the years growth continued, bringing the church to a new building project which began in December 1997.
In December of 1997 the Big Bam Ski Lodge located in Taylor, B.C. was purchased from the Big Bam Ski Club. The log structure was dismantled log-by-log by volunteers and was hauled to Charlie Lake in April, 1998. In May the foundation footings were poured, along with a Styrofoam (Quadlock) basement. The joists and floors were installed and the log structure was resurrected. This completed phase one.
Engineering of two additions (nursery & fireside room) and roof design began in the spring of 1999, with the construction of the additions being completed in the fall. Trusses and the roofing package were ordered. Work began on the roof in January of 2000 and was completed in the spring. A group from the Mennonite Brethren Church of Fort St. John sanded and cleaned all the logs and helped to install the tin roof covering. This brought the new building to lock up stage in the fall of 2000. In 2001 the doors, windows, framing, stairways, gable ends, soffits and balconies were constructed.
On December 21, 2003 it was with much joy that the church met together for the first time in the new log building.
Since the move from the old building church attendance has increased by approximately 50%.
Everyone at the Charlie Lake Community Church is excited about the new ministry opportunities afforded by our expanded meeting space. We pray that in every use, this new building will bring the people of Charlie Lake and the surrounding communities into relationships with our church family. We pray that God will enable us to use His abundance to minister to those in need around us.
In 1987, a committee of interested people from Calvary Baptist Church in Fort St. John, as well as some other area churches, was organized to consider the possibility of a church plant. The committee met regularly for about one year and included Al and Sue Stebing who later became the pastor couple for the new church. Several of the founding members lived in the Charlie Lake area, and many community members, both churched and unchurched, were supportive of the idea of a church for the growing Charlie Lake area.
The first public worship service was held at the Charlie Lake Community Hall in September 1988. On September 11th a Covenant and Induction service was held, and Al Stebing was inducted as pastor. Al‘s background in ranching, trapping, guiding and logging along with his passion for evangelism helped prepare him to minister to a wide variety of people in Charlie Lake and outlying areas. In 1989, the church voted to become affiliated with the Baptist Union of Western Canada. The foundation service and official church status were celebrated on May 27, 1990. The number of people attending Sunday morning worship increased steadily, and in the period of about 3 years, the average Sunday attendance had grown from thirty something to more than a hundred.
The church reached out to families in the community with Sunday School, Kids Club, gym nights, youth club, Bible study groups and special community events such as music nights and Thanksgiving dinners. Sunday School space was very limited at the hall, it was soon clear that the group needed better facilities for the children and youth programs. After looking at a variety of options, money was borrowed from the Baptist Union to help purchase a 4.5 acre lot adjacent to the Community Hall, which is the location of the church building today.
In the fall of 1991 office buildings used by Esso Resources at Boundary Lake were donated to the church for the cost of moving them and cleaning up the site. Since the building was too wide for the bridge it was brought across the Beatton River on the ice and broke through, creating some interesting publicity. In addition to these units which would serve as offices and Sunday School rooms, four Atco trailers were purchased to use as a sanctuary. Many local businesses and individuals contributed labor and materials to the building project. The dedication service for the church buildings was held in January, 1992.
Over the next few years people came and stayed to become a part of the church. Sunday worship services, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, youth group activities, and Kids Club put the facilities to good use. Bible studies were formed and a counselling service began as ministry of the church. For about four years there was an outreach to the community of Wonowon.
As the 1990s progressed, time was set aside for Vision Days and discussion began about the next step, a larger building.
The log chalet at the Big Bam Ski Hill of Taylor, BC became available for purchase in 1997 and in April 1998 the logs were transported to the church property. An architect was hired to produce the blueprints and a local building supply retailer gave a complete Styrofoam form system for the basement at cost. They then organized local contractors to come and erect, prepare, and pour the basement in a two-day “training clinic”, all at no cost to the church. Once the basement was complete, the logs were set in place. Businesses, individuals and churches in Charlie Lake, Fort St. John and the surrounding area came through again and again with supplies, labor and funds. It was a long process before the church building was completed. Work proceeded as the funds were available. Eventually the wiring, plumbing, heating systems were in place and the finishing work got underway.
During this season the church added Nick Vanderlin as an assistant pastor to work with the youth and assist Pastor Al in other duties. In the fall of 1999 there were some tensions over theology. A soft economy and several families leaving the church led to declining finances. This resulted in the laying off of Ann Loewen who served as church secretary as well as Pastor Nick.
The ministry recovered, a new secretary, Francie Hancharuk was hired in 2001 and the construction project continued. It was with much excitement and thanksgiving that on December 14, 2003 the congregation enjoyed their first “official” service in the log church. On Sunday March 7, 2004 the congregation came together with community members and those from other churches for the dedication service. The theme of the area pastor’s message to the congregation was that the new building should be “a launch pad not a landing pad.”
During a vision process in 2005 the need for an associate pastor was raised. Also, though Pastor Al was planning to stay for several more years, he wisely raised the issue of succession planning. In 2006, Pastor Alfred Reschke along with his wife Maria and family came to Charlie Lake with Alfred to serve as Associate Pastor to work alongside Pastor Al. Having two pastors with different sets of gifts enabled the church to continue to grow in its effective service to the community.
Additional programs like Moms & Tots Bible study, DVBS, missions trips, support of short and long term missionaries from the church, and the annual Ft. St John area Mission Vision event rose up out of CLCC. Due to the unique and attractive facility the church building became and still is a desired location for weddings and funerals, leading to many opportunities to serve the area. It has also consistently been a place where people are welcomed on Sunday mornings no matter who they are or what they are wearing.
The average attendance of the church got over 200 for the first time in 2010. On January 22, 2011, the church held a celebration service to thank Pastor Al and Sue for their service, to thank God for the previous 23 years, and to bless Al and Sue in the future endeavors God had for them.
A search process was initiated, which included the retaining of interim pastor Bob McKenzie along with his wife Myrtle serving for most of the rest of 2011. In January of 2012 Alfred Reschke became the new Lead Pastor. Jared Braun was hired as associate pastor in February of 2013. During Alfred’s tenure as pastor the church’s ties with the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (formerly the Baptist Union of Western Canada) were strengthened. Also during his time Alfred worked with the board in establishing an eldership model on a trial basis. This model is still being refined.
Pastor Alfred and Maria enjoyed three month sabbatical through the summer and early fall of 2015 while interim pastor Lloyd Alstead and his wife Marti served in an interim role. In the winter and spring of 2016 the church held a series of facilitated Sunday potluck meetings to explore vision related questions. However before this process was fully complete, Pastor Alfred took medical leave for burnout in the fall of 2016.
In January of 2017 the board announced that Alfred would not be returning to his role as Lead Pastor. They are now laying the foundations to begin a search process for the next Lead Pastor.
We are here to worship and celebrate the glory of God and to enter a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, whom God has given to us to show us the way, the truth and the life, both now and forevermore. Our goal is to help you discover and grow in this relationship through teaching, building relationships, caring for one another and discovering your spiritual gifts. This way we all may be equipped to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s love in our community and around the world.
If you know of someone who doesn’t have a Bible and would like to have one, please help yourself to any of the Bibles available at the table beside the Fireside Room.