Welcome to the website of
New River Community Church of God
A Brief History of New River Community
Church of God
In the early 1900s, the “flying messengers” of the Church of God came to Jacksonville. That’s when James Luther Taylor and his wife Josephine and their children started visiting Sneads Ferry to preach. He held tent meetings during the 1920s and once held a 7-10 day revival in the home of Ethel Millis. He was pastoring in Jacksonville at the time and would come preach on the first Sunday of each month in Sneads Ferry. The “Community Church of God” officially started in 1949 after approximately 20 years of groundwork.
Bro. Taylor personally bought the land on the corner of Fulcher’s Landing Road and John Everett Drive in 1945 for $35. He also bought three military barracks from Ft. Fischer in Wilmington (they had been used at Camp Davis in Holly Ridge earlier but were actually moved from Wilmington to Sneads Ferry). Two were used for Church and Sunday School with the oher serving as a parsonage. They used gas lanterns to start with and added electricity in 1946. All pews were hand-made board benches and the lectern was also hand-made. The Taylors later gave the land and the barracks to the Church.
Church was very different back then. We always had a Sunday School for the children and adults as well as Sunday night and Wednesday night preaching services. Usually there were only 15-20 people at Church during this time, mostly from the Millis family. Sometimes only two people would show up for church, but they did not give up. There was always a dream to relocate and build another facility in the future with a sanctuary and classroom. Pastor Taylor served faithfully here until 1970 when his health failed and he entered a nursing home.
Because of the church’s small size, most of the pastors were retired and didn’t require much salary. Some were ordained ministers and some were the people from within the church. Often we had no pastor and simply had to get by the best we could.
The congregation faithfully shared their dream of relocating and building a new facility. Many individuals sacrificed, sold things, worked hard, scrimped and saved to purchase the present property. We changed our name to First Church of God when we borrowed money from the Board of Church Extension in Anderson. In the fall of 1983 their dream was realized when Pastor Leslie (and Mae) Wright preached the first sermon in the new brick building. That building presently serves as the church office and foyer today.
The State organization of the Church of God took us on as a church plant for two years and enabled us to pay for our first full-time pastor when Pastor Paul Phelps came in November of 1984. Under his leadership, we raised money, plans were drawn, and work camps conducted. Bro. Phelps contacted friends in Ohio (Oct. of 85 and Oct. of 86) and North Carolina (Oct. of 86) to come and help build the sanctuary. In October of 1986, we opened the doors to the present sanctuary. The new sanctuary was a dream come true since we had never had a nice sanctuary.
When we moved to the new location, a new day dawned for us. We began to overcome the stigmas of the past. After decades of isolation from the broader Church of God movement, we began participating in state camp meetings in North Carolina and Tennessee. This exposure opened up the church leadership to see new and better ways of doing “church”. Visiting other churches of God helped bring enlightenment and hope to the church. Training events in Anderson, IN and Wichita, KS introduced the church to more literature on church growth, missionaries, Sunday School, etc. These and involvement in the state work helped broaden our vision and understanding, highlighting why ongoing training is so necessary.
In January 1992, Pastor Gary & Julie Garmon and family came to serve the congregation. Although his pay package was equivalent to the entire income of the Church of only 40 people, we stepped out on faith and God blessed. The church sensed that God was ready to bless and work here in ways like never before. The Church voted in June of that year to change the name to New River Community Church of God. Pastor Gary introduced Super Sundays for outreach during this time. After much planning and prayer, volunteers from the church completed the Activity Center. We opened Noah’s Ark Christian Preschool and Daycare in September of 1993. Soon after, John Nance responded to our call to serve as full-time Associate Pastor (Music & Youth) from 1994-1998. Many were saved under Pastor Gary’s full-time leadership the congregation grew quickly, averaging over 200 for a while. Both the church and the community loved the Garmons. This was an exciting time in the life of the church. Pastor Gary left in 1996. Pastor of Youth and Music, John Nance, filled the pulpit shortly after Pastor Gary left. We joyfully celebrated the church’s 50th anniversary in October of 1996.
Pastor Mike & Jan Schwartz came in June of 1997 and were here until March of 2000. Pastor Mike worked at getting the large congregation organized and accountable. Pastor Phelps, now legally blind, served as Visitation Pastor during this time and again as Interim 2000 - 2001.
Rich & Caryol Meyer pastored from March 2001 to June of 2003 and introduced the very successful Pioneer Club children’s program to NRCC.
Pastors Steve & Jane Allen and their family came January 1st of 2004 and continue to serve as pastors today.
God continues to bless and lead His people. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV). We know that:
A great commitment
to the Great Commandment
and the Great Commission
will grow a great church
that will make a great difference
Thanks to God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of His people, the future is bright and hopeful for NRCC!
What We Believe
The Church of God believes in a cluster of biblical teachings which form a vision of the church. Specifically the Church of God is:
“Each one of them is a part of the DNA of the wider Christian tradition. But we may be the only fellowship of Christians in which all seven of these are vigorously and persistently lifted up as requiring sustained emphasis in preaching, teaching, and practice. ...The distinctive character of the church of God is that all seven of these emphases have found a home in one and the same group of Christians.” (p. 31) *
*Adapted from the book Vision for the Church of God at the Crossroads by Dr. Gil Stafford, Warner Press, 2002
A Brief Intro. to the Church of God (Anderson, IN)
The Church of God, with U.S. offices in Anderson, Indiana, began in 1881 as a movement emphasizing the unity of God’s people and holy living. Daniel S. Warner and several associates sought to forsake denominational hierarchies and formal creeds, trusting solely in the Holy Spirit as their overseer and the Bible as their statement of belief. These individuals saw themselves at the forefront of a movement to restore unity and holiness to the church. Their aim was not to establish another denomination but to promote primary allegiance to Jesus Christ so as to transcend denominational loyalties.
This movement is not historically related to the several Church of God bodies rooted in the holiness revival of Tennessee and the Carolinas in the late nineteenth century. Although it shares their holiness commitment, it does not emphasize the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues generally associated with Pentecostal churches.
Deeply influenced by Wesleyan theology and Pietism, the church’s generally accepted teachings include the divine inspiration of Scripture; forgiveness of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of the believer; the experience of holiness; the personal return of Christ, unconnected with any millennial reign; the kingdom of God as established here and now; the resurrection of the dead; a final judgment in which there will be reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.
Within the church, baptism by immersion is viewed as a witness to the new believer’s regeneration in Christ and inclusion in the family of God. The Lord’s Supper reminds participants of the grace experienced in the life of the believer. Foot washing is practiced in acknowledgement and acceptance of the servant ministry of all Christians to each other and to the world. These symbolic acts are understood to be affirmative reminders of what God has done in Christ. None of these practices, termed ordinances, are considered mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship.
There is no formal membership. Individuals are assumed to be members on the basis of personal conversion and conduct that supports that conversion experience. This is consistent with the church’s understanding of how Christian unity is to be achieved—a unity based on spiritual experience rather than creedal agreement.
The Church of God is congregational in its government. Each local congregation is autonomous. Ministers meet in voluntary state, regional and national assemblies, and other associations. In North America, the General Assembly, composed primarily of ministers but also including lay congregational delegates, meets in connection with the movement’s annual North American Convention held in Anderson, Indiana.
The Church of God movement holds the firm conviction that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. In this context we accept all that is central and enduring in the faith of historic, orthodox Christianity as these essentials often have been stated in widely accepted faith affirmations (such as the Nicene Creed). In declaring our present understandings of Christian faith, experience, discipline, and fellowship, we gratefully acknowledge our particular indebtedness at many points to the Protestant Reformation, to the Anabaptist free-church tradition, to the Puritan-Pietist movements, to Armenian-Wesleyan evangelicalism, and to the Holiness movement in the United States.