My Love for New England and the Church
My love for New England as a young minister began in the early 60’s when Madeline and I, with our young family, spent five straight years touring all six New England States. The beauty and history fascinated us and by 1964 we decided that Connecticut would be our goal to begin our mission to establish churches as my college education was centered around New Testament studies and New Church evangelism.
After my graduation from Great Lakes Christian College in 1965 we were approached by Richard Bourne, who had formed the Connecticut Evangelizing Mission, and invited me to visit a new church work that he had just started in his home in January 1966. I accepted that invitation and we moved to Ansonia to work with Mr. Bourne for two years before he moved on to start another church in upstate Connecticut.
By 1975 the Ansonia church had grown from four families to an average attendance of low to mid 80’s. A building project was seriously being considered, but eventually it was determined not to proceed. Since I was being recruited by an Arizona Evangelizing group I decided to resign and move on. After my resignation was announced I was approached by three families to start another new church work. I sought counsel from the eldership of my home sponsored church in Defiance, Ohio. They advised me to either return to Defiance or stay and work with those interested in starting a new church work. We decided to stay and that began our ministry with what has become known as the Woodland Church of Christ/Christian Church.
The new church began in our home in November 1975. We held our first public service at a nearby elementary school on Resurrection Sunday 1976. The church began to grow and a search began for property to eventually build on. We found 16 acres in Oxford that was available and the funding of $50,000 needed to be raised. I began to visit some churches and one of them, the London, KY Christian church, gave us $10,000. We purchased the property in the early 80’s and eventually sold 8 acres for the $50,000 we originally paid for all 16 acres. We then approached a local bank regarding a building loan but they were very hesitant and suggested we raise more funds. We sold an acre of land to an individual who wanted to build a home on a rear lot site. The bank’s board met to consider our request and came back with an offer if we could get a co-signer on the loan. Madeline and I prayed about it and agreed to use our name and home as the guarantor for the loan. Thus, the beginning of our first building project in 1986.
By November of that year we saw that it was possible to begin services in our new building in early to late December. We chose Christmas Sunday as the date reflecting on our church start on Resurrection Sunday 1976, two special days in the Christian calendar. Well, you might have guessed, we had a heavy snowfall. Undeterred, we put down left over plywood to serve as a walkway. We performed our Christmas Cantata and enjoyed a happy and joyous service. In 2002-2003 we continued by building an addition to house four educational classes, an office, and a fellowship hall on the lower level. The church family grew to over 100 in average attendance.
In 2010 my health began to fail and we decided to retire after 50 years in the ministry and 45 years in Connecticut of which 35 year were spent with the Woodland Church. We cannot express how much we love and miss our family and pray for you daily. Many of that family have remained faithful and to my delight I received a call from one of the elders, the first to hear, that they have completely paid off the mortgage. That was an exciting day for him and for us. Our dream for the Woodland Church has come into fruition. May God continue to bless you as you move into the future.