Our Church History
Presented September 10, 1988
Nellie Jobes-Van Kirk has given us an idea of what was here in Spirit Lake a few years ago when the town had a population close to 3,000 people. The Curtis Brown family moved here in July 1974 and found no Adventist Church. The closest was in Coeur d’Alene. When driving around on Sabbath afternoons or Sundays on the back roads, they came across a sign announcing, “Vacation Bible School at the Edgemere Seventh-day Adventist Church.” They found no Edgemere but a Harlem, not knowing then that junction was where Spike and Daisy Blood lived. It used to be a large town with hotels, years ago.
At In-Gathering time, Edgemere folks covered Spirit Lake. You can guess what happened. They knocked on Curtis Brown’s door and sang. He joined them and found out where their church was. Elder Dean Edwards was pastor, and he and Kay Bramblee-Gatchel solicited the businesses in town.
Maxine Proctor moved out from Michigan in 1976, and stared going out to Edgemere after she was contacted through an In Gathering. She played the piano for Sabbath School the first time she went, and continued to do so thereafter. She was baptized on November 19, 1977 by Elder Don Roper.
You can’t have a church without people. David and Barbara Brown moved to town, and also Opal Brockman. The Dreyers came in 1978, and the membership kept growing. The Church had the Conference Health Van out in the parking lot of City Hall on March 8 and 9, 1978.
A Cooking School held from June 19 to 22, 1978 was preceded by a 5-day Stop Smoking Plan, held from May 28 to June 1. The Cooking School was conducted by Judy Roper, and the Stop Smoking by her husband, Elder Don Roper, with Bruce Papendick assisting. Six weeks of evangelistic meetings were conducted by Elder Dick Rentfro from June 29 to August 5, 1978. All these events were held in the Civic Center in town.
Dr. Ray Andreassen had set up his office in Newport, and by 1979, it was rumored that he and his family were coming to Spirit Lake. Everyone rejoiced because it was hoped that the Andreassens would help bring a deeper impression on the townspeople. The church had learned that a Seventh-Day Adventist Church had formerly been in the town and some of the citizens had attended. The building was still standing when the Curtis Browns came to town, and it was being used as an antique shop. The Baptists bought it in 1981.
Woody and Evelyn Green had moved to town by this time, and other Seventh-Day Adventists came. One family came to work with Dr. Ray in giving health treatments, and another to open up a health food store. This made it look like we could start a company in town instead of all going to Edgemere, Newport, or Coeur d’Alene. Curtis talked it over with the doctor, and checked out three churches for possibly renting one. He spoke to the then mayor, who asked his church board, and they gave their okay.
The Spirit Lake group consulted with Pastor Elder Clinton Schultz on the matter, and he gave his encouragement, but he already had three churches with the possibility a company starting at Diamond Lake.
Our first Sabbath as a group in Spirit Lake was on February 2, 1980. Dr. Ray Andreassen gave the sermon. That summer, the first Vacation Bible School was held in Spirit Lake. In spring 1981, a Cooking School was led by Evelyn Green. Dr. Ray held a 5-day Stop Smoking Clinic at the Medical Center. Another baptism and a meeting with Elder Clarence Gruesbeck and Elder Don Reynolds on January 3, 1981 officially made us a company. The Greens took over the health food store, which really went over big with many town and country folks.
On December 18, 1982, we were organized into a church. A former pastor, Herman A. Schultz was present, and also Elder Ralph Wendt. We moved from the Lutheran Church to the Presbyterian Church on July 31, 1982. Dr. Ray Andreassen gave the sermon. More members joined who lived in Athol or Coeur d’Alene. Others joined through baptism, including Darla Stout-Derting, Denise Baal-Davis, and Sherry Christian.
In fall 1981, a neighborhood Bible Club was started as an outreach follow-up to Vacation Bible School. It eventually became a Pathfinder Club. The group went to the 1982 County Fair and won a trophy. The church held an Award Night in the Lutheran Church basement, and the Pathfinders put on the meal and invited their parents. It was a success.
Our church group was still growing, and the District was divided, putting Spirit Lake with Post Falls, which had organized and was building a church. Elder Clinton Schultz’s load was lightened by putting a pastor at Ione and a pastor for Spirit Lake and Post Falls. That is when Elder Bolejack became our pastor. We were still meeting at the Presbyterian Church.
We had started collecting an offering for a future church building in 1980, when we were at the Lutheran Church. By fall 1982, we had a large sum saved. The Curtis Browns had been offered some choice lots in Spirit Lake along Highway 41 and had this land deeded to the Conference.
At Board meetings, Elder Bolejack learned of these moves and encouraged us to start building a church. A Planning Committee was formed, and a search was begun for building plans. Ideas were copied and presented to the congregation. Each person’s ideas were put on paper, and all were compiled. Pastor suggested checking the Post Falls building as a possible layout. The Building Committee checked it over and got a copy of the plans and layout. Curtis did some rearranging of the floor plan to meet our needs and checked with the Conference Office for the requirements for building a church in town. The committee arranged for money from the Conference Revolving Fund, and ground-breaking occurred in August 1983.
At a Board meeting, Pastor Bolejack requested to be sure to follow building codes and get okays from the town’s Building Inspector. The Board members looked at each other and laughed. He didn’t know that the Building Inspector was his First Elder. Other church members were members of the City Council and City Treasurer-Assistant Clerk.
Don and Vi Stout had joined the Church, as well as Emily and Charles Eastman. Elder Ralph Wendt had studied with the Eastmans when he was pastor of the Coeur d’Alene Church. Don Stout dug the foundation and part of the basement. By late August 1983, the church building started taking shape, with the foundation poured and footings inside for the floor joists. We had plenty of help coming from Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and Rathdrum, as well as our own members from Athol, Blanchard, and some town folks.
Neighbors watched with interest as the building took shape. They marveled at the cooperation they saw among the people working on the building, not just the men but women and even children. It was a good witness in the area.
We moved into the building on May 5, 1984. Sabbath, May 12, 1984 was a big day for all because there was a child dedication during church, a baptism when eight people were baptized, and a potluck dinner was held as well, because this was the last Sabbath for Pastor Bolejack to be our pastor. That Sunday, a rummage sale was held, and it was a very big success. Many who came, looked over our church layout. We held a Vacation Bible School from June 18 to 28, and our closing program was held on Friday, June 29, 1984.
Pastor Ben Green was asked to pastor our church until a new pastor could be found to fill the vacancy of retiring Pastor Bolejack.
The District was changed again, and Post Falls was put with a newly formed Company at Otis Orchards, Washington. Newport was put with the church at Diamond Lake, and both churches were in a building program. Spirit Lake was back with its “Mother” church, Edgemere.
Pastor Green’s first Sabbath was June 2, and evangelistic meetings were set up to follow Vacation Bible School, June 30 through July 29. He and his wife, Naomi had meetings scheduled for late September, so his last sermon was on September 1, 1984. Bill Robison took over the pastorship of Spirit Lake and Edgemere. We were putting the siding on the outside of the church, and fixed the entrance ways to the church on the east and north sides.
The annual Community Thanksgiving Praise Service was held at our church on November 12, 1984. Many came, the Community Choir sang, and refreshments were served afterwards in our fellowship hall.
During the building of the church, the ladies provided lunch for all the workers. Sometimes it was served in various homes or at the Civic Center or at the church itself. A good fellowship time was enjoyed while resting tired muscles.
A Cooking School conducted by Betty Robison was held in the church in spring 1985. Another Vacation Bible School and a Stop Smoking clinic were held at the Medical Center, with the Pastor assisting. An In-Gathering Victory Party was held at the Pastor’s new house in December 1985. (The Conference bought property in Spirit Shores for the Robisons in fall-winter 1984.) Curtis Brown, with his boys, put shingles on the roof in December 1985.
In February 1985, the Social Committee sponsored a Valentine’s Party for all. Cypress Gardens School students came and put on a Sabbath program in spring that year. Another year rolled around, and Pastor Bill requested a transfer. They left after Camp Meeting in 1986.
Pastor Roger Bierwagen came and helped push for the finishing of the church. Some members felt that needed a school, so they started collecting information and a school was started with a teacher who had just moved to the area. There were 17 prospective students, with 16 actually enrolling. Five teacher’s aides helped throughout the school year. Two 8th graders graduated in June 1987. Eleven students signed up for piano lessons, and 4 students wanted guitar lessons. One student came from town, whose parents were of another faith.
A Revelation Seminar was held in the fellowship hall in fall 1986, and another one was planned for Athol in spring 1987. An evangelist, Jim Reinking, held meetings in the church from the beginning of April through the end of May. Another camp meeting was held, and then another school year began. This time, 14 students enrolled, but 2 dropped out by Christmas, and 1 more in January. One student graduated in June 1988.
A traumatic experience occurred for the church family and especially for our pastor when his wife was killed in a car accident in September 1987. In February 1988, Pastor remarried. A number of our members moved away, others joined us, and still others passed away. A great push was made to complete our church building by September 10, 1988. Speakers were arranged for, and new chairs were ordered. Pastor provided hymnals in the memory of his wife, Lavonne.
A second series was presented at the church in summer 1988 on the Sanctuary, presented by Elder Stanley Folkenberg. We praised the Lord daily for what He has helped His people on Earth and in Spirit Lake to do. We pray for His continued blessings on our church family and pastor as we help finish the work in Spirit Lake.
The dedication of our church debt-free was September 10, 1988, with many friends and former pastors joining us in the celebration. Elder Jere Patzer, our Conference President, was the main speaker, and Elder Ted Lutz joined him and Elder Clinton Schultz from Moscow, Idaho Church.