|The church in Laurel was pioneered by Pastor Lewis LaMance in 1944 in a store front on main street. In 1945 the church negotiated the purchase of an abandoned Baptist church built in 1909. It was located on the corner of 3rd. ave. and 3rd. st. The structure was turned into a combination church/parsonage with the parsonage being an apartment in the basement. The early Pastors had to deal with living in the church basement, the situation was very difficult. The basement was constantly damp and cold and the wood floors were rotting away. Several of the early Pastors left because of ill health and sickness caused by the living quarters. Others left to go into foreign missions.|
The situation remained the same until Pastor Clyde Gibbs arrived in 1955. He moved his family to a house on the corner of the block that the church was located on. He served until his accidental death on June 30th 1959, he died in a truck accident outside of town. His wife then took on the responsiblities of the church leadership until 1963, when Pastor Peterson came. The church also purchased a parsonage at 519 5th ave. after Clyde Gibbs death, which served as the Parsonage until 1998.
The Church served the congregation from it's purchase in 1959 until Aug. 1965 when a number of irrigation canals flooded after a severe thunder storm which sent water through the town of Laurel. The church had been having "settling" problems for years, always fighting the foundation. On this day the basement was completely flooded, even to the height of the basement ceiling. When the water dried out Pastor Lonnie Peterson went to check the damage, the basement had turned to quicksand, with a push of his hand he could push a 12 ft. board straight into the ground without reaching the bottom of the mud! The church was condemned and the congregation starting holding sunday services in the Union Hall and the Odd Fellows Hall. Mid week services were held in the garage at the parsonage.
The old building was torn down in 1966, but the bricks and some of the lumber were saved to start the project of building a new church. Lots were purchased and the new church building was started in 1968. The basement was dug, and the foundations were all poured with hand cement mixers and one tractor. The foundation was three times faced with oncoming storms on the day the cement was being poured, but the storms all split and rained all around the surrounding blocks of the church, with only a sprinkle once hitting the crew while they poured! Once they covered the cement that night it rained for three days! Early on the look of the new church was decided by an accident (led by the Lord), a brick was chipped away to reveal a rough surface, the Pastor then showed the board the rough bricks, and they started busting the bricks by hand to give them a very textured look. The bricks from the old church were all chipped and used in putting up the new exterior of the new church. 17,500 man hours were donated to put the new building up, in a process that took almost three years. The material costs for the finished church were around $36,000 dollars. The building was dedicated on Sept. 7, 1975.
The church went through a major remodel and name change under the leadership of Pastor George Burgin. The church left behind the Laurel Assembly of God name and became Family Christian Center. The sanctuary was updated with white walls and new windows, a new heating system was installed, the offices and nursery were painted. New sound and video equipment was installed, and the roof was re-done. The structure today is in good condition and still in use by the congregation, it is located at 1002 3rd ave.
In more recent years the building has had even more updates to make room for the growth and the changing needs of the ministries. There is a handicap parking lot and access ramp into the sanctuary, New windows, roof and glass doors. Handicap bathroom was installed upstairs, offices have been made smaller and classrooms larger! Landscaping was modernized on the outside of the building and the sign needed to be re-finished. Air conditioning units were installed, and sidewalks and curbs repoured. A new shed was purchased and the kitchen was upgraded with all new appliances and counter tops. The Building still remains as a blessing to the kingdom of God, in service to the spiritual needs in the community of Laurel!
The Church Today
1944-1946 Pastor Lewis L. LaMance
1946-1947 Pastor Ray Hojem
1947-1949 Pastor John Gottschalk
(Church organized as Laurel Assembly of God-1949)
1949-1952 Pastor Henry Frost
1952-1953 Pastor Don Everson
1953-1955 Pastor Walter Daggett
1955-1959 Pastor Clyde Gibbs
1959-1963 Pastor Edith Gibbs
1963-1997 Pastor Lonnie Peterson
1997-1998 Pastor Tim Peterson
1998-2005 Pastor George Burgin
2005-(to present) Pastor John Farnes
The Church has had a large number of roles through the years in Laurel. Many people have served with the Pastors here to reach out to this community. Many families have spent their time and Love on building this church. The women who have served with their husbands here in Laurel have had a tremendous impact on the lives they touched! A great number of lay-leaders could also be mentioned who determined that this was a work worth laying their lives down for.
There have also been Associate and Childrens Pastors here at various times, who are still faithfully serving the Lord today. Johan and Juanita Rockstad served for over four years, Tim Peterson served too. Jill Riley put time in Laurel as a childrens Pastor also. Connie Peterson ran the daycare for a number of years... These and many others have built the church through prayer and supporting the Pastors that have been called here. We today thank God for the time they spent and blessings they planted here.
The Church has some interesting ministries listed in it's History too:
For two years the church conducted a live TV program! Pastor Peterson would teach on the program "The Word of Life Hour" which was shown on KULR-TV, channel eight, in Billings.
For two years a Radio program was aired over KRBN Radio. The program was called "There is more to Life".
There was a Nursing Home ministry for several years.
The church ran and operated a local day-care for a number of years.
The church has had a history of being involved with the youth in Laurel since almost it's beginning.
Missionaries have been sent out from the church through the years.
Some of the interesting records are:
Pasty GreenWagner was the first person to attend a sunday school class in 1944!
The first couple to become regular attenders were Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Shoop.
When the church organized in 1949 it had six members.
The first memeber of the church was Mrs. Roy Green in 1949.
85 was the most people ever in attendance in a service while in the building on 3rd ave. and 3rd street, it happened in 1956.
The foundation stone of the church built in 1909, had a box in the stone with a brand new 1909 penny in it, and several other artifacts which were turned over to the historical society. The stone was uncovered in 1967.
Bob Daggett volunteered to dig the basement of the new church in 1968. He did not attend the church at the time.
The parsonage was once known as the House of Zion Charismatic Center.
The church had about 125 in attendance in 1976. Nearly 200 through the late 80's and early 90's.