|Pastor John and Catherine Farnes|
John Farnes: John was born in Billings, MT in 1967. He attended Washington Elementary, Lewis & Clark Jr. High, and graduated from Billings Senior High School. John became a Christian at the age of 15 on the night before his 16th birthday. In high school he and a close friend started a prayer group that eventually became a Youth Alive club in the school. He spent his first three years serving in an independent church doing whatever needed to be done: mowing the lawns, cleaning the church, ushering, building sets for plays, operating sound. He also served on staff at the Christian Community Center in downtown Billings for two years. The center was a non-denominational outreach to college and high school students. It was here he first started teaching Bible studies and started writing dramas and plays. It also became an opportunity to lead some of his peers to Christ, and drove him into deep personal studies. He served with Catherine, Chris Brown, Darren Zent, Keith Patrick, and many others that came and went through the ministry. Catherine soon became his wife and in 1986 they were married! Just a month after being married they were asked to start a youth group from "scratch" in the small independent church they were attending (Billings Christian Center). With three teens to start with, soon it was 15, then eventually it became as large as 30 teens. In 1987 John began taking courses from Abbott Loop Bible College and under the recommendation of Pastor Jim VanBuskirk he was ordained as an Elder in 1988. John organized church prayer meetings, pastored the youth, ran a large home group, became a "Glad Tidings School of Evangelism" instructor and trainer, would preach often, and started working with young married couples. They served in Billings Christian Center/Heights Chapel until November 1996. During this same time he worked 40 hours a week in a Buttrey Foods store in several different positions. He resigned as Elder when it became obvious that he needed to leave Billings to provide for his family, there were labor "cutbacks" when the company he was working for was going through the process of selling.
In 1989 they started a family which eventually included 4 children! Ian, Caitlyn, Bethany, and Nathan.
In 1996 after leaving a job He had worked at for 13 years due to "downsizing". John found work in Sidney, MT and moved with his family in January of 1997. It was in Sidney where he began attending an Assemblies of God church for the first time. After several months of attending John was back in ministry as a "lay-leader" in the new church. The ministries he held during the next 8 years helped prepare him for leading an Assemblies of God church in his future ministry. He drove a truck for a frozen food service for 8 years often putting in 70 hours a week, which limited the amount of ministry he could be involved in. Still, during his time in Sidney John served as a Sunday School teacher for teens and adults, Sunday School coordinator for adults, Royal Ranger commander, Youth staff member, Men's Ministries director, served on the Church Board as a Deacon, and served the church wherever possible, including preaching. In March of 2004 John felt called to go into full-time ministry as a Pastor and began the process of being certified with the Assemblies of God. This would mean taking some risks, living off of his retirement savings and donations from family and friends while studies were completed. In one year he had completed the certification courses from Global University/Berean School of the Bible and all but three of the courses for licencing in the Assemblies of God. After hearing that eight churches were without Pastors in Montana, John felt an urgency to be useful to the Montana District and asked the District Superintendent (Rev. Paul Goodman) if he should make himself available to pastor in these open churches. It was recommended to him to go ahead and begin praying about where God might want his family to move and send out information to the churches about his family, background, and calling. After several interviews in July of 2005 (on his birthday) John was invited to Pastor in Laurel, MT and began to serve in Aug. 2005. Since that time he has continued his studies and is working towards ordination in the Assemblies of God.
Catherine Farnes: Catherine was born in New York and moved to Billings, MT at the age of thirteen. She was born legally blind with eyesight that cannot be corrected with glasses or surgery, yet it did not slow down her accomplishments or desire! She graduated from Senior High School and later from what was then Eastern Montana College (now MSU Billings). She was raised Catholic, was a member of the Mormon church, and ultimately gave her life to Jesus in 1984. She served on staff at the Christian Community Center where she wrote her own songs and shared them with the weekend patrons of the ministry. Blessed with lots of musical talent, she played a keyboard or a guitar and often lead worship for different groups. She married John Farnes in 1986 while they served together in ministry and both attended the same local church. She served in the church by cleaning, singing specials, sharing songs and poems, and writing plays and scripts. After being asked to start a youth ministry she found her heart being lead towards ministry to teens. With a major in english, minor in theater, and a love for telling stories and writing... God began to bring these elements together for what would become a life long ministry as a Christian Writer. She wrote her first book and had it published in 1993 "The Rivers of Judah" . This would lead to 9 published books over the next 13 years, along with stories and articles published in "Brio", "Young and Alive", "Take 5 devotions" and others. Her poetry has made it into greeting cards, and her songs have been used to worship in many congregations and places through the years. Her talents were surrendered to God, and He has been faithful to use them.
Catherine homeschooled her four children and was able to be a stay at home mom for most of the years of her children's lives and all of them had her at home for all of the years before going to public school. They all went to school able to read and loving to read before the first grade. She was the "bond" that built the strong family that they share in.
Catherine found herself propelled into ministry after the family moved from Billings to Sidney in 1997. It was here that she became a Sunday School teacher, a Missionettes sponser, a public speaker and performer, and the director of a Stonecroft Ministries Christian Women's Club. She also became a Stonecroft speaker and began to travel around Montana and North Dakota speaking to women's groups and leading people to Christ. Catherine also developed into a Worship leader and now serves as a Worship leader in the church in Laurel as well.
In 2004 Catherine started working outside the home to help make ends meet while her husband began to do studies full-time to seek out certification in the Assemblies of God. She worked part-time in a Christian daycare in Sidney, and soon it became a part of the ministry of reaching these young children. It remained one of her outreaches to kids and families in her community in Laurel as well. In 2009 she suffered another setback in her vision and lost most of her sight in her good eye and she had to leave her job in the daycare. She currently serves as a volunteer in Family Christian Center - as a Pastor's wife, a Worship leader, and the author of "Girl Guard/Mighty Mites" - a weekly ministry to girls and kids (she has written 4 years of lessons)! She still teaches Bible studies and speaks around the state at women's meetings and fellowships. Never setting her sights "low", she soon hopes to put together an album of her music to bless the church in her generation, too...