"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God causes the growth." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
The story of Central Bible Church begins during the dark days of mid-World War II. It is a record of God's people who trusted in God's faithfulness. The bleak and trying days of the early nineteen-forties were even more difficult for Christians in the Flathead Valley because of the liberalism and unbelief found in most of the mainline churches.
"Modernism had made many great inroads . . . Believers were put out or left their churches because they would not or could not use the church literature or lesson materials in teaching their Sunday School classes." - Gideon Oursland
Christian parents were very concerned that their children be taught from the Bible -- lessons from Scripture, God's Word. There were several families like this without a church home in Kalispell, in the valley and in Somers and vicinity.
Mr. Oursland continues: "Many of the families met together in homes for Bible study and prayer. They also had Sunday School classes for the children. . . These were precious times as we saw our Lord bless this ministry."
The story of Central Bible Church began at Stonecroft, the home of Gideon and Edna Oursland, and also in many other homes nearby in the Somers area, such as the home of A.J. and Eleanor Munter. Meetings were also held in the Zeltner's home in Kalispell and the Wright and Bergstrom homes in Somers. Pastor Zeltner's faithful ministry to faithful people laid the foundations for the fellowship that would later become Central Bible Church.
Actual worship services began on January 3, 1943, in the Oursland home. As the group grew, they moved to the Rapson Building on 2nd Street West in Kalispell. By fall, 1944, the store building no longer met the needs of the fellowship, so they rented the Odd Fellows Hall on 1st Ave E in Kalispell. At first, they were known as Grace Bible Church. The church was reorganized and incorporated in September 27, 1948, under the name Central Bible Church. Rev. Robert Love was called as the pastor.
In January 1953, another major transition took place when the West Side Norwegian Methodist Church merged with Central Bible Church. Due to changes in the Methodist Conference this church body was struggling. The men from both fellowships met together and decided that there was the same doctrines and beliefs; so they joined forces and organized as a non-denominational church. It was decided to build a sanctuary and keep Pastor Griepp from the West Side Norwegian Methodist Church as the pastor and all worked together as one for the futherance of the Lord's work.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building at 902 1st Ave E took place on April 26, 1953. By May 10th, excavation was completed and the structure began to rise. The work moved rapidly with all volunteer labor. Harry Schmautz was the architect who designed Central Bible Church. Soon the Sunday School classroom spaces in the sanctuary and basement were filled to overflowing.
Jess Dove was the pastor at that time, and our Sunday School enrollment averaged over those years at approximately 185 people. The classroom need was met by building the classroom annex; the Annex was dedicated in September of 1961. Pastor Jess Dove ministered the church from 1957-1962. Pastor Clarence Loewen ministered from 1963-1975. Ken Young ministered from 1975 - 1981.
The multi-purpose classroom addition was a direct result of the AWANA program. The church basement simply wasn't large enough for the activities required by the boys and girls. Major construction was started in the Spring and summer of 1977 and continued for about two years. Ken Louden and Dan Nickel, our youth leader, were good carpenters and the prime movers in getting that unit constructed. There were many volunteers who helped with their time and resources. The Council decided to stay within the church family for finances and not borrow money commercially. That pledge has been kept and the building was debt free.
Ray Pierson ministered from 1981 - 1991. It was during this time that Women's Ministries became more formally organized and has been serving the church family faithfully for years. The church owned a parsonage on 1st Ave W. Later the house on 940 1st Ave E was purchased for a parsonage. This building currently is allocated to the Hope House ministry for their use. Pastor Ron Youde ministered from 1991-2013. Central Bible Church celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1998 with a celebration of rememberance for all that God had done and was continuing to do.
Into the Future
In late 2014, the body at CBC called Peter Barber as Lead Pastor, and he arrived along with his young family in March 2015. The Lord has continued to bless the ministry at CBC as we look to serve Him as salt and light in the Flathead Valley and beyond.