A Brief History
On Wednesday, April 26th,1944 a little band of Christian believers met to discuss plans to start a new church in the small farming community of East Troy, Wisconsin. This little group had grown around the teaching of Mr. C.C. Mortenson who had been driving from Racine every other week to lead a Bible Study. The study met in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Ed Smith. On that Wednesday, they prayed together, read the word of God from Romans chapter 13 and discussed the idea of a new church. A temporary body of leadership was appointed, and a weekly prayer meeting was established. By June 16th, the group had come to the firm resolve of starting a church and began drawing up a doctrinal statement and constitution.
By June 29, 1944 a pastor by the name of G. Wesley Blackburn had been received to lead the group. Under his leadership a constitution was confirmed, and charter members were accepted. The only membership requirement for a candidate was a clear testimony of faith and a willingness to accept the constitution. By July 21st, the church had accepted 21 charter members and the church began renting the Legion hall for $80.00 a month.
Mr. G. Wesley Blackburn was called as the pastor/elder. Mr. Frank Grunewald, Dr. Ed Smith and Mr. Otto Hoef were elected as the first deacons. Further, Dr. Ed Smith was asked to chair the board of Trustees. Mr. Emil Lindquist and Mr. Phillip Walrath became the first Trustees.
Pastor Blackburn wrote that year;
“One year ago there was no East Troy Bible Church except as it existed in the hearts and minds of a group of consecrated, Bible believing, blood-bought children of the King. An existence planted by the knowledge of a great need, watered by prayer and nurtured by constant communion with our Lord, until in the minds of some it was already a reality. In the heart of your pastor this reality did not exist, but in its place burned a desire that somehow, sometime, God would establish, in this locality, an evangelistic testimony which would be instrumental in bringing the people of this neglected area into a knowledge of Christ.”
Within one year, the church had sent one of its own members, Miss Helena Siebert as a missionary to Africa. Pastor Blackburn wrote in 1946, “The way on for the Church of Christ is the outward way. May we have an ever increasing vision of the great needs of the foreign field and give and pray as God continues to lead.”
And so it was, that the East Troy Bible Church was born. Pastor Blackburn was followed by Pastor WM. F. Stevens, Rev. C.C. Mortenson, Rev. Douglas Langmade, Rev. Paul Bawden, Rev. Larry Wise and Rev. Aaron Graves. It has been a church marked with a thirst for Scripture, a passion for world missions, a love for children, and a desire to meet specific practical needs. A small group of people in this little town decided to make good on the gospel entrusted to them and share His Good News.
This was the heartbeat of the founding members of the church, and my prayer is that it will be our heartbeat today. The East Troy Bible Church began as a small group of people committed to the Word of God, fellowship and prayer. That little Bible Study was no small miracle because out of that study grew a church. Their example teaches us the importance of small groups of people committed to the transforming power of the Word of God.
It is my goal and prayer to see the people of The East Troy Bible Church return to its roots. It is vital that the people of our church become part of small discipleship groups in order to assist them in their walk with Christ. The Scriptures are full of examples that the “Lone Ranger” lifestyle is unhealthy and isolating. The Bible also gives ample illustration and instruction that spiritual transformation is experienced in the context of long term friendship rooted in God’s Word.
My hope and prayer for our church is that it becomes a place of transformation. I hope that we can renew our effort to lovingly help people change their direction, provide the basic Bible tools to change their thinking, and give them encouragement to help them change their habits. This will not happen through my sermons – though it would be nice. It can only happen through friendships that regularly gather around God’s Word. In other words, for our community, region and world to transform for Christ, we ourselves need transformation. For us to experience transformation we must be humble enough to be helped by others and to help others grow in Christ.