Berean Fellowship of Churches
The name Berean Community Church comes from Acts 17:11 where the people in the city of Berea "received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily." The word Berean reflects our commitment to the Bible. The word Community expresses our commitment to be lovingly connected to our community. The word Church emphasis that we exist solely to exalt Jesus Christ by trusting Him to use us in leading others into a personal relationship with Him.
The History of the Berean Fellowship Roots of the Berean Fellowship date back to the 1930's, when Ivan Olsen became the first pastor of the Berean Fundamental Church in North Platte, Nebraska. As others witnessed the blessing of God on his work, they began to come to him for counsel and assistance to plant churches in other communities. God's blessing on those efforts allowed for the establishment of a number of Berean Churches in just a few years. The name, Berean Fundamental Church Council, Inc. was chosen to become the legal organizational name for this new Berean Fellowship of Churches. Since those early years, many more churches have been planted. Today, the Berean Fellowship comprises 60 churches in 8 states across the Midwest, Northern California and Southern Oregon, as well as Canada.
Our History in Rochester
Initially the group met at the 4-H building of the Olmsted county fairgrounds; then, after much prayer, rented the former Elks building next to the Martin Hotel. This proved to be a place of much blessing locally and to many visiting the Mayo Clinic who came and found the Savior.
It was also evident that to have any real impact on the community a more permanent location and church was necessary. Again, after much prayer and the leading of the Lord, a location along the Hwy 52 Frontage Road was secured and plans were made to begin building a church. The only assets they had were a $5,000 memorial gift and a lot of faith that God would keep His promises to supply the needs. They launched into a building program representing approximately $75,000. God was indeed faithful in providing gifts and loans month by month, enabling them to meet the obligations as they came due. The first regular service at this building was held on Dec 13, 1970. On June 13th, 1971 a dedication service for the new building was held. Rev. Carl Goltz, Rev Curt Lehman and Rev. Roscoe Schultz attended, representing the Fellowship.
In 1976 Rev. Gustafson became the pastor. Then in 1983, Rev. Scott MacGray became the pastor and in 1985 the church building on 1225 Elton Hills became the Berean Community Church's new location. In June of 1995, after 12 years of fruitful ministry, Rev. MacGray resigned because he felt God was leading him in a new direction.
In 1998 Pastor Kevin Block was called to serve as pastor. At that time the church had about 80 people in attendance. Through Pastor Kevin's leadership, the church adopted five key ministry purposes: Prayer & Worship, Outreach, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Service. New mission and vision statements were also adopted: Mission: To glorify God by making disciple-makers of Jesus Christ... Vision: By Pursuing God, Proclaiming Jesus, and Preparing People.
In 1999, Elders were prayed for, selected and appointed to serve as servant-leaders for the church. Ministry leaders were also appointed. We also called Mick Nichols to serve as our first Youth Pastor. Mick, very gifted musically, also greatly assisted the progression and improvement of our Sunday morning worship. By December 1999, the average Sunday attendance was 160 people.
In 2000, we followed the Lords leading to purchase land in northwest Rochester. The Lord continued to bring people into a relationship with Himself, both by personal evangelism and outreach events. We began having two Sunday morning worship services. We sent a short-term ministry team to Haiti, where we developed a sister church relationship with a church in Ennery, Haiti. By December 2000, the average Sunday attendance was 200 people.
2001 was a year of transition. Mick transitioned from being a full-time youth pastor to a part-time director of worship. During that time, we hired Pastor Dave Genberg to serve as an associate pastor. By December 2001, the average Sunday attendance was 210 people and our annual income was $330,000.
In 2002, we had several congregational meetings about relocating in a new facility on our new land. 2002 was also a great year for ministry team development under Pastor Dave's leadership. A second ministry team went to Haiti to continue to minister to our sister church. By December 2002, there were 75 members and the average Sunday attendance was 220. In 2003, we agreed to build our new ministry facility, which began in July and was finished around Christmas. In February of 2004, Berean Community Church moved to the new facility at 3157 North Kenosha Drive in a growing community of northwest Rochester. By that time our average Sunday attendance was 225.
In 2006, the new facility on Kenosha Drive received its first addition. The existing nursery space was doubled and three large classrooms were added for children's ministry. Dave Genberg left his position at Berean and moved on to other ministry opportunities. Pastor Kelly Reynolds and his family was called from Berrien Center, Michigan during the summer of 2007 to serve as Berean's Associate Pastor of Youth and Children's Ministry.
Pastor Kevin Block and his family celebrated 10 years of ministry at Berean Community Church in 2008. Jayson Wittrup accepted a staff position as part time worship director while attending Crossroads College for a degree in worship ministry. During this time our average attendance was around 300 and our annual income approximately $500,000.
2009 was another year of transition. In July Pastor Kevin Block resigned as senior pastor to pursue a decades-long dream of full time mission work. The Blocks began serving as full-time missionaries in 2010.
In September 2009 Jayson Wittrup accepted a full time position as worship pastor with a congregation in North Dakota. This was also the fulfillment of a dream for Jayson, and although he and his family were greatly missed, we know they are being used mightily by God in their new ministry.
As we entered a time of transition in seeking a new senior pastor the Lord blessed us with the presence of Dr. Mark Struck in our congregation, having served as a mission pastor and in international ministry for 30 years, and being at a point in his life and ministry to serve as interim pastor as he transitioned to new international work. Pastor Struck filled the role of interim pastor from August 2009 into January 2010.
In May of 2010, after many months of work by the search committee, the congregation voted to extend a call to Pastor Nathan Brand, who was serving as Associate Pastor of Worship and Small Groups at a church in North Platte, Nebraska.
Pastor Nathan began to serve at Berean in August of 2010 and, under his leadership, God continues to bless the church with strong faith in His purposes for this body in Rochester.
On February 2, 2014 Berean celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first service in our Kenosha Drive facility with a video slideshow tribute to remember the thoughts and prayers that were memorialized on the concrete floor of the newly constructed auditorium.