From There to Eternity A Brief History of the Kuna Seventh-day Adventist Church
Twenty-five years ago, Philip Samaan, with his wife Sherilyn, came to pastor the new Meridian (Idaho) Church as a young intern from Walla Walla College. As a young boy, Philip arrived in America from Syria to live with his sister in Portland, Ore. He attended Portland Adventist Academy and then went on to Walla Walla College. There he met his future wife, Sherilyn, who was from Guatemala. After leaving Walla Walla College, they helped launch the new Meridian Church, which was an outreach of the Boise Church (now the Cloverdale Church).
In 1974, my wife, Carolyn, and I returned to Idaho to raise our girls in the country. We bought a farm between Meridian and Kuna. (Meridian is approximately 10 miles west of Boise, and Kuna approximately eight miles south of Meridian.) There were no Adventist churches in Kuna or Meridian at that time, so we made Eagle our church home. When we met the Samaans, Philip was pretty insistent that we needed to attend the new Meridian Church, as it was much closer for us. Eventually, we did.
Not long after we joined the Meridian Church, Rus and Sue Mayer moved to Kuna and also became members at Meridian. After a couple of years, Philip was moved to start a new congregation in Kuna. We started with 6 a.m. prayer meetings each Sabbath at either the Mayer or Van Hees home. Philip would make his way from Meridian to Kuna and back for the church services in Meridian. In 1979, we stepped out on faith and rented the little Church of Christ church in Kuna and began conducting Sabbath services. There were only about 13 attending when we started meeting as a newly formed company.
We continued to grow, and in 1980 we acquired a two-acre parcel of land to build our own sanctuary. The 1980s were a tough time for us, as most of us worked in the construction business and the economy was not good, but we went forward on faith. During the construction of our church, the Samaans were called away and Lee and Irma Larsen came to lead our congregation. Somewhere in this time frame, the Rue, Rogers, Terrell, and Crawford families joined our little church and have never left.
After several years, the Larsons left to pastor another church, and Ron and Carmen Allen from Australia came to pastor. After a couple years of serious winter snows, Ron and Carmen went back to Australia, and Jack and Jean Sequiera came to Kuna from Africa. Jack was born in Kenya, and Jean is very English. Here we were, a little country church in Kuna, Idaho, in existence for about 10 years, and we had had missionaries from Syria, Guatemala, Australia, Africa and England. In addition to all our foreign missionaries, we have had several interim lay pastors, including Jack Seeley and Aileen Andres Sox, editor of Our Little Friend and Primary Treasure. We feel very blessed.
In the early years, we decided we needed more and larger classrooms, a dedicated Pathfinder room, and a larger multipurpose room (gymnasium), which was our Phase II plan. A few years ago, our sanctuary became too small, so we moved into the gymnasium for our church services. The little city of Kuna has a population of over 10,000 now and is continuing to mushroom.
John and Barb Kurlinski came to pastor along with their children Brad and Emily several years ago, and with John’s energy and leadership, our church has grown to a membership of over 300 and is still growing. Now as we approach the 25-year celebration of our church, we have completed a construction and reconstruction project which incorporates new 21st-century design with Phases I and II, and a sanctuary that will seat 300. Nick Voth has very ably headed the construction committee and building project.
Pastor John, who has a passion for wood, directed the milling of our favorite 100-plus-year-old umbrella locust tree that had to be removed. The finished lumber was used in the interior of our new facility. Our new church is now the talk of the town. The Kuna people are amazed, and you know what? We are too.
Over the past 25 years, we have been blessed by many pastors, members, visitors and friends. We are planning a 25th celebration “From There to Eternity” on April 15 and 16, 2005, and hope you will come and take part in this special service.