Small Church, Mighty Blessings Construct New Facility

November 26, 2013 | Heidi Baumgartner

“You need a church building,” he said.

It was a nice thought for Belfair Church, which rented from the local Lutheran church for 20 years and then rented a community center. However, the church only had $10,000 in their building fund from random church member donations.

“This was a big deal for us,” says Dena Meigs, Belfair’s project manager. “We were really proud of the $10,000 and put it in a CD. That’s all we had in our building fund seven years ago.”

Belfair members attended the first Impact Your World retreat (and subsequent retreats), prayed that God would give them a church someday and had no idea what would happen next.

Russ Roberts, a gentleman in his late 50s from Port Orchard, came to the little church in Belfair and said, “You need a church building. I want to help you build a church.”

The church’s new vision-casting friend started sending in a series of large checks for the building fund, and others at the church joined him in generosity. The building fund quickly grew to $150,000, and church leaders began looking for property.

The church got better acquainted with Roberts and found out he was a cancer patient. He had a dream of building a church and a school in Belfair. Two years after casting the vision, Roberts passed away.

The congregation, with $319,000 in their building fund by that time, began seeking a local Christian contractor. They found Rich Moore, and the bid to build the church was ... $319,000.

“Rich Moore asked his sub-contractors to make estimates and they stuck by the estimates for three years,” says Charlie Meigs, Belfair Church pastoral assistant. “They were all Christian sub-contractors. I came down to the church and would pray with them and answer their questions about Adventists.”

“We added a few extra things [to the church building plans], and we had to borrow some money,” adds Dena. “But when everything was said and done, we only owe $85,000 on this building.”

Stories of miracles are visible throughout the new facility. The Lutheran church, for example, replaced their pews several years ago and stored 15 old pews for the Adventist Church.

“When we went to get them, there were only five pews left,” says Charlie. Earlier that day, member Amanda Butler looked on CraigsList and found a complete set of free pews in a similar style to the Lutheran pews. The total number of pews available was exactly the right number needed — “not one less, not one more,” he adds.

Members have ownership in this new church facility. At each decision point, they were presented with three options for paint, carpet, roof color and additional items. They voted for what they liked best and quickly reached consensus for what the church looks like today. While most of the work was hired out, the church members came and helped with many details.

Church and community partners made contributions. “We had one gift after another,” Dena says. Gifts included an upright piano for the sanctuary, a baptismal tank, a breezeway entrance, and additional gifts of a riding lawn mower, church stage decor, kitchen appliances and musical books.

“Looking back at this, everything moved quickly,” says Charlie. “This project energized our church. We saw the Holy Spirit move and lead us in this faith journey. Even now, we have people come visit our church from other denominations, and they sense the Holy Spirit’s presence in our congregation.”

Small and Mighty

Belfair Church began in 1982 and joined the Bremerton District. Charlie and Dena Meigs came to the Belfair Church in 1993. At that time, Gary Fogelquist was the Bremerton pastor. He helped launch a pastoral assistant program to provide training for local church leaders. Charlie Meigs, a recently retired civilian rigger for the U.S. Navy who had “never been so busy in my life,” joined the program and continues to serve Belfair Church as a pastoral assistant.

“Charlie kept lay-pastoring this church,” says Dena. “This was Gary Fogelquist’s gift to our church. We’ve never had a full-time paid pastor. Our church just pulls together to accomplish ministry.”

Belfair has an active membership of 30 people. The church offers a Wednesday afternoon prayer meeting for the older members of the church, a Thursday night prison ministry program at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (since 2005), and a Friday night community Bible study and vespers program. Twice a month, beginning in 2013, eight to 12 volunteers also visit Women's Corrections Purdy Prison.

“Our prison ministry team comes from both Bremerton and Belfair,” says Dena. “We do our ministry together. This is our most active ministry.”

The church’s prison ministry began in 2005 when member Edsel Sims worked with Roger and Bev McKown to begin a prison ministry outreach to the newly opened Mission Creek Prison. Sims recruited more participants from Belfair to help with this ministry. Soon after the original guitar players moved away, church leaders saw a sign at the Methodist church offering free guitar lessons. Two Adventists went to this training session so they could learn how to play at the prison. Today, the congregation has a guitar band with six guitarists.

The congregation plans to launch more outreach programs in 2014 including health, nutrition, a stop-smoking clinic and seminars on topics like creation vs. evolution. One gentleman in the church runs a local chapter of Discover Bible School. The church already had their first baptism in their new church facility.

“Our friends in the community like coming here for Friday night Bible study because they feel like God is here,” says Charlie.

Weekly Family Reunion

Charlie Meigs characterizes the Belfair Church as “family.” Each week is like having a family reunion.

The church service reflects this family atmosphere. Children not only enjoy a children’s story after the sermon but also participate in a devotional time where they act out Bible stories or sing songs learned in Sabbath School. Parents get to experience family devotions that they can take home and incorporate into their family life.

The children look forward to this time and anticipate their special time at the end of church. “I just love doing the devotional with the children,” Charlie says. “They move around and have a good time. They want to come to church. It’s nice to have three Sabbath School rooms now.”

The goal is to help families feel like they belong at Belfair Church, and this is evidenced in the church facility, the interactions with church members and the church’s ministry programs.

“The mission God gave us is filled with love, compassion and care,” said John Freedman, Washington Conference president, during Belfair’s grand opening service on Nov. 23, 2013. “My recommendation to this church — and all churches — is to preach and abide in the Word of God. May this church be a light in this community that lifts up Christ.”