The Story and History of Woodlands
In April of 2007 a body of forty plus believers who were members in good standing, and many in leadership positions, of a thriving local church in Crestline, California began to meet in a large home of one of the church members. The activities there centered around the meaning of church, the leadership principles of the Pastoral Letters of I & II Timothy and Titus, discussions of newer church outreach concepts as “seeker sensitive”, “name it and claim it”, “the good-will theology”, etc., and other fundamental teachings and philosophy that had begun to be incorporated in their church by a strong teaching pastor and a split Board of Elders. Sadly, this is the situation in too many church bodies today. This coming together of the future Woodlands Community Bible Church core group was the culmination of months of a good faith effort to hold on to Biblical principles within the church, maintain congregational control of direction, and provide an atmosphere where God's love was the center hold for all that the church would become.
During the rest of 2007, with much consideration and prayer, it was decided to form another church. The name was important and fundamental to the concepts of the new body, Woodlands Community Bible Church. In October 2007 the Articles of Incorporation were ratified and a lease signed with the Seventh Day Baptist of Redlands to use their Pacific Pines Camp in the Valley of Enchantment.
The next few months were busy with many improvement projects to the camp grounds, the buildings, the interior décor, and the furnishing. Plans for community outreach, holiday events, and children's ministries received a high priority. But more importantly, the leadership group of four godly and well experienced church leaders diligently worked on the new church's articles of faith, constitution, and fundamental bylaws keeping an eye to the New Testament principles.
Over the course of the remainder of 2007 and well into 2008 the membership continued to have services with many of the qualified men leading worship and providing Sunday presentations. The church maintained participation by warmly welcoming new members and demonstrating the love of Christ within us. After much effort and open exchange the Church Constitution was presented to the congregation in June of 2008.
At the first official Annual Business Meeting in October of 2008 the vetted Elder and Pastor candidates were presented to the membership for ratification as follows. At that time the Constitution, By Laws, Articles of Faith, Membership Covenant, and annual budget were officially ratified.
From that point forward, the membership continued to developed children's ministries, leadership seminars, and other outreach programs as Wednesday Night Videos, Men's Retreat, Women's Bible Study, Teen Ministries, Men's Breakfast, Just 4 Kids, and a vast “Clothes Closet” project correlated with other community services to serve our neighbors in VOE.
Major series presentations in Marriage, Financial Management, Mountain Music Ministries, the “Truth Project”, and other outreach ministries as “Just 4 Kids” filled the next year. Holidays gave us opportunity to host “Sundae on a Monday”, “Summer BBQ”, Christmas Carols at the Lake, Easter Service at the Lake, and other opportunities to work hand in hand with Christian churches on the mountain, including our former church body.
A significant part of the membership continues to be actively involved with ministries. Yet by mid 2011 it began to be evident that the church location, deep in the woods and off the beaten track, may not afford a strong opportunity for continued outreach in the Valley of Enchantment. The Elder Board presented the idea of relocation to the membership for consideration. The body nearly unanimously consented and began to resource other possible locations. After examining a few locations, in early 2012 Woodlands signed a lease with the Seventh Day Adventists for their beautiful and peaceful church building with a warm and inviting sanctuary in the heart of town, on the main thoroughfare. This would allow better connection to the community we hope to serve and make it easier for the the fellowship to access the church.
Pastor Dave Ford had stated at the start that he and his wife, Dwan, would be relocating to Tennessee. In February of 2011 Dave announced his departure date would be July of 2012. The Elder Board immediately began developing a strategy for acquiring a new teaching pastor.
In the very beginning the Board was made aware of two distinct concepts for leadership, the congregational and the pastoral. Because the Early Church chose leaders by guidance of the Spirit and that in correlation with the needs of the body in a particular location, but in discipline and fundamentals tied to the universal body of believers within the framework of Biblical revelation, it soon became evident that the best fit would be a teaching pastor, completely dedicated to outreach, chosen by the body, and responsive to a well established larger unified system that would be a resource for edification, encouragement, and true Christian brotherhood.
Keeping the congregation fully informed at all times, the Elder Board predominantly leaned toward the concepts presented in “Church Unique” and found all desired aspects of leadership and council within the Evangelical Free Church system. The body was given opportunities to choose direction and permitted the Board to continue to work hand in hand with EFCAW in seeking an interim teaching pastor to lead us to the next level of commitment. Again, it is our belief, that God had providentially allowed us to choose Pastor Josh Sharp to lead us through this transitional process.
To have a well known and established “spiritual cover and identity” the membership directed the Board to affiliate with the Evangelical Free Church of America. The continued positive advantage to spirit guided resources from EFCA has been a great strength for this small but growing body.
In the following several months, the Elder Board, with constant communication to and from the membership, began to seek candidates for a Lead Pastor who was committed to the Word, a personal relationship with Christ, open to the direction of the Spirit, and with a heart to grow God's kingdom by seeking all of His children.
Several meetings with candidates and opportunity given to present to the congregation their teachings, beliefs, and character. One of these candidates, Pastor Daniel Meers was a stand out from the group. His commitment to the Spirit and dedication and drive to open our doors to the community in love and warmth were exactly what the fellowship were hoping and praying for. In the late summer of 2013 Daniel accepted the position of Lead Pastor on the condition that the congregation would work hand in hand with him to offer to the community a place where they could feel safe, welcome, and most importantly the love of the Father.
In developing a history for any organization, it is wise to ask what hardships, challenges, and conflict has the organization faced and how were these resolved. Where there is non-committal to follow the leading of Christ through the Spirit to do God's will these incidents can be great and difficult. Woodlands was born of adversity, faced the challenge of formation, and chose compassion over conflict and, with God's continued and timely many providential interventions for good, remain strong in Christ and ready to welcome those who seek to know what true Christian brotherhood should be. Yahweh is our God. Christ our example. The Spirit our guide. The hallmark of this small body of believers is the love of Christ that lives in each member of our fellowship and continues to be the reason for visitors becoming faithful followers with us. This love of God is our impetus, our strength, and our commission. It is the healing touch that every heart seeks.
Ask us not who we are... ask the newest member whose we are and why they chose to worship at Woodlands.