In 1974, veteran missionary to the Philippines, Dr. Don Benson and his wife, Alice, stood on a vacant, cactus covered lot and prayed for the birth of a church in the growing northeast heights neighborhood of Albuquerque. The church – called Agape Baptist Church – first met in a home, then a pre-school and finally, in their own building completed in 1976.
In the early 1980’s, the Bensons left the church to plant another church on the growing West Side of Albuquerque, and Ron Grenemyer became the second pastor of what is now called Foothills Fellowship. It was under Ron’s leadership that elders were put in place to provide leadership and oversight for the church, and it was also during Ron’s tenure that the constitution that we currently use was written.
In 1989, Ron and his wife JoAnn left Foothills to pursue what would become a successful career in the insurance business. A young college pastor from Arizona named Rob Kurz replaced him. (By the way, Ron Grenemyer still comes by the church occasionally to visit with me and pray for me which I find very meaningful and encouraging.)
Rob Kurz served the church for 17 years as senior pastor – which is the longest tenure of any pastor so far – and it was under his leadership that our commitment to bringing the gospel to the Muslim world in the 10/40 Window was birthed and solidified. In the spring of 2001, we moved into our present facility on the corner of Tramway and Candelaria. We also purchased the adjacent daycare building, making it our children’s building. I remember as our main building was beginning to take shape making fun of Rob because of the size of his office compared to everyone else’s. I called it “the racquetball court.” Little did I know that one day that office would be mine!
In 2006, Rob resigned as pastor, and by the end of that year, Michelle and I returned to the church that we had served for five years prior from 1999-2004. And this year – 2009 – Foothills Fellowship is celebrating our 35th year as a congregation.
This Sunday marks the beginning of an exciting transition in the life and history of our church as we move from our 35th year of existence into our 36th year. 35/36 is the name of an 8-week sermon series I’m beginning this Sunday, and the name 35/36 has a double meaning.
It represents a movement from our first 35 years (full of rich spiritual heritage) into our next 35 years (beginning with year 36) that – Lord willing – will begin another great run of Kingdom building and Kingdom impact as a church family.
It also represents a familiar passage of Scripture that we must NEVER forget as we move forward. Who knows what the next 35 years will hold? Who knows what year 36 (this year) will hold? No one…except for the Lord. And this is why we must cling to Proverbs 3:5 and 3:6 as a church family in the days, months, and years that lie ahead.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
There are many things pastors, elders, church leaders, and church people are tempted to place their trust in: numbers, finances, social status, facilities, number of converts, and their own thinking and empty philosophies. But as we move forward, we MUST recognize that the ONLY way we’re going to be “successful” for the Kingdom in the next 35 years (starting with this year: year 36), we must place our complete faith and trust in the Lord – and in Him alone.
If you’re a part of The Foothills family, make it a priority to be together with your church family each Sunday morning for the next 8 weeks. And make sure not to miss this Sunday (August 2) as we’ll watch a video that chronicles the last 35 years of God’s faithfulness to us.