The New Era Bible Church had its conception in 1920 when Rev. Harry Bultema, then Pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Muskegon, expressed his views on the pre-millennial doctrines. In late 1920 he held a series of meetings at New Era, speaking on this doctrine. Mr. J. B. Fekken was one of the earliest founders of this independent work of the Lord.
In 1930 Open Air Meetings were held at New Era with Dr. Harry Bultema and Rev. T.M. Wright. Rev. Bultima began meeting with this group and then Rev. Wright continued with weeknight meetings at the Ben Hagen farm house (west of New Era on Garfield Road).
In 1932 the meetings were moved to a paint shop which was later Burcon’s Store. These meetings were conducted by Mr. DeBoef, Mr. Jack Roelof, and Rev. Jake Huizenga. The meetings were also held at a shop located in the Country Fair Mall area.
The old green house which used to stand on the corner of Ray and 2nd Street was the next home for the tiny group of worshippers during 1933. Rev. Jake Huizenga continued the ministry and the Plymouth Brethren also began to help serve.
In 1936 the group moved to a shoe store on Ray Avenue west of Oceana Drive and was named, “The Gospel Hall.” A Sunday school was begun for children. Rev. Russell Houseman of First Baptist of Hart helped in the services. As time went on Rev. Raymond Kroll began Sunday morning services and Sunday school, and growth in numbers continued. About this time Rev. T.M. Wright was again used of the Lord as Interim Pastor and assisted the congregation in the incorporation proceedings of 1954. The name “New Era Bible Church” was chosen. Charter membership opened for one year, January 1, 1955-January 1, 1956. The following people became active members (*indicates those still living):
Rev. T.M. Wright Herman Plescher Francis Fekken *Raymond Fekken
*Benjamin Fekken Winifred Plescher Robert Carter *Mary Fekken
Winifred Fekken Evan Shook Martha Carter LeDean Nichols
Jacob Fekken Susan Shook Ernest Pearson Carol Nichols
Elizabeth Fekken B. Kenneth Huston Dorothy Pearson Etta Collins (Beck)
Louis Haga *Imagine Huston Ben Vande Creek Very Croff (Mutter)
Mrs. Louis Haga *John E. Fekken *Franklin Hepworth Violet Current
Dorcas H. Fekken Elveretta Hepworth *Howard Butzer
On March 14, 1957 a committee of NEBC met with the Consistory of the Christian Reformed Church to inquire about the purchasing of their church properties—church building and parsonage. In July 1958 Rev. K.L. Springstead was called as the first full time pastor and he was instrumental in continuing negotiations with the CRC Consistory. In October 1958 the congregation notified the Consistory of the CRC that it was approved by NEBC to purchase their church and parsonage for $18,000. The first worship service at the church was held October 11, 1958 and a new chapter of history was opened for New Era Bible Church.
The church and parsonage were not new buildings but were adequate. The parsonage was built in 1895 and the church in 1903. As the congregation grew and needs arose for safety and beautification the new entrance was built in 1967 and new carpet and pews were installed in 1977.
The outreach to the community continues today. Membership has grown and our purpose to present Christ as Savior and Lord lives on. Many of our youth and young adults have attended Child Evangelism’s Christian Youth in Action training, various Bible schools, and have gone on to serve the Lord full time as Christian servants and teachers, at home and abroad. Missionaries have been called by the Lord from this group, of which several continue in service: Howard Butzer, Sharon Gale, Shirley Gale, Imagene Huston, Russell and Penny Jones & family, Paul VanEgdom and Lorraine Waite. Another privilege granted to this congregation was the issuance of a Minister’s License to Franklin Hepworth on January 4, 1956.
Areas of ministry which have becoming increasingly important in recent years include the AWANA Clubs, Camp Ao-Wa-Kia at nearby Stony Lake, and a youth ministry. Support for these has expanded and only God knows the number of souls saved due to the faithful presentation of His Word.
In September 1995 NEBC became a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA International); a fellowship of like-minded independent churches and organizations throughout the world. That decision has enlarged the church’s resources and expanded its opportunities for evangelism and discipleship.
At a special congregational meeting on November 12, 2000 the congregation began another chapter in the life of the church. They voted to relocate and build a new facility. With that vote the congregation began a journey of faith; trusting God to lead, provide and enable. After that step of faith God led the church to an ideal piece of property for their new building. Six acres on Oceana Drive just south of the village was purchased from Daniel VanDuinen for $29,900.
Unknown to NEBC was the fact that the Grace Bible Church of Montague had been discussing the possibility of merging with another fundamental Bible-teaching church. After seeking God’s will for their church, the congregation approached NEBC about a merger. It was apparent that this was a perfect fit at the perfect time planned by our Sovereign God.
On Sunday, March 30, 2003 the Grace Bible Church voted unanimously to dissolve and sell all their property, buildings and equipment to the New Era Bible Church for $1. They also voted to combine all financial accounts and present NEBC with a check for the amount of $10,788.24 and designate it “Building Fund”. That same Sunday the NEBC congregation voted unanimously to receive all GBC members into their fellowship, welcoming all GBC board members as part of the NEBC board. They further voted to purchase all GBC’s property and buildings as well as equipment for $1. Both churches met for the final time as independent congregations on April 6. At that time GBC had a farewell fellowship for their Interim Pastor, Robert Searles. That same Sunday NEBC met to discuss its plans for the future.
After reviewing God’s clear direction and provision, it was concluded that the 72nd Avenue location with its extra space and multipurpose building was definitely God’s provision until the new building could be completed. Since there was a buyer for the New Era property, the newly formed congregation voted to sell it to the Christ is King Church for $126,000.00. The first combined worship service was held on April 13, 2003 at the 72nd Avenue location.
On Easter Sunday the new congregation met at the Oceana Drive property (site of the new building) for a Sunrise service at 8 AM. This service was followed by breakfast and worship service back at the 72nd Ave. facility. The congregation continued to meet at that the 72nd Avenue location until moving into their new building on S. Oceana Drive.
By April 15th 2003 arrangements were well under way with an architect regarding site design plans and the permits were in hand for the new building. In the following months up to October 2004 fund raising efforts were graciously matched by the generous giving of God’s people.
October 19th 2004 saw another step forward in the signing of a Rough in Contract with Frontier Builders. As fund raising continued, financial arrangements with Shelby State Bank were also underway and construction began. A target date of April 9, 2006 was set for the first meeting of NEBC in the new building and God carefully allowed that meeting to take place as scheduled.
The 72nd Avenue property soon after was leased to, and eventually sold to the New Life Church congregation. On October 1st 2010 the 72nd Avenue property was sold for $75,000.00.
During the ensuing years we have enjoyed a spirit of continuing development to the property and ministries, including an internet Website ministry, ministry oriented work trips to Mexico, Louisiana and Wyoming, a paved parking lot with lighting systems and the completion of a new Awana/Treasurers’ office and Sunday school class room.
Faithful pastors whom God has sent to serve at New Era Bible Church include:
Rev. K.L. Springstead 1958-1961
Rev. Paul Scanlon 1961-1963
Rev. L.O. Edwards 1964-1971
Rev. William Seid 1972-1985
Rev. Gerald Beach 1986-2001
Rev. Robert Sponable 2002-2012
Rev. Michael Deblois 2012-present
Youth Pastor Daniel Alvarez 2000-2002
Youth Pastor David Furst 2002-2003
Associate Pastor James Sponable 2007-2013
“To God be the Glory; great things He has done!” We are grateful for His love and devotion to us, and the faithfulness of our church family to one another and to those with whom we come in contact from week to week and day to day.