What began as a vision of the Emmanuel Missionary College students of 1953, has now become an influential church that impacts the community and beyond through its media ministry, outreach programs, small groups, and more.
On Valentine’s day, 60 years ago, Elder J.L. Tucker dedicated the new sanctuary saying, “It is to be a house of prayer for all people.” Keeping true to its mission, Pioneer Memorial Church has pushed its members to become a church without walls.
“We are not only looking back but we are also looking forward,” said Claudia Sowler, executive secretary to Dwight Nelson, Pioneer Church’s senior pastor. “We believe God has a work ahead of us and we want to stay focused, understanding where we came from and where we are headed.”
To understand the humble beginnings of this 60-year old church plant, one must go back to 1901, at the Berrien Springs Courthouse where the Emmanuel Missionary College Church was organized. A year later, a church school was opened, moving its services to a basement auditorium used for worship and recreation. Desiring a place that was only dedicated to Divine service, a group of students spearheaded a fundraising campaign to build a church on campus. Selling baked goods along Highway 31, donations began to pour in, while men from plant services dedicated full weeks to prepare the church for its grand opening.
On February 14, 1959, the newly built church opened its doors to its community and now, 60 years later, as Nelson said in his recent blog, the history of Pioneer has “God’s fingerprints all over it.”
Both services at Pioneer this Sabbath are dedicated to the 60-year anniversary; second service will be followed by a special potluck.