Young Church Makes Impact

Bricktown Gospel Fellowship in Haverstraw, New York, is only six years old, yet it managed a successful Vacation Bible School last month for 33 children—the majority of whom came from unchurched homes in the neighborhood. “We ran for five nights,” says Pastor Tim Tyree, “and it was such an exciting outreach.”

First-graders through sixth-graders got teaching and activities built in part around the popular VeggieTales program, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” The teenagers in the church were active as staff helpers, alongside the adults. Since the VBS ended, several families have been back to visit the church on Sunday.

During the same month of August, Pastor Tyree and five other members went on the church’s first mission trip, to Quito, Ecuador. They helped a local congregation there do its VBS—in Spanish, of course. Nearly everyone on the Bricktown team spoke Spanish, which made it possible for them to jump in and help teach the children directly.

The New Yorkers had brought along four heavy suitcases full of school supplies, prizes, Bibles and other gear, plus a cash offering of $300 for the Ecuadorian church. After the VBS sessions finished each day, the men got busy painting the church building.

On the way home, one woman told Pastor Tyree, “You know, you said we’d fit right in with those people and feel like one of them. We sure did!” This woman is now spearheading plans for a return trip next year.

Bricktown Gospel Fellowship is a church planted by nearby Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship in New City, N.Y.

Honoring Rev. Richard Balken

On April 25, 2008, the FCA Convention in Minneapolis gave special honor to the long and noteworthy ministry of Richard Balken and his wife, Joanne. The following tribute was read and distributed at that time:

Richard Balken was born in Duluth, Minnesota to Rev. and Mrs. Obed and Alice Balken. He grew up in Minneapolis and came to saving faith in Christ at the age of nine while attending a convention at the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle with his family. Raised in a pastor’s home, Richard felt the call to full-time ministry not long after beginning college.

Richard and his wife, Joanne, both attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. On June 1, 1957, just five days after graduating from NCBC, they were married. Immediately thereafter, Richard and Joanne began working with Richard’s father in ministry at Philadelphia Church (now Hope Christian Church) in the North East neighborhood of Minneapolis.

In 1958, Richard and Joanne, along with Richard’s brother and wife, formed a singing group and began traveling across the U.S. ministering to local churches. This endeavor continued until 1960, when Richard and Joanne began pastoring a pioneer congregation in Winnebago, Minnesota. It was in the fall of 1961, however, when Richard and Joanne received the call to what would become, in many ways, their lives’ work.

In 1961, the Gospel Tabernacle in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (now Lighthouse Christian Church), had a congregation of approximately 40 people and had been in decline for some time. As its new pastor, Richard recognized the congregation had lost much of its vision. He began the hard work of helping restore and renew the people’s passion for God and for lost souls. While not easy, God blessed these efforts.

By 1965 the small church building began to fill up, creating the need for a new facility. The next year a building fund was established, and a parcel of land was purchased. In 1969, the congregation voted unanimously to construct a building that would seat 250. Pastor Balken served as the general contractor for the project, the congregation donated their time and abilities, and, by 1970, what was known in the local community as the “labor of love project” had been completed.

Continuous growth at Fond du Lac Gospel Tabernacle led to major building projects in 1973, 1987, 1988, and again in 1998, as well as the expansion of ministry outreach. In 1978, the congregation moved to establish and host a K-12 Christian school, the first in the Fond du Lac area. The church established a Christian daycare center in 1988. During this time, Richard and Joanne were also kept busy on the home front, raising a family of five children: Brenton, Eydie, Byron, Heidi, and Christopher.

With the growth of the congregation, Richard and Joanne had the joy of seeing many young people and families respond to God’s call into full-time pastoral and mission work. They also were able to minister themselves on several foreign fields, including China, India, Indonesia, Colombia and El Salvador. All the while, the mission to present the gospel to the Fond du Lac region never faltered.

In 2005, Richard resigned from Lighthouse Christian Fellowship after 44 years of fruitful and rewarding ministry. He and Joanne are kept busy by five children and their spouses, as well as 20 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. They continue to reside in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Rev. Richard Balken has faithfully served God, the Body of Christ, and the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for more than 50 years. Today, he continues this faithful service as a vital member of the Church’s endeavor to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies is privileged to recognize Rev. Richard Balken as a 2008 FCA Heritage Honoree. May God’s grace, peace, and richest blessings continue to rest upon Richard and Joanne.

Honoring Rev. Lloyd Jacobsen

On April 25, 2008, the FCA Convention in Minneapolis gave special honor to the long and noteworthy ministry of Kenneth Toth and his wife, Lillian. The following tribute was read and distributed at that time:

Kenneth Toth was born in Laurium, Michigan in 1931 to John and Katherine Toth. He grew up in Laurium, and eventually worked in Detroit for a time before serving in the Korean War. Ken returned home to Laurium in 1955. Shortly thereafter, he was led to faith in Christ through an evangelistic outreach of the Laurium Gospel Tabernacle (now
Northwoods Christian Assembly).

Ken was married to his wife, Lillian, in 1956. Together, they raised two daughters, Rebecca and Debrah. Lillian has been an active partner in Ken’s ministry over the years. In 2006, they celebrated 50 years of marriage in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Northwoods Christian Assembly.

Not long after his conversion, Ken sensed God calling him into full-time Christian ministry. Seeking to fulfill this call, he studied at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. Ken remained in the Twin Cities until 1964, at which time he traveled east to begin 10 years of pastoral ministry at Strum and Clear Lake, Wisconsin. This was followed by two years of regular evangelistic outreach to various locations in Mexico.

Ken and Lillian received a call to serve their home church, Laurium Gospel Tabernacle, in 1978. Thus began 30 years of faithful service to the Calumet/Laurium area. Ken has long been recognized in the community for his faithful service in local hospitals and nursing homes. He has been active in ministry to alcoholics and drug addicts, as well. For many years he was a sponsor of area-wide Holy Spirit Prayer Conferences. Ken was also the host of “Prayer Time,” a well-known radio call-in program, for 26 years. His ministry to the upper peninsula of Michigan has extended far beyond the walls of his local congregation.

In 1995, having constructed much of the building themselves, the people of Laurium Gospel Tabernacle dedicated a new church facility. With this new structure came a new name: Northwoods Christian Assembly. From this new base of operations, Ken continued to minister to his congregation, and to his community, until the arrival of Rev. Paddy Palomaki in 2006. At that time, Ken stepped into semi-retirement, becoming associate pastor in support of Pastor Palomaki. By all accounts, Ken and Lillian are enjoying the newfound freedoms this stage of life is bringing their way.

Rev. Kenneth Toth has faithfully served God, the Body of Christ, and the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for more than 40 years. Today, he continues this faithful service as a vital part of the Church’s endeavor to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies is privileged to recognize Rev. Kenneth Toth as a 2008 FCA Heritage Honoree. May God’s grace, peace, and richest blessings continue to rest upon Kenneth and Lillian.

Honoring Rev. Kenneth Toth

On April 25, 2008, the FCA Convention in Minneapolis gave special honor to the long and noteworthy ministry of Kenneth Toth and his wife, Lillian. The following tribute was read and distributed at that time:

Kenneth Toth was born in Laurium, Michigan in 1931 to John and Katherine Toth. He grew up in Laurium, and eventually worked in Detroit for a time before serving in the Korean War. Ken returned home to Laurium in 1955. Shortly thereafter, he was led to faith in Christ through an evangelistic outreach of the Laurium Gospel Tabernacle (now Northwoods Christian Assembly).

Ken was married to his wife, Lillian, in 1956. Together, they raised two daughters, Rebecca and Debrah. Lillian has been an active partner in Ken’s ministry over the years. In 2006, they celebrated 50 years of marriage in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Northwoods Christian Assembly.

Not long after his conversion, Ken sensed God calling him into full-time Christian ministry. Seeking to fulfill this call, he studied at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. Ken remained in the Twin Cities until 1964, at which time he traveled east to begin 10 years of pastoral ministry at Strum and Clear Lake, Wisconsin. This was followed by two years of regular evangelistic outreach to various locations in Mexico.

Ken and Lillian received a call to serve their home church, Laurium Gospel Tabernacle, in 1978. Thus began 30 years of faithful service to the Calumet/Laurium area. Ken has long been recognized in the community for his faithful service in local hospitals and nursing homes. He has been active in ministry to alcoholics and drug addicts, as well. For many years he was a sponsor of area-wide Holy Spirit Prayer Conferences. Ken was also the host of “Prayer Time,” a well-known radio call-in program, for 26 years. His ministry to the upper peninsula of Michigan has extended far beyond the walls of his local congregation.

In 1995, having constructed much of the building themselves, the people of Laurium Gospel Tabernacle dedicated a new church facility. With this new structure came a new name: Northwoods Christian Assembly. From this new base of operations, Ken continued to minister to his congregation, and to his community, until the arrival of Rev. Paddy Palomaki in 2006. At that time, Ken stepped into semi-retirement, becoming associate pastor in support of Pastor Palomaki. By all accounts, Ken and Lillian are enjoying the newfound freedoms this stage of life is bringing their way.

Rev. Kenneth Toth has faithfully served God, the Body of Christ, and the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for more than 40 years. Today, he continues this faithful service as a vital part of the Church’s endeavor to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies is privileged to recognize Rev. Kenneth Toth as a 2008 FCA Heritage Honoree. May God’s grace, peace, and richest blessings continue to rest upon Kenneth and Lillian.