Our Story

How it all started...

In the summer of 1921 Mr. Arthur Spaven, with his sons Walter and Charles, along with W.F. Derring had a burden for lost souls and began holding meetings on the street corner in Rochester, Michigan. These meetings brought about the vision of a much needed work of Evangelism of Full Salvation in Rochester.  Another man of God, Reverend Gililispie of Flint, MIchigan who also had a burden and vision of reaching the lost, came in September to join the cause. they started holding tent meetings with as much local help as they could get including Reverend E.E. Mieres of Pontiac Nazarene Church.  

On October 9th, 1921 Reverend R.V. Starr, the Nazarene District Superintendent came and organized Rochester First Church of the Nazarene with its thirteen charter members in the Rochester Town Hall. Then on December 9th 1921 Reverend Star made arrangements  for  Reverend C.A. Bearinger, who was at the time pastoring Colling Church, to come and hold special services. These first service were held at the town hall and were met with good success. Reverend Bearinger felt God's call on his heart and on January 6th, 1922 took the charge as Rochester First church of the Nazarene's first pastor.

Services continued at the Rochester Town Hall until March 26th, 1923. It was then that the Rochester First Church of the Nazarene purchased the old Universalist Church in downtown Rochester and moved into their new home at 226 Walnut Street(pictured on the right).  Rochester First Church of the Nazarene stayed at this location for the next 43 years under the leadership of Reverend Bearinger(1922-1926), Reverend Clay(1926-1927), Reverend Leach(1927-1929), Reverend Studt(1929-1933), Reverend Silvernail(1933-1934), Reverend Thomas(1934-1935), Reverend Holliday(1935-1940), Reverend Riployle(1940-1941), Reverend Fisher(1941-1945), Reverend Warland(1945-1951), Reverend Varian(1951-1952), Reverend Sanborn(1952-1954), Reverend Riddle(1954-1964), Reverend Stocks(1964-1966)

On the Move...

By 1957 as Rochester continued to expand it was becoming clear that the church building was becoming inadequate for the congregation. The church had to share a parking lot with another church next door which caused parking lot issues and as legend has it, it also created contention among members of both churches. Under the leadership of Reverend T.C. Riddle a down payment on five acres just beyond Rochester High School on Walton Blvd.  The property had a large remodeled farmhouse, a smaller house, a garage,  a big dairy barn, and a metal Quonset hut. It was said to be a beautiful place and had perfect spot on the west side of the property for a new church.

As it was Reverend Riddle who oversaw the purchase of the new church property, it was Reverend Stocks who was there to oversee the building project. In 1964 and individual investor offered $29,500 for the church building on Walnut and the bid was expected. The only problem was that there was no new church building yet on the Walton property and they had only a short time to be out of the Walnut church building.  That summer everyone worked very hard to get the metal Quinset hut, that had been used as a farm building, to be ready for use as a temporary place of worship.

In April of 1966, the new church was dedicated. There was a great crowd that attended including Dr. G.B. Williamson, General Superintendent in the church of the Nazarene. It was Dr. Williamson who helped to dedicate the new church building at 1520 Walton Boulevard(pictured on the left). Rochester First Church of the Nazarene stayed at this location for the next 36 years under the continued leadership of Reverend Stocks until August 1966, and then Reverend Roberts(1966-1978), Reverend Hathaway(1978-1983), Reverend Johnson(1983-1987), Reverend McDowell(1987-1991), Reverend Roberts(1991-1994), Reverend Hefner(Interim 1994), Reverend Larry Crum(1994-2019)

Our Current Home...

By 1999 Rochester First Church of the Nazarene had once again outgrown its current building. What happened next is a true testament to how great God is. As Reverend Crum inquired on how much the church property was worth he was told that it was worth $900,000. Feeling that this number was far to low he informed the relator that they didn't have to sell and could move to multiple services.  He felt God impressing on him to list it for$1.7 Million and he did. The property sold for$1.6 million $700,000 above its value.  On top of that the buyer told Reverend Crum that the church could still meet there until they got their new building.

While looking for land to purchase for the new church building the church board decided that they wanted to stay close to downtown and not move further away to the outskirts of Rochester.  They found a piece of property just down the street, an old apple orchard, that was also being looked at by a local developer. The local developer needed the property to be zoned industrial. Once again God went before and the city council kept the zoning as residential which paved the way for Rochester First Church of the Nazarene to purchase it. Reverend Crum said it was a whole church effort to get the church build. One man, Leon Drake, felt led by God that the children needed their own place to worship. It wasn't on the plans but Leon paid $60,000 of his own money to have it added.

This is a church building planned by God, built by God, and it is even covered in God's word. Before the carpet was put down in the building the whole church congregation wrote different scriptures on the floor in their department covering it in God's word.  Then on May 5th, 2002 the church opened for it's first service at 1799 Walton Boulevard(pictured on right). The service was attended by Dr. Anthony, the Nazarene District Superintendent, the Mayor, and a local congressman who provided a flag that was flown at the state capital.  Reverend Crum served as the Sr. Pastor for another 17 years after the building was built. After Reverend  Crum stepped down from Sr. Pastor to Associate Pastor in 2019, he was then succeeded by Reverend Marshall Ruddle who is the current pastor to this day.