Twenty-five years ago, a small group of people in Northern Chautauqua County came together. They were united by their desire to study the Bible and express their faith through acts of ministry and service. Soon, joined by others who shared this vision, Christ Community Church was born.
Charter member and local attorney Daryl Brautigam recalls, "Early on we met in our living room. At the time, my wife and I had two pre-school aged children and a new baby. Having the house ready by 10 a.m. on a Sunday to host church was quite a challenge."
Purchasing the former Costello's Music Store on Berry Road, Fredonia, was a major commitment for the fledging congregation. Brautigam quips, "this move allowed for growth in numbers as well as ministry opportunities. And we didn't have to clean house every Sunday morning, either."
The worship building for Christ Community Church in Fredonia.
The church was originally named Community Baptist Fellowship, but was later changed to its current title. Although Baptist in theology, Christ Community Church has always focused itself on being a contemporary, non-traditional church with modern worship, drama, video clips and sermons that deal with today's issues.
The church also moved away from the traditional Wednesday night service to hosting small group Bible studies held in various homes throughout the week.
Pastor Dave Reitmeyer led the congregation for 10 years. As an accomplished musician and Bible teacher, Reitmeyer's strengths served the growing group well.
After Reitmeyer moved south, the church spent a year redefining its vision and searching for the next pastor. In 1997, Pastor Vince Eisaman from the Chicago area was hired. Eisaman has challenged the congregation to dig deeper into faith and practice.
He summarizes the church goals as, "Together we're striving to become the kind of church described in the Bible, a church with relevant teachings, heart-felt worship, honest friendships, constant prayer and compassionate care for those in need."
In 2007, Marc Samworth, a recent seminary graduate and former youth pastor in the Philadelphia area, joined as associate pastor. That year the church also purchased Costello's other music store, a remodeled barn, located directly behind Christ Community Church's worship building. The second building is used for fellowship activities, youth group, adult Sunday School and has additional office space.
Besides Sunday school and two Sunday worship services, Christ Community Church now offers a full calendar of activities and programs for all age groups. They have youth group for both middle and high school students, men's and women's activities, senior activities, movie nights, road rallies and more. Every spring the chuch hosts a "1,000+ Easter egg hunt" for the community and in the summer holds a week-long Vacation Bible School program.
Described as "a place to find hope, follow Christ, and serve others" Christ Community Church is flourishing.
The public is invited to attend a chicken barbecue and celebration service this Saturday June 8, at 6 p.m. on the church lawn, 219 Berry Road, Fredonia. The public is also invited to a special anniversary service at the church on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. Coffee and doughnuts will be served beforehand at 10 a.m. "under the big tent." Dr. Lou Petrie will be speaking.
For more information about this weekend's celebration or about what Christ Community Church offers, call 673-1661 or visit www.cccfredonia.org. You can also find them on Facebook at Christ Community Church (Fredonia).