Jubiliee Testimonies

This is a time to look back and reclaim the feeling, assurance, commitment, and love we have for the Lord Jesus Christ. You can revisit the 50 days of Jubilee Testimonies to view previously published testimony letters from our congregation.

Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 28

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Saturday, February 12, 2011, Day 28

                                                                            A WONDERFUL LIFE

As a child my sisters, neighbor kids and I would ride the “bus” to a neighborhood church.  We were never treated as members, just “bus kids” as were called.  We would always try to fit in but never really did.  When I was 18, I made the decision to stop going altogether.  In my mind all church people were stuck-up snobs who thought they were better than me.

In 1985 I was married to a man who was forced to attend church as a child.  We decided that our children would never have a bad experience at church; we would never make them go.  As the years went by my family and friends would invite us but we always had an excuse.  For a while we attended a mega-church, yet again we were just another filled seat, no one at all even knew us by name.

This brings us to 2008.  My life-long friend and I decided we needed more in life and started “church hopping.”
Week 1 – way too much moving and yelling during service
Week 2 – walked in, sat down, good sermon, not one person spoke a word to us
Week 3 – same thing, different church – getting discouraged!
Week 4 – a few hellos but not such a great message
Week 5 – not sure what to do so I suggested we surprise my friend who had been asking me for 20 years to come with her.

From the moment we walked in the door of Heritage Church of God, we were greeted with a warm welcome, “We’re glad you’re here, let me know if you have any questions.”  Before church we were amazed at how people talked to each other and genuinely cared about each other.  They seemed to be really happy to be together.  We thought the sermon was awesome!  After church…more hellos and we hope you come back.  On the way out Pastor Fry and Terry introduced themselves and made me feel even more welcome.  I had never before experienced anything like that.

The next Sunday we decided to return and we felt more welcome than ever.  Larry sat in front of us and we had a great conversation before church.  Once again, lots of people introduced themselves.  That’s when we decided we had found our new church home. 

My husband saw such dramatic changes in me that he started attending with me once in a while, usually while intoxicated.  I was so afraid someone would say something to him.  Boy was I wrong… the opposite happened.  He was welcomed with open arms and made lots of friends.  One Sunday after another moving message and an invitation to come forward, he grabbed my hand and said, “Will you come with me?”  Our life has never been the same.  He stopped drinking completely and loves worshipping, fellowshipping, and volunteering as much as I do.

We have been blessed so much since we put God first in our lives.  I can’t imagine life without our Heritage family.  It truly is a wonderful life!

Robin Kipplen
Children’s Ministries


Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 26

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Thursday, February 10, 2011, Day 26

                                                              BEDROCK OF MY LIFE 

Heritage Church of God has always meant family to me.  I grew up in the church and when I was very young my Uncle Milburn was the pastor.  My parents, grandparents and my great grandfather all attended the Church of God.  I have friends both old and new attending the church.

I started bringing my Godchildren with me when they were little kids.  What a blessing to see them in church with me today, many years later.  I have my own family now and it is such a joy to see my daughter, Laurel, playing piano during the service.  Someday I hope she will experience the same feeling watching her children in church.

My faith has always been the bedrock of my life.  I don’t think I would have that had I not been a part of such a strong church family -- a church that is so firmly rooted within the Word of God.

Pam Miller
Finance Committee


Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 24

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011, Day 24

                                                                                       HOW GOD GROWS A CHURCH

Once upon a time….isn’t that how stories all start?  Once upon a time, our friends, Larry and Barb Bernhard told us about a church in Monclova Township that had evening services they had been attending because they were invited by a friend.  So, we decided to try out the Sunday night service at Heritage Church of God.  We were already attending Sunday morning at another church.

After a few weeks, we decided our friend Peggy Stalder might enjoy going with us, so she came and then we invited our family, Greg and Lorrain Keel and “Dad” Bob Bryant.  We did not know that any more would happen other than attending Sunday night services.  But, God had other plans.
Greg Keel decided to come on Wednesday nights to hear Pastor Fry’s lessons on the book of Revelation.  He invited his friend Steve Dick to come with him.
After a couple of years of Sunday and Wednesday (for some) nights, we needed to find a new church home.  So, we came to Heritage.  And yes, we were “Home.”  The next weeks, Peggy Stalder, Greg and Lorraine Keel, and “Dad” Bob Bryant made Heritage their home.  Shortly afterward, other friends followed, Virginia and Becky Totman and Steve and Darlene Dick.  Here’s what has grown from that.

We have both been able to serve God here, (Lynn) as Director of Music Ministries, and Assimilation Ministry and (David) as part of the sound team and praise band.
Greg Keel has taken the role of Director of Adult Ministries and he and Lorraine take care of the communion service each Sunday in the prayer room following the service.  Lorraine currently serves on Council and is active in the music ministry.

Greg and Lorraine’s son, Adam, came and soon met Erin Quigg.  Adam proposed to Erin during the Sunday morning service and they married.  Adam is on the sound team and Erin has been involved with the ushering. They now have a beautiful daughter Aubry who is part of the next generation at Heritage.
Peggy Stalder has been involved with greeting and is the Director of the Benevolence Pantry and Visitation Ministries and “Dad” Bob Bryant has been her assistant in both ministries.

Steve and Darlene have involved themselves in Sunday school, communion and music and soon invited their son and daughter in law, Jason and Emily Dick.  Jason began the men’s Bible studies and continues to do so.  He has recently started preaching on Sunday evenings.  Emily began working in the day care, where she met two beautiful little girls who were in foster care.  She and Jason adopted Rhyan and Jordyn and they are a delight to all who meet them.
Virginia and Becky Totman are the two diligent ladies who handle the Scrip Ministry.  They work hard and do a super job.  Through your purchase of gift cards at the Scrip table, you are helping to raise money to be used in various areas of the church and missions.  Rob, Virginia’s son and Becky’s brother, came to live with them and he helps them as well.  Becky is also very involved in the music ministry.  Until she had to quit for health reasons, Virginia prepared communion every Sunday morning.
All of this because a friend invited us to Heritage and we know there are many more stories likes ours.  Invite a friend to be a part of our family.  There are plenty of ministry opportunities to go around.  This is how God grows a church.

Dave and Lynn Bryant
Dave – Sound Team
Lynn – Music Director


Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 27

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Friday, February 11, 2011, Day 27

                                                                            REFINE OUR FAITH 
“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31: 6

Having been a member of North Cove Church of God and then Heritage Church of God since birth, is where the base of my religious foundation has developed and matured over these last thirty years.  Although I learned the Word of God within the comfort and safety of these walls, it has been my time spent outside of them that has truly given me my faith. 

In the early 1990s, I started spending my summers at Camp Marengo where I first discovered that just because we were Christians did not necessarily mean that all of our lives were easy.  Most of my fellow campers did not have a home life that was as secure and stable as my own.  As I grew from a camper to a counselor, I embraced the time I was able to spend with my peers discovering God’s word and worshipping in an outdoor chapel.  While it was empowering to spend week after week among fellow believers, I began to realize that Christianity has never meant that life was always going to be easy.  Instead of pretending that my Christian faith always grants me the right to sing at the top of the mountain, my song can be just as sweet and sincere when I am standing in the valley covered in mud, because I am still gazing up at Christ.  Every day we are under constant spiritual attacks from within the church as well as outside of it. 

While attending university, my beliefs have been challenged by both professors and peers, which caused me to further seek and personalize my faith.  During this time, what I have come to understand is that the church cannot be my faith; it can only ever be just a building.  But what I learned from within its walls, the guidance, lessons and support I receive from the Word of God and my fellow believers, are the things that I need in order to further develop and strengthen my own spiritual armor.  Right now we live in a world that is full of uncertainties and both believers and non-believers are being challenged on a daily basis.  What we as Christians must come to realize is that the church as an institution cannot be the light that the world seeks when it is surrounded in darkness without a true and individual commitment from its people.  In 1938, German Pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote that “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. . . . So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of the foes.  There is his commission, his work (Gemeinsames Leben or Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community, 17).” 

During this time of jubilation we need to look past our own fears and desires and begin to embrace those who hold different thoughts and opinions, cultures and traditions, as well as religious beliefs. We need to embrace rather than judge.  Listen rather than lecture.  Love fully without being corrupted by our own prejudices.  Now is not the time to cower behind the doors of the church and project images of God that mirror our own attitudes, characteristics and assumptions about Christian life which puts the focus on us rather than on Him.  Through our faith we are called to be a constant witness of the hope that is given to all through God’s unfailing and unconditional love.  My prayer for today is that we begin to use the church as a place where we come to refine and not define our faith.

Norma Lisa Flores


Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 25

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011, Day 25

                                                              A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE

I have been attending Heritage for over 10 years.   I was raised in the Church of God and my father is a retired Pastor of the Church of God.   Before we started attending Heritage, Scott and I really did not have a church that we attended on a regular basis.  We visited many churches but we never could find a church that we both liked.  There was always something that turned us off with every church we visited.   Now I know it was God leading us in a different direction.  God knew where we needed to be but it took some time getting us here.  Since I was raised in a Church of God, my dad would always keep telling me to visit the church where Pastor Fry was serving.  Well, at the time it was located on North Cove and it was just too far to drive.  When I heard the church had sold the building on North Cove and that you were building closer to us, we decided to visit the church when it was holding services at the school before the church building was complete.  We had visited so many beautiful churches and here we are going for the first time to visit Heritage in a school’s library.  The strangest part was, we loved it – the music, the service, the message.  I remember walking out and saying, “We found our church.”  Everyone was so friendly but most of all, I could feel the presence of God in everything that was going on.   I knew God sent us there and we have been attending ever since.  I know there were many reasons why the church relocated to this area but for a long time I thought the building of this church was an answered prayer from God for my family in finding a church home.   I wonder how many other families God built this Church for?

What does Heritage mean to me? A Life Changing Experience!!  I was struggling in my walk with Christ when I first started attending Heritage.  I needed a church that preached the Word of God and I needed a Pastor that was going to tell me what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear.  Each Sunday I could feel God tugging at my heart.   I rededicated my life to Christ at a women’s retreat that I attended with Pastor’s brother’s church.  I would never have been at that retreat if I was not attending Heritage.  God had His hand in everything, finding this church and how this church would make a difference in my life and also my family’s.   My children have been raised in this church.  Camille was dedicated here and Abbey and Adam were both baptized here.  I love this church.  It’s God’s Church.  It’s real.  When God is in it, life changing things happen. 

Over the 10 years I have been attending and working in the church office I have seen so many life-changing moments. The presence of God meets you at the door if you are willing to receive Him and he will lift you up and carry you through any circumstance if you let Him.   It’s a place where people can fellowship with each other and where friendships are made.  It’s a family.  It’s a place where I have seen people come together in good times and in sad times.  It’s a place where hearts are mended and where souls are saved.  I am so thankful for the Church of God and what it stands for.  Everyone is accepted, there is no judgment, no classes you have to take, no oath you have to make.  All you have to do is repent and accept Jesus as your personal savior and you are IN!! 

I pray that each of you reading this will look at the church differently the next time you enter.  It is alive and God is moving through every area of this church.  You may not like everything, but know that God is in it and that He oversees it all.  I am so glad that God led us here.  We have been so blessed by the love this church and its people have given us.  It has truly been a life changing experience for me and my family.

Mary Dunckel
Administrative Assistant


Heritage Jubilee Testimony Day 23

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Monday, February 7, 2011, Day 23

                                                                                          CONSPIRACY OF LOVE


One of the mechanic shops that we deliver to at work had this saying on their marquis, “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”  I thought what a concept – LOVE at Christmas time.  God gave us the baby Jesus.  We give and receive gifts from our friends and family.

Then I thought about what Pastor Fry said in his sermon, “If you love your job, it’s not work.”  I have been with the same auto parts stores for almost 34 years.  I LOVE my job.

At Heritage Church of God the administrative staff, the directors and their teams, and all those who volunteer show LOVE 365 days a year.  I LOVE working with Vacation Bible School.  I LOVE teaching Sunday School.  I LOVE working with the 2 and 3 year olds.  I LOVE helping with the children’s fund raisers.  I LOVE ushering.  AMAZING - all because we serve an awesome God!

I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful, loving and giving church family.

Gloria Estell
Vacation Bible School Director

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