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Pablo’s Church of the Nazarene celebrating 60 years

by CAROLYN HIDY
Lake County Leader | April 22, 2021 12:20 AM

The community is invited to join the Pablo Church of the Nazarene on Sunday (April 25) for a celebration to mark the church’s 60-year anniversary, which passed last fall. While the ministry of the church was started in 1955, it was officially chartered in the fall of 1960.

A special celebratory service will begin at 11 a.m., followed by a barbeque at 12:15, with games and inflatable play equipment for the children, weather permitting. Videos of recorded messages from “old timers” will play during the afternoon, recounting memories from well over half a century of the church and its community.

Ethel Harding and her family, and the parents of Ray Miller, still of Pablo, were instrumental in starting the church. Harding kept the archives of photos as the church was built and as it grew. Unfortunately, the album is not available for viewing during the celebration.

“We took a lot of pictures. They were put into an album, but nobody knows where that album is,” Miller said.

Miller was a teenager when his family helped start the Church of the Nazarene in Pablo in 1958. Now in his 70s, he wrote his own contribution to the archives, a letter telling what he remembered about the church’s early days.

“We started out pretty humbly,” Miller said.

The congregation first met for worship in the old Pablo gym, Miller said, with less than a dozen in the congregation and lay pastor Luther Lacock. They bought 2 acres on the south edge of town about the time the Reservoir Valley School District was closing. The church bought their two-room school building, with an attached porch, at auction. They moved it onto the property, where it served as the church for several years with the dividing wall removed to make it into one bigger room.

A parsonage, a fellowship hall, and a kitchen were added in the 1970s. The sanctuary and foyer was built in the 1980s. They are currently building a public playground next to church "as a gift to the community to celebrate 60 years," according to member Julie von Schlemmer. The area is now fenced, ready for the next steps of purchasing and installing the equipment.

“The church did everything it could on limited resources,” Pastor Matthew Connally said. “I’ve heard story after story of men and women coming down after work and using the headlights of their cars to light up the sanctuary so they could complete its construction.”

One of Pastor Connally's favorite stories of the church relates to the source of the water. The water had been brought in from the next door property of a church member, but when the property sold, they needed a well. The first day, the well-driller drilled 200 feet, for almost $6,000, putting an extreme strain on financial resources.

So they held a prayer meeting to pray for water, and the next day they told the driller to drill only 25 more feet. As he was drilling he hit an artesian well.

“There was so much water,” Pastor Connally said. “We are still drinking from that same spring, and it is personally the best water I have ever had. The Lord does great things on limited resources.”

Thirteen pastors have served over the church’s 60 years, including Lacock. Jim Perry, the longest serving pastor, started in 1992 and retired in 2014. Connally came after Perry’s retirement.

“We were privileged to be able to stay in one place long enough that it actually became home,” Perry said. He and his wife now live in Polson. “Pablo is a really special place. We were very blessed by God in the congregation and the community to be able to pastor that long. We were very thankful to be able to do that.”

Connally concurs.

“I love it here. This is heaven.”

Three years ago the Pablo Nazarene Church made a concentrated effort to reach into Polson, and they started the Movement Church of the Nazarene, which operates as a satellite campus for the Pablo Church of the Nazarene. That campus meets Sunday evening at the Red Lion Inn in Polson.

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The old schoolhouse still functions as the fellowship hall at the Pablo Church of the Nazarene. It was integrated into new construction in the 1970s and '80s. (Courtesy photo)

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Church of the Nazarene began meeting in the old Pablo gym in 1955. They purchased the Reservoir Valley school house when that district closed, and moved the building to the church's 2-acre site. (Courtesy photo)