“Celebrate God’s Goodness from Generation to Generation” is the theme of Avalon Missionary Church’s 50th anniversary. A special combined worship service will be held on Sunday, November 20, at 9:30 AM followed by an all church potluck dinner. In the afternoon a gathering of praise and remembrance will be held at 2:00 PM. Several former pastors as well as denominational leaders will participate in the service.
The history of the Avalon Missionary Church had its beginning sometime before 1920, when the Fort Wayne Bible Training School sent students to conduct services at the Prairie Grove Chapel on Old Trail Road. Among these students were Jess Fulton, Weldon Klopfenstein, Albert Hagar, James Houston , Reginald Shepley and W. Paul Stauffer.
Mr. Stauffer graduated from training school, was ordained to the ministry on November 11, 1934, and in 1922 became the regular pastor. Mr. Stauffer was married to the former Lillian Amstutz and they had seven children. Several people converted to Christ during the Stauffers’ ministry at the church and are now serving in Christian work in various parts of the world.
On September 28, 1955, Pastor Stauffer resigned after 35 years of serving the Chapel. Upon his resignation he was unanimously voted Pastor Emeritus by the congregation.
On August 5, 1955 the church was received into membership of the Missionary Church Association at the denominations’s annual conference at Pomona, California. Charter members were: Rev. and Mrs. W. P. Stauffer, Mr. And Mrs. Robert Burley, Joan Allison, Sharon Allison, Mr. And Mrs. Joseph Batten, Mrs. Johnnie Cox, Mrs. Frank Crider, Mr. And Mrs. Clarence Greider, Mrs. Paul Lambert, Arlene Meyers, Mrs. Geary Meyers, Mr. And Mrs. Robert Padgett, Mr. And Mrs. Wilbur Philo, Ethel Schlatter, Mr. And Mrs. Olen Schlatter, Mr. And Mrs. Robert Skinner, Eleanor Tracey, Doris Walker, and Mrs. Henry Walker.
In September of 1955 Mr. Robert Skinner was voted to pastor the congregation. He had been serving as assistant pastor since 1954. On January 27, 1957 Robert E. Skinner was ordained into the ministry.
The Prairie Grove Church continued their ministry to the area and on July 11, 1957 Rev. Robert Skinner and the Reverend W.P. Stauffer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees purchased land at 1500 Lower Huntington Road. Ground was broken on June 22, 1958 and in December of 1958 the congregation voted to change the name from Prairie Grove Missionary Church to Avalon Missionary Church.
On November 22, 1959, a cornerstone-laying ceremony was held and in November 1960, the church dedicated the new building.
Rev. Truman Gottschalk accepted the call from the Avalon congregation and assumed pastorship in September of 1961. In addition to seeing the local church grow, the Gottschalks were instrumental in establishing the Hope Missionary Church, Bluffton, Indiana, the New Haven Missionary Church, New Haven, and the Fort Wayne Christian School.
From the years of 1968 to 2004 William L. Whiteman, Veryl Roth, Jerry Cramer, Gary Aupperle, and Jeff Getz served as pastors.
A Family Life Center was built in the 1980s on the corner of Airport Expressway and Lower Huntington Road and is the site of current worship services.
Rev. Keith Koteskey became pastor of Avalon Missionary Church on July 1, 2005. He grew up in Kentucky and most recently served in Indianapolis. The Pastor and his wife LeAnne have two children, Tyler and Kristen.
As part of their 50th Anniversary Celebration this weekend, “Over The River and Through the Woods” by Joe Dipietro, a dinner theater, will be presented on Thursday and Friday evenings of November 18 & 19, at 6:00 PM and Saturday, November 20 with matinee at 12 PM. Tickets are $12.00 which includes a meal. The play is a comedy about the relationship of a young man and his Italian American grandparents.