In the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, mother and I were riding home discussing school and plans for the summer. She told me of the plans to leave the church I had grown up in and that we were starting a new church. I was alarmed. My parents had been MYF youth counselors, Sunday school teachers, My mother was involved in the women’s ministry, my dad was a lay leader, the state registrar for the Methodist Men’s Retreat in Leesburg. Gary and I were involved in Sunday school, M.Y.F., church choir, all youth activities, bible studies, etc. The church was a big part of our lives. So I knew this was not a decision that was made lightly. It had been made through much prayer and soul searching.
My selfish, first reaction was where am I going to get married? As a little girl, I had always dreamed of walking down that aisle with the organ blaring The Wedding March. As it turned out, I was married in what is now the youth room. In the beginning, it was our sanctuary, fellowship hall and multi-purpose room. I did have an aisle and the organ playing the wedding march. All was well.
Christ Independent Methodist church became our place of worship, fellowship, and service. Pat Buckles made the Bible come alive for my boys in her Sunday school class. They came home every Sunday after church excited about the Bible story she had taught that day. Marge Perkins spoiled them rotten in the nursery. John Hanzook was the skinniest Santa ever, but the children didn’t seem to notice.
Mother started a women’s bible study which met every Wed. Morning. Our Women’s Spiritual Life Retreat was Mother’s dream. She wanted our ladies to have an outreach to share God’s love through our love, hospitality, fellowship and teaching, a way to minister to the ladies in our community. It became a time to draw away from the world and draw closer to the Lord. This year will be our 41st Ladies Retreat. Ladies from our community as well as others throughout Fl. and Ga. will attend.
I’m thankful for and proud of our church. It’s warm, loving congregation, our love for the Lord, the ministries, and our Pastor, who diligently teaches from the scriptures. I pray that we will continue to be a beacon for the Lord in our community for the next 50 years.
Norma Kaye Pounds Callaway
We were married in November of 1968 and moved to Palatka the following year. After visiting several other churches we were invited by Larry and Charla Minnick to visit CIMC. We had met the Minnicks through Ed’s practice as a veterinarian at Crill and Palm Veterinary Hospital. We were made to feel welcome by the warmth and friendliness of the people we met at CIMC. Several people called us the following week to say they were glad we had come and hoped we would visit again. One who quickly comes to mind was Lorene Clay who contacted us several times. After attending for about a year, we joined the church. Becoming part of this church has been one of the best and most fulfilling decisions we have ever made.
Shortly after joining the church, we volunteered in the youth ministry. Other ministries that we have been active in through the years are Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Music and Hospitality. Through those ministries, we have been and still are involved in teaching Sunday School and other Bible study groups. In recent years we have become part of the hospitality committee. Brenda has been instrumental in the work of the Women’s Spiritual Life Retreat since it was begun by Edith Pounds.
It has been a privilege for us to have had the opportunity to use our God-given talents and resources toward the fulfillment of the CIMC mission of reaching others for Christ. Through our involvement in the church, we have grown in our knowledge of the scriptures, making us better equipped to share our faith. Because of the CIMC outreach ministries, such as Samaritan’s Purse and Spiritual Life Retreat, we have gained insight into the needs of people outside the church and experienced the blessings that come from helping others.
We have been truly blessed by being part of the CIMC family. This church has helped us bring up our children and helped us through the difficulties that have come into our lives. They ministered to us in an unforgettable way when our son Mark died in a car accident in 2005. Other situations which come to mind are the many ways the CIMC family turned out to help us during the forest fires, hurricanes and when we needed help after Ed’s truck accident in 1994. We don’t know how we would have made it through these situations without the love and prayerful support of our church.
We are happy to be participating in the 50th anniversary and thankful for the way God has blessed our church with godly pastors and leaders. We look forward to continuing to do our part in building on the foundation which has been laid for the future of CIMC. We feel blessed to be part of the love and fellowship that we share with one another.
Yours in Christ,
Ed and Brenda
I was raised in the Baptist Church was baptized when I was 12 years old. But for some reason I was so unhappy at the church where my family belonged. It seems it was always “Hell Fire and Brimstone”! This for a person trying to find their way and sick on top of it did nothing for me. I remember leaving the church one Sunday. When I drove up Silver Lake Drive I happen to look over to the church that was being built next to the cemetery. The stained glass window made into the cross was there and I remember the roof line being so modern for Palatka and I told myself, “Wow what a beautiful church. It would be nice to go there someday!” Little did I know that I would become a member in 1982, rededicate myself to the Lord, get married, have my baby son dedicated, see him grow up in the church, hear him sing there, see him baptized. My husband and I became involved in so many different ministries, you see my life changed that day God guided me to CIMC.
I was sick with Crohn’s Disease when I was brought to CIMC by Sam Carr. We had both been through divorces and started dating and said we wanted to do things right this time. So our first step was church. My very first visit I was ill and went into the women’s Sunday School class taught by Mary Mullis. All of a sudden I started crying because of what was being said touched me. Marge Pelitier put her arm around me and held me while I cried. I was able to get it out or so I thought and have composer for church service. Well, the same thing happened I started crying during the invocation of Bro Mike Weldon’s service. I went to the alter to rededicate myself to the Lord and Evie Cole met me there. She prayed with me and held my hand while I prayed to ask God’s forgiveness of my sins. This started a lifelong friendship between Evie and me. This started long friendships with other Saints of the church Edith Pounds, Betty Hawkins, Rose Hanzook, Ann Heini, June Miesmer, Brenda Lewis and others.
I had to undergo some serious surgeries during my beginning time at CIMC. The second year the doctors did not give me much hope of ever being able to get rid of the Crohn’s. I defied the Doctors by telling myself God could take this away! So I started doing my own bible study of healing. I came across Psalm 20:6, now I know that the Lord saves His anointed. I went straight to Bro Mike and asked him if I could be anointed for healing. He talked to me for a long time making sure I had not gone off my rocker and agreed. But he said the anointing may not heal me physically but could heal me spiritually and that in turn could heal me physically and asked me if I understood which I did. He planned to do it the next Sunday evening service and said I could invite some to go down with me if I wanted so I told him I wanted the Board of Stewards and spouses and named off my other close friends. The evening came and I went down to the alter with everyone laying their hands on me as Bro Mike anointed with oil and prayed. During the prayer I could not feel anyone’s hands on me. Afterwards I felt calm and strong. God healed me spiritually that evening he didn’t completely heal me physically but he healed me enough that Sam and I were able to get married on July 30, 1983 in the church. I still have physical problems but I have the Lord on my side and most of the congregation of CIMC in prayer for me. If it had not been for the love and prayers of the people of CIMC I would not be alive today. If it had not been for the lifelong friendships of the Godly women of CIMC I don’t know where I would be today either.
PS There is a lot of details to my testimony if you’d like to hear my entire story just ask I’ll be happy to share.
In early 1972 Jack and I and our daughter, Dawn, began visiting other churches in our community. We were members of a local church which was a member of the World and National Council of Churches. We began getting more and more directives from them on teaching liberal views of the Bible and also how our church dues to the council were being dispersed to teach and advance the liberal socialist agenda. This was contrary to our beliefs.
Norman and Edith Pounds were our very good friends and we had been watching what was going on with their new church. One day Jack and Norman were talking and Norman told him Christ Southern Methodist was founded for the same reasons. We were looking for a new church and why didn’t we come visit? We did, and the rest is history. We were greeted by such a loving congregation, we continued to visit. If we missed a Sunday, we got a phone call to see if we were okay and let us know we were missed. We became involved in Sunday school, Dawn was active in the youth group and Jack joined the choir. We soon moved our memberships and became full time members of Christ Southern Methodist Church. Jack became ill in April of 2009 and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. Before and after he died in May, I can’t begin to describe the love, prayers and support extended to me and my family by my wonderful church family and especially Brother Michael. I am so blessed!
We visited CIMC in 1969 at the invitation of John and Linda McKay. We were encouraged to visit again and sing a duet. We had recently moved to Palatka and were interested in settling on a home church where we would be fed the word. We were also impressed by the warmth, commitment, and dedication of those starting the fellowship. They wanted to be taught and to teach the truth in the Bible. They also had a genuine love and concern for each other and shared that with us. We quickly felt that we belonged here.
We started attending CIMC in the early part of 1982 and we were so warmly received that we joined the membership soon after. We have seen so many changes and many have come and gone, with many friendships made along the way. We have had many wonderful times of fellowship while participating in the many different activities over the years.
Most of you know that I served as custodian for many years and I thank God for the opportunity to have served in that capacity. The years have passed quickly and CIMC has been a source of encouragement and comfort through those difficult times that we all face from time to time. We are so thankful for the strong spiritual leadership that we have had here at CIMC. Knowing that we have Christian friends and spiritual leadership is why we have the strength to face the future.
When our congregation decided to create “Bethlehem Market Place” in 1990, I was asked to help build a nativity as the final stop in the Marketplace. I was seeking some rustic looking boards for a more authentic look. Ernie Cremer mentioned that they had a sawmill and that I was welcome to select from whatever I found to create the look we wanted. Dan Blumenstock and I took a trailer to Ernie’s farm and we asked the Lord to help us come up with something inspired, not just make do. As we walked around looking, we felt led to pick up certain boards not yet aware of where they would fit into the structure. It was as if the Holy Spirit was directing us and it was an inspiring experience.
Then we came upon what looked to be an old dilapidated cypress deck with an arched opening cut out. It immediately became the choice for the front of the nativity stable, already assembled. We later found out that the front had once been a catwalk around the top of a water tank. The boards that we had been inspired to select became the sides and rear wall and the roof of the stable.
We didn’t have to cut any of the boards, just screw them in place where they fit. When construction was completed, a light was set up behind the stable. A broken board above the opening to the nativity had caused a shadow on the wall in the shape of a cross. It has been disassembled and reassembled for 22 years as it was that first time.
CIMC and my Family
My family began visiting the church a few months before joining on Jan. 26, 1975. We had been encouraged by some dear Christian friends and Relatives.
Julia was a member of St. James and the girls were Christened there, but I only attended occasionally.
I accepted Christ at about nine years of age at a Revival service at Friendship Baptist church in Alma , Georgia and was Baptized the following week in a little swimming hole called Guysie. I attended there until coming to Palatka after graduating from High School. After we married and the girls came along, I knew we should be in a church where we all would be comfortable.
When we joined CIMC, we were excited to be involved. I still was uncomfortable in crowds, but had made up my mind that Satan was not going to win this battle. Soon we were involved in home Bible study groups and led a Homebuilders group for young married couples. Julia accepted the position as Financial Secretary and did that for twelve years. I was honored to serve on the Board of Stewards for a number of years, and some of those years as Chairman. We had a Baptism service in our backyard pool. Julia and our daughter, Tresa were baptized there along with several others. It was our honor to serve on the building committee for the Sanctuary. We spent many hours researching, traveling and praying about what we would recommend to the congregation.
During Mike Weldons time as our pastor, I made a public rededication of my life to Christ. Our daughter Robley, was saved at one of the earlier Women's Spiritual Life Retreats. CIMC has played a major role in the life of my family. All three of our daughters were married in the church. All three families are active in their church and our grandchildren all know Christ as personal Lord and savior. The ones that are married have Christian wives and are starting their families.
I am so thankful for those that set the example for us and gave gentle encouragement so that we would find a church home. My prayer is that in fifty more years (2068) CIMC will still be encouraging and teaching from God's word.
We joined CIMC in 1999 and immediately found a church family that would bless us in many ways. Shortly after joining the church Brother Amos Price approached us about setting up and serving a mini breakfast between the Early Service and Sunday School. We quickly accepted this ministry and it became as much a blessing to us as it was to those who perhaps didn't have time to prepare a breakfast before coming to church. During set up and serving we had the great opportunity to greet and talk to many members each Sunday morning for almost 10 years. We were blessed to have the opportunity to help cook and serve Wednesday night meals on many occasions with Tim and Danette Shell, we also volunteered several years with VBS in different areas. We enjoyed participating in Trunk or Treat (setting up and decorating our trunk) and helping out with Bethlehem Market Place, community outreach programs for CIMC.
We both experienced great spiritual growth through Ernie Cremer's Sunday School Class, Sunday morning and evening services with both Brother Amos Price and Michael Hudson in addition to attending a Home Study with Brother Michael Hudson.
CIMC has definitely blessed our family in many ways and we are thankful. The Lord has allowed us to be a part of this wonderful fellowship of Christian believers.
Jimmy and Barbara Dyess
Brothers & Sisters In Christ:
To say that Christ Independent Methodist Church had an overwhelming impact on our spiritual growth would be a huge understatement.
Both of us grew up in families who made sure we attended church every time the doors were opened so as children and young adults we never knew life without attending church. However, m our late 20's we were not attending anywhere on a regular basis and decided it was time to find a church home where we could serve the Lord and have the fellowship with other believers that we all need. After visiting several churches in Palatka, we decided to visit CIMC and found more than just a church we found a family. During our time at CIMC we were given the great privilege of working with several committees, volunteering for VBS and working with the Children's Ministry. We were content to serve in those areas and then the Lord decided the choir and music ministry would be the place He needed us the most. He allowed us to serve Him through the choir and a mixed quartet (later known as Reason for Hope). Serving Him through music became one of the greatest blessings we could have ever been appointed to.
We know the Lord led us to CIMC to continue our spiritual growth through Sunday School (Ernie Cremer's class) this class led us through some of the best Bible studies we have ever experienced. Being a part of the music ministry under the leadership of Art Lanier blessed us beyond words. We had the great privilege of being led in Bible worship by not only Brother Michael Hudson but also Brother Amos Price. We will always be thankful the Lord placed all of these men in ministry at CIMC.
There are so many people who directly and indirectly led us on a wonderful time of spiritual growth during our time at CIMC and would love to name them all but would be afraid we would leave someone out.
In closing we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for sending us to be a part of CIMC for almost 10 years (2005 - 2015). Even though we are no longer living in the area we will always be grateful for Him allowing us to be a part of such a wonderful family.
Tim and Danette Shell
In the Spring of 2009, we began to took for a new Church Home. The First Sunday we visited Christ Independent Methodist Church, was the first and the only Church that we visited. We were made to feel so welcome that we felt at home right away, Walter and Betty Hawkins took us under their wing, Brother Michael preached and taught right out of the Bible. In Ernie's Sunday School class, he taught right out of the Bible In simple language that we understood. We joined the Church in the spring of 2010. Our Christ Independent Methodist Church family has been so kind and thoughtful through several illnesses and the loss of my mother.
We love our church and our Christ Independent Methodist Church Family.
God Bless our CIMC family,
Chuck and Shirley Horner
Testimony of Jerry and Toby Bedenbaugh
God brought us to CIMC about 30 years ago when Rose Mary Motes asked me to come sing “It Is Finished” with her for Maundy Thursday service. David Wagner was choir director and I was anxious to get back in a choir and sing again! Max Mullis was Jerry’s Sunday school teacher and Ed Lewis was teaching the group I attended. Ed asked Jerry about being on the Board of Stewards which he has served since then by rotating off every three years. Jeff and Pam were expecting Austen and started coming also. Then Jed came and got involved with the sound system.
God has always put us in a church we needed to be in, as he taught us many lessons along the way! Jerry grew up in Bethel Methodist in Lake City and I grew up in Westconnett Baptist in Jacksonville. I guess God saved the best for last as we have experienced so much at CIMC. Music and the choir have always been special to me as the choir is my close knit family – I started singing in the choir when I as 15 years old and have been there ever since! For years I taught children in Sunday School and played the piano and taught them songs. I’m so glad God gave us music as we can lift our voices and praise him! When our choir sang “Who Will Call Him King of Kings”, it was a moving experience, as all the people that participate in the music and drama had a special bond. I’m thankful for a choir director/minister of music that chooses music with a message that touches people’s hearts.
For 13 years, we had a Home Bible Study Group at Ned and Monique Branch’s house every Monday night. Ned taught our Bible Study and we had prayer time in small groups of 3 to 4, these prayer times were as special as we cried, rejoiced and praised the Lord! Whatever our situation, we knew the Holy Spirit was with us!
When June Meismer gave our church the idea of the Bethlehem Marketplace, it was a special blessing as it touched so many lives, the 22 years we participated. All of our family had places in the Marketplace. Jerry with Ralph Garver and many others set it up and took it down every year! Jerry was the Greeter to the Marketplace 21 years, as Russ Minerich was the Greeter the first year, but moved away. I was in the Weaver’s Shop, I also sang with Rosie in the Sanctuary before the guests entered the Marketplace. There was a ladies ensemble of about 10-12 and Rosie and I sang at the manger. When Jeff and Pam were Mary and Joseph, Jordan was about 4 months old and was one of the first live babies to be Jesus! This was the only time I sang by myself at the manger; the song was “I Know They’ll Love You”. We have been blessed to be in the CIMC family, as we have seen children born, grow up, marry and celebrate going home as we did with Johnny. Our church family was always there with so much love and support. Only God can give what we need.
We have heard God’s word taught and preached from many at our church. Brother Amos was here when we came and Brother Michael is here now. I pray we’ll stay strong in the Lord for those who come behind us or take us home together!
Jerry and Toby Bedenbaugh