A Brief History of South Side Bible Church
By Paul Tice
In the early 1950’s the Rev. Ray Hein of the Conservative Baptist Association had been in contact with Paul and Doris Tice, and wanted them to head up a new CBA Church in the Southern part of the city of Battle Creek. They had recently left a local church and felt this was not the time to venture into starting another one. After some time had elapsed, Rev. Hein again contacted the Tices and they and nine other people from various churches, all friends, having fellowshipped at a mutual church a few years earlier, agreed they were interested. After much prayer, they felt the LORD’S leading to proceed. Rev. Hein met with a group of eleven adults at the Tice residence and it was agreed to start a church to serve the area South of Columbia Avenue, and East of Capital Avenue—an area of over 600 families without a single church at that time.
The Church was incorporated as the South Side Baptist Church of Battle Creek, affiliated with the Conservative Baptist Association.
At a subsequent meeting, Rev. Hein brought a young pastor with him and the Church extended him an unanimous “call” to be it’s Pastor. Rev. T.J. Davis Huizenga, his wife Marilyn and their daughter Sherry, agreed to come to minister, and to work on a part time basis with the Telephone Company. The Church provided $20.00 weekly toward their support.
After seeking a place to hold services, the Church located space in the Battle Creek School Farm (an old Portable building) where the present Riverside Elementary School now stands.
The first service was held September 19, 1954, twenty one adults and children attended this first meeting. The heat wasn’t the best, and in November, Doris Tice remembers trying to play the old piano with her gloves on!
The Church was then allowed to hold services in the basement of the Mutual Savings Bank on Capital Avenue [then it was the People’s Savings and Loan building]. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Huizenga left to answer another call, to the Lake Dorster Church. In his absence, Rev. “Ready” Robert Redinbaugh, a local retired pastor, ministered to the Church for a few months.
During the summer of 1956, the Rev. Richard Tice (brother of Paul) filled the pulpit in the absence of Rev. Redinbaugh. Dick was on summer vacation from his studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.
We had looked at several parcels of land on which to build, until in May, 1956, the Church voted unanimously to purchase property two lots south of the Capital and Beckley intersection at the figure of $1,250.00. This is the site of the present Bill Knapp’s.
January, 1957 the Church called Pastor O. Samuel LeGates, who also was on a part time basis. His tenure was short also, and at this time, since we were not being helped financially by the CBA, someone suggested we contact the IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) to see if they could assist us.
The church met with the board of the Independent Bible Mission, the Michigan Church extension of the IFCA, and though there was no financial help, they provided speakers each Sunday for the next several months. The five families entertained and fed them each weak on a rotating basis, and Rev. Wright Van Plew commuted each Thursday evening from Grand Rapids for cottage prayer meetings. Eventually, he introduced us to the Rev. Harold Hoppe, who at the time was Pastor of Litchfield Baptist Church, and also Chaplain at the VA hospital in Battle Creek. He and his wife, Marguerite were former missionaries in the hills of Kentucky after their graduation from Moody Bible Institute.
The Church had grown enough to look elsewhere for space to worship and moved to the “Odd Fellows Hall” on West Bidwell Street.
We were still without financing for a Church, but we had faith the LORD would provide. HE did!
A friend of one of the members agreed to loan us the needed amount to erect our first building in 1959.
The Brown Brothers Richard and Robert, built our first building there. It was the first commercial building they had attempted.
It must be observed that for the dedication of our new Church, Mr. Roy Vande Polder, a Founding Member, designed and built the beautiful pulpit, communion table, and portable lectern. The latter is still in use, but the communion table was replaced by the Youth Group under Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Briggs; the present pulpit was given in 1992 as a memorial to Roy by his widow, Blanche.
That first building was sold to Bill Knapp’s who then gave it to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection of which it is a part today.
The Brown Brothers were again asked to build our new building about a half mile west at its present location in late 1961.
One of our members, Mrs. Lorene Sheffield, loaned the Church $15,000 to complete it. Then, as an added gift to the Church she purchased and had installed, heavy duty red carpeting in the sanctuary!
Of the eleven Charter Members, only Paul and Doris have remained without interruption. Louise Sheldon is back after a few year hiatus; Blanche VandPolder, of necessity moved out of town; three worship elsewhere and four are deceased. Betty Harnish, though not a Charter Member has worshiped with us since the days of the Savings and Loan.
In July of 1961, the Church purchased a used School Bus to be used to bring children to the Sunday School. This was not successful, and upkeep was expensive, so it was sold.
Rev. Hoppe remained with the Church for about eight years, and then received a call to the Interlakes Bible Church in Delton, and our Church again started searching for a new man of God to pastor us.
After each pastoral vacancy, the Church formed a pulpit committee as specified in the Constitution, and those early committees diligently and prayerfully sought out possible candidates.
In December 1967 the Church called Mr. Morgan B. Angliss as Pastor. Mr. Angliss, his wife Gloria and their children Stephen, Suzan and Kathy moved into our recently purchased parsonage at 41 Thornapple Drive. The church conducted an Ordination Service for Rev. Angliss in May of 1968.
One of those sitting on this Ordination Council for Rev. Angliss was Rev. Kenton Troyer who had been saved under Pastor Hoppe’s ministry at South Side. Kent graduated from the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music—affectionately remembered as “Gris” or “Grisboom” (GRSBM)!
Other young people who have gone on in the service of the LORD from South Side are: Susan (Reed) Plett, one of our own girls, saved during Daily Vacation Bible School, came up through Sunday School, church and then on to GRSBM where she met her future husband Ken Plett from Manitoba, Canada. Together, they served two terms in Indonesia under the New Tribes Mission. When they came home, they brought a beautiful little Indonesian girl whose daddy asked the Pletts to take her after his wife died. “Desy” (Daisy) along with their son Jason are well grown up by now.
Diana Wright is another girl saved at South Side who attended GRSBM, met her husband, Norman Herbert and they opened a “Halfway” home for prisoners in Miami, Florida. Norman developed a brain tumor and within a year or so passed away and Diana had to operate the home alone!
Others have attended GRSBM to further their education, but did not graduate or continue in ministry.
During 1969, a “Tri-County Youth Fellowship” was formed for the purpose of Inter-Church fellowship, which included Augusta Bible Baptist, Bedford Bible and Hickory Corners Wesleyan churches.
During the summer of 1969, the church held Monday evening picnics at the Gull Lake Bible and Missionary Conference, and then attended the services.
In November of 1969, the church faced financial difficulties and had to take the unprecedented measures of discontinuing support of two of our missionaries, and Pastor Angliss agreed to seek a part time job to offset a reduced salary! By February 1970, however, we were able to reinstate his salary retroactively!
Our AWANA program was inaugurated in 1971, under Pastor Angliss, and has grown to a thriving attendance of about 150 youngsters with a faithful group of around 45 adults as workers. Several parents and families of AWANA kids are either members or regular attenders.
Through the years the church has participated in several “Round Robin” Missionary conferences with other local and neighboring churches, as well as conducting our own of late.
In August of 1971, the ladies of the church spent many hours putting together a “bunch” of “Viet Kits” for the soldiers in Vietnam; and again in April and May of 1973 they made may “Phil Kits” for the needy in the Philippines.
1973 saw the establishment of our nursery, staffed by mothers of the small children on a rotating basis. This has grown over the years to taking over two of the Sunday School rooms in the basement, and has at times held as many as 26 little ones!
As they were constructed, the church has provided funds for the placing of Gideon Bibles in the motels at the Capital and Beckley intersection.
In October 1974, Pastor Angliss resigned to take a church at DeMott, Indiana. After seeking for a new pastor in January 1975 the church asked former Pastor Harold Hoppe—now retired and fellowshipping with us—to act as Interim Pastor until a permanent man could be called.
The church called the Rev. Wright Van Plew as Pastor in August of 1975. He accepted with the understanding he was in line for the office of “National Church Extension Director” for the IFCA. His tenure began in January 1976 and ended in December 1978, but we still seek him and call on him occasionally to speak or, as we did recently (1994) sit on the ordination council for our Youth Pastor, James Augustine.
A simple “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” covering both the church and the parsonage, was conducted during the Evening Thanksgiving Service of November 26, 1975.
July of 1976 the church declared former Pastor Harold Hoppe to be “Pastor Emeritus”: a special service for which was conducted September 19, 1976.
January 1977 saw a major change in the governing policies of the church, as under the guidance of Pastor Van Plew an entirely new constitution along with the IFCA doctrinal statement was adopted.
Along with many other churches in the area, the time of the evening service was changed from 7:00 PM to 6:00 PM and has been highly acceptable. After Rev. Van Plew assumed the “Directory of Church Extension” office for the IFCA, the church called on former Pastor Harold Hoppe to act as the Interim Pastor again; until November 1979, the Rev. Richard Finney was called as Pastor. Pastor Finney’s wife is the daughter of our own Betty Harnish.
1981 Saw the construction of the “All Purpose Building” behind the sanctuary. Larry Allen, Building Chairman, spent many hours—figuring, running necessary errands, securing permits, coordinating supplies and materials and arranging work schedules. Brother Don Fahrlander—a contractor with the Independent Bible Mission acted as the General Contractor for the building. Many of the men, women and young people had a hand in the building.
Pastor Finney resigned in March of 1985 to assume the Chaplaincy of the County Jail in Marshall. The church allowed them to stay on in the parsonage temporarily, and to continue to preach for a month.
After several months of diligent prayerful perusal of over 200 names given as possible candidates, during which Pastor James Dracup (a former pastor from Marshall) filled our pulpit on a temporary basis, two were selected, but before they could be called, they each had churches!
Finally, a man highly recommended by Rev. “Bill” Ross (a former Pastor of Battle Creek Bible Church now of Kansas City) was asked to come speak to the church. The Rev. Michael Brown, his wife Cindy and their son, Christian impressed the church very much and a call was extended which he accepted and in November, 1985 they moved to Battle Creek.
Pastor Brown asked to be excused from all but preaching duties for two weeks so he could paint and refurbish the interior of the Parsonage! He and his in-laws from Aurora, Illinois, painted the interior, sanded and finished the wood floors and installed carpet, etc!
Installation services for Pastor Brown were conducted November 17, 1985, with Pastor “Bill” Ross as speaker.
Now all the acts of Pastor Michael Brown from his installation until the present time, are they not written in the Second Book of Chronicles of the South Side Bible Church, both first and last?
Addendum: Since this account was written there was the addition to the pastoral staff Pastor Rick McNally. Rick was added to our Pastoral staff in 2005. He and his wife Katherine came to South Side a few years prior to this with their five children.
Recently we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Pastor McNally and our 30th annversary of Pastor Mike Brown.