Eighty-five years. Eighty-five years of loving, worshipping, serving, and Kingdom building. This is the legacy of Trinity Christian Life Center. A legacy built on the inspired Word of God and the move of the Holy Spirit. A legacy fueled by decades of prayer and fasting for the will of God.
It is an awe-inspiring heritage dating back to July 1936, when it all began by a tent revival brought to little ole’ Harrison. Howard Pratt and his family arrived in Harrison with the call of God to pioneer a church. That pioneering began with 20 ft X 60 ft tent set uptown along M-6, where the current Budd Lake Hardware (AKA Harrison Do It Center) now stands. The Kolenda quartet was invited to conduct revival services during the summer of 1936, which proved to be a great blessing in the birth of a new church. As colder weather approached, the church services were moved to the Hayes Township Hall. During this time, a total of eight families gave all they could in moral and financial support in the pioneering of what was to one day be Trinity Christian Life Center. How blessed we are by the legacy left by these families: James Van Houten family, Lloyd Wilson family, Lester Lewis family, Louie Hecker family, Edna Griffin family, Dr. Jones family, Herman Steurmer family, and the Harmon Dyke family.
That same fall, 1936, the property at the original sight of the Highway Gospel Tabernacle was purchased and a log parsonage erected. At this time, Reverend Howard Pratt became ill and resigned. It was then that the Reverend Earnest Kolenda became the pastor of Highway Tabernacle. Through the following winter months, the services were held in the new log parsonage, and when the weather permitted the tent was set up at the actual church site. Yet the enemy battled, with the tent burning to the ground one Sunday morning. After the loss of the tent, church services began being held in the Old Opera House, now the Masonic Temple, until the log church was erected.
Then during 1937, Reverend Earnest Kolenda resigned as shepherd of Highway Gospel Tabernacle. In Reverend Kolenda’s leaving, Reverend Gouge began his time with us as pastor. He added two rooms to the parsonage while here, despite the shortness of his stay in Harrison. Reverend William Archer followed for a year, resuming the duties of pastor for our small flock.
With the coming of Reverend Charles Bergler in 1938 came Highway Gospel Tabernacle’s first experience of revival. All the while the interior of the church was being finished. But in 1939 Reverend Bergler resigned, and Reverend Marshall Hilton (a recent resident of Harrison) took on the mantle of Highway Gospel Tabernacle’s pastor. Reverend Hilton shepherded our flock for about 9 years. It was during this time, in 1944, that the Highway Gospel Tabernacle became affiliated with the Assemblies of God. At the same time the church experienced quite a period of growth and spiritual development. Thank you Jesus! With this came plans for the construction of the current parsonage. Then about 1948 Reverend Hilton resigned, during which time Reverend Howard Pratt interim for a period of about three years.
It was 1951 when Reverend Henry Rose became pastor of the Highway Gospel Tabernacle congregation. Reverend Rose was the first to live in the new parsonage. The actual interior of the parsonage was finished during his first few months of his time here. During this same time the church was remodeled, a nursery built, and restrooms installed. An oil furnace also became a blessed addition to the church building during Reverend Rose’s time. Yet in 1954 he felt God’s call to go into evangelistic, thereby leaving the Highway Gospel Tabernacle to pursue God’s new direction for his steps.
Then in May of 1954 Reverend Robert Way accepted the duties of pastor of the Highway Gospel Tabernacle family. During the Way family’s stay the basement of the parsonage was used as Sunday School rooms. The furnace room and office were located on either side of the platform, and the old log parsonage was sold and moved from the premises to Gladwin, where it currently still stands.
Late in 1955 the church board began to discuss the need for a new church building. After much discussion and an agreement was reached by both the board and the congregation, plans were drawn up and construction of the present church building was begun. It was August 1956. On October 5, 1958, Reverend E. D. Cooley, District Superintendent for the Assemblies of God Michigan District, dedicated the new church building which we are still using today. Following the dedication of the new building, during the fall of 1958, Reverend Way resigned.
It was then that Reverend Daniel Miller became pastor of Highway Gospel Tabernacle. During his time with us the church experienced a time of serious financial stress due to the building expenses from the new church building. But after much prayer seating was purchased for the new sanctuary. Sadly, in June of 1962, after about three years, Reverend Miller resigned.
Then in July of 1962 Reverend Donald Roberts accepted the mantle and duties of pastor of the Highway Gospel Tabernacle flock. It was under his supervision that the church obtained a loan on the church building from First National Bank. This loan did away with all the church’s bonds and little loans, thereby relieving the financial pressure from the construction of the new church building. This allowed a two-car garage to added to the parsonage the summer of 1966, followed by the padded pews, communion table, and wooden pulpit in June of 1968. These same pews and communion table can still be seen in church sanctuary today (2021)! Reverend Roberts resigned as Highway Gospel Tabernacle’s pastor in December of 1968.
Reverend Dennis Goodrow then resumed responsibilities as pastor and shepherd on January 5, 1969. During his time with us the lighted cross was added to the platform, an organ purchased, and many congregation members baptized in the Holy Spirit. God is so good!
October 1975 brought Reverend Terry Culberson and his family to Harrison, with Reverend Culberson pastoring the Highway Gospel Tabernacle family. It was during his time with us that many improvements were made to the existing church building, along with even greater church growth, AND the renaming of the Highway Gospel Tabernacle to Trinity Christian Life Center.
Reverend Donald Franklin began as pastor at Trinity Christian Life Center in March of 1981 and was followed by Reverend Louie Calaway in January 1983. Sadly, Pastor Calaway went home to be with the Lord during his time with us, in November of 1985. Reverend Robert Curle served the Trinity Christian Life Center family as pastor during a brief interim from 1986 through the winter of 1987.
Then in February 1988 Reverend Dennis Feuerstein joined our Trinity Christian Life Center family as pastor, along with his wife Clara. Reverend Denny and Clara were our faithful leaders until December 2013, serving our church family for over 25 years before retiring. During this same December of 2013 Reverend Dan Prus and his family joined us, with Reverend Dan serving as pastor until September of 2015.
Reverend Mitchell Frost joined our Trinity Christian Life Center family in January 2016, along with his wife and son. Reverend Mitch was highly active in many of our church programs, including Compassion Connection, our monthly food distribution to those in need. Then in February 2020, Reverend Mitch and his family felt the Lord calling them to move.
It was during this time that the entire world began dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic and various shutdowns, from airlines to businesses to governments and borders. Yet amid this the Lord brought Reverends Jeff and April Brown to Harrison to pastor our Trinity Christian Life Center family. Since Reverends Jeff and April’s arrival, our church has gone from shutdown to online services, to services in the Threshing Floor and then back to our sanctuary. Wednesday night adult, children, and youth services were restarted, as well as our 85th anniversary just recently celebrated. Old and new continue to join us Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights as God continues to do only what He can do. And TOGETHER we look forward with anticipation to all God is yet to do in and through the Trinity Christian Life Center family and the Harrison Community.
To God be the glory!