In 1914 a small group of insightful Aldan women saw the need for Christian training for youngsters. By July 15, 1915, when a charter was granted and the Aldan Union Church was officially recognized as a non-denominational church with an interdenominational ministry, preaching services were already being held on Sunday evenings and classes were growing.
By 1919 the chapel was purchased, and Mr. William Allan Dean (a student at what is now Cairn University) came as pulpit supply for two years. He continued on as the pastor until his retirement in 1967. During the time of his ministry, the Lord blessed with good Bible teaching, congregation growth, and building expansion. Reverend Robert L. Briggs became Aldan’s second pastor, and Reverend Paul W. Thompson was installed in May, 1983 as Aldan’s third (and present) pastor. During all of these years, the Missions Program, strongly encouraged by Dr. Dean, has continued to grow. Much of the blessing of God on this work has been due to the congregation’s vision of the world’s need of the Gospel, a vision which has prompted their giving over $470,000 for each of the past six years (2008-2014).
Most gratifying has been the response of the Call to Missions. In the 100 years since our church was founded, over 150 of our members have engaged in full-time Christian service, with many others being active in the work at rescue missions, crisis pregnancy centers, prisons, children’s work, retirement homes and on short-term trips. Currently there are 52 missionaries and families on home and foreign fields, some of whom are nationals serving in their countries.
This interest in Missions was begun and continually encouraged through good Bible teaching and instruction in missions responsibilities. From the beginning of Dr. Dean’s ministry, before any missionary had gone from our own church, missionaries came to visit AUC from fields in both hemispheres to share missions. The interest in missions has been fostered by the church leaders in the weekly Bible School Departments and the Summer Vacation Bible School. All are encouraged not only to pray and to give for a special missionary, but also to correspond with and to entertain various missionaries to become better acquainted with the actual work.
Probably the earliest missionaries visiting here at AUC were the Geigers. Early after Mr. Geiger’s graduation from Bible School, the Geigers established a Christian orphanage in Tennessee. They began their work without the backing of a denomination and without regular support from any church, in faith that God would supply their needs. By the time of our first missionary conference in 1934, church records listed names of 16 missionaries representing China, Japan, Africa, South America as well as our own country. The first missionary to go from AUC was Lois Gross who served in Kentucky. Joy Leister, visiting here from China as early as 1931, later became a member of AUC as did Bruce Ostien, serving in Africa. The first missionary who had grown up in AUC who went to a foreign field was Caroline Cain, leaving for Sudan in 1938. She met David Stokes on the field; they were married and went on to serve together in Ethiopia until retirement brought them to England in the late 60’s.
Nearly every year, one or more commit to a field of service, whether it be at home or abroad. Pastor Paul Thompson has continued the strong encouragement of the Missions Program having served on a Mission Board for a period of time as well as making interested visits to the fields of service of our Missionary Family.
The Church supplies two fully furnished apartments for our missionaries’ use on home assignment. Each Bible School class or department, youth group, organization, as well as each Women’s Fellowship Circle has special missionary interests. The Outreach Committee of the Council of Elders is taking the Gospel to our neighborhood by sharing the JESUS film and doing follow-up visitation, amongst other efforts. There are small group Bible studies in which to meet, have fellowship, and grow in the Word. We are still committed to our responsibility to fulfill Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. The Lord has showered us with many blessings through the faithful servants of God who represent us around the world.