Friends Church Celebrates 140 Years
East Richland Evangelical Friends Church hosted its 140 Year Celebration and Ickes Family Life Center Dedication on Sunday morning.
The church welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees at the ceremony inside of the newly built center that included music, praise and recognition of those who aided in the IFLC being brought to life.
The church’s band, accompanied by Senior Pastor Jerry Wenger, opened the ceremony with various hymns. Following the band’s live musical performance, the special recognition and dedication portion of the ceremony got underway.
Among the first to speak on behalf of the IFLC’s Building Team was Elder of Worship Phil Hundley.
“This was, if there ever was one, a family project. That’s what I feel like I’m talking to now is my family. I’ve talked to you many times regarding this project, but never from inside the completed Ickes Family Life Center,” Hundley said.
Sunday’s ceremony was the grand opening of the 28,000-square-foot facility that will house the East Richland Christian Schools high school as well as a community center for the church and community.
Hundley explained that the building committee first met in February 2015 to discuss the new facility placement.
“Thanks to the far reaching love and giving of those who came before us, we have nearly 100 acres from which to choose,” he said.
He then told the congregation about Wenger’s vision and read the words from the committee’s first meeting.
“It was discussed that our efforts will make a difference for the Kingdom. After all is said and done, the only reason we are here is to bring people to Jesus. That must remain our focus. As for Jerry’s vision for the IFLC, well at the time is was just the FLC, he challenged the group to think outside the box. He envisioned a facility that would serve the needs of the church, as well as the school and in a broader sense, the community,” Hundley said.
Hundley thanked the committee members, contractors and contributors of the IFLC project.
Robert E. Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy, and his wife, Brenda, were recognized and thanked for their generous donations that allowed the project to come to fruition.
Murray donated half the money needed to complete the classrooms on either side of the gymnasium in the new facility, Hundley said.
Murray also aided in the engineering and architectural drawings and is a member of the church. Murray Energy’s corporate headquarters is located adjacent to the new facility along U.S. 40 in East Richland.
The ministry decided to name the building after Pastor Wayne and Barbara Ickes. Pastor Ickes served as senior pastor of the church nearly 57 years, along with his wife, Barbara.
“Back in 1958, a young man came here to preach. My friend, my brother, come up here Wayne,” Wenger introduced Ickes.
Ickes thanked Wenger for all that he has done for the church and the new center.
“It’s been my privilege and joy to pastor this church for 57 years. … As I look out over the congregation today, I have so many wonderful memories of each of you, we shared so many experiences. What a joy, what a blessing, being a pastor of this congregation has been. I trust that this building will be a means of reaching boys and girls, men and women, for Jesus Christ,” Ickes said.