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History

On October 29, 1994, while serving in the capacity of Associate Minster at Saint’s Rest Baptist Church, God spoke to the heart of Rev. Chester McGensy and gave him a vision.  Rev. McGensy first shared this revelation with his family and after prayerful deliberance a month later, with his pastor and mentor, Rev. Chester Riggins, of Saint’s Rest Baptist Church.  Rev. McGensy was further led by the Holy Spirit to hold a meeting in his home on December 8, 1994, with two other families: Lawrence & Jessie Mason and Bobby & Pam Lee.  This marked the glorious beginning of Family Community Church, for at this meeting Family Community Church was officially organized.  On January 8, 1995, Rev. McGensy was ordained by Rev. Riggins and a counsel of ordained ministers from the community.

The idea of a new church began to blossom as many families contacted Rev. McGensy requesting more information..  The months of January and February were extremely busy as the small group prepared for its first worship service set for March 5, 1995.  Advertisements appeared in The Fresno Bee and The California Advocate on February 4, 1995, and an orientation meeting was held on February 5th at Kastner Intermediate School with over sixty dedicated individuals attending to learn how they could be of service to the Lord at Family Community Church.

Leaders were appointed for the following ministries:  Men’s Ministry, Dr. Fitzalbert Marius; Women’s Ministry, Jessie Mason; Family Ministry, Linda Simpson; Christian Education, Juanita Perry; Sunday School, Dorothy Marius; Children’s Nursery, Portia McGensy and Evelyn Jones; Audio, Michael Marius; Ushers and Greeters, Gloria (Jackson) Morris; and Coordinator of Facilities, Kenneth Brister.  Under the leadership of Juanita Perry, Bible teachers were trained and Sunday School classes were established for all age groups. 

"And pray in the Spirit, on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

(Ephesians 6:18)

From the beginning, prayer has been the guiding force at Family Community Church.  On  Wednesday, March 1, 1995, the initial praise and prayer service was held at Kastner Intermediate School.   Fervent prayers went up...asking the Lord for His blessing on the first Sunday morning service, scheduled for March 5th.  Those prayers were answered in a most dramatic way when over 300 worshipers attended our first morning worship service.  Deacons and Officers were also installed during that initial morning worship service.

Rev. McGensy’s inaugural sermon was appropriately entitled, 'Stepping Out on Faith'.  Over 75 people responded to the first invitation to become members of the new congregation.  This was followed by our first baptismal service on May 21st, when 16 people made a public confession of their faith.

Two months after our first service, Men’s, Women’s and Youth Ministries began with over 125 people in attendance. On June 29, 1995, a church constitution was presented to the Body at the first official business meeting. The constitution was adopted and the Trustees were empowered to file papers of incorporation for Family Community Church.
As the church continued to grow, the Lord placed it on the heart of Rev. McGensy in the early part of 1996 to look at a parcel of land located at the northwest corner of Chestnut and Nees. Through his obedience in following the Wisdom of God, Rev. McGensy was put in contact with those who owned the land.

Rev. McGensy then shared with the church body that he believed the Lord has directed us to possess the 18.63 acres of land at the corner of Chestnut and Nees. After much prayer, a Property Committee was formed. It was chaired by Dr. Joe Lee and consisted of the following members: Sheena Flowers, Pamela Fobbs, Elvin Hall, Reynold Johnson, Gloria (Jackson) Morris, and Dr. Joseph Wilson.

It was exciting to watch God work and intervene on our behalf, first in preventing the property from being rezoned for commercial use, then nudging the owners to reduce their asking price to the amount our committee had set their sights on, and finally on convincing the loan officers at the bank that this group (with no backing, a track record of less than three years, and only $5,000 in the bank) had the faith, vision and determination to follow His leading. As God opened the way, the excitement grew at the thought of owning our own land. Yet, we knew there were major challenges ahead.

In June 1996, Rev. McGensy shared the tremendous effort that would be required to possess the land. He was led by the Holy Spirit to advise the church to partner with a nationally known stewardship ministry, which had expertise in putting together biblical stewardship campaigns. The church voted to procure the services of Injoy Stewardship Services (ISS) and in July 1996, we had our first orientation with ISS. This biblical campaign included every member of the church and its focus was on what GOD could do through each individual. The motto was “Equal Sacrifice, Not Equal Gifts.” The campaign, running from July to September 1996, proved to be most successful, as members and friends of the church prayerfully gave their first fruits offering and turned in their three-year commitment pledges on Sunday, September 29, 1996. The pledges totaled over $900,000! This was a major step in convincing the bank that God was indeed in this plan! On December 5, 1996, the church closed escrow on the land at the northwest corner of Chestnut and Nees. “To God Be the Glory” became our theme, and “We’ve Come This Far by Faith” our theme song.

A Land Dedication Service was held after the morning service on September 29, 1997, with two photographs being taken – one of the entire congregation and a second of our children, who would eventually inherit the fruit of our faithfulness to God.

In 1997, Rev. McGensy, once again, shared with the congregation that he believed the Lord was dealing with us to start construction on our first multi-purpose building. After a prayer vigil in the Genesis House, a Land Development Committee was formed, chaired by Dr. James Aldredge and comprised of Donald Brown, Dr. Willie Brown, Mary Hooper, Mae Johnson, Michael McDonald, Wesley Slade, Michael Smith, and Joe Williams.

Throughout the 1997 year, the Land Development Committee actively pursued plans for financing our first multi-purpose building. We were moving closier to realizing yet another portion of the vision God had given us. As a body of believers standing on the promises of God, we closed 1997 with prayers of thanksgiving and opened 1998 with praise.

As Rev. McGensy stayed faithful to teaching on God’s Word without equivocation, Family Community Church begin to have an impact on the community-at-large, many were saved and many new families united with us.  With the theme “Spiritual Maturity,” 1998 was a year in which we saw much growth toward Christian maturity as we held our focus on the vision given our pastor. Our faith in God never wavered as we continued to believe “God would do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think.” The membership grew as many souls were saved and brought into the kingdom of God, while some of our faithful soldiers were called home to be with the Lord during that year.

In January 1998, the church submitted an application to Regency Bank to borrow funds to build the multi-purpose building on our property. After months of trials and testing our faith, the Lord touched the hearts of the bankers and our loan request was pre-approved.

For several months, the Land Development Committee enthusiastically worked with the architect and engineers to develop blueprints for the project.  Despite the fact we tried to be conservative with costs, when we went tout o bid, the lowest bidder came in $600,000 over budget. We were sent back to our knees in prayer and with God’s enabling, we made substantial cutbacks, redrew portions of the blueprints, and were granted concessions from the City of Fresno. We are grateful to several friends of Family Community Church who contributed their time and talents to assist us. Finally, we were able to negotiate with the two lowest bidders and eventually awarded the contract to Basila Construction, Inc., of Madera which offered a bid $2,000 under our budget.

We were then able to return to the bank for final approval for a land and construction loan in the amount of $2,398,500.00. The loan was approved and escrow closed on March 5, 1999, exactly four years from the date of our first worship service at Kastner Intermediate School.

We began 1999 with great hope and promise. On Saturday, March 13, 1999, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for our first building and construction begin on March 15, 1999. The following pastors came to celebrate with us: Pastor Chester Riggins of Saints Rest Baptist Church; Pastor Paul Binion of Westside Church of God; Pastor G. L. Johnson of People’s Church; Pastor Bufe Karraker of Northwest Church; Pastor Bob Cherry of Grace Family Fellowship; Pastor Edward Lee of Mt. Olive Baptist Church; Pastor Jan Van Oosten of New Covenant Community Church; Pastor Jerome Jackson of Christian Community Church; and Pastor George Posthumus of Riverpark Bible Church. These were all churches, which had supported us either with prayer or by giving us the use of their facilities while we were waiting for our own.

With construction well underway for the multi-purpose building, we proceeded forward with great excitement. God had been faithful to us, and now we needed to be faithful to Him. As Pastor McGensy had been considering the theme for 1999, it was placed on his heart that we, as a body of believers, need to focus our attention on “Filling the Master’s House” (Luke 14:23) through evangelism. As we were obedient to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, God added to this local assembly of believers.

Not only did the Master’s House need to be filled with people, but also with furnishings. In making cutbacks for the building, the reserve for furniture was eliminated.. Our trustees showed tremendous courage and faithfulness as they once again were forced to come before the congregation and present the need. The congregation came together on Saturday, July 17, 1999, at a banquet to give praise to God for the great things He had done, to get information regarding the needs of the church, and to receive encouragement through testimonies of God’s faithfulness to us. That evening proved to be a great success as people graciously pledged their support to “Furnish the Master’s House.” With these pledges we were able to purchase 400 comfortable chairs, a grand piano, sound system, and multi-media equipment.

After much anticipating and arduous labor, both paid and volunteer, Family Community Church was ready to open the doors of our new church building. On October 24, 1999, the congregation gathered in front of the church and with high praise and prayers of thanksgiving, we entered God’s House at Chestnut and Nees singing, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith.” Our church dedication service was held on November 7, 1999, with many of our sister churches from throughout the City of Fresno joining us to celebrate this special occasion. Rev. Chester Riggins brought the gospel message on our theme, “Unless the Lord Builds a House.” This was indeed a glorious day!

As a body of believers, we entered the new millennium with the theme for the year 2000 “Endeavoring to Live By Sound Doctrine,” (II Timothy 4:3a). We know that whenever the unadulterated Word is preached and God has been glorified, the enemy attacks. During that year, we experienced much internal strife and unrest. However, in the midst of our season of testing, we remained faithful and focused, and the Lord brought us through the storm even stronger than when we entered it.

As our church and community continued to grow with many young families, it was time to begin the second stage of our vision – a full-time daycare center. Two faithful members, Deborah Marius and Michael McDonald, were assigned the challenging task of starting a Christian daycare center from which numerous church members and the community-at-large have been able to benefit.

In the fall of the year, Rev. McGensy was led by the Holy Spirit to start planning for the next phase of our education program...a Christian school. NorthPointe Leadership Academy was selected as the school’s name and Dr. Deborah Johnson-Daniel was asked to head a planning team consisting of the pastor’s wife, Janetta McGensy, Dr. Rosylin Bessard, Dr. Sharron Herron, Gwendolyn Lockett, and Tina Hunt.

In May 2000, our church family witnessed its first Deacon Ordination Service with Marshall Kelley, Thomas Keys, Raymond Mitchell, Wesley Slade, Michael Smith, Ralph Toles, and Jack Wilkinson being ordained.  We ended the year 2000 with much joy and grace as we continued to witness the power of God working through us as a church body. Souls were being saved, lives were being changed, and many were growing in Christian maturity.

As we entered the year 2001, we were beginning to fill up all the seats on Sunday morning, which left no room to make visitors feel comfortable or to reach out and bring in more unsaved. Rev. McGensy was led to consider having two worship services. Even through there was some initial resistance, we witnessed the Holy Spirit bringing the congregation together which culminated in two morning worship services.

On February 4, 2000, Rev. McGensy announced an inspiration he received concerning “Big Event Day.” This day would be set aside to reach the unsaved and unchurched in our community. Maxine McDonald served as the Chairperson for this event, which consisted of twenty committees, and garnered the support of more than 80% of the church family. Big Event Day was held the Saturday before Easter with over 1,100 visitors taking part in workshops, games, activities, food, and entertainment on the grounds of Family Community Church. Many decisions for Christ were made, while others rededicated their lives to serving The Master. On April 15, 2000, (Easter Sunday) two worship services were held– both were filled to capacity.

Our congregation has grown to over 1,000 members, which is a challenge for one shepherd to lead. In August 2001, we were blessed to have Rev. Henry Latunde join the staff as the Executive Director of Ministries. Under Rev. Latunde’s direction, new ministries have been implemented, including a Visitor’s Ministry, headed by Steve Smith; Membership Ministry, headed by Irv Arnold, and the Prayer Cell Group Ministry, headed by Rev. Freddie Hayes, Pastor of Prayer. As the Lord added to the Family Community Church staff, we continued in prayer for God to meet our need for a Church Administrator/Business Manager. On January 25, 2002, Londele White joined the church staff. We praise God for sending these men to meet our needs for a season.

In January 2003, Family Community Church began airing daily Christian television spots to invite people to church, and more importantly, invite them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

However, it is important to realize “the church” is not simply a building. The Holy Spirit dwells in each individual and “the church” is the body of believers joined together in spirit and in love by the Holy Spirit. Just as it is important to develop traditions and customs in growing a family into a united, cohesive body, so it is with the church family. During those first years at Kastner, God had to shape a loose aggregate of believers drawn from many different backgrounds into a solid caring family ready to reach out into the surrounding community in love. Many activities, which have become traditions were begun to give us an opportunity to fellowship and grow together. Thanks to Pam Lee, Gloria (Jackson) Morris, and Betty Yilma, fifth Sunday became a time to fellowship after service over some light refreshments. This has continued as we celebrate various special events. Linda Simpson organized our Fourth of July picnic at Woodward Park. Over the years we have watched the trees grow to give more shade as we have grown.

Additional annual events were implemented while we were at Kastner. These include our New Year’s Eve service and feast, Women’s Prayer Breakfast, Vessels of Virtue Women’s Conference, and the Men’s Prayer Breakfast – all meant to draw us closer to Christ and bind us together in unity and in love.

To celebrate the children of Family Community Church, Dorothy Marius started the Christmas and Easter pageants and the annual recognition of graduates. Each year, high school graduates who have attended Sunday School regularly look forward to receiving their new study Bible. The youth department has sponsored such things as a Jesus and Music (JAM) concert at Woodward Park and several “lock-ins” to reach out to the lost youth around them.

Growing spiritually, and discipling new believers is as important as growing in numbers or in our physical structures. As we, the Body of Christ at Family Community Church continue to be faithful in our mission of leading the unsaved to Christ, bring Christians to maturity by preaching and teaching the uncompromised Word of God, and equipping every believer for ministry, God will prove Himself faithful to us. We, the members of Family Community Church give Him all the praise, honor, and glory...for He is a Great and Awesome God.

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