History of First Assembly of God of New Milford, CT
The First Assembly of God had its beginning on October 6, 1968, on Aspetuck Avenue in the center of New Milford, in a beautiful gray stone church, formerly the 'All Saints Church' owned by St. Peter's Lodge. We were to do the cleaning of the "church" in exchange for our rent, a very good agreement for a new work.
Rev. Stanley J. Siwek came as the founding pastor, with his wife, Rosemarie and three small sons, Steven, David and Peter. About 20 people attended our first service. We elected as board members, George Baxter, Mable Fournier, and Bill Lestik.
Immediately we launched into all of the ministries that make a church effective in a community. We held our first Sunday school on the following Sunday, October 13th, 1968 with 13 people in attendance. Rev. and Mrs. Siwek, Steven, David, and Peter Siwek, Ret and Elmer Morris, and their son Tommy and grand-daughter, Lisa Miller, Jesse Lambertson, Mable Fournier and son Stephen and nephew, Kenneth Baxter. We set a goal of 45 for the month and our Sunday school grew as did our attendance at our services.
In October 1969 we took in Charter Members:
Rev. Stanley Siwek & Rosemarie
George and Priscilla Baxter
Christian and Alice Beyer
William and Jackie Cruse
William and Judy Lestik
George and Joan Maruszak
Elmer and Rita Morris
Charles and Mable Page
William and Nancy Smith
In 1969, we organized our Women's Ministries and held a day time and evening meetings to accommodate all of the ladies. In 1979 we started our Prims and Missionetts programs and our Royal Rangers in 1972.
On Easter, 1970, we held a Sunrise Service on some land, "very untamed land", that did not yet belong to us, but it would become 47 Old Park Lane, home of First Assembly of God in New Milford, CT. We weren't sure who owned the land. The Pastor talked on "Possess the Land" and being "A Lighthouse on the Hill." We had an organ in the back of George Baxter's pickup, ran an extension cord to the Squires house next door, and had our service.
"Easter Sunday, 1972 we moved into our silver chapel, all of the walls and ceilings were aluminum foil insulation, plywood floors, second hand chairs, and 4 lights over the platform and the deacon’s benches in the back were 4 cement blocks and a plank from our scaffolding. We had twenty-one members and many visitors. Praise the Lord! It all went together and has been running since." Quote from George Baxter
The plans for our church were finished. Much of the labor was donated by very busy people. Connecticut Foundations, owned by Bill Miller, assisted by his father-in-law, Elmer Morris, dug the foundation and poured the cement. The ledge that the machinery could not remove was drilled out by the Pastor, George Baxter and Roland Fournier. The frame and exterior of the building were erected by contractors. Most of the labor and finishing was done by the men of our church, Pastor Siwek, George Baxter, Jack Atkinson, George Maruszak, Len Casacalenda, and Roland Fournier.
Three men, George Baxter, Bill Lestik, Len Casacalenda, and Pastor Siwek (all of these men held secular jobs) and would come after supper and work to almost mid-night every day. Many others gave of their time and talent. The ladies also did their part.
The wooden Cross on the alter was fashioned from a hand hewn beam from a barn built in the 1800's by our Grandparents. Our father, Charles Page made the cross and he also made the offering plates.
At last the carpet was laid, the draperies made by Mrs. Siwek's mother, GraceRe, were hung. At Last it was finished and we were ready for our Dedication on October 7th, 1972. What a day of Rejoicing! The people had a "will to work" and God had rewarded us abundantly!
In 1972, Little People Nursery School opened its doors. This was accomplished by Rosemarie Siwek and the ladies of our church were teachers. We were licensed for 60 pupils a day and were always full after the first year or so.
In the late 70's Rev Albert Webb and his wife Marjorie joined us from England to be assistants.
We also had a very good Youth Choir, and out of it came a Quartet of Boys, Robe Bachetti, Ken Baxter, Joe Chamberlain, and Steve Fournier. They were accompanied by a very accomplished Pianist, Sharon Lestik and coached by Mrs. Siwek. They sang at the District Youth Convention in Charlton, Ma on Memorial Day in 1976. Their song, "Statue of Liberty", won them first place. They went on to the Eastern finals in Harrisburg, PA and came in second. We were very proud of them and their Director. Our Sunday school and Youth Group helped to establish a well-founded church. Our Sunday school grew to over 150 with children and adults.
Pastor Siwek resigned in 1980. The Webbs stayed until we found a new full-time Pastor.
In the fall of 1980 Rev. Robert Hallquist and his wife Doris came to minister. We welcomed them with a beautiful dinner. He readily fitted in. His expression was "If it isn't broke, we won't try to fix it". The Hallquists had four children and two grand-children, and when everyone came to visit the parsonage was full.
In 1981 we purchased the property and house that joins our property in the back. Our goal was to be ready for expansion when the time was right. We cleaned it up, modernized it and rented it for a few years.
We hired a newly graduated and very talented young man to come and basically work with our youth. He could not carry out the task and was dismissed.
Pastor Hallquist resigned in 1985 to travel for the Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield, MO.
The church experienced difficulties during the interim, however, the Lord remained faithful and in January 1986 Rev. Russell Joyce was voted in as our new Pastor. He and his wife Joanne, and three children, Christina, Carolyn, and Timothy moved into the house at 37 Old Park Lane. The children were small but soon grew up and graduated from New Milford High School and went to college. Christina was married in First Assembly in Brookfield to Rev. Daniel Stanley. Timothy was married at Valley Forge Christian College to Raquel Esteves. They are all involved in God's ministries.
The church slowly healed and the Lord added many beautiful families. Many good things happened. In March 1993 the church was given a gift of $33,000.00 by one of our members, Armand Maillou, to pay off the church mortgage. In June 1993 this same generous person gave us a gift of $34,000.00 to pay off the house at 37 Old Park Lane, which serves as our parsonage. In our 25th year we burned our church mortgage and were debt free. Praise God who does all things well!
In 2001 we decided the church needed some attention. We formed a committee to draw up some plans for alterations. The front of the church sanctuary was enlarged, the wires put under the cover, and the whole sanctuary was painted. New window valences and shades were added as well as new carpet. After much discussion we purchased new pews. The coat room and staircase was painted and carpeted to match the foyer.
Rev. & Mrs. Siwek served from 1968-1980
Rev. & Mrs. Hallquist served from 1980-1985
Rev. & Mrs. Joyce have served from 1986 to the present.
As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:6: "I have planted, Appolos watered, but God gave the increase".
September 30, 2003
The Following portion is written by Rev. Russell Joyce, Pastor of First Assembly of God church.
The Lord has allowed us to see many physical improvements to our buildings and given us the victory if a "mortgage burning" a number of years ago; however, the greatest rewards have been the spiritual renovations in the hearts of people. The following are just a few highlights of what the Lord has done.
Sharon Stackhouse came from Wingdale, NY and was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit here at First Assembly. Sharon and her husband have been involved in Campus Ministry.
Tim Ruscoe rededicated his life to the Lord and later answered the call of God into full-time ministry. He left his position at Barton's and enrolled at Valley Forge Christian College. Upon graduating he became a Assistant Pastor in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. After several years in that position to pursue a Master's of Divinity Program and is now on the staff as a children's pastor at the Assemblies of God church in Scranton, PA.
Paul Conway, involved in drugs and feeling desperate, came to my office where he gave his heart to the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. That same day he re-entered high school and upon graduation he enrolled in Zion Bible Institute. After graduating from Zion, Paul went to Central Bible College and received his Bachelor's Degree in Ministry. Paul took a position with Rev. Brian Grisald at Yogie Bear Sunday School and ministered on the streets of Providence, RI. He then became Youth Pastor at North Providence Assemblies of God. Paul is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. Paul Conway's website has more information on the current ministries that he is involved in at Zion Bible Institute http://paulconway.info/home/.
Fred Sanchez was saved here approximately in 1994. While part of our fellowship Fred taught the teen Sunday school class, Royal Rangers Pioneers, and was a Deacon. His wife, Terry was very involved in our church ministries and faithfully and effectively led our Women's Ministries. Fred also participated in a number of outreaches and was involved in performing mimes as well as going on several missions' trips organized by the Southern District of the Assemblies of God. Fred was one of the recipients of the Billie Davis Education Award for the Assemblies of God, nationwide in 1998. The award was presented to Fred by Rev. Nick Serbin, SNED Christian Education Director. Fred also answered the call of God and began his ministerial education through correspondence. After Fred's daughter graduated from high school, Fred and Terry relocated to Florida so he could enroll at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God. Fred graduated and earned his Bachelor in Ministry and Pastoral Studies. He is now a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He is currently preparing to become a Missionary with the Assemblies of God.
Kim Williams was with us for several years and was Sunday School Superintendent for one year. Kim felt the call of God to pursue a ministry in Christian Broadcasting and Communication. She left her high ranking position and enrolled at Regent University in Virginia. Upon graduation she received her Master's Degree in Christian Communication.
Christina Joyce Stanley felt the call of God to pursue a ministry of teaching children. She graduated from Southeastern College and began her teaching career at Christian Life Academy at the Assembly of God church in Brookfield. Christina also became very involved in our church through teaching Sunday School, helping in Children's Church, Missionette leader, leader of our Singles Ministry, and Sunday School Superintendent. Her husband, Rev. Daniel Stanley is currently the pastor of Riverside Assembly of God in Methuen, MA.
Timothy Joyce answered the call of God and upon graduating from New Milford High School he enrolled at Valley Forge Christian College. During his high school and college years Tim participated in a number of missions trips abroad and completed his internship in El Salvador during the summer of 1998. He graduated from VFCC in 2001 and is now a licensed minister of the Assemblies of God. Tim and his wife Raquel minister at Oasis City Church in Philadelphia PA. Timothy is also working as a Youth Counselor and family advisor for troubled children in Philadelphia. Raquel is working as a teacher in the inner city.
There are many others who were either saved in our church or became very active in the ministries here at First Assembly. Over the years our church has become a place of healing, spiritual grounding, and discipling. Many individuals have relocated to other areas of the United States as well as overseas and they have remained involved in the work of the Kingdom in their local churches. We feel very blessed that God has used our ministries here at First Assembly of God to help people to grow in their Christian faith and to go on to be a help and blessing in other parts of the country as well as the world.
"It's not the one who plants or the one who waters who is the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God's field in which we are working."
1 Corinthians 3 6-9 The Message
Rev Russell C. Joyce
First Assembly of God
New Milford CT
"You're here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light bearers, you don't think I am going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I am putting you on a light stand. Now that I have put you on a hill-top, on a light stand, shine! Keep open House; be generous with your lives. By Opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven". Mathew 5: 14-16 The Message