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May 10, 2022
Dr. Jeff VanGoethem

In 1994 the main building of East White Oak Bible Church was destroyed in an early morning fire. One of the good fruits that came from the fire was the beginning of the ABF’s we now enjoy in our church.

It took just over two years from the time of the fire to settle with our insurance company, plan, and then build a new facility. In the meantime, we had worship in an older gym (not the gym you see now) which had escaped the fire. We were blessed in that it was large enough to hold the entire congregation.

However, the rest of the facility was very limited. We only had enough room for one adult class, one youth class, and a bit of a nursery/children’s area. This effectively ended the old Sunday School system that had been in place for many decades. Something new was needed.

“It just so happened” during that period that I attended a workshop at the Moody Bible Institute Pastor’s Conference entitled “Adult Bible Fellowships.” The teacher was a pastor from Ohio who also had a book out by that same title—it outlined a fresh method of organizing mid-sized adult communities for teaching, prayer, fellowship, and outreach. I brought this information back to East White Oak. I was excited when many of our members caught a vision for it. We did some training and preparation and when the new church building was ready in 1996, with its many classrooms, our ABF’s were born!

The early vision for the ABFs 25 years ago is still the same today. . . to see believers participating in life-giving fellowships. Learning, growing, serving, leading, and reaching out together.

I have happily visited just about every ABF since I returned to East White Oak last fall. What an encouragement to see them thriving after all these years.

Pastor Jeff VanGoethem has been in pastoral ministry for 40 years, including nearly twenty as Senior Pastor of East White Oak. He has returned to East White Oak after pastoring for some years in Dallas,Texas, to serve as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Development and Missions. He is married to Karen. They have four daughters and four grandchildren.

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May OakLeaf Articles:

Join the Journey by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Faith Nurturing Communities by Pastor Traig Whittaker
Sunday Mornings: Strategic Discipleship by Pastor Walt Baertsch
Maturing Young Worshipers by Kris Seifert, Children’s Ministry Director
Jumping Into ABF by Mark Heil
The Fellowship in ABF by Ashley Deal
History of ABFs by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Crossroads ABF by Joan Rich