Madera Avenue Bible Church, Madera, California, will celebrate its 100th anniversary Oct. 12-13, 2019. The celebration will include a Saturday afternoon tour of the Dixieland area of Madera County, including the old church building completed in 1939 and farms where church members lived, followed by a German dinner and program at Fourth Street Church of God in Madera. Sunday’s celebration will include a worship service at Madera Avenue Bible Church and a barbeque lunch.
Established as Fairmead Mennonite Brethren Church in the Fairmead Community north of Madera, the church was organized Oct. 19, 1919, with 10 members. Peter Wall was elected leader.
Jan. 1, 1920, the church purchased property for a building in the Dixieland area of Madera County for $250. The first church building was completed in late 1920 and later demolished. Construction began on a new building in Dixieland in May 1938. The first service was held in the basement of the new building on July 30, 1939. The church was unofficially known as the Dixieland MB Church until its move to town.
Every third month, northern California MB churches in Lodi, Winton and Madera gathered for preaching, programs, feasting and singing. The location rotated between churches.
A groundbreaking service was held June 23, 1968, for a new building in Madera. The north Sunday school wing was completed in January 1969, and the church—which changed its name to Madera Avenue MB Church upon moving to town—began meeting there. By March of that year, the building was completed enough for use. The south Sunday school wing was completed in October 1977.
The church changed its name to Madera Avenue Bible Church in 1992.
The following have served as pastors of MABC: Peter Wall, John Lichti, Bernard Wall Sr., J.M. Schlicting, Jacob Quiring, Bernard Wall Jr., Heinrich Esau, Robert Kroeker, Greg Langley, Heath McClure, Jim VanderMark, Virgil Reimer and Tim Bergdahl. Current pastor James Kennemur accepted his position in 2014.
Ministries the church is and has been involved in include: a women’s ministry that began in 1924 as a sewing circle and adapted over the years; a male chorus and men’s ministry; missionary support; support of local ministries including the Madera Rescue Mission and Doors of Hope Pregnancy Center; a vibrant children’s ministry including Sunday school, children’s church, AWANA, vacation Bible school, Christmas programs, summer camp and youth conferences; a church-sponsored Good News Club attended by 35 to 40 children weekly during the school year; an Easter sunrise service; corporate prayer before Sunday morning services; a benevolence fund; sending people into missions and pastoral ministry; and church-sponsored events such as valentine dinners, campouts, field trips and sky-diving.
The church supports the Pacific District Conference, USMB, Mennonite Central Committee, Fresno Pacific University and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.