The Family Bible Church, now an independent work, was originally started as a church plant of the Family Altar of the Air, an international radio program started by Rev. Don F. Price and was carried on by his son, Rev. D. Burdette Price, for many years. Both of these men pastored the Family Altar Chapel, a non-denominational church located in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The following is a brief explanation of the church history. It does not do justice to the many ways God has blessed us since the church was founded as Family Altar Bible Church in January of 1984. It is simply meant to inform those who were not here of our roots and some of our blessings.
In the early 1980s, the Family Altar Chapel was a prosperous growing ministry in Battle Creek and had a number of families attending from the Marshall area. Rev. Don F. and D. Burdette Price felt God was leading to plant a church work in a vacant church building located on the corner of F Drive and US 27 North in Marshall. The building was owned by the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and had been closed four years earlier. In the fall months of 1983 negotiations with the LCA were initiated to purchase the church and 4.5 acres of land associated with it.
The negotiations concluded in December with an offer being extended to the Lutheran Church to purchase the former Mount Hope Lutheran Church — minus the parsonage which had been previously sold — on a land contract. The offer included a provision allowing the new church congregation to hold services on the site with no payment to the Lutheran Church for a period of six months. At the end of the six-month period, an interest payment of $1000.00 would be made on the first of every month and a principle payment of $5,000 on the first day of December every year for a period of five years. The representative from the LCA first response was, “No one buys real estate that way.” To his surprise the LCA accepted the offer and the Family Altar Bible Church was born.
The new ministry was dedicated on January 8 during a 2 PM service and the first services were held on January 15 under the direction of Rev. Richard Gerten, the church’s founding pastor. The building consisted of a small sanctuary (now the Youth Room), narthex (south foyer), church office, nursery and kitchen. It contained no classrooms or basement. Chairs were rented from a local funeral home and a piano was donated from the Family Altar Chapel. Pastor Gerten and his wife, Pamela, along with four couples from the Family Altar Chapel, began holding services under the auspices of the Family Altar of the Air. Pastor Gerten and his family continued to live in Battle Creek until December of 1984. In December they relocated to Marshall taking residence in the parsonage located directly behind the church. God had provided the church the opportunity to purchase the parsonage from the LCA on a land contract after it had received the property in receivership from the previous land contract owner.
Pastor Gerten was a bi-vocational pastor for the first three years of the church’s existence working as principal of the Family Altar Christian school and pastor of the newly founded church. In 1986 the church received its independence from the Family Altar of the Air and Family Altar Chapel. It adopted its own by-laws in accordance and became an independent work of God in Marshall. Five years later the church rewrote its bylaws.
In 1988 the church body began construction of the multipurpose/educational wing to the west of the original structure. It was built with no permanent walls. Portable walls were used to divide the fellowship hall into classrooms. The church also paved the original parking area and driveways.
God continued to bless the church and it continued to grow requiring two services. The church body at the same time began fund raising and planning for a new sanctuary. In June of 1996 they celebrated the dedication of a new sanctuary to the north of the original structure. In 2000 the parking lot was again expanded to handle the continued growth.
In December of 2005, through a long prayerful process, the membership of the church voted to change the name of Family Altar Bible Church to Family Bible Church.
In 2009, FBC Celebrated their 25th Anniversary. Feel free to watch this short video that recaps some of what happened in those 25 years of ministry:
From this body of believers we have sent out young men and women who are studying for or are involved in full time pastorates and missionary work. What we see on this corner today is the result of the blessings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is His church and exists to bring glory to our God. As we continue to move forward it is our prayer to stay true to His Word, be led by His Spirit and to follow the admonition found in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”