Living Waters History
In 2000 the church extension committee chaired by Eddie Williams, began the discussion of planting a new church. Jan Senneker proposed the idea to presbytery suggesting a new ARP church be planted in the Lake Wylie area. The idea was that this church would reach out to the unchurched. Rock Hill First, Clover ARP, Ebenezer, Tirzah, and Neely’s Creek were involved in the planning the new plant.
In July of 2000, a council was formed by Rev. Barry Eller. There were several names for the church discussed. Living Waters ARP, Living Waters Presbyterian, and Living Waters Church, with Living Waters Church being selected. Barry Eller asked Bill Babson to take on a leadership role, so the search for a place to worship began. A building at Camp Thunderbird was found. Bill Babson hired Laura Whitlock to lead the music, as well as the children’s ministry. Laura had met Brian Howard in college, so after they were engaged in 2002, Bill hired Brian as music leader for the praise band. Bill jokingly said that the only reason he hired Brian was because he didn’t want to lose Laura.
While worshipping at Camp Thunderbird, they never knew if they would have heat or air which made Sunday mornings interesting. During the summer, they found out that they could no longer use that building, so they went to a smaller building. That was not working, so the search for a new place to worship began. Bill Babson met with the Clover School District and they allowed us to worship at Bethel Elementary School. I don’t think anyone who was there at the time will ever forget setting up every Sunday, tearing down and packing up the trailer.
Bill reached out to the unchurched in the community in some creative ways. We had some theme Sundays, such as biker Sunday, drama, dance, Father’s Day fishing with their kids, and parent’s night out for the community. God brought people to the mission: existing Christians with years of experience, new Christians eager to grow, and some who became Christians through the ministry. Presbytery was pleased when we reached 50 members and then to over 100 members.
In 2006, Living Waters Church became self-sustaining church. Bill Babson was installed as pastor. We had a big celebration that day. In January, 2006, our first elders were elected and ordained. The elders were Dennis Blanton, Ken Davis, Cam Duke and Brian Howard.
In April, Brian Howard was hired as an associate pastor.
In the spring of 2006, Bill Babson, Rick Duke, and Sally Gettys from Living Waters joined a group from Ebenezer ARP on a mission trip to Rio Verde, Mexico. On that mission trip, Bill Babson was convicted to plant another church. He loved our church and community, and the things God was doing here. God had shown him that the church could reach the lost and introduce them to God. He was convinced that God wanted him and his family to do the same thing in another area. Bill said that leaving Living Waters Church was one of the most difficult decisions he had ever had to make. Unfortunately when we sign up to follow Christ, he doesn’t ask us what we want. His command was to follow him, so we were led from Living Waters to another plant.
In July, 2006, Alex Coblentz was called to be our supply pastor. He had met Bill on the mission trip to Mexico. Alex began a bible study group, a prayer group, and we all went to Lake Wylie Assisted Living to sing for them.
In September, 2006, a search committee for a pastor of Living Waters was formed. On June, 2007, David Zimmerman was called as pastor. David’s wife was raised in the community so it seemed to be perfect for them. That time was very stressful, but God saw us through. God had blessed us and we all persevered.
Brian Howard accepted the call to Effingham ARP Church, in Florence, SC, effective the end of April, 2008. The next few years were tough, but God worked through the situation. David resigned as pastor in January, 2009. In February a search committee was established for a new pastor. We had different pastors and lay people to lead us in worship and one of those was Larry Presley, who helped us to heal. That time was difficult, but the elders and the congregation pulled together to worship and to be a witness in the community. God truly blessed us during those years and we persevered. We truly gained love and respect for each other and found healing.
Jan Senneker came as a supply pastor and what a blessing he and his wife Ruth, were for us. During that time we began the back pack program to help feed children in the Clover School District.
Marty Taylor had met Ken Davis at a presbytery meeting in Columbia, and Ken told Marty about Living Waters and some of our struggles. On April 11, 2010 Marty came to Living Waters to preach. Marty and his wife, Ellen were driving back to Hilton Head and Ellen said that she could really see them at Living Waters. Marty told her that he had the same thought.
A new place for us to worship was high on our priority list. In June, Jerry Rine, Ken Davis, Dennis Blanton, and Steve Nivens, the treasurer of the church and Marty Taylor met with the owner of a possible building. The property was very special and it seemed like a suitable place for us to purchase. The owner told them that he had been looking for a location for his heat and air conditioning business and when he saw the property on Bethel School Rd, he knew that was the place he had been looking because Bethel was a place in the Bible. Before he built the building, he blessed it and hoped that sometime in the future it could be used for God. They all stood in the warehouse and prayed about us purchasing the property. Soon, the congregation voted to buy the building and property. A lot of work went into turning a warehouse into a place of worship. Although it was a lot of work, it really brought us together and with God’s help, we began worshiping there. We had a Christmas Eve service in the cold warehouse, but what a blessing that was. Our first worship in the renovated building was February 20, 2011. Everyone was very excited. It was wonderful to worship and praise God in our own building.
In July a congregational meeting was held to extend a call to Marty Taylor and he accepted. Marty was installed as pastor. A children’s ministry was started as well as an adult Sunday school class. We are having Wednesday night studies on a regular basis. We have hosted Vacation bible school, and a Christmas party for area kids. The women have been to the Extraordinary Women’s conference several times as well as a two day retreat in Bon Clarken.
We began a thanks-give-away and we have continued that every fall. We bring gently used items to the church and we invite those who are struggling to come and get the things that they need. God has blessed many people as well as us through this ministry. We have fixed food boxes at Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas for people in our community. We also have bought gifts for children at Christmas
We wanted to celebrate 15 years of Living Waters Church with a homecoming celebration. We had a large crowd and lots of food. Jan Senneker and Larry Presley spoke about their time at Living Waters. It was so good to see people that we had not seen in a while. What a great day.
A turning point in our church was January of 2015, when Marty Taylor, Cam Duke, Allen Needham, and Jerry Rine went to Birmingham, Alabama for the Embers to a Flame conference. They came back with a renewed spiritual outlook. They were very excited about what they had learned and experienced.
Joe Weatherly, who is a Fanning The Flame coach, was called to discuss our congregation being involved with a revitalization of our church. The elders voted for us to begin the process. A team was formed to go through Fanning The Flame. The team members are Cam Duke, Judy Duke, Suzanne Hobson, Debbie Mullis, Allen Needham, Lois Porter, Jerry Rine, and Marty Taylor. The cost was substantial, but again God blessed us beyond measure. The Members to A Flame, Chester ARP, Catawba Presbytery gave money, and with the congregation contributions, we were able to pay our commitment off early. Through God, Cam was led to preach and later, Jerry Rine felt led to preach God’s word. Allen Needham led a Wednesday night study on prayer. This whole year we will be focusing on prayer. The team have all grown in the Lord, by reading, praying, and sharing our lives with each other. Ellen Taylor has led the team in a spiritual assessment and now the congregation are involved in finding out their spiritual gifts. We are excited to see where God is going to lead us.
In 2016, Marty still feels that Living Waters Church is where God wants him to be. Through his preaching and teaching we are learning to know Jesus, Love Jesus, and Serve Jesus more. Late 2016, due to unforeseen circumstances, the pastoral call with Marty was unfortunately dissolved. Living Waters is indebted to Marty for the spiritual growth and mentoring he led. As of January 1st the Living Waters pulpit is vacant. We continue to persevere and grow spiritually and numerically under the leadership of the current session. Cam, Jerry, Allen, Shawn H., and Von B. have created a rotation to deliver the word of god each week. We have embarked on a 22 week study of who God is “Knowing God”. The study meets on Wednesday nights and is being led by Jerry and Cam. The Fanning the Flame team continues to meet monthly. Allen is leading a team in our second strategy “Effective Structures”. God continues to bless us.
First class of deacons elected on March .April 2nd the first class of deacons are ordained by Jan Seneker.