A CHURCH MOVEMENT IS BORN
In 1945, Dick Benjamin, a young man from Augusta, Montana, was working in the shipyards in Seattle, Washington. One of his fellow workers took an interest in him and shared the love of Jesus. Dick gave his life to the Lord in January of 1946. The church they attended, Bethel Temple, had a dream to further the kingdom of God by developing men and women strong in faith and the Word and send them to establish churches. It sent hundreds to Indonesia to proclaim the wonderful news of the gospel. One of the families was sent to the then rather remote town of Anchorage, Alaska. Several years later, Dick joined them to help with the church. In the course of time he fell in love with and married their eldest daughter, Carol.
In 1959 they felt called of the Lord and moved with their two children and two other families across town to start a new church, Abbott Loop Community Chapel. The church grew and prospered over the years, built on a firm foundation of love for the Word of God. In the early 1970s God sent an influx of hippies and young people excited about their new found faith in God into a church of middle-class Pentecostals. Dick preached impassioned messages of fervent love for God, His Word and living a life reflective of New Testament Christianity. As those enthusiastic young people soaked up the Word there needed to be a course of action to direct their energies. The leadership dove into the Book of Acts and found that churches were established wherever Christians went. The focus changed from foreign missions to extending the church domestically. Abbott Loop Community Chapel then established a Bible School and began training and raising up people with a dream in their hearts. Starting in the early 70s over 1500 people were sent from ALCC to cities all across the country and overseas as well. The dream continued.
In 1975 one of those young couples, Steve and Kay Valentine, along with their friends, Bill and Angie Whorton and Bruce Donnelly, began talking about their desire to establish a new church. After much discussion, prayer and a fact-finding trip, it was settled that Missoula, Montana would be the 34th and newest church plant. The families sold their homes and many possessions and began their journey. On July 17, 1977 the very first service of Missoula Community Chapel was held in the Whortons’ living room. MCC grew along with the vision that one day they, too, would raise up passionate, dedicated people to send to the corners of the world.
In 1979 a group of college students were filled with the Holy Spirit and began attending MCC. Over the years they became vital parts of churches around the country. In 1983 the first team, Bill and Angie Whorton, their two young sons, six families and several singles, was sent to Salt Lake City to continue the dream. Through the years other teams were sent out as well as missionaries to Mexico, China, the UAE, Thailand and Brazil. Another large group of young people showed up in the mid to late 90s during a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In that same time frame the church’s name changed to Clark Fork City Church to reflect the desire to not only influence other cities, but our own as well.
In 2005 the founding pastor, Steve Valentine, was diagnosed with leukemia. The church rallied with prayer and fasting, yet he passed away in 2006. It was a huge blow not only to the church, but to the community as well. Lee Yarbrough, a missionary from Mexico sent by the church in Alaska, and close friend of Steve’s, came to help the church transition into new leadership. The dream did not die, and Clark Fork is now in the capable hands of Josh Yakos as the Lead Pastor alongside of his great wife Jessica. Josh and Jess caught a vision during the 90’s outpouring and are now carrying the dream on to the next generation. In 2009 we connected with a family of churches called New Frontiers which grew into our current association with Regions Beyond. http://www.regions-beyond.com