Posted on 16 June 2011.
Solon Center Wesleyan Church would like to celebrate God’s love, mercy and grace in a celebration of Pastor Doug DiBell’s ministry at a special service on June 26th @ 10 AM with an Open House following from Noon-3 PM. Anyone touched by Pastor Doug’s life and ministry is invited to attend this special occasion. A card basket will be available for anyone wishing to offer a personal note of thanks, encouragement, or a monetary gift.
Little did the young pastor, his wife and 2 baby boys realize what was to come when they arrived in Cedar Springs some 12 years ago. They were welcomed by a small congregation that met in a very traditional country church building that dated back to 1901. In June of 1999, Pastor Doug DiBell, his wife Rhonda and two young sons, Stephen and Joshua came to Solon Center Wesleyan Church. Their family roots both began in small towns in Wisconsin so they felt right at home in this little corner of Cedar Springs.
Pastor Doug received his education at Indiana Wesleyan University and worked in youth ministries in 3 churches in Indiana. He was ordained in the Wesleyan Church in 1993 and served in 4 churches as senior pastor before coming to Cedar Springs. Rhonda shared her gift of organization and her talent for singing while supporting her husband’s ministry and caring for Stephen and Joshua.
At Solon Center they began their work not just in ministry, but in carpentry as they both pitched in to make improvements to the parsonage in order to make it a pleasant fit for their family. Pastor Doug did not hesitate to step into the community and serve in any area his gifts were needed. He became Chaplain for the Solon Township Fire Department and was on scene as his schedule allowed bringing comfort to those who found themselves in devastating circumstances. He worked for both Bliss-Witters and Pederson Funeral Homes, assisting where he could in and around his work for the church.
As his contacts grew in the community so did the church. Pastor Doug did not hesitate to begin a conversation with anyone he might come across. His outgoing personality and genuine demeanor would immediately put you at ease and the words would begin to pour from your lips without reserve. Before you knew it, you had made a new friend who made you feel right at home.
Beginning in the first years of his ministry at SCWC, visitors flowed through the doors week after week. It was a thrilling time for congregates to see this man of God share his faith and bring others to Christ. It was contagious and soon the little building was bursting at the seams.
As the church grew, it was evident that a new building would be needed to accommodate those in attendance. His creative and selfless ideas helped the church to raise the needed funds to accomplish a dream of a new, spacious facility. He took pies in the face and went as far as allowing his head to be shaved for the endeavor. By the summer of 2001, the ground behind the little church building was broken to make way for the existing 12,000 sq. ft. all purpose style building. After months of guiding a committee through the monumental process, the congregation took possession of the building in December of 2002.
New growth is often accompanied by change, which brings its own challenges. This little country church began a move into a new generation of music. Where traditional hymns had once filled the little sanctuary, worship choruses began to take root and praises rang through the foyer. The need for a youth & worship pastor came in the form of Pastor Tom Holloway who brought with him guitars, drums, congas, and tambourines and now a myriad of joyful music could be heard during the worship time. You could always find Pastor Doug at the front of the sanctuary, arms spread wide, singing praises to his Lord and Savior with a love that was unmistakable.
At times, rather than take an increase in pay, Pastor Doug would find other ways to support his family rather than increase the financial burden on the church. In 2006 he gained employment with Marketplace chaplains. His assignment was to offer his friendship and spiritual support to the employees on 3rd shift at Gordon Foods Service. Forfeiting much needed sleep, twice a week he made the trek to southern Grand Rapids where he made many friendships, counseled many souls, and shared something beyond himself.
During his 12 years of service, he has performed 82 weddings, 58 funerals, 127 baptisms, countless baby dedications, and brought numerous people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many others have been introduced to his best friend, Jesus Christ, by virtue of a simple conversation.
For the North Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church, Pastor Doug also served on the District Finance committee and as the treasurer of the Churchill Ministerial Endowment Fund; a fund offering financial support for education & continuing education of pastors.
In the high calling of God’s work, those called into His service take on a responsibility for those who pass through the front doors of the church. This means a pastor is available to meet the needs of many at any given time. It calls for home and hospital visits, phone calls at any hour, a listening ear and wise counsel, endless prayer requests, and a compassionate heart. Beyond the people, there is the overseeing of the building, the finances, church leadership, maintaining a vision for the church, and writing a new sermon for every Sunday. It takes a special individual to accept a call into ministry and Pastor Doug has followed God’s direction for his life with obedience and determination. God is now taking Pastor Doug in a new direction. In February, he announced his resignation from Solon Center Wesleyan Church, feeling that God was ready to grow this church under new leadership. He will be moving his family closer to his home town in Wisconsin to take on new challenges in ministry.
Solon Center Wesleyan Church has been blessed beyond measure through the twelve years of ministry of Pastor Doug and his family. His resignation brings sorrow to many, though his decision to move where God will take him is respected and honored. Psalm 78:72 so accurately describes Pastor Doug’s ministry, “God presented David to His people as their shepherd, and he cared for them with a true heart and skillful hands.” Our shepherd has passed his crook, but his leadership will live in our hearts forever.
The writers of this article wish to convey this message on behalf of the congregation at SCWC:
Pastor Doug, we love you and thank you for your devotion and rock solid commitment to the Lord’s work. You have shepherded God’s people in Cedar Springs and the surrounding communities with a true heart and skillful hands. We salute your life, your service to God’s kingdom, your ministry to God’s church and your exuberant love, joy and encouragement to all God’s people. Thank you, Doug, we love you.