History of Celebration Covenant Church
In 1999, Doug and Cyndi Ferguson and their family were pondering and praying about their next ministry assignment. While in a meeting in California in early 1999, Doug sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “I want you to start a new church in Omaha.”
There were many changes in the next few months, but the sense of a call from God did not change. In early July, the Fergusons and a few friends met together, and made the prayerful decision to start a new church in Omaha with a mission “to reach, teach, and unleash committed followers for Jesus.” It was incorporated as Celebration Christian Fellowship.
Another decision was made. Since the Fergusons had been part of the leadership team of another Omaha church, the church plant would not “go public” until 2000. Early church meetings were held on Sunday evenings, first in the Ferguson home, then in the home of Jeff and Mary Seaman. Later on, the small gymnasium of Millard Children’s Academy was rented on Sunday evenings.
In April of 2000, the small congregation accepted an invitation to join the Evangelical Covenant Church and was renamed Celebration Covenant Church. In the summer of 2000, Sunday morning “Preview Services” were held at the Chalco Hills Recreation area. In the fall of 2000, regular Sunday morning worship services were launched at a storefront on Millard Avenue at 14227 U Street. This location served the church well, providing office space, a place for youth ministry and other ministries, and often providing Sunday morning worship space as well.
In 2002, Sunday morning worship was moved to Beadle Middle School near 180th and Harrison. This space was nearer our target area, and provided adequate space for Sunday services and parking. There were a few disadvantages as well; equipment had to be moved in and out each Sunday. There was no access to classrooms, so nursery and Sunday School classes met in hallways. In 2002, Kathy Shaddy came on board as part-time Administrative Assistant.
In the next three years, the primary task was to gather members, train leaders, and develop small groups. The Alpha course was an important part of that strategy.
In a one-day Miracle Sunday in late 2004, church members gave $60,000 in cash to provide the down payment for property to serve as a permanent church “home.” As those funds were being raised, 10% of the total was given to build wells in the Congo of Africa.
In the summer of 2006, as Beadle Middle School was being remodeled, Sunday morning services were moved back to the storefront on U Street. A second worship service was added to accommodate a larger attendance, and Sunday services continued in that location until a permanent church location was procured.
In 2005 the church purchased five acres of prime land from Gene and Ila Mackey at the corner of 168th and Giles Road. This street, which was not paved until 1998, has become a major thoroughfare from southwest Omaha to the interstate, and is being rapidly developed. In late 2005, a Field of Dreams campaign shared with the congregation the dream of a permanent ministry location at 168th and Giles. Don Fensterman, a fund-raiser for the Evangelical Covenant Church, estimated the church could raise $250,000-$350,000 in three-year gifts from church members, based upon size and attendance. Between November of 2005 and December of 2008, church members and friends gave more than $398,000 to enable the building of Phase One of a three-phase building program. The Weitz company served as partner in this project.
On Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007, the people of Celebration Covenant Church were able to worship for the first time in a brand new ministry space at 16868 Giles RD. Joshua Beckner came on board as a half-time Ministry Assistant, and later moved to full-time. By this time, Administrative Assistant Kathy Shaddy, who had served continuously since 2002, also became a full-time employee.
The financial strain of a new, larger mortgage and three full-time staff persons was significant, but with God’s help, the church was able to make the leap. A growing attendance in worship, Sunday School, and other ministries, gave evidence that financial investment by God’s faithful people was bearing fruit in changed lives. Among new ministries added during these years was a first-ever Vacation Bible School, first offered in the summer of 2009.
Such a brief history only covers the bare outline of God’s work through Celebration Covenant Church. Much more of the story is heard in the lives of men, women, and children. For example, the week after the new building was opened on Easter of 2007, little Allie R., not yet five years old, was scheduled for an intrusive surgery to remove a diseased lobe from one of her lungs. Many in the church had been praying for her, and a last-minute test by the doctor just before surgery revealed Allie’s lung was now normal. The surgery was canceled even as a nurse was placing an IV.
Mary S. was a person we met while delivering fliers to the apartment complex in which she lived. Mary had lived a colorful life, but became a faithful member and attender of Celebration Church. When she died at the end of June, 2010, church members and friends spoke for several minutes about all the ways Mary’s life had changed, and of all the ways her faith had become central to her life.
These are but two of many examples of changed lives. It is for the purpose of changed lives we hire staff, build buildings, develop ministries, and give our hard-earned dollars for The Cause of Christ.