1923 - 1973 - 2023

 Our statement[1] of something that Jesus did in 1923 is:

Following the depression of 1920-21, Jesus brought a young Princeton Seminary graduate to Idaho Falls to build up a church that was deep in debt and whose membership had fallen from 366 to 155, and he stayed as their pastor for the next 36 years.

A short account of the life and ministry of Dr. Joseph Gulick can be found in section 6.1.2 of https://barnescm2.wixsite.com/jiif/jesus-church-called-and-sent; a much longer version is his autobiography, available in the library of the Idaho Falls First Presbyterian Church. After Dr. Gulick “retired” from his long ministry in Idaho Falls, he served for a year as the District Governor of Rotary Clubs.  Then the next seven years he pastored churches in Swan Valley, Ririe and Rigby.

Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you.”  Jesus sends men and women to do His will and to be co-laborers with Him.  I estimate that Jesus has sent more than 600 pastors to Idaho Falls over the history our city to build His church, and called many more men and women, both those He sent here and those who grew up here, to be His witnesses to the city’s residents.  And He has sent men and women from Idaho Falls to other cities in this and other countries as witnesses and ambassadors of His kingdom.

Jesus sent a pastor to Twin Falls in late 1923 who had come to Idaho Falls just a year earlier.[2]  Charles E. Winning had a short ministry in Idaho Falls, followed by a short ministry in Twin Falls, and, before coming to Idaho and after leaving Idaho, a long ministry in California.[3]  But though the ministries of Rev. Winning and Rev. Gulick are in sharp contrast in terms of their duration in Idaho Falls, they were similar in that both men sought to minister to the city.  Rev. Gulick was faithful in his long service at First Presbyterian Church, but was also known as the “community pastor” because of his involvement in civic clubs, involvement and leadership in the Idaho Falls Ministerial Association and Union services, and the large number of weddings and funerals he performed.  While Rev. Winning served in Idaho Falls only briefly, upon coming he immediately sought to understand the spiritual needs of the community,[4] then to share a vision with his church for the gospel transforming a community as well as be available himself to anyone in need.

During 1923, announcements in local newspapers for services of Trinity Methodist church, which he pastored, sometimes included the following:[5]

The church is maintained not for its own members but for the community.  If you have no church home consider yourself the invited guest of Trinity Methodist church, the minister of which is never too busy to call on the sick, the afflicted or strangers.

And these announcements were followed by Rev. Winning’s home phone number and home address. 

Rev. Gulick and Rev. Winning are just two of the many people Jesus sent to Idaho Falls in the 1920's to work with Him in His mission of seeking the lost and building His church.

In 1973, at the height of the Jesus people movement, a lot of people were talking about Jesus.  One man in Idaho Falls, who had a long career working for local television stations, led many people to Christ as Jesus brought them to his home where he would share the gospel with them, pray with them or counsel them long hours into the night.[6] 

1973 was also the year of Key 73, a nation-wide effort to visit every home in America to present the gospel of Christ. In Idaho Falls, the Ministerial Association elected Rev. Ray Glenn, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, as chairman of the steering committee for Key 73.[7]

In 1973, there was a “full-blown promotional effort” to bring Billy Graham to Salt Lake City.[8]  A committee of 30 pastors and laymen was formed to lead the effort.  One of their many projects was to obtain 75,000 signatures on a petition requesting Billy Graham to hold a crusade in Salt Lake. However, their efforts were not successful.

In September 2023, Billy Graham’s grandson will present the gospel of Jesus Christ in a three-day celebration in Idaho Falls.  Starting in January churches in Southeast Idaho began working and praying together to bring the gospel to this region. In May, nearly 1,200 people in Idaho Falls and surrounding communities were trained in several methods of evangelism as well as follow-up of new believers.[9]  

1923 to 1973 to 2023: The above are very brief and incomplete snapshots of work Jesus has done or is doing in Idaho Falls.  I could add more about each of these years as well as all the ones in between.  I could detail 12 multi-church evangelistic campaigns held in Idaho Falls from 1900 to 1999. I could name 11 Idaho Falls churches I’m aware of that were either formed mainly through evangelistic efforts or at some period in their history consisted mostly of new converts.  I could expand on the diverse ways Jesus has used to bring people to Himself, adding to His church.  But my point in this article is to hint at the consistent thread of Jesus’ mission to the people who have lived in Eagle Rock, Idaho Falls and surrounding communities.  He is the One who loves them all, who draws them to Himself, who sends witnesses to bring the message of His kingdom to them and who saves all who place their faith in Him. 

Sources and notes

[1] See statements of things Jesus did in Idaho Falls, 1882 to 2022, https://jiif140yrs.blogspot.com/2021/11/statements-1882-jesus-sent-48-year-old.html.
[2] Idaho Falls Daily Post, September 13, 1923, p. 3.
[3] Obituary of Rev. C. E. Winning, posted on https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/107320399/charles-edmund-winning.
[4] Shortly after arriving in Idaho Falls in October 1922, Rev. C. E. Winning sent out a questionnaire to leading citizens and civic groups that asked:
1. As you see it, of what benefit to our community are the churches?
2. Are the churches, in your opinion, accomplishing that which you think they should accomplish?  If not, wherein do they fail?
3. Socially and morally is our community growing better or worse? Give reasons for you opinion.
4. In your opinion what is the most prolific source of evil in the community?
5. Can you suggest a possible remedy for the evil you suggest?
6. What causes the seeming indifference to social and moral reform and why is so little interest taken in church work?
He received replies from (among others) Mayor Ralph Lewis, Chief of Police Carlson, City Attorney Paul Peterson, Attorney Oscar Johannesen, President of the Village Improvement Society Mrs. Eugene Wright, City Councilman Black and Editor of the Times-Register M. B. Yeaman.  He then prepared a sermon in which he promised “to spare neither himself, his church, its critics or followers in his resume of the replies made to the questionnaire.” [From The Times-Register, Oct. 27, 1922, p.1.]
[5] For example, see The (Idaho Falls) Times-Register, Aug 3, 1923, p. 13.
[6] This was Dewey Wilmot.
[7] Post Register, May 7, 1972, p. A-9.
[8] Post Register, September 14, 1973, p. 13.
[9] Training took place from May 1 to 20 in fourteen locations in Idaho Falls, Ammon, Pocatello, Arco, Chubbuck and St. Anthony, Idaho plus Thayne and Jackson, Wyoming, and included the Christian Life & Witness Couse plus Pursuit Student Training.


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