Pastor wants to develop regional church
Pastor Rene Houle hopes to develop the Exciting First Baptist Church in Minden into a regional church serving other areas as well as Carson Valley.
“We have a number of people who come from Carson, Dayton, Lake Tahoe, Bridgeport,” he said. “We’ve pretty much attracted people from every area. We hope to become a strong, dynamic regional body that can offer a lot to our community.”
Houle said the congregation has doubled in the first 2-1/2 months since he came to be pastor at the church in August.
“We’ve gone from 110 to 240 on average,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be building on our new property and also provide athletic opportunities for children, youths and adults – we hope to have a multipurpose room that will be a gym as well.”
Houle came to Minden from Henderson where he was pastor for the First Southern Baptist Church for a little over four years.
The church grew about 600 percent in that time and was in the top two in baptisms in the Nevada Baptist Convention every year.
Houle attributes this success to the fact that he accepted his flock.
“There are a couple of things,” he said were reasons for the growth. “We just loved them and accepted them for what they were. The emphasis was on prayer and outreach and preaching.”
Houle said he is incorporating the same philosophy here. He bases his ministry on a quotation from Ephesians 4:12, “Pastors prepare God’s people for works of service so the body of Christ may be built up.”
“Our vision is to minister to the complete family and to provide not only activities but an opportunity to grow spiritually for children,, youths, single adults, adults and senior adults.”
The many church programs are coordinated by church members as part of his philosophy.
“What I try to do is train and equip them and allow them to get involved where they feel the Lord is leading them,” Houle said.
For instance, church members wanted to restart the lunch for Douglas High school students. Houle encouraged members to go ahead.
Every Monday, students from across the street are welcome to eat lunch and chat. Food is provided by church members and some businesses. No pressure is put on the students to join the church, but the pastor said he is there for them.
“We want the kids to know that somebody cares and on top of that, God cares. Some of them have no concept of God,” Houle said. The response has been good to the lunch program.
“They’re great kids,” he added. “I want them to know that somebody believes in them and if somebody needs anything, we’re here for them.”
Other programs and their chairman are Sam Hall, outreach; Ray Harmon, youth coordinator; Carl Wilson, Bible study and discipleship; Cheryl Moore, children’s coordinator; Helen Sanders, nursing home music; Carl Wilson, Mary Ann Gibson, Dottie Sannicks and Jackie Remer, nursing home ministry; Dave Remer and Jackie Remer, church music; Kim Houle, Praise Team leader; Ron Scott, choir; Wayne Archer Jr., chairman of the benevolence program which provides food or a place to stay for those who need it.
They are all volunteers, Houle said. Paid office staff are Christine Stephenson and Stephany Fessler.
Houle has been in the ministry for 18 years. He started in Oregon, spent some time in Florida and again served in Oregon before heading to Henderson. He was born in Las Vegas, raised at Lake Tahoe and went to his first year in high school in Carson City before moving to Oregon.
He attend the California Baptist College in Riverside, Calif. and the New Orleans Theological Seminary. He met his wife Kim in Oregon, and they have two sons, Cameron and Zach. His stepmother is Fran Houle, a well-known activist in Douglas County.
The church offers a youth group, praise worship, Bible study and discipleship classes, traditional, blend and contemporary services, mission training for all ages, preschool through high school, weight loss program, dynamic music ministry and nursing home ministry.
“There are ministries for all ages,” Houle said. “You can pretty much plug into anything.”
The new site of the Exciting First Baptist Church is located on Centerville Lane, not far from St. Gall Catholic Church. Houle hopes to start the new building in the next six months, depending on how people respond.
“We’ve been blessed,” he added. “It’s a great group of people here. They’re fantastic.”
For information about the church or its programs, call the church office at 782-5513.