In The Beginning …
Bob and Marge Ackerly had been learners in singles groups for about two years, serving as leaders of a Sunday School class called “The Working Class” at Fourth Memorial Church in Spokane. They were involved with a retreat planning team. Bob knew that singles comprised a significant portion of our society and though some Churches had ministry directed specifically to singles, he felt a multi-church gathering (like the retreat) could be used to promote outreach and spiritual growth within the singles sector.
From the beginning, the emphasis has been to encourage singles to be involved in their individual churches and let the area singles group be in addition to their church involvement. The team that planned that first retreat began exploring the possibility of an area wide singles ministry. During the 1992 and 1993, a small group (which came to be called the Leadership Team) working with Bob, planned and implemented monthly meetings, finding speakers, making all the arrangements, etc. The music team, under the leadership of Gary Sheets started this year as well and has continued. The second year, Rich Lang of Spokane Lay Ministry Center, (now known as Leadership Northwest) spoke most months on topics identified in a book entitled Single Adult Passages. The monthly meetings during the second year provided challenge and encouragement in the faith on subjects specifically targeted to singles.
Beginning in the Fall of 1994, the leadership began picking a overall topic for the year and coming up with interesting titles. Then speakers were sought for each month. The topics have not all been subjects of interest only to singles, but each speaker has been conscious of the single audience they were addressing and the desire of the leadership team to see these meetings used in the lives of singles to bring about spiritual growth. These monthly meetings were held at the Christian Gift Center, Francis and Addison, until Jan of 1996 when we moved to the Fellowship Hall of North Addison Baptist Church. Business size calendars of the year’s schedule were made available starting in the Fall of 1993 and a monthly newsletter has been sent out since then.
The Vision Continues
The original area wide singles group was called “Singles Networking” but in the fall of 1993 the name was changed to “Christian Singles Fellowship”. A quote from the November 1993 newsletter explains the purpose of the group:
“Our vision this year is to be a group where Christian Singles who are interested in personal Growth and Christ-centered friendship can encourage each other toward maturity in all areas of life. We want to be the kind of people God can use in our workplace, our community, and our world.”
Another change took place in 1998 and that was we acquired nonprofit status by transferring the 501-c3 status of S.U.N. (Singles United Northwest) to Christian Singles Fellowship.
Bob’s Vision for CSF was to have many singles involved in the planning and implementing of all that went on. He saw himself as a “Facilitator”, his job being to help others realize and use the gifts God had given them. CSF now operates that way. We have a leadership team that provides the overall direction, determining goals and purposes, choosing speakers, ect. We have a music team that has blessed us for many years. There is a social planning team that does just that. In the past we have had a Telecare Team that attempted to phone all newcomers. The service projects team has planned projects for those interested in this area. When retreats are upcoming, teams are organized to plan them. The newest teams are the monthly meeting planning teams (A, B, C) that alternate over three months to work out the details of the monthly meetings. Many others work behind the scenes preparing and mailing the newsletter and doing other printing as needed. CSF is truly a group effort. Bob went home to be with the Lord in 1999 and CSF will always be grateful for the tremendous testimony he was to all of us. With God’s help we will strive to continue this wonderful ministry that the Lord began through him.
The format for the area wide ministry of Christian Singles Fellowship has been established and will continue to be fine tuned. The teams are in place. The personnel will change from time to time because of the nature of singles ministry. But the ministry will go on. If Bob were Here today, he would say:
“What are your gifts and interests ? Where would you like to help ?”