County Line Church of God is a nondenominational group of Christian believers located on the Allen-DeKalb County Line Road at the intersection of County Road 29. The church is an independent body, but is voluntarily associated with the Church of God Reformation Movement with headquarters in Anderson, IN. Throughout its history, the church has emphasized open fellowship to all who are followers of Christ and has practiced no formal procedures for membership.
The church has an early pioneer-like history. It was in the fall of 1896 that a young man named Ed Bailey trudged down County Line Road looking for work and distributing literature from the Gospel Trumpet Company of Anderson, Indiana. The company’s message was a passionate one of calling people out of their denominations and divisions to holiness and unity in the Body of Christ. Ed met two farmers in the woods along the road, brothers David and Eli Gerig, who hired him to help cut wood and do chores.
Ed spoke passionately about the need to genuinely follow God. He soon sent for an evangelist and arranged a revival meeting in the Brush College School on the Garman Road. Evangelist C. E. Orr from Federalsburg, Maryland preached in the schoolhouse a few nights and there were several conversions. Meetings continued for two more weeks before the trustee of the school closed the door to any further preaching. Services were then moved to the Amstutz Schoolhouse two miles east, where Charles Orr continued his powerful message.
In the summer of 1897, the meetings were moved to a wooded grove just east of Brush College School, which belonged to one of the new converts, Alex Warner. This was a brush arbor meeting where branches were laid across erected poles to provide a roof. People sat on boards laid across logs. John Freehafer, a man described as "full of the joy of the Lord and wisdom of God," traveled by buggy from his home in Huntington to teach and instruct new converts. Soon Eli Gerig, who lived just west of the present church buildings, opened his home for services conducted by Brother Freehafer. The group held Sunday services and midweek prayer meetings in the large parlor of the Gerig home. At the time, the community often referred to the congregation as the "Saints’ Church."
In 1903, a meeting house was built on the current site with lumber cut from the property. In May 1903, Charles Hartung came to lead the congregation. He received no salary. His responsibilities included firing up the two pot-bellied stoves that heated the building. During the winter of 1904, Barney Warren and Charles Naylor held a revival meeting in the middle of a snow storm that became so severe that many of the people were unable to return to their homes. In 1905, Charles Hartung and David Gerig were ordained as ministers of the Gospel and Eli Gerig was ordained as the church’s first deacon.
Because of its earlier roots in the Brush College School, the church was renamed Brush College Church of God in 1910. Charles Hartung continued as pastor until 1924. Subsequent pastors have included William Ramey (1925), Nellie Hawkins (1928), Sanford Williams (1931), William Jenkins (1934), Von Chesterman (1936), Ward Jackson (1945), William Eddy (1948), Samuel Dooty (1953), Alvin Beggs (1954), and Peter Klassen (1957).
In 1957 the church was given its current name. Succeeding pastors included William Jefferies (1961), during whose pastorate a new sanctuary was built. Ronald Crump was called in 1966 and Jerald Pirkey in 1971. That year an addition was added across the front of the new building, connecting it to the original meeting house. This added classrooms and additional sanctuary space. John R. Johnson served as pastor from 1972—1976, when Joe Espy served as interim pastor until Michael Kennedy came in 1977.
Al Black, a local high school teacher and member of the congregation, was called in 1980 and served as Senior Pastor for the next twenty years. In 1984, an Associate Pastor's position was created, filled by Alan Steiner. Additional surrounding real estate was purchased in 1972 and 1974. By 1986 the congregation was holding two services on Sunday mornings and began construction of a larger sanctuary which was completed in 1989. Bob Herman became Associate Pastor and Youth Pastor In 1990. In 1997, Bob continued as the Associate and Dane Kruse, a life-long County Line Church member, was hired as the first full-time Youth Pastor. During these years Sunday morning attendance grew to over 300.
In 2000, 16 additional acres of adjacent farm land were acquired. The church built a new fellowship hall and education wing which spanned 20,000 square feet. By the grace of God, this project was completed debt-free and the facility now sits on 20 beautiful acres of land. In that same year, Creative Play School moved into the new building and the church hired Jeanette Cherry to administer the preschool and serve as the children's director. Darren and Sara McKown were hired to direct worship and music.
In 2001, Bob Herman became the Senior Pastor and Stuart Kruse, another life-long member and cousin to Dane, was hired as the Associate Pastor. Kevin McIntire was hired in 2004 as Worship Arts Pastor. Mary Ellen Rayle was called as the Children’s Ministries Pastor in 2005. In order to accommodate the growing congregation, in 2006 the large fellowship hall was converted into a new worship center with additional seating and updated technology. Nathan Tatman was hired in 2007 as the Community Life Pastor and became the newest addition to the church’s six-member, full-time pastoral team. At that time Sunday morning attendance averaged almost 650.
In 2009 the church adopted a new mission of "Restoring our Communities with Christ, one life at a time." Stephen Schlatter joined the pastoral team and led the Junior High ministries. Ground was broken for a 23,000 square foot addition that included adult classrooms, large nursery facilities and a kids worship center. In 2010 Stuart Kruse assumed the role of Senior Pasor. During this time seeds were planted for new community service programs and a sister-church relationship with the Church of God in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. By the end of 2010 the new addition was paid in full and attendance averaged 850.
From the example of a modest farmhand named Ed Bailey, to whom God gave a vision to reach people for Christ, County Line Church remains committed to the vision of a humble body of believers earnestly committed to restoring our communities with Christ . . . one life at a time.