I simply love the small, historic village of Fort Plain, NY. Just an hour west of Albany, yet so much simpler and more peaceful there. As we entered town, an Amish family passed by us on their horse and buggy. Victorious Life Church is centrally located, perfectly positioned on the corner of the “main drag”. Pastor Donnie Semple came out to greet us as he was making his way over to change their outdoor church sign to read, “Unity Services held at Haslett Park on the 2nd Sundays at 6pm”. The pastors and churches here embrace unity in the Body of Christ, making every effort to worship together as ONE church. They truly put John 13:35 into action – “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Pastor Donnie Semple and Pastor Charlie Houle have been friends since their teens. While in youth group together, they assisted their pastor with a program for local boys. After graduating from high school, the church they attended closed its doors. Revelation Ministries International (RMI), under the leadership of Dr. Tom Marino, purchased the building in 1986 and Donnie and Charlie “came with it”. Victorious Life RMI has trained many for the ministry, including Pastor Donnie Semple and Pastor Charlie Houle who joined RMI in 1998. Through the International Evangelical Bible College & Seminary, they obtained their Certificate of Christian Worker and License to Preach. In June of 2006, they were ordained in a joint ordination service as ministers with RMI. Since that time, they have operated as co-pastors of the church, serving humbly and equally together to bring forth the Lord’s work.
Entering the sanctuary, there was instrumental hymn music playing, so I began to sing along. It seems that wooden pews and stained glass windows are becoming a thing of the past, so I am always thankful and appreciative when I see that some have stood the test of time. Pastor Donnie opened in prayer and Pastor Charlie lead the song service which included some powerful, short choruses that always enable me to dig deep into the worship. Pastor Charlie, who once was hesitant to stand in front of others and sing, had the voice of a true professional.
With the music continuing to play, those with needs were invited to the altar for prayer and to be anointed with oil by the elders. After Pastor Donnie prayed with each person who came forward, he then made a special trip over to our pew to pray for my husband Joe (small cell lung cancer). They know the power of prayer and believe that God heals today. We then listened to a magnificent, modern rendition of “When I Survey the Wonderous Cross” sung by a woman with an angelic voice. As we listened, I glanced up to the circular, stained glass window above the altar and saw the name ‘Abbie C. Burch” in its center. My mind wandered as I thought about who she must have been to have had her name placed in such a prominent place for well over a century! I thought about the generations before us who worshiped here, in the very pews we were now sitting in. Formerly the First Baptist Church of Fort Plain, the cornerstone is dated 1893 and notes that it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
After over 100 church journeys, this was the very first time I have ever witnessed two “sermons” in the same service. Pastor Donnie and Pastor Charlie each gave a message and worked seamlessly together. Pastor Donnie opened his message with “It’s good to be in the house of the Lord and to be gathered together”. He encouraged all of us to come with the expectation that we would receive something from the Lord so that we could then pour out to others. He shared an analogy about pulling weeds out one at a time. When you grab a bunch of weeds and try to pull them all out at once, it’s difficult. Just like weeding, growing in the Lord is a slow process. Pastor Charlie then spoke on the love of God. When we focus on loving God and others first, then we will see what God can do for us. Even when your life is filled with darkness, you can take that opportunity to show other’s that God is real! He then stated, “Love God and others … if we can get that part down, we’ll have victory!”.
Victorious Life Church is highly involved in the community of Fort Plain and surrounding areas. During the summer months, they join with other local churches and hold UNITY services in Haslett Park. They also hold a community block party every September (2nd weekend) in one of the neighboring parks, working with other churches to bring a special day of worship, speakers, food, activities and fellowship, all free and open to everyone.
I’ve heard many Christians here refer to their village as “Communion Valley”. And though Fort Plain is a valley geographically, spiritually speaking it is a mighty mountain! Victorious Life Church doesn’t make it “all about them”. They make it all about JESUS! They are a Kingdom minded people who want the world to see that they are His disciples.
Church Website – http://www.rmifellowship.org/contact.html
By Donna Hansen Munafo