Harvest Church was founded in September of 1984 by Pastor Drew & Mary Arnold. While in prayer Pastor Drew received a vision of golden wheat fields with four red combines side-by-side harvesting wheat. The Lord led him to the gospel of Matthew 9:35-38 –
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
What is a Harvest Church? A harvest minded church trains and equips people; then sends them out into the world, the harvest fields.
Our first services were held in a rented meeting room on the second floor of the old Laramie High School now renovated as a Community Civic Center. One of the first programs we instituted was a program called “Evangelism Explosion” developed by Dr. James Kennedy from Coral Gables, Florida. We trained teams to share the gospel. Many received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It was the beginning of a small harvest.
By the year 1987 Harvest had grown to about 75 people. Having outgrown the Community Civic Center we were able to share a church facility with the United Church of Christ. They would hold their Sunday services in the morning and we would hold ours on Sunday evenings. We would find ourselves in this location for the next three years.
We finally moved to our own church home in 1990. There was a lovely old church building that went through several different owners. It was originally a Presbyterian Church at the turn of the century where Jim Hayford (the great grandfather of pastor Jack Hayford) served on the governing board. This church was located on Grand Ave. across from the County courthouse. It was constructed of red brick with a large church steeple that once served as a bell tower. The main sanctuary was accessed by a flight of stairs off the main street. Inside there were two beautiful stained glass windows. In one of the large panels, Jesus descends to earth coming in the clouds. The second panel depicts three angels. Two angels are small in stature while a larger third angel wraps his arms around them. Underneath the angels is a quote from 1 Corinthians 13:13 – “These three things abide: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” Old oak pews were built by prisoners at the Territorial prison park prior to Wyoming’s entrance into statehood. We were able to purchase this building for $85,000 and with some fancy footwork we were able to come up with a $20,000 down payment. Next door to the church was an old mortuary. One of our church members purchased it and we converted it into what we called the “Resurrection House”. We created dormitory style rooms and up to 10 people could live together in Christian community. They enjoyed meals together and held daily Bible studies. International students stayed there as did people recovering from sinful lifestyles and in need of Christian recovery. To complement this outreach we started a clothing and a food bank. Local stores would set aside boxes of groceries on Saturday afternoons and we would distribute them on Sunday mornings.
Harvest has always been community minded. There was the “Black Banana” (A French restaurant experience for older married couples), the “Hallelujah Carnival” each fall, “Country Joe and the Hay Bales” and much more. Each year we are also eager participants during the “Freedom Has a Birthday” celebration on July 4th when we distribute over 6,000 bottles of cold refreshing water at Washington Park throughout the day.
We have grown through the service of our pastors over the years. Drew and Mary Arnold served at Harvest Church from 1984 until 1998, when they stepped down to work full time for SROM, a Christian leadership school they also founded. Jack Seney, and then his wife Janice Seney, served at Harvest from 1998 to 2001. In 2001, John Welch and his family pastored Harvest and facilitated the construction of a new facility and our move from the building on Grand Ave. On Easter Sunday of 2005 we moved into our new church home located on the outskirts of Laramie on our 11 acres of land at 2535 Harvest Drive! In 2007, John Welch passed the baton to Stephen and Susan Knoll as pastors of the body at Harvest. Through all of our seasons, we continue to Love God and Love the People of our Community!