Testimonials and Stories

Congratulations for 75 years of being a lighthouse to the community of Emily, Minnesota!

Our first “encounter” with the Emily Wesleyan Church was when then Pastor James Slye drove his car into our driveway when we were building a cabin on Blue Lake Road in 1968, inviting us to attend the church.  We have many fond memories of friendly people, services and events to this day.

One outstanding and notable event occurred wherein we were invited to provide music along with Roy and Ione Wandmacher and their cousins, Don and Dorothy Waggoner.  Don was a retired pastor from Carrington, North Dakota.  We’ve heard of “bats in the belfry,” but not a bat in the sanctuary.  Suddenly during the service a bat flew back and forth from doorway to platform, swooping down and up over the heads of parishioners.   Don kept his cool and kept speaking, hoping to keep order.  But all eyes were on the bat and two ushers who appeared with broomsticks chasing after the bat, which would attach itself every now and then on the wall above the platform or over a doorway.  Finally, one of the ushers succeeded, by using the broom, to subdue the bat.  After things finally settled down, the service proceeded in normal fashion.

To our knowledge no other bats were allowed to attend services at the Emily Wesleyan Church!!

Our prayers are that the Emily Wesleyan Church will continue to bring souls to Christ, and be a light far and near until Jesus returns, which indeed could be at any moment.

Dale & Betty Embretson

We are comparative newbies at Emily Wesleyan. We started attending as seasonal people in part because we knew that the Wesleyan church was an evangelical Bible teaching church. We even went on a short term mission trip to Costa Rica. In 2007 we moved to Outing full time.

Well almost. We wimp out and go to Florida in the winter. At any rate EWC has become our church home and we have been blessed by being part of this family. We appreciate the love and support and appreciate the generous missionary spirit and stewardship of this congregation. We were truly blessed by the wholehearted support that has been given to our daughter Jennifer in Haiti

We know God will continue to bless this church for many more generations.

Dick and Karla Blevins

I have no doubt in my mind that God put us in the Emily Wesleyan church. My family has been loved and cared for in so many ways! The church was right there beside us as we dealt with our son’s tragic death in 2007. When my husband Marlan was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011, the love of the church really showed. We were prayed for, helped in countless ways when we needed it – work, food, and more love than can be imagined! I could write pages of all the things done, but suffice to say this church showed the love of God in a very real way! After Marlan died in 2012, we are still receiving so much love from friends! It is hard to imagine trying to walk this path alone!

I thank God every day for putting me in a church that truly “walks the walk and talks the talk”!

Linda Modrow

Dear Church Family,

The Wesleyan Church has always been a part of my life. I remember attending Sunday School at a young age. I learned about God and Jesus through lessons the teachers prepared, memorizing verses, plays, and through a love of music. As I grew older I taught Sunday School and the experience helped me become the teacher that I am today.

The Wesleyan church is a place my sisters were married, where I was baptized and married. A place where my mom and dad quietly renewed their vows at a Christmas Eve service and also the place where I said good bye to my mom and dad. A place where I traveled to all the way from California to get back “home” to baptize my first child by the pastor who had baptized me; Rev. James Slye.

More than a place, my faith strengthened because of the church family that has surrounded me to celebrate and support the joys and challenges of life no matter the distance.

Enjoy this 75th Anniversary and know that the work you do in His name makes lasting impressions that span across generations.

Love to you,

Jenny Hite Hitchcock (age unknown) and William Hitchcock Jr., Jayle (14), Jayden (5), William (4), and Reagan (17 months).

Dear Emily Wesleyan Congregation

It is a joy for me to greet you at this celebration of the 75th year of your Christian Service in the Emily area and even to the remote parts of the earth through your mission programs.

I am proud to claim Emily Wesleyan as my home church. It seems that I may have been about one year old when the church was organized. Perhaps I was one of the first on the Cradle roll.

Under the care of the Sunday School teachers I moved through the various classes like beginners, primary, youth department, etc. How well I remember the tremendous DVBS programs and the released time from school to come to the church for religious training.

The youth programs (Wesleyan Youth) were of particular benefit to me and my brothers and sisters. Every Sunday night we had a youth service for 30 minutes before the evening service. Each of the youth took turns planning the service, arranging for the song leaders, the special music, the speakers etc. and then we led the services ourselves. This was a good way to develop leadership qualities. Each year a week was designated in January as Youth Week. We always had 8 verses to memorize that week. Many of those memorized verses are still a vital part of my spiritual life.

The Emily church was a safe haven for the Huff family. Not only for religious training, but inspirational examples of other Christian families and pastoral care when we had family needs. Thank you, dear friends, for being our home church.

Finally, I want to thank the pastors and the church leaders who gave me a local preacher’s license and also recommended me to the district for a conference preacher’s license. This led to ordination in the Wesleyan church in l963. The Emily church faithfully supported us financially during our years of missionary service with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We are so grateful to have had this privilege of being sent out in this way by our home church.

Dear friends may God’s spirit rest strongly upon you as you go confidently into the future. We will be praying that you have a very meaningful and joyful Anniversary celebration.

Cordially in Christ, Wayne Huff

Testimony of Lucile Hite Cyr

After it was decided to build a Wesleyan Methodist church in Emily, my folks, glen and myrtle Hite, opened up our home on Sundays for Sunday school and church. They also had some Wednesday evening prayer meetings in our home, while my dad and other men of the church worked on the church building.

For a year on Sunday mornings, daddy would call for everyone to get up and get ready for the day. He did chores while my mom put breakfast on the table. After we ate, we cleaned everything up. Then daddy would bring in benches, which he no doubt had made, to sit on. Our bedrooms were used for Sunday school classes, along with the living room. My sister, Lois, taught a class of children, my mother taught the adults, and my dad led the singing. He always said. “If you think you can’t sing, just open your mouth, and make a joyful noise!” He loved to sing. In the summer we held some of the children’s classes outdoors, if the weather was nice, on the grass, under the shade of the trees. In the winter, our home was heated with a barrel stove, and one Sunday, during the service, some people of another belief came to the door. They wanted to come in and play a record about the “true” way. My dad invited them in to join our service, but told them we were not interested in their record. They continued to want us to see their material, until my mom finally accepted their papers, opened the stove door and threw them in. Needless to say, they left and never returned.

It is strange what a child remembers, don’t you think? I do remember having services in the basement and then upstairs in the first church. I remember a pump organ, then a piano. Mrs. Fletcher from little pine played at first, and Lois, after her. I remember the first time I sang a solo in church, it was, “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.”

That is about all I remember about the first Wesleyan Methodist church in Emily. I was not very old at the time, and don’t have many memories. I left Emily to go to Miltonvale, Kansas, when I was 15 and never lived at home after that.

I do hope and pray that your celebration will be grand. I wish I could be there.

May god bless each and every one of you, Lucile Hite Cyr

Barbe Hite’s Testimony

How God used the Emily Wesleyan Church

In 1969 I began dating Bruce Hite, son of Ellis and Donna Hite. Bruce and I were not Christ-followers at the time, but I was very drawn to the joy his sweet mom always seemed to have.

In June of 1970, we were married at Emily Wesleyan Church with Pastor James Slye as our officiant.

We moved to Fridley for Bruce’s job and rented an apartment several blocks from the Roslyn Park Wesleyan Church. At the urging of Pastor Slye, and Bruce’s mom, we began attending once in a while.

After a few months, I accepted Christ as my Savior at a ladies’ Bible Study, and Pastor Earl Miller led Bruce to the Lord the very next day in our home.

When we moved back to Emily in 1971, Pastor Slye and Olive really helped us get connected to the body of Christ at Emily Wesleyan through Bible studies and by helping us find our place in serving the body and Jesus, our Head.

Over the years we have loved the Sunday school classes, the music, small groups, and the sweet fellowship.

When I was sick in 1985 with a cerebro-spinal fluid leak, our precious church family brought supper every night to the 6 of us for a whole month while I was bedridden. Families volunteered on a poster called the “Hite Bite Sign-Up Site”!

What a blessing they all were, lavishing yummy food, cards, and love on us-Praise God for the warm and active love of the Emily Wesleyan Church!

Through the years they have loved and prayed for us, our four kids, their spouses, and our fourteen grandkids. This church has helped shape our family, and helped to bring them, one by one, into the Kingdom!!

I praise my wonderful God and thank all of you at Emily Wesleyan. Without you I may have never come to full salvation in Jesus.

Barbe Hite

The Emily Wesleyan Church holds a very special place in the heart of this former pastor’s wife. We arrived here in 1968 to find a most welcoming group of people and they remained that way through the best and the worst of times

One of my first experiences was going wild ricing with Judy Stiner, tipping our canoe and both of us falling in Laura Lake! We did manage to save our wild rice and even though we struggled to get back into the canoe, and smelled terrible, Judy said we were going to finish our morning of ricing, and we did!

Both Jim and I are “country kids” and we enjoyed the ways of the country folks here. We were blessed to raise our four children here and they all love the Lord and church.

The children, youth, and visitors hold special place in our hearts. Thank God the great number of true Christian examples I have seen in many of the people here — quite a few Of the saints have gone on to Heaven but what a great and glorious reunion we shall have one of these days!

From 1968 to 2014 covers many years but I say “Thank you God” for the joy of spending them in the Emily Wesleyan Church and community.

Olive Slye

Testimony of Donna Hite

My first encounter with the Emily Wesleyan Methodist church happened the summer i was 13 years old. I had gone to the Little Pine Wesleyan Methodist church as I child, thanks to grandpa Huff, who called in our home, and invited us. I loved it, even going to prayer meetings at times. The people in that church truly showed me the love of Jesus. By the time i was 13, though was only attending occasionally. For some reason, though, i was there on this particular night, and went along to the Sunday evening service at Emily. After the service the young people were fooling around outside. I swung around with one leg raised and kicked Ellis Hite in his upper leg, not intentionally. He was not happy! I didn’t even know him then, nor have any idea that four years later I would marry him. I was very humiliated two years later, when I was nearly 15, my best friend’s boyfriend wanted her to go to a movie, and since I was staying with her at the time, he brought a date for me. Guess who? None other than Ellis Hite! Looking back, we both realized it had to have been of the Lord, as we liked each other a lot, and started dating. The greatest thing was that his parents, Glen and Myrtle Hite, loved Jesus, and they loved me too, from the start. After two years of an off-again, on-again, (mostly on), “courtship”, we got married as soon as I graduated from high school. Ellis was not walking with the Lord, and sadly, neither was I. We did, however, have our two oldest children dedicated in the Emily church.

Nine rocky years later, after living in Brainerd, then Emily, then Crosby, and four years in Kansas, we moved back to Emily with our three children, Bruce, Brenda, and Barry. With some help from Ellis’s parents, we were able to buy a place in Little Pine. In a short time, I started taking the kids to Sunday school, then church, and in 1959, I truly repented and started living for the Lord. In 1961, the Lord blessed us with our fourth child, Nancy. It was 11 years after I came to the lord before Ellis made that commitment. What a difference that made in our home. After nearly 64 years of marriage, Ellis passed away in May of 2013.

In 1968, because so many of the younger supporters of the Little Pine church had to move to find employment, we voted to close our church and merge with the Emily church. They, and their pastor, Rev. Nabholz, supported our church family in a wonderful way. They welcomed us with the love of the lord. The bond of fellowship I felt then has never left me. When there is a death in your family, or you have been seriously ill you find out how precious and kind some of you brothers and sisters in the lord really are. I know this from experience.

My prayer is that, if the lord allows us many more years to minister in Emily, that we will see a revival like we have never seen before. (And I have seen quite a few.) I feel very privileged to be part of this ministry.

Donna Hite

Testimony By Pastor Jeff Drake

When I came to Emily Wesleyan Church it was with much fear and trembling. In fact I was not looking for a solo pastoring job. I had every intention of working as an assistant pastor. My previous church experience had been, let just say, less than healthy. God had other plans

What I have found at EWC is a congregation that was willing to take a chance on a hurting pastor and love my family and I back to health.

They have been gracious to allow me to work through my strengths and encouraged me to grow in my weaknesses.

I have also watched as the people of the congregation have stepped up again and again to provide ministry for the congregation and the community. I have realized the more I let the people of the church serve the more God blesses them and the church.

My seven years as pastor here has not always been easy for me or for the church. We have dealt with some hard issues. Some of these issues might have split or devastated a lesser church. Yet as we have dealt with things biblically and with God’s grace and forgiveness we have gotten through together.

I thank God for the people of Emily Wesleyan Church and their impact of my family and on the community which they serve. May God continue to bless this church and its people as we continue to serve His kingdom.

Love in Christ, Pastor Jeff Drake

Pastors Who Have Served

  • Paul R. Davis 1939-42
  • William Goldsmith 1942-44
  • Harold Scoggin 1944-46
  • C.E. Mason 1946
  • William Judkins 1946-49
  • William Popinga 1949-52
  • Daniel Huffman 1952-56
  • Arnold Nabholz 1956-1968
  • James Slye 1968-1996
  • Jeff Fradenburgh 1996-2004 (February)
  • Steven Dow May 2004-06
  • Jeffrey D. Drake October 2006-


A Partial List of People who have gone out from this church to serve in ministry…

  • Ivan Olson – Free Methodist Pastor/Evangelist
  • Bart Fletcher – Pastor; Wesleyan and United Methodist Church
  • Wayne Huff – Wycliffe Bible Translators
  • Sandy (Groth) Grant – Missionary to Russia, Pastor’s wife Superior, WI
  • Lois Fletcher – YMWB Director (12 Years)
  • Kathy Usherwood – Operation Mobilization
  • Pat Ratcliffe – Missionary; Burundi
  • Julie (Usherwood) Collins – Pastor’s Wife Kansas District
  • Gary and Sally Rittgers – Church camp Managers 8 Years
  • Barry & Bertie Hite – Pastor and Wife – Hilltop Community
  • Jeremy Hite – Children’s Pastor – Near Marion, IN
  • Terry Slye – General Board of the Wesleyan Church & Houghton College Trustee Board 16 years
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