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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Loving People for More Than 30 Years

 

November 2, 2017

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Pastors Gary and Heatherann Wayne have served as pastors at Faith Chapel since June 1987. Gary was ordained in September 1987. Heatherann has also been an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Church of God for the past 20 years.

SEELEY LAKE - "Love the people," was the message Pastors Gary and Heatherann Wayne received when accepting the call to serve Faith Chapel in Seeley Lake in 1987. While the implementation of that vision has shifted with the needs of the community, everything they have done in the past 30 years has been built on that foundation.

Gary grew up visiting his great-aunt in Seeley Lake. He also attended youth rallies at Faith Chapel, a Pentecostal Church of God, where Ralph Cahoon was the first pastor for 13 years.

Gary always knew that becoming a pastor was what God wanted for his life, "I really felt like God wanted me to be at the core of helping people know who He was."

"From the time I was four years old I knew [I would go into ministry]," said Heatherann. She grew up in the church and her mother taught in the children's department. At 12-years-old she became a teacher herself. She has taught children, teens or adults ever since.

Long before they met at Northwest Bible College in Kirkland, Wash., Gary felt God did a work in each of their hearts preparing them to go to a place that was smaller, not as financially stable and there was not an established ministry. They saw their role like that of a general practitioner.

"In college it was all about working with a staff and with a budget. Both of us knew that was not where God would probably take us," said Gary.

After Gary received his license in August 1985, the Waynes filled in at Faith Chapel during the summer of 1986. They drove three hours one-way from Thompson Falls, Mont. every Sunday to preach.

"We fell in love with the people," said Heatherann.

When Faith Chapel had an opening just a year later, the Waynes put in their name.

"They voted us in and they haven't kicked us out yet," said Heatherann and laughed. "Our goal and prayer for this church is that everyone is welcome. Everyone who walks through the door we want them to be comfortable and to be exposed to God."

When they arrived, the log building was under construction. They raised the roof in 2000 and built the upper level that is now the sanctuary. Their goal for the building has always been to serve the church and the community as a multi-functional, multi-usable space.

The Waynes feel they have put the most effort and focus into ministries for children and youth. With the exception of short periods of transition, the church has had some form of children's church and teen youth group. They also take the opportunity to empower youth during the worship service by teaching them how to run the projection system and/or participate in the worship team.

"We are team players," said Heatherann. "We believe that everyone within the church, not just Faith Chapel but the church as the world, are all ministers. We are all part of the team. We all have our giftings, purposes and our jobs and there should be room for each person to walk in that."

Walking shoulder-to-shoulder with their congregation and the community, this has created a network in which the Waynes work. Their network includes good leadership that they can lean on when they need help and are hurting and the "incredible people" work alongside. It is because of this network that they feel they have been able to serve at Faith Chapel for the past 30 years.

"We don't feel like we pastor a church, we pastor a community and work inside a community," said Heatherann. "One of the greatest honors we've had in our lives is living in the lives of people of our community. We've married, buried; we've been there when their children are born and when they are sick. We feel a lot like the old time general practitioner. When they are crying, they are crying about someone we love too."

The Waynes have seen their ministry reach outside of the walls of Faith Chapel. They have been a part of many community events including the Fourth of July, Harvest Parties, community youth groups and most recently the Bob Marshall Music Festival. They also both work in the community at paid positions as well as volunteers.

"It gets me out of a cloistered atmosphere. I've been around church long enough to know that sometimes people get blinders on and have tunnel vision," said Gary.

Heatherann added, "We want to have a broad vision. We want to know our community. We were told to love the people not just the people of Faith Chapel."

Joining with other pastors from different congregations in the community has helped the Waynes better understand the needs in the community and have the ability to address them.

"[God tells us to] Know those that labor among you. I feel like every church has a different function," said Gary. "Getting to know those and develop a friendship, it really breaks down any feeling of competition."

The Waynes feel that one of the functions of Faith Chapel is intercession and prayer for the community. It has also been a place where they mentor people to help them understand their purpose in life, facilitate growth and equip them for ministry.

"I think the biggest asset outside of God is people," said Gary.

Finally it has been a sanctuary for healing the wounded.

Gary had always hoped to have an organized staff that worked with inner healing.

While it has loosely developed and is operating with members of the church, it has never become as organized as Gary initially hoped.

The shift in economy from a strong logging community was the biggest change in the past 30 years. Not only did it affect the economy at the church, the Waynes also watched as friends were forced to leave to make a living.

In the past 30 years, many of the leaders of the church have passed on. Also many people that the Waynes mentored moved away because of God's calling on their life. While they celebrate people moving forward, sometimes programs stopped when leaders left.

"We don't have church to have programs,' said Gary. "We have programs to help people. If the person in charge leaves, we aren't trying to find someone to fill their place to keep the program running."

Heatherann said if a program stops, but there is still the need, they refocus to see what can be done and then implement the change.

The Waynes use social media to keep in touch and continue to mentor those who have moved on. They also use technology to assist them and engage the children and youth.

"If you want to stay fresh in that atmosphere, you need to tap into your youth and young adults," said Gary.

"We want to continue to grow," said Heatherann. "Working shoulder-to-shoulder with a 12-year-old will do that."

Gary and Heatherann continue to ask God, "God what do you want?" For now, God has told them to continue ministering in Seeley Lake. They have begun to focus more on building a team that can carry on the vision and essential functions of Faith Chapel without them in the leadership role.

"We would love to have the team built in such a way that if we had to be gone for an extended period of time, they would almost not know we were gone," said Heatherann. "We don't want things built on us. We want things built on what God has called for this community."

Pathfinder archive photo

Pastor Gary and Heatherann when they first came to serve at Faith Chapel in June 1987.

The Waynes are now ministering to the second generation of children coming through the children and youth programs. While their dream of a community youth center that also houses a place for adult education has not come to fruition, they are still hopeful that someday Seeley Lake will have a place for youth to grow and be mentored and for adults to challenge themselves and have education available to them at no cost.

Heatherann wants to continue learning about technology and utilizing new methods, like interactive technology, in teaching. She would also like to see more mission outreach from the church and more community support for those involved with substance abuse.

"Both of us feel very honored and privileged to be able to work with and among the people in the community of Seeley Lake and surrounding areas. They are amazing," said Heatherann. "I think this is the most wonderful place on earth and it's not because of the mountains and how beautiful it is, it's because of the people. For whatever we think we have given to this community, we have received so much back."

 

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