By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-Jeff Stonerock’s first job at his new found church was cleaning toilets.
“We started serving,” laughed Stonerock, pastor at Victory World Outreach Church, 10291 Green Road. “We knew that was our church the first day.”
Since 2002, Jeff along with wife Kelly have lead the township church through trials, struggles and success.
In December, the church announced they will merge with Clarkston-based Bridgewood Church, 6765 Rattlalee Road. Plans include remodeling the township facility and reopening the church later this year under new leadership.
Curt Demoff is the lead pastor at Bridgewood and part of the founding team that planted the church 17 years ago. The church includes about 600 parishioners.
“We are growing and needed to expand our space,” said Demoff, a pastor for more than 30 years. “We have already have families attending our Clarkston location in the Goodrich, Davison and Atlas areas. Goodrich is a great location for us to reach out to the surrounding area. We are eager to continue the same community relationship established by Victory World Outreach.”
Stonerock’s service to the church and community started as a youth.
“I was always involved in the church,” said Stonerock, a 1983 Clarkston High School graduate who grew up attending the First Open Bible Church, Pontiac. “I worked with youth and at 19 years old God said to me, ‘I’d be in the ministry full time someday. But, don’t jump through the hoops of man. You don’t need a (college) degree, they will recognize you for your life. They will ask you to go into the ministry.’”
At 21 years old, Stonerock attended bible Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, OK.
He returned home and continued to work Air-Land Surveys, the family business.
It was during a routine ground survey near Green Road and M-15 that he walked past Victory World Outreach Church.
“My (then) girlfriend Kelly and I were looking for a new church at the time,” he recalled. “So we drove up from Clarkston to visit Victory World on a Sunday.”
The couple married in 1992 and soon after stepped into a variety of vocations at Victory World Outreach including cleaning the bathrooms, maintenance and service to the congregation.
“That was our church,” said Kelly. “I knew it.”
In 2002, Stonerock was asked to be pastor of Victory World Outreach an independent church under licence fellowship of Calvary Ministries International based in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
“They (Calvary Ministries) provide the accountability,” he said. “They provide help if you need it. The less politics in church the better—I’m not against denominations but this was just a better fit for us.”
The 20,000 square feet church was built on a donated 17 acre parcel in about 1988 and over the years has provided a variety of community events from massive Easter Egg Hunts to a township voting location to Sunday services.
Stonerock reflected on a few of the miracles over the years.
“There was a gym and kitchen added on so when we started we inherited a $550,000 debt,” he said. “Then came the recession about 2008, dropping the congregation down to about 60 people as some of the people left the state to look for work.”
The budget was tight, said Stonerock.
“I called the bank and said, ‘We can’t make the $5,500 per month payments,’” he said. “They (bank) brought it down to $3,200. Then I called back a few weeks later and said, ‘I can’t make $3,200 payments either.’ My banker said, ‘What do you want it to be?’ I was thinking $2,000.’ We made that payment, but about four months later that banker called me back and said now every penny you pay will go toward principal not interest.”
The financial miracle is reflective of the faithful tithing of the congregation, said Stonerock
“They (congregation) knew you reap what you sew,” he said. “Our people tithe 10 percent.
About 10 years ago Stonerock recalled the church building needing about $50,000 in repairs for roofs, furnaces and the parking lot.
“We had $5,000 in the bank at the time,” he said. “So we prayed that God would take care of this.”
Stonerock said a single mom was on vacation with her boss in Las Vegas. Just for fun the couple had rented a motorcycle to go visit the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle road trip. While on the way a semi truck went by them too close and ran them off the road. The pair were injured and received a $480,000 settlement.
“She wrote a $48,000 check and dropped it in the basket,” laughed Stonerock. “When we ever got in a pickle God answered”
Jeff and Kelly raised eight children in the Goodrich community.
“It was never a burden,” he said. “I was functioning in the grace of God. When I stepped out of that position I looked back and wondered how did I do this for 20 years? We are so grateful to the businesses in this community.”