By John Fulton
Fulton Christian Church welcomed a new Pastor, Ralph Ackley this past spring. Pastor Ackley’s first day in the pulpit was Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17. He dressed as Saint Patrick delivering a message about Saint Patrick’s life.
Pastor Ralph moved here from Lynchburg, Virginia with his wife, Amy. Two of their three children also live in the area. Their daughter, Adrianna attends Western Michigan University. Their youngest son, Taylor will be attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College in the spring. Their eldest son, Aaron still lives in Maine where the family resided before moving to Lynchburg.
For Amy Ackley this is a homecoming. She is originally from Plainwell. Her parents now reside in Oshtemo Township. Pastor Ralph and Amy met in college at Evangel University. He was a junior and Amy a freshman.
They both graduated from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and a minor in art and philosophy in 1985. She graduated in 1988 with a double major in elementary education and special education.
Ackley went on to be a licensed Assembly of God pastor from 1989- 2017. He pastored two churches in Maine for thirty years. One was an Assembly of God church and the other a Congregational Holiness church. His career has been bi-vocational, meaning that while pastoring churches he has also had secular careers in education, radio, clam harvesting and blueberries.
Just prior to moving to Michigan Ackley had been employed at Patrick Henry Family Services in Lynchburg, Virginia. This is a place where troubled children can grow and come to know the Lord, he said.
Pastor Ralph is employed by Climax-Scotts Elementary school as a paraprofessional and Amy is a kindergarten teacher in Colon Community Schools.
Pastor Ackley said, “My vision is to build a church and a community. The community for Fulton Christian Church includes Fulton, Scotts, Colon, Athens, and Vicksburg. I envision breaking down denominational barriers where churches don’t compete but cooperate to build the Kingdom of God.”
This vision comes from a calling from God he felt many years ago. He felt God told him that his calling was not to a particular denomination, but rather to religion. He hopes to work with other local churches to make a difference in this community and see the Lord move in the community.
Fulton Christian Church began in 1866 when a small group of believers from the German Reformed Church when it was established as the First Evangelical Reformed Congregation of Wakeshma. Earliest records show that these pioneers possessed a firm and unshakable faith that led the church with a deep sense of commitment toward spreading the gospel in their community and the surrounding towns.
For years they were affiliated with the Church of Christ but about 18 years ago, they divested their ties with this denomination due to doctrinal tenets and moral issues. The church is independent now and has had several pastors over its 153-year old history.
Pastor Ackley welcomes and invites all to join him and the congregation on Sundays for Worship Service at 11 a.m. Come early for 10 a.m. Sunday School. There is also a Wednesday evening Bible study at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 14108 East W Ave. For more information contact the Church at 269-778-5033 or visit its Facebook Page, Fulton Christian Church.