Riverside Bible Church began in the summer of 1961 as a faint stirring in the hearts of those seeking deeper Bible study than their respective churches provided, based not on legalism, but on the Lord's all-sufficient grace.

With much public relations work on the part of Mini Syljebeck and Dolly Anderson, a small but enthusiastic flock gathered for its first evening meeting at the Anderson home October 29th, 1961. David Canady led during the first weeks while Art Crawford was fulfilling various speaking engagements. As he addressed different groups, John Jundt, initiator of the Tape Ministry, followed to record the messages -- the tiny mustard seed of an outreach which would see mighty growth.

Officers chosen the next month were Doug Anderson, President; Jack Hughes, Vice-President; Ray Syljebeck, Treasurer, and; Kit Clevenger, Secretary.

As the Lord drew others with a hunger for spiritual growth, the flock was increased and more room was needed: His provision of Marburn School was the pre-planned answer to prayer. On January 21st, 1962, forty-eight held their first morning service and Sunday School in their new place of worship, the children being under the care of Jack Hughes as Arthur began a verse by verse study in the book of John which would continue fruitfully for eight years. I Peter was the evening subject. Recording, sadly, was imperfect, using microphones in the rear of the room. The audio equipment, as everything else, was set up and taken down each week.

Music was supplied by LaDonna Wilson and Fran Hughes, with a small electric chord organ belonging to Lee and Lorene Washburn transported in Jack Hughes station wagon. In addition to soloists, the men's quartet - Bill Wilson, Wes Williams, Art, and Dick Falb shared their talents, with Bill also performing on cornet, matched only by Pat Williams trumpet.

The name, "Riverside Bible Church" was chosen by a large margin; another instance of the Lord's leading, as appropriate today as then.

Missionary support started with two families: Ken and Pat Wiggers of JAARS, leaving for New Guinea in 1962, and Roger and Maralynann Henry, to Nigeria with SIM.

The first prayer meeting was hosted by Ray and Mini Syljebeck in February, later opening their home to choir rehearsal in November for the coming Christmas Cantata, with many to follow, under the skillful leadership of LaDonna Wilson.

On Easter Sunday, April 22nd, 1962, the charter was signed by thirty-nine members, closing in June with forty-four. At that first congregational meeting, the Articles and By-Laws and Statement of Faith were approved, and strong preference was indicated for verse-by-verse Bible Study. It was decided that RBC would not form any affiliation with any denomination.

Charter members: Doug and Dolly Anderson; Roger and Terry Barnett; Bill and Nancy Begley; Jay and Kit Clevenger; Art, June, Dan, Rebecca and David Crawford; Mulford, Emma and Nancy DeNune; Carl and Julia Dye; Dick and Margaret Falb; Dave and Lola Gourlay; Roger and Maralynann Henry; Jack, Fran, Linda and Larry Hughes; Billie Ingram; John and Marcy Jundt; Edgar and Loretta Moore; Bruce and Judy Schael; Gail and Frances Shrader; Ray and Mini Syljebeck, and Bill and LaDonna Wilson.

Others fellowshipping: John and Helen Wilson; Chester, Gladys and Violet Barnett; Rudy and Lucy Meissner; Lee and Lorene Washburn; Eugene and Maude Barker; George and Rose DeBord; Roger and Mary Heltzel; Martha Oleson, and Walter and Bonna Starkey.

Women Manifesting Christ established through the efforts of Edna Wells and Mini Syljebeck, held its first meeting at George and Edna's home in September, 1962. The goal: To know God's purpose and to apply God's Word to daily living. June Crawford was President; Margaret Falb, Vice President; Loretta Moore, Treasurer, and Mary Heltzel, Secretary. WMC met on the third Tuesday of the month in various homes. Among various projects, WMC provided Christmas and birthday gifts for our missionaries and their children, with special attention given to prayer support and encouraging correspondence.

On October 7th, 1962, Arthur R. Crawford was called to pastor the church, and was received by the congregation on the 28th. An OSU graduate physicist, Art's seven-and-a-half year pastorate of West Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, served as an excellent qualification. Art had also formerly taught many of the group in Sunday School at Calvary Bible Church. Though often likened in theology and manner to Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, he has had no seminar training; His continuous and dedicated study of the Word has been Spirit-led and used much of the Lord.

It soon became obvious that a larger building was needed. Again, this was made an object of earnest prayer, resulting in the decision to launch out in faith with the purchase in June, 1963, of the Evans Paste Co. property at 5330 Olentangy River Road -- a beautiful location close to the river and well back from the road, with a large lovely tulip poplar shading the sanctuary-to-be. The congregation met August 4th, 1963, in this former home, praising the Lord and trusting Him for their financial needs as they did for their spiritual.

The original site

The tape ministry was becoming an overwhelming burden both physically and financially; John Jundt was duplicating and mailing tapes, and even when the operation was moved to Art's basement the load grew and production slowed.

David Gott, with Christian Literature Crusade, was added to the missionary list in 1964, as were John and Lois Bascom, ministering in the Philippines with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade.

Our first Daily Vacation Bible School took place in June under the capable direction of Wes and Pat Williams, and has continued yearly -- always a blessing to teachers and children alike, with the Word being carried home to families to be used of the Lord for His Purpose.

In 1965 Bob and Dee Russell became our missionaries to Lima, Peru with Wycliff Bible Translators; and Peggy Hart, with Campus Crusade, was given support. Dr. Blythe's Sixpence School began using the building during the week, moving in three years to another church.

Plans were discussed that year for enlargement, due to fire hazard from overcrowding and danger of overloaded floors; the Sunday School, too, badly needed more space. A building Committee was formed under Earl Sticklen to investigate possibilities.

Our missionary list was increased in 1966 with the addition of John and Carolyn Miller, serving with WBT in Viet Nam in translating the Scripture into the Bru language. Captured by the Viet Cong May 19th, 1975, they were held in prison camp till their release October 30th. Their trust in the Lord throughout has strengthened the faith of many. The church was able to furnish the Millers with a Land Rover in 1966, which was later destroyed.

In 1967 the Tape Ministry was directed by Bob Ingram, who had been recording the messages. Stan and Mary Kay Schneider managed the tape library the following year. The morning study in Romans began in July, 1968, ending in February, 1976. In 1968, Roderick DeNune stepped in as temporary custodian, doing an excellent. Thanks to Fran Hughes, "The Careline" came about that year also. This phone network helps to alert the church family to prayer needs and important events. A long needed fire escape was finally installed with Jim Pruden overseeing as a diligent foreman.

Olentangy Pre-School, a self-supporting church mission, was begun in September of 1969 by Marcy Jundt and Beth Zehnder. Its function is to teach little ones of the Savior's love and to prepare them for entering school.

Layman's Challenge, led by Gordon Walker and later by Milt Seiler, held its meeting in the house once a week for several years, starting in 1969.

Our early morning service was initiated September 14 of this year for those, such as Sunday School teachers, unable to attend the later service. These soon became known as the "regular" and "irregular" services; the teaching was the same, with the earlier having no music or announcements. This service was dropped in 1975.

The church newsletter came into being in May of 1969, a composite of reports written by many on church activities and sharing news of births, marriages and home-goings. Roger Heltzel produced the forerunner in 1964.

Chuck Zehnder was appointed to form a Tape Ministry committee in 1970. Stan was named Director and put in charge of duplication, which he and Mary Kay handled efficiently. The church is deeply indebted to Stan and Mary Kay for long hours of selfless work. Though sightless, Stan was gifted with spiritual insight, often testifying how much more precious this was to him.

1971 came in with a bang: the explosion of our sixteen year old furnace, covering everything with smoke and oily soot -- just before the expected arrival of Dr. Stan Toussaint for a week of speaking in February. Cleaning and remodeling crews turned out and everything was ready in time. Our friends at the Seventh Day Adventist Church graciously provided their building, a true example of brotherly love.

Our evening Bible Survey, a "swift" moving overview of Scripture, began January 14th, 1973, the same year in which Filadelfo and Eloise Perez were led of the Lord to serve Him in Mexico, with our support. And in 1974 the Olentangy Pre-School received a new Director, Carol Washburn.

Construction on a new building was begun in July of 1973. The $18,000 mortgage on the house had been paid off in May with $2000 to spare - superabundance of the Lord's grace. Our first meeting in the present building was March 23rd, 1975 with Doug Anderson speaking, bringing back many memories.

Also in 1975, Dr. Larry and Manly Liddle became our missionaries to Abu Dhabi with TEAM. Our beloved Stan was called away from earthly service to join his Lord in November. Bud Murton stepped into his place in the Tape Ministry, with Ron and Deborah Skorupa and many others helping to duplicate and mail tapes and answer letters and orders.

In 1976 Roy Renwick was given charge, and the ministry continues to grow, with 12,000 cassettes sent out in 1981. Our morning study in I Corinthians started in February, 1976. Bob and Alyce Johnson, of Greater Europe Mission, joined our overseas missionaries with Bob teaching at Moorlands College in England.

In 1979 Charles and Bonnie McConkey, MAF, were added as missionaries to Honduras.

Including twenty-five of the original forty-four charter members, our number in 1982 was about one hundred, with many additional adherents.

The Lord called June Crawford home on Friday, March 7, 2008. Art's wife of 65 years and mother of 5 children, June was a charter member of Riverside Bible Church, president of WMC, instrumental in establishing the church nursery, and a loving supporter in the teaching of God's word. Art performed the memorial service, which is available here.

After much prayer and deliberation, Art Crawford announced his retirement after 48 years of serving as pastor of Riverside Bible Church. His last morning service was a verse by verse study in the book of Revelation, which concluded on November 28, 2010 (available here). The following Sunday, December 5, 2010 was Art's farewell service (listen to it here). Art continued his evening service in the first epistle to the Corinthians until its conclusion on December 19, 2013 (available here).

Following the announcement of Art's retirement, the church board began a prayerful search for a new pastor. The search committee wrote a job description and requirements for the new pastor and, ever mindful that the whole disposing is of the Lord, advertised the position. Several internal and external candidates were interviewed; John Quirk, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, briefly interned at the church.

Ultimately the Lord led the board to propose Steve Gilliland, a long-time Riverside member, for the position. The congregation approved Steve's nomination. Steve began a study in Hebrews in the morning service on December 12, 2010 (available here). At the conclusion of Art's 1 Corinthians study, Steve took over the evening service with a study in 1 Samuel on May 6, 2013 (listen to it here).

Steve resigned as pastor in March of 2014. Since then the Elders have taken the morning and evening services in eight-week rotations while we seek the Lord's guidance for a new pastor.

We've enjoyed deep studies in many books of the Bible, and look forward to many more, as He allows. We praise Him for the revelation of Himself and for sweet fellowship with His own over the years.

" ... This is the Lord's doing, and is marvelous in our eyes." (Matthew 21:42b)