The Church of God, Bemus Point

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In 1881, five men held a meeting at Beaver Dam, Pennsylvania and organized the first congregation of "The Church of God". Daniel Sidney Warner was a member of this group and from this humble beginning this denomination has grown until it is widely known.

This group established a news magazine known as "The Gospel Trumpet". In 1962, this name was changed to "Vital Christianity" and is published by the Warner Press, Inc., which was named after Daniel Sidney Warner.

In 1927, the General Ministerial Assembly of the Church of God made their headquarters at Anderson, Indiana and here also was established a college for the training of ministers and gospel workers. This denomination believes in Baptism by Immersion.

The name "Church of God" was adopted from the scripture as found in I Corinthian 1:2, "Unto the church of God", also in II Corinthians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God and Timothy our brother, Unto the Church of God."

A relatively new church in the Town of Ellery, is the Bemus Point Church of God. In the summer of 1956, Rev. LeRoy Apotosh founded this church by holding afternoon services and a series of Evangelistic services; this led to the start of Sunday School, a youth group and worship services held in the vacant Universalist Church.

The Bemus Point Universalist Church and Parsonage, located on Lakeside Drive, was still owned (1977) by the Universalist Church Society. Members of the Church of God, with their pastor have occupied this church, rent free, for their house of worship and church activities since 1962. The congregation have kept the edifice in repair by painting; installing new pews and cushions; installing wall to wall carpeting; new paneling; the installation of new rest rooms; a clock; a stone-faced front on the interior of the Sanctuary; a large illuminated cross in the church; a new communion table and an electric organ. The women of the church purchased a new American flag and a Christian flag for the Sanctuary.

In 1977, the society refinished the basement. this included painting the walls; new floor covering in the entrance; installing new panel doors leading into the furnace room and kitchen and new curtains. A new kitchen was donated a few years ago.

On the first Sunday of each month, the Board of Trustees meet. The second Sunday of each month, a fellowship dinner is held. On the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. the women of the church hold their meeting. These ladies of the church with a membership of ten, are very active, providing bandages for Leper Colonies and make dressings for the local American Cancer Society. They also make and sell quilts, have bake sales and do other activities which provide finances to assist their work as well as work of the church. This money is added to the Missionary Fund.

During the school year, religious instruction classes are held weekly. The children are from the Bemus Point area schools cooperating in "County Release Time" for religious instruction with teachers employed for this type of religious education.

The Bemus Point Church of God is affiliated with the International Church of God with headquarters at Anderson, Indiana.

The present pastor (1977) is Rev. Dr. L. Maring Swarts, D. D., Ph. D. He first came to the Bemus Point Church on August 6, 1976.

Rev. Swarts was born on January 29, 1915, at Lakewood, N. Y., the son of Lafayette M. and Myrtle Swarts. He attended Lakewood High School, continuing his education with special courses from Columbia University, the College of Divine Metaphysics and the College of Philosophy where he was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree and he also earned his Doctorate in Philosophy in Religion.

Rev. Swarts has two sons: Rev. Jon M. Swarts, pastor of the Gouldtown Community Church and Mr. Maring B. Swarts, a director of funeral homes in Tampa, Florida; two stepsons: Rev. David E. Case, pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church, Youngstown, Ohio, and Mr. Jeffrey Case, who teaches high school English.

In 1980 the old Universalist Church building was the home of the "Lakeside Bible Chapel".


Universalist Church records

Jamestown Post Journal

Mrs. Mary Jane Stahley records

Mrs. Doris W. Carlson records.

Notes compiled by the late Doris W. Carlson, Town of Ellery Historian.

SOURCE: Loraine C. Smith, Town of Ellery Historian. 2002.