New Life Community Church of the Nazarene began as a simple revival, tent meeting at the fairgrounds in Monticello, Iowa. Two evangelists, H.J. Willis and A.G. Weiss, attended the General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in June 1952. While there, H.J. Willis asked Weiss what his plans were for the next month. Weiss replied that he had time off that month and queried why Willis had asked.
Willis pulled him aside and told him the following story: “I have received an invitation from the Iowa District to conduct a revival campaign at Monticello, with the intention of establishing a new Nazarene church there. I would be the preacher and you would be responsible for all of the music. How would you like to join me?”
The two quickly coordinated their plans and scheduled to meet July 1st in Monticello. A.G. Weiss drove from his home in Olathe, Kansas and arrived in Monticello shortly after noon. He parked on East First Street, stretched, and ate a quick lunch at one of the cafes in Monticello. He walked up and down the street looking for his friend, H. J. Willis.
A patrolman in his car approached Weiss and he stepped toward the car. The patrolman, police-chief Don Howard, asked what he could do for him. Weiss asked if he had seen his friend. Officer Howard said he had seen a similar man at the post office. Weiss thanked him and found Willis at the post office.
After meeting, they made their way to City Hall where they met Mayor Lambert. After the customary greetings they asked if the district superintendent had contacted the Mayor to make arrangements for the meetings. The mayor said he had been there and arranged everything for them at the fairgrounds. They drove to the fair grounds and the mayor showed them the spot where the tent could be erected near the gate. They went back to city hall, thanked Mayor Lambert, and got into Willis’ car, feeling as though they had seen “the promised land.”
Since the two had traveled from their homes and would be in Monticello for a while, Willis had found a three room efficiency they could rent for $10.00 a week above the bowling alley which was next door to Nelson’s Jewelers. (Mrs. Topping owned the building.) The apartment was an answer to prayer. All settled, they headed back to the fairgrounds to meet the superintendent.
The superintendent, Dr. Phillips, arrived at the fairgrounds with a trailer filled with a tent and all of the necessary equipment for the meetings. They could almost hear the church bells ring. Erecting the tent took until the evening. After which the three sat down for a snack at the corner restaurant. Dr. Phillips said his farewell adding, “I have an appointment in another city and must hurry away. Hope you have a good meeting. I’ll be praying for you.”
Willis and Weiss were stunned that he wouldn’t remain until after the first meeting.
The next day the two went door-to-door with hearts full of hope and love towards God and man. Home after home received the good news as they each went to homes on opposite sides of the street. The next few homes they contacted together with Willis leading the way. One lady said, in broken English, “Naw, ve gut ower own choorch”. Weiss stepped forward.
“enshuldigen sie mir bitte. Mein name is Adolf Weiss. Bitte, lommt su die fersummelung heute abend. Ich verde ein deitches lied singen und ein wenig fon die bibel in deutch lehsen.”
She replied, “Ach yah. Es Freut mich das du deutch shprechen kanst. Ich bin theda weers. Komm herein.”
They stepped inside her home and shared with her about the tent meeting. Before they left they bowed their heads and prayed with her in German for God to bless her home and every member in it. Her eyes were moist with tears. Excitedly, she turned to Brother Willis and said in her broken English, “ver you said dat meeting vos?” The ice had been broken. They went from that home rejoicing and spreading the good news all over Monticello.
Excitement ran high the night of the campaign. Willis and Weiss arrived early to the campsite to prepare and meet the crowd they were sure would be coming. They waited until 8 pm, 8:15 pm, 8:20 pm, 8:30 pm, and still no one came. Some walked by but did not stop. One lone lady came towards the tent and said, “looks like I’m the first one here.” They introduced themselves and began the service. After the service, they lady introduced herself as Mrs. Thompson who was in town visiting family. She belonged to a Nazarene church elsewhere and decided it was a duty and a privilege to give a helping hand. The offering that night was just enough to cover their room and board.
The meetings which were scheduled to end on July 13, 1952 continued for 3-4 more weeks due to the increase in attendance and results in the salvation of souls. The closing night was memorable. There were several who had come for the first time as well as many who had started coming regularly. One family of importance, the chief of police, came to every service –unless he was on duty—and one day his entire family prayed through in their home.
There was a growing concern in the hearts of all of the Christians as to what would happen to the “flock” after the tent came down. God began to speak to the heart of the song-evangelist, Weiss. The Spirit was persistent and Weiss became the first pastor of Monticello Church of the Nazarene.
Monticello Church of the Nazarene was allowed, by Mayor Lambert, to move into city hall for their weekly meetings until a prominent councilman objected and they were forced to move to another location. They began meeting at the KP Hall across the street where the conditions were a little less than ideal.
When the church began meeting they had a Sunday school attendance of 40 and service attendance of 25. The record attendance was 32.
“Praise God for what He allowed us to do in one year. Now, behold what God has done through all the pastors that followed us. The future is bright. Let’s take in new territory,” A.G. Weiss.