MONDAY 9-30-2013

Sep 30, 2013 -- 4:29pm

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9-30-2013 PODCASTS - 6AM    7AM    8AM

Of all the responsibility...pass a budget, and pay America's bills. I'll agree with you on that, Mr. President. Pass a budget, which your Senate won't do. Stop the borrowing, and spend a trillion dollars less per year. And start paying America's bills DOWN.

(A guy can dream, can't he?)


7:10 Dr. Jerome Corsi, World Ned Daily Columnist, and author of "Who Really Killed Kennedy?"

8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers Visiting past and present, and today he looks at the history of the Applegate Christian Fellowship.

Jon Courson and the Applegate Christian Fellowship

By Dennis Powers

In the early 1970s, Jon Courson was a divinity student at Biola University, a private evangelical Christian university located in Southern California. After his studies at Biola, Courson became the pastor of a church that he started in San Jose, California. In 1977, some young hippies (by his own description), who were recent converts to Christianity, asked that he come to the Applegate. They wanted someone to teach them to “grow in the ways of God.” Jon Courson did.

Without any facilities or membership, Pastor Courson started his calling in Southern Oregon. He had no idea at the time what was going to come from his preaching to these flower children, as he said later, “who were looking to be saved, baptized, and born again.” The pastor thought that the largest congregation he could obtain would be around 100 people, and his stated goal was to keep the fellowship as an “intimate” one.  

The choice of locating in Ruch, however, some eight miles from Jacksonville on Highway 238 was ideal, given its rural setting among the hills where his congregation wanted a pastor. Moreover, Jon Courson was charismatic, could relate to nearly anyone, and believed strongly in his religion and cause. The beginning bible-studies expanded, consequently, over time into the largest church in Southern Oregon, the Applegate Christian Fellowship. Under his leadership from the 1980s to 1990s, the congregation grew quickly and reached a high of 7,000 weekly worshipers during that time. 

Starting from nothing, the fellowship campus in Ruch now covers several acres with its large church, extensive campus, and open-air amphitheater. The property also includes a mountain retreat with a main lodge and cabins. It owns a facility on the Oregon coast in Bandon, Lake Bradley Christian Camp, that’s used for youth and family camps during the summer with different retreats in the winter. The fellowship oversees the ministry of The Mission at Carmen Serdan in Mexico, which cares for handicapped orphans. He also established a radio station, KAPL Radio at 1300 AM, for the Applegate Ministry’s broadcast station with live coverage of services, in-house programs, bible teaching, and worship music.

In 2002, Jon Courson left the Applegate to be a pastor with the 25,000-member Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. His 25-year-old son, Peter-John Courson, took over his duties, having been an assistant pastor for nearly two years. Jon moved to be with his longtime mentor from his college days, the Reverend Chuck Smith, who was the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. Starting with the 25-member Costa Mesa, Calvary Chapel in 1965, Reverend Smith brought Calvary Chapel to become the mother church of thousands of smaller Calvary Chapels throughout the country, including the Applegate Fellowship. Jon Courson delivered sermons there, as well as on CSN (“the Calvary Satellite Network”) and its satellite television and radio broadcasts.

He returned in 2006 to rejoin his two sons, Peter-John and Benjamin, and son-in-law, Seth Gilbert, at the Applegate Ministry. In the same year, the church’s membership had declined by one-third from its then weekly 5,000 due to two similar churches that had formed nearby, one in Grants Pass and another in Medford. Despite this, the Applegate Fellowship still was drawing crowds on Sundays into its rural setting.

The Applegate Christian Fellowship now has a weekly attendance of 3,000 worshippers, still the largest in Southern Oregon, and 60 branch churches throughout the Pacific Northwest and California. Jon Courson formed a ministry called “Searchlight,” which includes a radio program that is carried on different stations throughout the U.S. and the Internet, as well as its website that sells numerous Christian CDs, DVDs, and books. He also still speaks at religious retreats in and outside Oregon.

Although Jon and his son, Ben Courson, are Co-Pastors at the Applegate Christian Fellowship, Ben does the “heavy day-to-day lifting at the fellowship.” Peter-John is now a pastor at the Capo Beach Church in Southern California, located in Capistrano Beach and a Calvary Chapel affiliate also started by the Reverend Chuck Smith. With this family, we can expect even more positive developments over time with their commitments.

Sources: See generally “Applegate Christian Fellowship” at The Fellowship; John Darling, “Applegate Fellowship pastor takes new post,” Mail Tribune, July 19, 2002, at The Reverends Courson and Smith; Damian Mann, “First Pastor Courson returns to Applegate,” Mail Tribune, February 24, 2006, at Further Background; “Searchlight: Searchlight with Pastor Jon Courson,” at Searchlight Radio; Chris Conrad, “Continuing Mission,” Mail Tribune, April 14, 2013, at Recent Developments.

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