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Our Vision

We are a Body of Believers in Jesus Christ whose desire is to build a BRIDGE to our community by ... Learning to act JUSTLY, learning to love MERCY and learning to walk HUMBLY with our God.
(Micah 6:8).

History of Living Christ Church

Ellenberger Helen
Helen Ellenberger
We love Living Christ Church and have been blessed and discipled and have met God here all through our lives. I feel like I’m coming home whenever I can be here. - Helen Ellenberger, charter member and life-long C&MA missionary. She joined the church as a teenager with her family.

Living Christ Church, still known to many by its former name of Simpson Memorial Church, started when students at Nyack College began reaching out to Nyack. From 1941 to 1944 various students led Sunday evening services and an afternoon Sunday school. Over time a group of 10-12 interested individuals also began meeting weekly in homes to pray for the start of a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) church in Nyack, since the two nearest ones were in Manhattan and Kingston.

Dr. Donald McKaig
Dr. Donald McKaig
On March 26, 1945, an organizing service was held in the home of church leader Don Byers with a charter membership totaling 56 by the end of the year. The church was named Simpson Memorial Church in memory of Dr. A.B. Simpson, founder of the denomination. Dr. C. Donald McKaig, a professor at Nyack College, was asked to become pastor, a position he agreed to take as a temporary assignment but where he stayed until 1960.

Services were initially held in a rented fraternal hall at the corner of Franklin Street and High Avenue, which at one time had housed the German Presbyterian Church. The growing congregation soon bought property at South Broadway and Voorhis Avenue in South Nyack. Many people in the congregation helped with construction and the first services were held in the new facility in 1951. At the time the membership was 137 and the Sunday school enrollment 185. The first addition occurred in 1957 with a choir loft and baptistery on the main floor, and Sunday school rooms on the floor beneath. Included in this endeavor is Cahart Hall, named for a benefactor who had been influenced as a growing boy by A.B. Simpson, and then in his aging years by Donald McKaig. The next phase in the original plan was to add a balcony, bringing total seating capacity in the sanctuary to 450. The first parsonage, a house and garage at the corner of Voorhis and Piermont Avenues, was built around 1929. (A second parsonage in Upper Nyack was built in 1963 and purchased in 1968.)

Rev. Clarence Drake pastored 1961-1968 as the church prospered. Then under Dr. Maurice Irvin’s 1969-1977 direction, leadership and teaching, the congregation experienced unprecedented growth in numbers, facilities and programs. Youth activities flourished, vibrant children’s programming ranged from Sundays to midweek to Vacation Bible School, couples’ groups were started, and many home Bible studies began. The increase in numbers led to holding two worship services on Sunday morning, and the adding of the church’s first youth pastor. The parking lot on the corner of South Broadway and Voorhis, diagonally across from the church building, was bought and developed in 1978.

Dr. Lee Olson
Dr. Lee Olson
In 1972, when an old riverfront building on Piermont Avenue became available, the church purchased it to add more room for the youth programs and to provide apartments for two staff members. It was named Olson Center after Dr. Lee Olson, who oversaw and built the church’s music ministry during its opening years through 1960.

Rev. Neal Clarke served as senior pastor 1978-1989, emphasizing spiritual growth and discipleship, also welcoming the use of dramatic productions. Rev. Richard Sessoms served 1990-1993, adding a contemporary style of worship to one of the services, and assisted by Rev. Doug Anthony as Minister of Music and Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer as associate pastor.

Rev. Ed Mangham served faithfully 1994-2001 and Rev. Ron Gifford was pastor 2002-2005, followed by an interim season of refocusing led by Rev. Jim Van Yperen. The congregation then voted to make a name change to Living Christ Church of the Christian & Missionary Alliance. Rev. Tim Pettit then served as pastor 2007-2011 under the constant emphasis of building a bridge to Nyack with the love of Jesus.

Dr. Martin Sanders
Dr. Martin Sanders
Dr. Martin Sanders, a nationally recognized leader, began serving as Interim Pastor in 2012 (see staff page for profile).

Throughout its years the church has been known for strong children’s ministries from infant through teens, and a major emphasis on heartfelt music as a vital part of worship, over the years including choirs, handbells, and contemporary worship teams. Likewise over the years it has had many vibrant adult groups such as women’s seminars, Sunday school classes, and small groups that met in homes.

The church has also played a major role in the financial and prayer support of world evangelization with many Christian & Missionary Alliance missionaries being sponsored and supported by the church. It has also helped start three sister churches in Rockland County: Pearl River’s Neighborhood Alliance Church, New City’s Risen King Alliance Church, and Tappan Alliance Church. It has also housed several churches that worship in other languages such as a Cambodian C&MA congregation and more recently Bethel Haitian Alliance Church.

In 1991 the church launched the Riverview Nursery School for children ages 2-4, today enrolling some 100 boys and girls, and supporting 10 teachers and assistants. (See separate webpage.)

Dr. A.B. Simpson
Dr. A.B. Simpson
A.B. Simpson, who in many ways inspired what became Living Christ Church, believed that a church should become an aggressive spiritual movement ... for the people of all classes ... designed to reach the neglected peoples of earth. As Living Christ Church continues forward, the ongoing desire and prayer is for God to do just that.

(This narrative was adopted from a church history pamphlet titled 50 Years…A Historical Sketch and updated to include more current developments.)

Christian & Missionary Alliance

Living Christ Church is privileged to belong to The Christian & Missionary Alliance, a unique missionary denomination and movement formed in New York City. For many years its national office was here in Nyack. The Alliance (C&MA) is a light-bearing, Jesus-centered missions and church-planting movement with the deeper life at its heart.

For its mission and core values see http://cmalliance.org/about/mission/.

For its beliefs and spiritual DNA see http://cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/.

For its history see http://cmalliance.org/about/history/.

And for learning how the Alliance family is organized, see http://cmalliance.org/about/family/.


Simpson Memorial Church