Our Story

How it all started...

Revival burned brightly in Des Moines in the late 1920s. A group of believers began to meet in the skating rink on East Grand Avenue. In 1928, John Richey came from Los Angeles to pastor the group, and they soon purchased the old Grace United Methodist Church at 19th and Crocker.  In 1931, the church planted what is now Fort Des Moines Open Bible and then several more satellite churches around the city.

The Richey’s pastored until 1939 when Frank W. Smith became the church’s second pastor. In 1967, the congregation moved to its present location on the corner of Beaver and Hickman. The newly constructed church consisted of the sanctuary, classrooms, fellowship hall, and offices.

In 1976, Pastor Smith retired after 37 years of ministry and the church’s third pastor, C. Daniel LeLaCheur, was installed. Under his capable leadership, two building programs were completed. The first, in 1978, know as the Family Life Center consisted of classrooms, kitchen, gymnasium, stage and our south parking area. In 1984, the second program – consisting of additional classrooms, offices, lobby, television studio and choir rehearsal room – was completed.
The fourth pastor, J. Kenneth Groen, came to First Church in June 1987. Under Pastor Groen’s direction, the Frank W. Smith Retirement Center was built in cooperation with HUD. Two more churches were planted - Heartland Open Bible Church (now Lifehouse Community Church) and Asian Open Bible (now Lifesong Church.) The Living Christmas Tree outreach and the Trio of Lights also began during Pastor Groen’s tenure.

In October of 1997, Danny Thomas became the fifth pastor at First Church. Under Pastor Thomas’s leadership, there was a large outreach production of In His Steps which attracted more than 500 people to First Church.

Pastor Curtis Arne came to First Church in May of 2000. Pastor Arne was instrumental in the implementation of The Dream Center and the planting of Centro Cristiano Restauracion (the Hispanic church at First Church).

On Easter Sunday 2013, Pastor Spencer Keroff came as the seventh pastor of First Church. Pastor Keroff envisioned a church that was Bible-Based, Gospel-Centered, Spirit-Empowered, and Family-Focused. Under his leadership, Harvest Bible College was founded in 2017.

Pastor Joshua D. Bingaman came to First Church in December 2016 as an Associate Pastor and Director of Harvest Bible College. Pastor Bingaman was installed as the eight and First Church’s current Senior Pastor on Palm Sunday 2022.

During the past 94+ years, First Church has had the privilege of seeing scores of people becoming Christians, being baptized in water, and being immersed in the Holy Spirit. In addition, many lives have been delivered of sinful habits and lifestyles, and have become eternally transformed.

As we build upon the past, and as we look to the future, we anticipate a continued outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His Church.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24 & 25).

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