AUGUST 5, 2010

Lead Pastor, Terry Gugger of Orofino Community Church, 14233 Highway 12, talks with the Tribune about what faith means to him.     

“Allowing Him to transform our lives,” an interview with Pastor Terry Gugger

By Alannah Allbrett

   Terry Gugger is no stranger to churches. He was a PK (Preacher’s Kid) and moved around a lot as his father ministered to various churches. Terry said that by the time he was in the fourth grade, he wanted to have a medical ministry. In college, at Taylor University (Upland, IN), he decided to study biology and pre-med courses.

   In 1995, Terry met Jennifer, his wife-to-be. His parents and hers knew each other and spent time together. The two young people had been introduced to each other a couple of times.  Then, in college, Jennifer’s parents let her drive back home from spring break. Her parents had Jennifer give Terry a ride home too. During that four hour trip home they were able to get acquainted. Terry says “We got married 53 weeks from our first unofficial date.”

   By Terry’s senior year in college in 1997, things changed for him. His wife was away on a week-long mission’s trip, and he decided to enter into a week of fasting and praying and wound up in the church sanctuary where he and his wife attended.

    While praying there, Terry said he had a sense that this was where he was “supposed to be.” He decided to go ahead and finish his chosen degree and then pursue more theological courses afterwards. He went on to study another two years or so, part time at Taylor, and then began working towards a Master’s Degree through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School extension courses.

   Terry was mentored by his pastor – who taught him the ministry through participation. He taught Sunday School, helped with services, and later on became an Assistant Pastor.

   In 2001, the Gugger family consisted of himself, Jennifer, a little boy named Kaleb, and “one on the way.” Feeling confidently led by God, the family made the decision to move to Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, NY, where Terry became one of the full time Associate Pastors, on staff there.

   Prior to moving to Buffalo, Terry and Jennifer had entertained the idea of someday going to the Pacific Northwest. In the summer of 2006, stepping out on faith – with no promise of a particular church, they moved to Spokane, WA where Jennifer had some family living.

   Terry was contacted by his church headquarters (The Christian and Missionary Alliance) which had a vacancy for a pastor in a church in a little town called Orofino, ID. He became a candidate for the opening and felt guided by God to accept the position. By November of 2006, he accepted the calling at Orofino Community Church as the lead pastor. The family settled into Orofino, and their new adventure began.

   Tribune: “What is the biggest thing that has happened to you in your ministry here in Orofino?”

   Gugger: “It was life changing, taking on the role of lead pastor, in that it increased my dependence upon God. It is a staggering responsibility, and I have no desire to be independent of Him. He has shown me His immense power through the transformation of people’s lives, including my own.”

   Tribune: “How has He shown you these things in your life?”

   Gugger: “One significant way is God has shown spiritual healing power in people’s lives around me. At one time, there were up to five men in our church who were former pastors. Some had had extremely negative experiences [from the past] which needed healing. I got to see God work in their lives. Although my years of ministry in Buffalo were, by and large, good, there were some things which were painful. God has been working on healing me, and showing me how to love more deeply.”

   “People have found this church a place of healing and restoration. In ministering to believers, over the past three and one half years, we have envisioned the church as an E.R [emergency room]. However, one can only remain bandaged and lying around recovering for a certain period of time. The next step in healing is to begin exercising those body parts which were injured.

   Having had physical surgeries in my own life, I know doctors want you to get up and get moving around to aid the healing process – not lying around in bed all day. Spiritual injuries are no different. Perhaps the greatest challenge now is for us, as individuals, to become invested in the personal relationships God has given [us], using these to share the incredible love of God for each person – sharing with each other the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

   Tribune: “What are some of your church’s goals?”

   Gugger: “Our church’s mission is to move people into a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. What this means is, we desire to show people the love of Jesus and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It also means living our lives intentionally, in relationship with Jesus Christ – allowing Him to transform our lives into something far better than we are.”

   “We desire to see this happen in a variety of ways: from meeting the felt needs of people through: food banks; Celebrate Recovery/Damascus Road; Vacation Bible School; small groups, worship services; FUEL (Adult Sunday School); house repairs; gathering firewood; etc., to speaking into their lives spiritually. As we continue to experience the love of God in our personal lives, we want to share that love in an increasing manner with our community.”

   “In addition, we believe we are called to work for the Kingdom of God, not for Orofino Community Church. So, we are beginning to find creative avenues to accomplish the mission of Jesus Christ through collaborative efforts with other Christian churches – not by our selves. Hopefully, that will continue to grow in opportunity and effectiveness.”

   Tribune: “What does faith mean to you?”

   Gugger: “Well, of course, Hebrews 11:1 comes to mind. ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’”

   Tribune: “Some people have trouble with that definition; it can sometimes seem vague.”

   Gugger: “I can understand the difficulty in grasping hold of that definition. It is difficult to offer a concise, easy definition of faith. I think of Jesus’ encounter with Thomas. Thomas needed to see the scars and the wounds. Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (John 20:29). Faith is relying much on what I don’t see. For me, faith is my ultimate dependence on God through Jesus Christ. It entails so much; it is a belief system that results in life transformation.”

   “In a culture where independence is pushed, faith says ‘I rely on communion [with God] and community with others.’ The world says ‘I can only do it on my own.’ Faith says ‘I can only do it through God.’”

   “Faith says there are more than the five senses. What I experience isn’t the end-all, be-all. There is something supernatural – a spirituality that exists. The reality is everyone has faith; the debate is in what do we place our faith? The atheist has faith there is no God. In contrast, I believe there is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-existent God to whom someday I will have to give an accounting. My faith is based then in the [finished] work of Jesus Christ.”

   Tribune: “What is the work of Jesus Christ?”

   Gugger: “In my faith, I am going to have to give an account to God. I realize that, even the smallest [wrong] things I have ever done in my life disqualify me from meeting God’s standard. So, the work of Jesus Christ, in his death, burial, and resurrection, offers me forgiveness of that disqualification and ultimate acceptance into the family of God.”

   Tribune: “Do you have any specific goals for the church?”

   Gugger: “We are striving to be the authentic church of the New Testament – recognizing our shortcomings as people, but attempting to fulfill the true mission of Jesus Christ.”

   Tribune: “By that, do you mean there is one true church?”

   Gugger: “When I refer to the mission of Jesus Christ I think of Jesus’ instruction to love the Lord your God with all of your being, and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40), and also the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). These two [teachings] are interrelated and inseparable from one another.”

   “As far as the question on ‘one true church,’ yes, there is one universal Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ. Within that one universal Church of Jesus Christ, there are many different denominations/affiliations: (The Alliance, Baptists, Assemblies of God, Vineyard, Pentecostals, Independents…to name a few). In fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ, our desire is to maintain our uniqueness as Orofino Community Church, and to be in unity with the body of Christ in Orofino.

   Orofino Community Church is located at: 14233 Highway 12 in Orofino. Sunday services are held at both 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. with Sunday School in between at 9:30-10:15 a.m. Nursery care and Children’s Church are offered at both services. For more information, visit their website at: