Rev. J. Irvin Overholzer, founder and director of Child Evangelism Fellowship, Inc., met with a group of concerned Christians at Barachah Church in Philadelphia, PA. As a result of that meeting, the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Eastern PA, Inc. was launched.
Miss Helen Odenwelder, then State Director for Child Evangelism Fellowship of Eastern PA, Inc., presented the work of Child Evangelism Fellowship at the Berwick Bible Church. Miss Jessie Eves and Miss Pauline Newhard approached Miss Odenwelder to discuss ways of beginning the work in Columbia County. That same year, Child Evangelism Fellowship's work of reaching children for Christ began in Columbia County under the leadership of Miss Eves and Miss Newhard. A Teacher Training Class for adults and home Bible classes for children began that year. Miss Eves was the first acting director.
When Miss Eves left Berwick to teach at Kansas City Bible College, Pauline Newhard was officially appointed as the director for Columbia County. A committee of local Christians was formed that year in order to carry forward the work of reaching children. Teachers met in workshops to cut out figures, back them with flannel, and prepare backgrounds for the flannel board.
The first rally was held in the Spring of 1950 with 500 children and adults present. The children sang songs, recited Scripture, and reviewed lessons they had learned during the year. The first 5-Day Clubs were started that Summer. In the Fall, classes began in Aristes, at the southern end of Columbia County.
An apartment was rented for Miss Elizabeth Haller, the new director, and a second-hand car was secured for her to contact prospective teachers and hostesses and to visit classes. That Fall a tent was set up at the Bloomsburg Fair where tracts were handed out to boys and girls.
In March, Child Evangelism Fellowship of Columbia County, received a Charter of Incorporation.
Mrs. Guy Bastress began the first club in Danville, thus opening Montour County to the Child Evangelism Fellowship ministry. A second club was held in Danville the following year.
The Charter of Incorporation was amended in January to include Montour County. We were now officially known as Child Evangelism Fellowship of Columbia-Montour Counties, Inc.
A property was purchased in Espy on June 24 to provide housing for the director and to make a permanent office for the ministry. This house had previously been used as the parsonage for the Shiloh Bible Church. Pastor Larry Hummel had his office in the basement.
Child Evangelism Fellowship of Columbia-Montour Counties, Inc. began its first After-School, In-School Good News Club in the Southern Columbia Area School District. In the years since then, every school district in our two-county area has opened its doors to us.
Child Evangelism Fellowship of Columbia-Montour Counties, Inc. celebrates 70 years of ministry to children. To God be the glory!
The following people served as director in Columbia-Montour Counties:
Miss Jessie Eves (Acting Director, 1944-1948)
Miss Pauline Newhard (1948-1956)
Miss Verda Belles (1956-1957)
Mrs. Millie Redka (1957-1958)
Mr. Kermit Minnick (1958-1960)
Miss Elizabeth Haller (1960-1961)
Mrs. Leah Mills (Acting Director, 1961-1962)
Mrs. Ruth Bastress (1962-1967)
Miss Roxie Marshall (1967-1984)
Mrs. Millie Redka (Associate Director, November 1983-January 1984)
Mrs. Millie Redka (January 1984-September 1988)
Mrs. Eleanor Bower (March-September 1988, Acting Director during illness and death of Millie Redka)
Mrs. Elaine Dymond (September 1988-May 1996)
Miss Melissa Hess (October 1995-May 1996, Director-in-Training)
Miss Melissa Hess (May 1996-Present)