Obtaining the Name
On February 27, 2000, eight families congregated in Clyde, Ohio, at Brother Bob & Sister Shirley Stahl’s home. After being led that Rev. Robert L. & Joyce M. Jones should be our pastors, the following Sunday morning found us congregating at the Clyde Senior Citizen Center where we paid $25 a week for rent, but we didn’t have a name for our group. Pastor Jones, Brother Jack Ridley, Brother Harold (Butch) Schwert, and Sister Julia Schwert met with a consultant to select a name for the church. They went to the meeting thinking that it would be an easy task – the church group had decided upon Living Water Ministries. However, upon investigating names to record with the state of Ohio, they found they could not use that name. After about two hours, they came up with three different names to try. The next day the consultant called the state to see which name was available. It was like waiting for a child to be born—only our question was . . . “Do we have a name yet?” Finally the answer came: Rivers of Living Water Ministries, Inc. On March 20, 2000, we were official with the state of Ohio and received our corporation papers.
Our first purchase as a church was an overhead projector. It was carted back and forth to each Sunday service. Pastor and Sister Jones had the honor; however, when they traveled to Trinidad in November 2000, the great honor of transporting the overhead then went to Brother Butch. New members were slowly being added to the church, and we thought we would be in Clyde. We started looking in March 2000 at several places: north, south, east, and west of Clyde, but couldn’t find a place which felt comfortable to everyone. In January 2001, Brother Butch said he felt the Lord wanted us to be content where we were and ride the bicycle we had. When we filled the place where we were, God would move us to the place He had for us. We stopped looking.
Finding the Right Building
Sometime in March 2001, Brother Bob & Sister Shirley Stahl heard about a church building in Fremont that the congregation was thinking about selling. Sister Jones tried to give the building to another church in Fremont, because we still felt that we were suppose to be in Clyde – even though we had a Fremont phone (at Pastor Jones’ home) and a Fremont PO Box. Go figure! We began to seriously consider maybe this building at 604 Howland Street was where God wanted the church after Brother Butch and Pastor Jones were sharing that they felt the headquarters of the organization would be in Fremont.
At the end of April 2001, the board of elders met and directed Pastor Jones and Sister Julia Schwert to go to the bank to see how much money we would need for a deposit. We had agreed with the other church we would purchase the building for $100,000. The bank asked Pastor Jones how much we wanted to put down on the building, and he answered $20,000. Sister Julia just sat there—we didn’t have that much money in the whole church—let alone in the building fund! But this was a God thing! By the end of May, we had the loan approved; by the end of June we had the down payment of over $20,000. On July 21 we took possession with our first service in the building on July 22, 2001.
In August of 2001, we felt that the Lord wanted us to add International to our name since our work was growing overseas. Therefore, we applied for a name change and officially became Rivers of Living Water Ministries International, Inc.
No Mortgage Payments
On October 31, 2001, we signed the papers for the church—after we had occupied the building for three months with no mortgage payments and the church was only 19 months old!
Growth Over the Years
Over the years many changes have come to the property at 604 Howland Street in Fremont, Ohio:
2001-2006: Renovations took place in the original facility:
• Remodeling and adding office areas
• Parking lot was added
• Ramp replaced steps at the back door
• Restrooms were remodeled
June 2007: Groundbreaking service for our new sanctuary.
• Painting, carpeting, purchasing new chairs, and building the platform and sound booth was accomplished during the year.
• The shell of the new sanctuary cost $144,739
January 6, 2008: First service in our new sanctuary
Other changes in 2008:
• Addition of the deacons’ office and carpeted fellowship hall
• 1st Convocation during which Rev. Mark L. Conley and Rev. Robert D. Everetts were consecrated as Bishops
January 2017: Installation of our Baptistry Pool
Local Spiritual Growth
Just as the physical building has changed, the spiritual growth of this ministry has changed. As of December 2012, we currently have five Bishops associated with our organization:
Archbishop Dr. Robert L. Jones, Prelate and Founder
Bishop Dr. Richard M. Johnson, Apostolic Father of Rivers of Living Water Ministries International, Inc. from Clarksville, Tennessee
Bishop Dr. O. Duane Simmons, Chief of Staff of Rivers of Living Water Ministries International, Inc.
Bishop Ronnie Reed of Columbus, Ohio
Bishop Kurt H. Jackson of Chicago, Illinois
and a host of associates licensed and ordained under Rivers of Water domestically as far west as New Mexico, and as far south as Florida. Internationally, Bishop Anthony Martin and several ministers in Trinidad/Tobago, West Indies.