The Birth of Stow Alliance Fellowship
Stow Alliance Fellowship had its beginning through home Bible studies in various homes in the Fall and Winter of 1958-1959. On March 22, 1959, 31 adults and children gathered at the home of Glenn and Donza Fauss on Graham Road in Stow for the first worship service.
By March 1960, attendance had reached 117 and the church had outgrown meeting in homes. Services were held at Riverview Elementary School in Munroe Falls. Ground was broken in May 1960 on property at the corner of Stow and East Arndale Roads for the first section of the present church facility. This unit, consisting of a sanctuary, eight classrooms and an apartment for the Pastor’s family, was dedicated on October 23, 1960. The facilities have continued to expand with an addition for Sunday School classrooms in 1964, a 600 seat sanctuary in 1967, and the gym and 12 additional classrooms in 1975. The latest building project was completed in June 2001, and included a 42,000 sq. ft., three story addition and facility renovation.
The Home Bible Study Seminar ministry began under the direction of Vern Sir Louis and other key laymen. These seminars have trained over six thousand pastors and lay leaders in America and around the world.
Stow Alliance Fellowship has been committed to church planting as part of its strategy of local outreach. Four churches have been given birth through the ministry of this church: Tallmadge (1964), Akron (1970), Fairlawn (1981) and Hope Community Church in Hudson (1992).
The Pastors of Stow Alliance Fellowship
The first pastor called to the church was Rev. G. W. Busse, a Christian and Missionary Alliance evangelist with a heart for church planting, who led the church until 1965. He then went to plant Stow Alliance Fellowship’s first daughter church in Tallmadge, OH. Stow Alliance Fellowship has since been involved in planting a number of Alliance churches in the area, including churches in Akron, Fairlawn and Hudson, as well as Tallmadge.
Replacing Pastor Busse in 1965 was Rev. Paul Valentine, who shepherded the church for nearly 19 years. During this time the church experienced significant growth, developing Bible study teaching and training ministries. In 1983 Pastor Valentine was called to be the senior pastor at Westgate Chapel in Toledo, OH.
Rev. Keith W. McKnight became Stow Alliance Fellowship’s third senior pastor in its history in 1984. Under Pastor McKnight’s tenure the church ministries broadened to include an expanded music and worship ministries, hiring for the first time a paid music leader, and establishing a church operated preschool, meeting a need in our community. Pastor McKnight served Stow Alliance Fellowship until 1994.
Dr. Arnold Fleagle became Stow Alliance Fellowship’s fourth senior pastor in 1995. Ministries continued to expand to include targeted ministries to mothers of preschoolers (MOPS), sports ministries and ministry to seniors (Prime Timers). Pastor Fleagle left Stow Alliance Fellowship in 2001, having been called to a Central District assignment as Director of Church Development.
In November of 2001 Dr. John Kitchen became Stow Alliance Fellowship’s fifth senior pastor. Through his Spirit-led teaching, SAF became more deeply grounded in God’s Word, as well prioritizing the necessity of prayer among God’s people. In the spring of 2020, Pastor Kitchen and his wife, Julie (who served as Director of Worship Ministries at SAF for 15 years), answered God’s call to pastor an international church overseas.