Fremont OPC in Fremont, Michigan, began as an effort of Little Farms Chapel (OPC) in Coopersville. One family was driving from Fremont to Little Farms Chapel and praying that God would establish an OP congregation in their community in western Michigan. In the spring of 2008, Dr. Norman De Jong began leading Lord’s Day worship there, morning and evening. By the fall, a core group had been gathered and Dr. De Jong was called to be the organizing pastor.
Pastor Norm and his wife, Wilma, established a welcoming atmosphere with people who had a desire to hear the preaching of God’s Word. About a year ago, they sensed that it was time for a younger pastor to lead this new congregation on to new stages of ministry growth and development. In September 2011, Fremont OPC welcomed its new organizing pastor, W. Vernon Picknally, Jr.
Vern had served for the previous twelve years as the pastor of Bethel OPC in Carson, North Dakota. He loves to preach and share the gospel with others. He knows the joy of having been sought and found by a merciful God.
At the age of eighteen, Vern discovered his sin and God’s mercy. Growing up in New Jersey, he was a good kid. He did not imbibe the party mentally of many of his peers. He was convinced that his good deeds outweighed the bad, and so he was okay. He was not a churchgoer. His mom and dad had divorced when he was six, and he gave his mom a lot of trouble about going to church.
When Vern was a senior in high school, his sister became religious. She was attending a Bible study and kept inviting Vern to come. Eventually she brought home the guy teaching the Bible study, and Vern was surprised that he knew him. They had met in science class, when Vern was a freshman and the man was a senior. This senior often came to class drunk or stoned.
Vern’s first reaction was that the guy was a fake. Then it became, “He really needed this religion stuff.” Ultimately, Vern says, “the Lord really broke me and convicted me of my sin. I then knew that I was just as much in need of the saving work of Christ as him, and I pleaded for grace and mercy.” Through this teacher, Vern became part of a Presbyterian Church in America congregation.
As he grew in his faith, he felt a sense of calling to the ministry, but he pushed it aside. How could he be a minister, since he did not grow up in the church? But his pastor, Ken Klett, encouraged him to pursue the ministry. By then, Vern had an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He went on to finish his bachelor’s degree at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids. He received his M.Div. at Mid-America Reformed Seminary.
Vern is excited to be at Fremont OPC. The people love to hear the Word of God preached and enjoy fellowshipping with one another. The congregation is a wonderful blend of people from Dutch Reformed backgrounds and more recent converts. He wants to continue to develop those two strands of covenant nurture and gospel outreach.
Pray that the Lord would bring new people into Fremont OPC. There is plenty of room for established Christians and new converts— anyone seeking to be fed on the Word.
The Lord has provided a number of potential elders and deacons. Please pray that the Lord would prosper their preparation for office and bring them into service soon.