A Brief History of Reach Out For Christ Church & Ministry Center
In 1992, Pastor Otto Koenings of Australia began holding Bible meetings in the homes of various Dryden, New York residents. Interest in these gatherings steadily grew to the point where this spontaneous fellowship of Christian believers organized and officially formed Reach Out for Christ Church, a not-for-profit Free Church, incorporated in the State of New York. Ever growing attendance forced it to require larger quarters for weekly meetings, such as the Dryden Village Hall, the former Woods-Dryden Funeral Home, a church basement in Cortland, and various other local buildings temporarily rented for the church’s purposes. During this time, as a larger church vision and funds grew, a diligent search for suitable property sites commenced with the possible building of a new facility in mind. Finally, the church purchased some fifty-five acres of attractive, semi-vacant land on Johnson Road in Freeville.

During 1996, while the spiritual work of the new church continued to grow successfully, the first Reach Out for Christ Church building campaign was postponed when residency papers for Pastor Koenings expired and he was forced to return to his Australian homeland. Rev. Peter Kirk Hopper of Freeville, New York was asked by that pastor and the church elders to take over the spiritual leadership of the congregation. While waiting to renew the building campaign, Pastor Hopper and associate pastor Gene Rotunda obtained a lease agreement from The George Junior Republic in Freeville, to utilize their venerable 100 year old “Christ Chapel” as temporary quarters.

The church continued to grow steadily, holding Sunday, Wednesday and special services at The Chapel for a wide variety of Biblically based functions focused on praise, worship and the preaching and teaching of The Word of God. Many George Junior Republic citizens and staff members attended regular adult and youth services, which often featured local and global evangelists, pastors, ministers, singers and musicians.

Evangelistic by nature, the church hosted many other small meetings at The Chapel, along with monthly home group gatherings in local towns and special water baptisms. More spacious venues were rented from time to time for larger special meetings, including The State Theatre in downtown Ithaca, the Dryden High School cafeteria, the Dryden Fire Hall and the former Masonic Temple in Ithaca.

Early in 1999, it again became obvious that the need to build a new church was important if the church were to continue to grow. In July 2000, after much prayer, planning and fund raising, ground was finally broken on the Johnson Road property to build a church building. (A portion of the property was sold off to help fund the undertaking.) The new church with almost 9,000 square feet of functional space was built.