By LESLIE MIELKE
SHELLEY — Missionary-pastor John Lovegrove and his wife, Sue, had been married one month when they accepted their first calling at the church in Howe, Idaho. That was August 1958. The Lovegroves have been in the ministry 52 years.
John grew up in Sault Sainte Marie in northern Michigan, while Sue grew up in West Virginia. The couple met while they were students at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.
After their ministry in Howe, the Lovegroves ministered 12 years at Gethsemane Baptist in Idaho Falls, 14 years in West Valley City, Utah, and twice in Rigby for a total of 12 years.
John works as a missionary-pastor with Northwest Baptist Missions. He also serves on its board. Thirty-five missionary families are supported by this mission.
A mission church does not stand on its own, Lovegrove said. Help comes from churches and individuals.
"[Starting churches] is a special calling," he said. "I'm thankful for the churches and families that have supported us for years and years and years.
"Our job is to establish a group of believers and a place for preaching; to be a lighthouse," Lovegrove said. "Believers come together for fellowship; we teach and train boys and girls for the glory of God.
"My vision is for small towns that don't have good Bible-preaching churches," he said. "The goal is to build up a church to where it is self-supporting."
After a church becomes self-supporting, Lovegrove is free to start over again.
"Other towns need help," he said.
"Four years ago, when I was 70 years old, I started knocking on doors in the Shelley area," Lovegrove said. "I spent two-and-one-half months knocking on doors. We started with a Bible study and then organized into a church three years ago."
His favorite verses are Mark 16:15,16 that say, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
"We try to get to every home; we try to be a witness," Lovegrove said. "Wherever we can talk; we talk."
The Lovegroves have five grown children—three sons and two daughters, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
John and Sue enjoy bird watching and building up the body of Christ.
On any given Sunday from 15 to 20 people attend the Shelley Baptist Church.
"We're getting there," Lovegrove said.
Services for all ages are Sunday at 10 a.m.; a Bible study for adults and Bible club for boys and girls are at 6 p.m. each Sunday.
The church moved to its new location at 104 S. Emerson, Suite C, in Shelley about one month ago.
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