For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I
am in the midst - Matthew 18:20
History of the Clear Lake Regular Baptist Church
In 1959, a young Washington D.C. locksmith named Bob Wells
decided to leave the city and relocate to the mid-west. Packing the
family belongings and heading West, Bob along with his wife Kathy and
twin daughters, Patsy & Betsy settled in Clear Lake, Iowa.
In 1959, Pastor Bob Gardner and his wife Goldie also relocated to
Clear Lake, Iowa where Pastor Gardner became the director of the
fledgling, 52-acre Iowa Regular Baptist Camp.
After settling in, Bob Wells quickly established his new business --
Central Lock & Repair. To help ends meet, Kathy worked as a
checkout at Easter’s Grocery [now Randy’s Neighborhood Market].
One day while Kathy was running the register, Bob Gardner brought his
groceries to her checkout line. Kathy noticed the prefix of “Reverend”
on Bob’s check and quizzed him about it. Always eager to share the
faith, Pastor Gardner told her about the Camp ministry.
“Oh, I wish we had a Baptist church in Clear Lake,” said Kathy. That
single statement was all it took; the spark that ignited the flame. That
same week, the Gardners began a Bible study and prayer time with Bob
and Kathy Wells. The study was soon joined by its first visitors,
Sherwood and Gloria Loops. Next, the group began saving money for
the purpose of hiring a pastor, renting a building, and establishing a
Baptist church in Clear Lake.
In 1961, the vision became a reality when Bill Patterson with Baptist
Mid-Missions arrived in Clear Lake to become the first pastor of the
mission church. The group’s first Sunday service was held on
November 4, 1961 with 25 people in attendance. The service was held
in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church building which, amazingly, was
located across the street from Easter’s Grocery where Bob Gardner and
Kathy Wells first met. The Bethlehem Lutherans were a largely German
congregation who graciously offered the building -- totally rent free -- to
the small group of Baptist believers. The Baptists reciprocated by
helping with the heating expense and general upkeep. The Baptists
held services on Sunday morning; the German Lutherans met at noon.
The mission supported, Clear Lake Baptist Church held its first baptism
in June of 1962 at the Baptist Camp lakefront. Following the Lord in
baptism were Bob, Patsy, and Betsy Wells, Ward Brunner, and Linda
In June of 1964, Pastor Bill Patterson accepted a pastorate in
Kentucky. In July of 1964, Baptist Mid-Missions’ Pastor Harry
Thibodeau became the church’s second missions pastor. The church
continued to grow and, in 1966, was able to become self-supporting. In
1967, Pastor Thibodeau accepted a pastorate in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1968, Pastor Gary Gonnerman became the first pastor of the self-
supporting Clear Lake Regular Baptist Church. On June 11, 1968 Gary
and Cheryl Gonnerman were blessed by the arrival of Becky, their first
child. Becky Gonnerman was also the first birth of the newly
established Clear Lake church.
In 1978, the Baptist Church purchased the Evangelical Free Church
building [$95,000] and moved to its current location. The Lord continued
to bless and in 1986, the church retired its mortgage 6 1⁄2 years before
its due date. Since its inception, the Clear Lake Regular Baptist Church
has faithfully remained true to God’s inspired Word. Several of the
church’s young people have gone into full time pastorates and missions
work, and the church continues to develop and participate in local and
state outreach programs.
The Lord works in mysterious ways and God has a grand design to
accomplish his purpose. It was not happenstance that the Gardner and
Wells families simultaneously moved to Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959; or a
coincidence that Bob Gardner happened to choose Kathy Well’s
Pastors / Clear Lake Regular Baptist Church
1961 Bill Paterson, Baptist Mid-Missions
1964 Harry Thibodeau, Baptist Mid-Missions
1968 Gary Gonnerman
1975 Bob Fields
1977 Ed Corbett
1984 R. Michael Griffon
1991 Dan Botterbrodt
1995 Steve Cox
? David Craig
? Jason Reynolds