How did Cornerstone begin?
Cornerstone Church started in 1994 out of a thriving campus ministry at Iowa State University. Under the leadership of Troy Nesbitt, Harold Nesbitt and Peter Matthews, God had grown The Salt Company from a gathering of about 70 to the largest student organization at ISU with more than 500 students. While the group had been started as a ministry of Grand Avenue Baptist Church (GABC), a vision emerged to reach the next generation with the Gospel in a way that had yet to be embraced by a local church in Ames.
Troy sought the blessing for this new church from GABC’s senior pastor, Tom Nesbitt (Troy’s father). Pastor Tom was thrilled with the idea, and the GABC staff and elders gave their blessing for this new church start. Purposing to integrate contemporary style, expanded ministries and a rock band with the truth of the gospel, Cornerstone Church had its first service in August of 1994. The core membership consisted of 24 community people with an additional 200 students who attended regularly.
It was evident that God wanted to do a work in the Ames community. Community members dove in to ministry, and Cornerstone grew consistently. The church started meeting on Sunday evenings at GABC, and eventually grew in to increasingly bigger, rented spaces throughout the community. In 1997, Cornerstone began its first campaign to raise funds for a facility. Gifted with land on the northeast corner of Interstate 35 and Highway 30, Cornerstone’s first phase of facilities, including a gravel parking lot, opened in the fall of 1999.
Since then, Cornerstone has continued to grow to in the number of ministries, staff, baptisms, facility space and connection groups. Sending hundreds of short and long-term missionaries overseas, planting churches in Albania, Kazakhstan, West Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo, and drawing thousands of central Iowans to events from youth basketball leagues to Christmas musical productions, it’s clear God still wants to do more.
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