Hunger Mountain Christian Assembly (HMCA) began in the winter of 1980 when Pastor DardAller, his family and two other families from the Mad River Valley who were members of Calvary Gospel Church of Berlin, sensed the Lord leading them to form a church in their own local area. With the encouragement and support of the Calvary Gospel, five original families began to meet for Sunday worship in homes. After several months, the small but growing group needed to seek a larger meeting place.
The church was incorporated in the summer of 1980 as Valley Christian Assembly and met at Harwood Union High School during the next four years. In 1984, the church purchased an eleven-acre piece of land on Route 100 in Waterbury Center. This new location was geographically central for the membership. Construction was completed and the church moved in during November of 1984. At this time, the church name was changed to Hunger Mountain Christian Assembly, in part due to the close proximity to Hunger Mountain. Dard Aller was the founding pastor and served from 1980 until 1987. Mansel Wells then served as pastor until February 1989. In July 1989, Tony Longe became Hunger Mountain Christian Assembly’s third pastor and served until May 2012. Ralph Gerlach led the congregation after Tony Longe and served from May 2012 through September 1, 2019. Gregg Simpson, who was hired as Pastor in November 2014 to serve with Ralph Gerlach, has led the congregation from September 2019 up to this time.
The church underwent an expansion in 2001 and with the additional space added, we have been able to offer the building for use to the community for large events that were unable to be held at other spaces due to the size of the event. After Hurricane Irene flooded downtown Waterbury and forced Hunger Mountain Child Center out of their space on South Main St., we opened our doors for them to continue their service to children in the community while their space was being restored. We hosted them for the 5 ½ years while their new space was being purchased and remodeled.
Over the years, our men’s group has helped individuals locally with small building projects such as building wheelchair ramps, decks and they’ve roofed small homes as well. We’ve also had members involved in ministry at the women’s prison when it was based in Waterbury and have been active in The River Runs Through It garden club. For over 25 years, we have hosted a monthly Pastors meeting and luncheon, where Pastors and Ministry Leaders from around the State and the Northeast have met to discuss a variety of topics and to pray for our State and the Northeast region. We are also part of a group of local Pastors who have met regularly to discuss local topics and pray for the Waterbury community. For many years, we have joined in with other churches in the area in hosting the Lenten lunch series. Over the last 4 or 5 years, we have worked with Wesley United Methodist Church and provided a non-scary Bible themed story display for children and handed out candy and Bible themed treats to trick or treaters on Main St. during the Halloween festivities. We have also staffed and helped people who are buying Christmas trees at the Wesley United Methodist Church during their annual Christmas tree sale. Recently, we teamed with other churches in the area and helped provide and serve meals to those who were impacted by COVID and the food insecurity that arose from unemployment. We also have a person on the Community Action Service Team board that oversees the Waterbury Area Food Shelf and the Good Neighbor Fund. And in 2019, members from our church picked up the facilitation of the annual Waterbury Community Christmas Dinner to continue a tradition that other churches and individuals started before us and have provided to the community for many years prior.
My hopes and dreams for the future of the Waterbury community would be for the churches to be able to work in unison and to have a larger role in solutions to issues that face the community. We would be able to share the love of Jesus in a tangible way to our neighbors and provide assistance, hope and prayer to those in need.