August 2023

The History of BMUCC, 1980-2003

Where does BMUCC come from? From grassroots leadership and participation from its members, just like it still does today!

The Cave Creek Museum recently offered us a trove of documents pertaining to the early history of Black Mountain Community Church (BMCC), it's usual name. As we go through it, we will share more and more insights and history from its contents, but the very first thing we found was this document, summarizing our early history! It is a blessing to have access to our "origin story"!


The Black Mountain Community Church was founded in October 1980. There was definitely a need in the community for a church home that might better serve a broad membership. So the thirty five original persons involved pondered how to go about setting up a church more suitable to their wishes.

At that time Robert and Carey Wilcox had investigated a tiny church which met in Bell Center, Sun City.

They liked the fellowship, to which they were invited, but preferred rather to consider how that group had initiated its body. They consulted several times with the pastor of that group, and formulated, with his guidance and suggestions, both a constitution and by-laws according to which their contemplated church would be governed.

The next concern was a meeting place, which proved to be the Multi-purpose Room of the Cave Creek School.

The group was probably "one of a kind."  The people were intelligent, full of humor, and did riot mind speaking their minds. Some of them insisted on it, in fact. And they were adaptable. When it was realized that there would not be a piano in the Multi-purpose Room at the school, Bob Wilcox said he would bring a pitch-pipe and the singing would be a cappella.

Everyone smiled. But by the following week someone had anonymously donated a 70 year old piano which Bob swore weighed 700 pounds. He knew because  he had to help move it. The congregation was delighted as Loraine Bohnenkamp played the hymns.  "It's a beautiful piano," someone said. "It has character." And it did.

During that time of regular Sunday services, members held frequent meetings to plan for the future, elected officers, and were fortunate to obtain as a pastor James Roof, who had been Pastor of churches back East. He suggested at first that he be only the part-time minister, but later modified that idea into "Full-time, Part-time Minister." He also initiated the practice of having no collection taken during the service, but instead just placing the collection plate by the front door and having the donations be completely voluntary.

Beverly Thelander wrote the church's newsletter, called "Black Mountain Revelations." Also, on the few occasions when Loraine Bohnenkamp was ill, Beverly substituted by playing one finger piano. She was never accused of being shy. It was also Beverly Thelander who insisted on an early start to the service, as she did not want to miss a minute of the Sunday morning football game TV broadcast.

There were potlucks, Christmas Eve celebrations, weddings, baptisms, memorial services - all things that churches normally do. Friendliness was immediately apparent at Black Mountain Community Church. There was nothing staid about social interaction among members and visitors.

However, the local School Board could approve use of the school by the church for only one year. At the end of that first year, we had to find another next, which luckily was provided by the local Mormon stake. They had just completed their new building in Cave Creek, so we moved into the Trade Centter, at Cave Creek and Tom Darlington Roads, which the Mormon church had occupied. It was fortuitous to find a sacntuary complete with pews and a kitchen.

Over time, the cost of continuing to meet there proved burdensome. That, plus the death of James Roof, forced some drastic adjustments. Unfortunately, our beloved Rev. Roof died of cancer in June of 1984. He conducted services until he was bed-ridden, delivering the sermon from a chair when he could no longer stand and using a microphone when his voice no longer carried. It was then that the Rev. Donald Field, agreed in September 1984 to pick up where James Roof had left off.

At about the same time, the Cave Creek Museum had completed their new building, and did not need the use of the original Cave Creek historic church on the Museum grounds for their exhibits. The congregation moved yet again.

Rev. Field served as Pastor until March of 1996, when the Rev. Dr. Carl Eschenbrenner was called to be its Pastor. In the spring of 1998, the Rev. Gary D. Bryant became its Pastor. The Rev. Dr. Steven E. Barrett became Pastor in November 1999, until his retirement from active mininistry in .June 2005. The Rev. W. L. "Bill" Reece now serves as interim pastor.

We began one of the most exciting chapters of our existence in December 2003, when we broke ground for our very own church home. On Dec. 5, 2004, we had the privilege of dedicating our beautiful new church to the glory of God.

Black Mountain Community Church welcomes all in Christian fellowship and love, and prays for the continued guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.


1. James Roof

2. Josef Metzger (There at the beginning)

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