In 1950, a startling headline grabbed Reverend Lester Bennett's attention, and soon after he felt a call to plant a Wesleyan church in the Tolstoy area. In 1951 a building was bought from the Pollock, SD area and moved to Tolstoy. The very first service held in the new Tolstoy Wesleyan Church was the wedding of Harlin and Ardella Hettich.
On June 17, 2001 the church had gathered for worship and was in the midst of Sunday school when lightning struck the chimney causing the building to catch fire in the attic. Fire literally rolled down the wall behind the Sunday school teacher. As the emergency personnel arrived, the parishioners had few precious moments to rescue the piano and most of the pews before the firemen said it would be unsafe to enter again. With tears rolling down their faces, this forlorn community stood and watched their church burn to cinders in less than two hours.
This was a dire crossroads for Tolstoy Wesleyan. The simple thing to do was for this small country congregation to disband and move on. But so many felt like this tragedy was a wake-up call from God. The families say they felt like they were on a slow downward spiral; the zeal and passion had been forgotten in their worship. They were going through the motions.
But that fire ignited a new burning passion to reach the unchurched and hurting in our community with the love and good news of Jesus Christ. The vibrancy of the church was reborn with enthusiastic worship and services designed to connect with the 21st century. The church rebuilt the sanctuary which was dedicated in 2002, then expanded with a classroom addition which was dedicated in 2007.
We are Tolstoy Wesleyan: "Out of the Ashes and On Fire for God!"