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International Ministerial Fellowship (IMF) was established in 1958, and chartered October 25, 1960 as a Texas non-profit corporation by Pastor F.C. Masserano, Sr., Dr. George Steiglitz, Rev. C.R. McPhail and a group of men and women who believed there was a need to establish a fellowship of non-denominational ministers committed to preach and teach the Gospel of Christ, promote a fellowship among non-denominational ministers, build churches, publish gospel related materials and support missions. Several of these men and women had served together previously as members of the World Bible Way Fellowship in the forties and early fifties under the direction of Rev. Guy Shields and Rev. Albert Daly.
Dr. George Steiglitz of Crockett, TX, served as its first President. Following his death, the Fellowship was merged with World Bible Way Fellowship of Dallas, TX and Dr. Albert Daly served as President for a number of years. In the early seventies the Fellowship separated from World Bible Way Fellowship and continued under the leadership of Rev. F.C. Masserano, Sr., of Memphis, TN until his death in October 1981. Rev. Frank Masserano, Jr. served as President until 1985.
In 1985 the Fellowship relocated to Minneapolis, MN and Rev. L.L. Kirkman of Evansville, IN, served as President; followed by Rev. Lawrence Kutzler of Minneapolis, MN; Dr. Bill Tolson of Oklahoma City, OK; Dr. M.G. McLuhan of Sun City, AZ; Dr. Morris Sheats of Dallas, TX; Pastor Fred Kelly of Norcross, GA; Pastor Randy Alonso of Rockledge, FL; and presently by Pastor John Braland of St. Bonifacius, MN.
Many of these men were independent pastors/evangelists/preachers with a pioneering spirit who put their complete faith and trust in God. Their wives showed the same vision and commitment to do God’s will and to serve without reservation.
For approximately 30 years between 1950 and 1980 a number of these brethren met annually during a Thanksgiving convention at Bethel Assembly Church in Memphis, TN. For a seven-year period they were merged with World Bible Way Fellowship and during that time they met in at annual conference in Dallas, TX.
The earliest beginnings of the Fellowship were birthed through the friendship of Pastor F.C. Masserano, Sr. and Rev. L.L. Kirkman of Evansville, IN. That friendship and partnership in ministry began in 1939, and a number of the original pastors became acquainted and fellowshipped together all through the 40’s and up until they organized in 1958. At its largest, it was a group of about 60 pastors and evangelists. However, it would be 1960 before they incorporated the original IMF as a Texas corporation.
It was a great bonding that took place between Pastor F.C. Masserano, Sr. and Dr. George Stieglitz. Dr. Stieglitz had been a well-known surgeon in Hollywood before he found faith in Christ and received a call to Christian ministry. Dr. Stieglitz became the first President of the original IMF. It later merged with World Bible Way Fellowship under the direction of Dr. Albert Daly. Dr. Daly served as the President of the newly formed merged organization for about 7 years.
When Dr. Daly stepped down from his leadership role, there was some disagreement as to whom the brethren wanted to serve as their new President. IMF had a clause in its agreement with World Bible Way Fellowship that stated that if they felt at a later date that they would need to withdraw and continue as a sovereign ministry, they would have permission to do so. They chose to withdraw and Pastor F.C. Masserano, Sr. was elected to serve as the President, which he did until his death in October 1981. At his funeral the remaining members of the original IMF requested Rev. Frank Masserano, Jr. serve as President. There were only a handful of the original members still left; many had died or retired. They had served their generations well.
Rev. Frank Masserano, Jr. was called to pastor Bethel Assembly Church in Memphis after the death of his father (1981). He and his family relocated there from Minneapolis and served the church for 3-1/2 years. After much prayer, Frank and Carol believed that it was God’s will that they return to Minneapolis. The Board of the church chose to merge its families into other congregations in the area.
Rev. Frank Masserano, Jr., with permission from the Board and well wishes from the Board of Directors of the church, relocated the Fellowship to Minnesota. There he re-chartered it into a more broadly evangelical ministry with an emphasis on the centrality of Christ and the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.
At that time many churches and denominations were experiencing renewal, and with that renewal came the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in their midst. Subsequently, members, ministers and congregations withdrew from their former affiliations and sought fellowship with independent ministry organizations such as IMF. IMF was able to provide a safe haven for many of them and serve their ministry needs.
While individual members of IMF and member churches demonstrated much of their own traditional emphasis in their worship, the Fellowship itself saw the importance of maintaining a balanced emphasis of the Word and the Power of the Holy Spirit in the local church. It is the belief of the leaders of IMF that a balance must be striven for if these distinctives of the Church are going to remain healthy. It is our belief that while there were troubles in the churches of the first century, the teachings of Jesus and St. Paul emphasized the importance of avoiding an extreme emphasis on knowledge on one hand versus the extremes of the manifestation gifts.
The healthiest churches are those that humbly and firmly seek to strike a balance that will feed both the intellect and the spirit of mankind. If the intellect alone is served, our spirituality is in danger of becoming the sum total of the number of Bible and extra biblical studies we’ve mastered. If man’s emotions become the primary focus of our ministry, the dangers of Scriptural abuse or lack of Biblical knowledge, disorder and spiritual immaturity often rise to the fore.
We were born with an intellect and emotions and need a whole Gospel that will address the whole man: our mind, our spirit and how we are to live out the Truth of God’s Word in our lives.
The Horace B. “Red” Jackson Ministry Center in Excelsior, MN
From 1982 to 2019, IMF grew and developed under the leadership of Rev. Frank and Carol Masserano. Today IMF membership has grown to 1,400 plus in over 50 countries. IMF members serve as pastors, chaplains (military and civilian), missionaries, parachurch ministers, and leaders in various ministries around the globe.