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Better Together

For several years our District/Network tagline “Better Together” has provided focus and identification for us as we move forward in unity to fulfill our purpose as a fellowship in reproduction, relationship and resources. No individual or congregation can accomplish as much as when all of us move together to serve God in reaching our mission field and ministering to the people in our sphere of influence. The graphic expression on the front cover of this edition effectively depicts our movement corporately toward a direction guided by the Spirit as others continue to join this endeavor. You will find in the pages of this publication many of the efforts we are planning to achieve throughout the various ministries of our network.

Five years ago your churches joined forces to impact one region of India, the state of Rajasthan. It was a great privilege for Marjie and me to return this past year to view the results of your financial contributions and sacrifices. The development of the school has progressed to the point now that about 300 children are getting an education, a healthy meal every day and a school uniform. Most of these children would not have this opportunity had we not partnered to see this accomplished. In addition, the church continues to grow and flourish with the development of the church facilities and the Bible College that trains ministers to pastor and plant churches. A significant part of our project was focused on the Freedom House which houses and provides training in micro business endeavors to rescue those trapped in the trafficking of young girls in that community.

Amazing results in missions happen because we are “Better Together” The seeds you sowed five years ago have grown to produce an amazing harvest for Christ. Sometimes we may wonder where our dollars go and the result of our giving. Your heart would be warmed by the children singing songs about Jesus and the individuals who have been saved by Christ and now are going out to plant more churches that bring life and hope to the lost. The light of Jesus is being proclaimed and your giving made this possible.

Last year our efforts were directed toward a community in Romania assisting Ana and Mike Dascalescu in constructing Baneasa Community Center. Once again, your response to the opportunity of investing in this nation to bring the good news of Jesus’ love has established a foothold that is producing a harvest of souls for the kingdom of God. We demonstrate God’s care for those without the hope of Christ by sending, giving and going to the unreached people of our world.


2017 World Missions Project Video

Thank you for your support for this year’s World Missions Project.

To help communicate the Roma Project, you can download the Roma Project video here:

Roma Project Video


2017 BGMC Project

Jackson’s Ridge Children’s Ministry Training Center
Magaliesburg, South Africa

Jackson’s Ridge is a one of a kind organization dedicated exclusively to changing children’s lives. Jackson’s Ridge is a non profit organization that was established by the Assemblies of God World Missions, USA in partnership with the International Assemblies of God of South Africa. JR (as the locals call it) is located just outside Magaliesburg in the Northwest province of South Africa.

JR Changes Children’s Lives through three exciting ministry programs:

  • First, Jackson’s Ridge is a Children’s Ministry Training Centre for adult leaders, children’s workers, teachers and community workers who want to impact the lives of all children in their communities.
  • Second, Jackson’s Ridge is a Children’s Camping facility specializing in camps for all kinds of children from church groups, community organizations and disadvantaged communities. Jackson’s Ridge also serves as the continental office for Royal Family Kids Camps, a program designed especially for hurting children who have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused and neglected.
  • Third, Jackson’s Ridge is a Resource Centre, providing the largest array of children’s ministry materials and supplies in Africa.

The Penndel CE Department has chosen Jackson’s Ridge as our 2017 BGMC Project. Our Breakaway & Camp offerings will specifically go to support this great work – please come prepared to those events to be a blessing to Jackson’s Ridge! (Feel free to use the video below to promo this project in your church or kids’ ministry!)

BGMC Giving Form for Jackson’s Ridge Project:
Jackson’s Ridge – BGMC Giving Form


2017 Home Missions Project Videos

Thank you for your support for this year’s Home Missions Project.

To help communicate the R1 Project, you can download the vision video here:

Full Version Video

Short Version Video




10X Better in 2017

The beginning of the New Year is a great time to consider our ways and look at how we can improve… this is our year to become ten times better. A recently survey of PennDel Ministry Leaders highlighted goals in three key areas that provide a great springboard for how we can leap forward in 2017.


Daniel was under a strict diet that helped him to live a healthy life. I had a wake up call five years ago with a pre-diabetic warning and then relapsed last year in the midst of a stressful season. Getting my blood work done helped me to get an accurate picture that moved me into action.
I write this as a fellow traveler on the road to health. I began by establishing a goal weight and a time frame. Cutting back on carbs, riding my bike
5 days a week, and tracking my progress on the
My Fitness Pal and Map My Ride apps have helped me to drop 30 pounds since July.



Rest can renew our soul. It is one of the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day
by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Yet it is the one that many Christ followers, including those in the ministry, ignore the most.

Set some boundaries with your cell phone and email on your day off and during vacation. If we don’t protect our schedule, no one else will.



Has anyone else experienced what Lewis Grant describes as “Sunset Fatigue?” This is when we come home from work, and those who need our love the most end up getting the leftovers. We detach and zone out. To leap ahead in this New Year we need to be ambitious about the things that last.

In addition to time with family, we need to prioritize a daily time with God. I was hit hard by this prophetic warning by Banning Liebscher, “If you love the spotlight more than the secret place, you’re in trouble, because it means you care more about pleasing people than pleasing God.”


“Whenever the king consulted them on anything, on books or on life, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in His kingdom put together.” Daniel 1:20


One of my favorite lines when I coach church leadership teams is that “you can’t keep adding without subtracting or delegating.” In order to recalibrate, we need to address our overload.
Several years ago I pulled back from most of my lower tier commitments. God, family, work and serving held the top tiers, but I let go of fantasy football, cable television and multiple volunteer committees that created death by meetings.

Sometimes we can find ourselves in life and ministry perpetuating cycles that are not very effective. What are the things you need to let go of? John Maxwell said, “You have to give up to go up.”


In identifying a Pain Partner,

Sam Chand suggests you look at:

  • Who in your life “gets you” and doesn’t think you’re weak or strange when you wrestle with the complexities of your role?
  • Who asks second and third questions to draw you out instead of giving pat answers, simple prescriptions, and easy formulas?
  • Who listens to you without feeling compelled to give you advice?
  • Who is your safe haven so you can be completely honest and open?
  • Who fills your spiritual and emotional gas tank?

Job Opening


PennDel Ministry Center is looking for a Part-time Ministry Assistant.

This is a great place to work and make a Kingdom difference!

Click here for the Ministry Assistant Job Posting.

If interested, please email your resume to Tom Rees at



Good Grief!

It’s probably Charlie Brown’s most notable saying: “Good Grief.” It comes at times when he is exasperated. We have these sayings to give expression to moods and feelings. We say them when there’s really nothing more to say.

Along with Charlie’s notable saying is the song, “Christmas Time,” which really goes along with the mood. It’s melancholy and gray – anything but the expected anticipation and celebration that comes with Christmas. Of course, in the animated classic, the whole story line takes an upturn when Linus quotes Luke’s Christmas narrative.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the Christmas blues are not so easily resolved.

Our Grief

Put simply, grief is a response to loss. Most often grief is associated with death. However, we have observed people grieve over many different types of losses. The loss of health, a job, a marriage, or even an opportunity are among a long list of circumstances that can elicit a grief response. David McGee identifies, “No two people will grieve the same, but there are similarities. As individuals, we can complicate the grief experience by a lack of understanding concerning grief and how loss interacts with our present lives.” (McGee, “Living After Death”) Here are a few thoughts about processing loss.

Bad Grief

Although there is not a set pattern for proper grief, we can see several ways that grief can be considered “bad:”

Denying/avoiding grief: occurs by immersing oneself in activity or distracting oneself to the extent that they don’t consciously think about their loss.

Premature termination of grief: is urged by people who try to determine for a grieving person when enough time has passed, and that the grieving person should now move on or get over their loss.

Unresolved grief: can be experienced when one lives in unabated depression or by building one’s identity on the loss they have experienced.

Good Grief

Some might ask “can grief be good?” I believe the answer most definitely is “yes.” Grief is a necessary expression to help us process our loss. If we grieve well, we have a better chance of regaining emotional and spiritual homeostasis. We can make the most of grief if we:

Let it out: in the book “ToughLove,” David & Phyllis York identify a principle that resonates with experience: “To postpone a crisis is to intensify it.” So it is with grief. If we delay or deny our need to grieve, we do ourselves harm in the long run. I think the words of Jesus, taken quite literally, are worth considering: “Blessed are those who mourn.”

Share it with a trusted friend: the best kind of friend during grief is one who listens patiently, offers advice rarely, challenges only when necessary, and is empathetic consistently. Some grief work will of necessity be done alone, while another side of grief work is done in companionship, absent platitudes and clichés. In his transparent journey through the loss of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” (C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”) I think that Lewis is referring to religious clichés that fail to bring comfort because the hearer is either emotionally numb or in pain when they are spoken. A good friend has more substance to offer than trite truisms.

Give yourself permission to have bad days: there is no timetable for grief. Memories and the emotions that they elicit are as unpredictable as a breeze. A holiday, a phrase or sound, and even a scent can bring an unexpected memory crashing into our consciousness. I was at Walmart a few weeks back and was knocked back on my heels when I saw a woman pushing a cart who looked like my mother. I was unprepared for the dry throat that a glimpse of a stranger would bring. A file that I thought was closed had been reopened, and my grief work continued for an hour. In a strange way I welcomed the grief as it refreshed my memory…grief is unpredictable and unusual.

Give yourself permission to have good days: at times people feel bad for feeling good again. But a new normal will and should emerge, and that new normal will include the memories and the absence of the loved one. It’s ok to be ok with these realities.

As we enter the Christmas season, it is inevitable that some will be facing the holidays with a sense of loss. Our prayer is that you may find comfort and peace during a time of year that seems unsympathetic to your grief. May you experience the dawning light* of His presence (Matthew 4:16).

*I have to say that this metaphor used by Isaiah resonates with me. Dawning light is gradual, not uncomfortably sudden. It brings warmth and comfort. It brings hope. It is set in the context of “those who sat in the region of the shadow of death.” It’s a good thought, and a good promise.

May you experience the dawning light of His presence (Matthew 4:16).


Joy to the World

The festivities of the holiday season are always filled with fun, joy and excitement as we gather with friends and family to celebrate God’s gift of salvation to us through the incarnation of the Son of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the growing secularism of our culture, the importance of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth cannot be overstated.

When preparing for the TV show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charles Schulz stated, “If it’s to be a Christmas special, I want to certainly deal with the true meaning of Christmas.”* He was so right! He was determined to have the story told through the reciting of the Scripture passage because people needed to be reminded what Christmas is all about. The producer, Bill Melendez, stated that Schulz said, “Bill, if we don’t do it, who else can? We are the only ones who can do it.”* We in the church can heed the advice of Mr. Schulz. If we do not share the true meaning of Christmas, who will?

The gifts we receive and give, the decorating of the tree, the music and the abundance of food we enjoy point us to the greatest gift ever given. But without the story of Jesus’ birth, all the rest becomes an excuse to relish in extravagance. We embrace this wonderful celebration because it points us to the amazing grace of God which is simply Christ!

This time of year provides us with the opportunity to reflect on God’s gift of Salvation which gives us a new start. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Whether we think of our new life in Christ, a new year that is ahead, or some new endeavor, Christ gives us the chance to begin again, to have a new start. Perhaps there is something you have looked forward to seeing accomplished but have not gotten around to it. I do not personally make New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to take this time to reflect and refocus on the issues that are dear to my heart. What do you want the Lord to help you accomplish this next year? May I encourage you to complete the sentence, “With God’s help, this is my year to…” Make this a matter of prayer and begin to establish the action steps needed to see this fulfilled. 2017 can be the greatest year of your life, if you establish Christ as the center and order your world around His priorities.

*Quotes from: A Charlie Brown Christmas-The making of a Tradition, by Lee Mendelson with reminiscences by Bill Melendez.


Don’t Quit

When Pastor KR Mele sensed the Lord’s call to undertake a coast-to-coast bike ride to share Christ’s love and raise support for a few worthy causes, he didn’t even own a bike. Believing God’s word “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he and a friend took off on a journey of a lifetime

Climbing mountains will test your endurance. Whether on foot, pedaling a bike or overcoming mental hurdles, mountains (challenges) come in a variety of sizes, but the fact remains, no matter how high one is, you still must climb it. As my 74 year old friend and I pedaled from Santa Monica, California to St. Augustine, Florida over 38 days, the highest elevation we would climb would be 8,228 feet in New Mexico…and what a wild ride down the other side, 17 miles of S-turns travelling at speeds upward of 40-45 MPH. More than anything on our ride across country, the mountains tested our endurance. But as I was told in San Diego on Day 2 from an experienced biker, this trip was 5% physical and 95% mental. Isn’t that true in life and ministry as well?

The apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:8) Paul calls this race we’re in a “good fight,” and the goal is to finish it by “keeping the faith.” A fight is never easy, no matter how you look at it.  But this fight is worth it, that’s why it’s called a “good fight.” Every day we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the temptations that will try and blindside us and make us want to quit. Here are some promises that should keep us climbing.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22, 23

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.  Zechariah 4:6

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (do not give up).” Galatians 6:9

Continuing this “fight of faith” to the very end takes endurance. Have you ever heard someone say, “God will not give you more than you can handle?” Don’t believe it! Many believe this is found in God’s Word, but it really isn’t. It’s possible that it gets confused with 2 Corinthians 10:13 that says, “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” It’s true, God will not allow us to experience more temptation than we are able to bear, but God usually gives us “more than we can handle,” because if we could handle it ourselves, we wouldn’t need Him.


KR and Harold Morgan set to take off on their journey of a lifetime in Southern California.

Our endurance should come from the Lord and a realization that the resurrection power of Jesus Christ lives in us as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. He is our Endurance! The verse we chose for our “Coast 2 Coast 4 Jesus” journey was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) But to truly understand this verse, my eyes must travel to verse 11 where Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” To have endurance, we must first learn how to be content. Content with who we are, where we are and what we’re facing. Psalm 121 became engraved on my heart as I climbed mountains on my Giant Defy Composite bike. I would quote it out loud to remind me of where my strength comes from. It gave me strength to face every challenge that came my way. Here is how it begins…

“I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1, 2

 Let’s not neglect our time with the Lord. If we do, we could find ourselves discontented and lacking endurance. I pray the Lord gives us strength to endure and never give up. Remember, it’s worth the fight!


Steadfast Endurance

Hebrews 12:1-2 says…”Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

bryanOur life with God on this earth is a marathon, not a sprint. It matters both how we begin and how we finish. If a runner begins with a burst of enthusiasm but then fades at the end, they have failed. We are told in this passage that we must ‘run with endurance the race that God has set before us.’ Not for men’s applause; but with steadfast endurance.

In May, our church supported a triathlon that hundreds of people participated in to raise money for the IM Able Foundation which is an organization that exists to help develop and support active lifestyles for individuals with disabilities.

My physical therapist, Karen Decker of Reading Health Systems, was the captain of our own Got the Nerve Triathlon Team Haba Na Haba. As both an athlete and physical therapist, Karen is very familiar with the importance of having endurance.

She recently shared a quote that I think really puts “endurance” in perspective,

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”

Working with a physical therapist throughout my recovery has taught me that I am not going to sprint toward my goals. But instead–little by little, with endurance— I have been able to achieve key milestones long before I ever dreamed possible.

The Greek word in the New Testament for “endurance” means, “the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from their deliberate purpose and has loyalty to faith even in the greatest trials and sufferings. For some it has meant death.”

What you may be enduring is difficult. But you can endure and here’s why:

1. Others have endured something similar.

The writer of Hebrews refers to a huge crowd of witnesses that surround us. (Read Hebrews 11) contains people like:

  • Noah who spent 120 years preparing for something he knew little about.
  • Sarah who found life in a time when most women were thinking about death.
  • Moses who turned his back on the world in order to serve God.

2. God has purposefully chosen for us what we are facing.

We see in the passage that God has, in detail, laid out the course each of us has to run. The obstacles in our race are not unfortunate mistakes, but divinely appointed opportunities for us to experience the grace of God. We can run with endurance because we can run with His grace that will always keep us strong and surrendered.

3. Christ is our example.

You can my friend – haba na haba—little by little, run this race with “endurance” and you will win!

Hebrews 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He endured a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.

Think about all He endured through sinful people, so don’t become weary and give up.

Christ faithfully ran the race the Father had chosen for Him, and today He is seated in the place of highest honor at His Father’s right hand.


PennDel and the AG in Perspective

Small beginnings have produced much growth. The Assemblies of God came into being as a result of a small convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 2-12, 1914. At this gathering, some one hundred twenty pastors and evangelists registered as delegates representing twenty states and several foreign lands. In all, about 300 men, women, and children participated in the founding convention. And now, more than 100 years later, the Assemblies of God has become one of the largest families of Christian churches in the world.

A number of factors led up to the founding of the Assemblies of God. Before the closing of the frontier, a series of revivals had refreshed the land under such preachers as Barton Stone at Cane Ridge and Charles
G. Finney. This culminated in the last great nationwide revival which occurred on the eve of the Civil War in
1858-59, a revival sometimes called the great “Prayer Meeting Revival.”

Sometime after the Civil War, the freshness of a vital experience with Christ was exchanged for a “culture-religion.” A mood of self-satisfaction and complacency began to replace the earnestness and prayerfulness of earlier years in many churches across the land.

As social unrest challenged the tranquility of American domestic life, a series of devastating ideas weakened the American churches: Biblical criticism, liberal theology, Darwin’s The Origin of Species published in 1859, and the rise of the social gospel in which education and social activism were to displace the old-fashioned mourner’s bench.

Shaping the Coming Pentecostal Revival

Two parallel, sometimes overlapping, movements—Fundamentalism and the Holiness revival—developed in opposition to what was felt to be an alarming trend in the larger church world. Each of these conservative reactions was to have a significant influence on the shaping of the coming Pentecostal revival and the Assemblies of God.

Fundamentalism. Fundamentalists stressed verbal and inerrant inspiration of the Bible, which was seen as the final and complete authority for faith and practice. Contributions to the shaping of Assemblies of God theology were its views on Scripture, on the person and work of Christ, on the shaping of its doctrine of sanctification in distinction from their traditional Holiness view, and in its emphasis on the second coming of Christ.

Holiness Movement. The Pentecostal movement owes much of its inspiration and formation to the Wesleyan Holiness revival of the 19th century. Its emphasis on spiritual experiences and its tradition of earnestly seeking God created a receptive mood for the Pentecostal revival. The methodologies of the camp meeting and the revival were eagerly adapted. From the Keswick wing (which emphasized the “enduement of power”) of the Holiness movement came the Bible institute program, the ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God, the missionary vision, the emphasis on divine healing, much of its early hymnology, and even a significant portion of its early leadership.

As the spiritual tempo began to rise in the late 1800s, prayer bands met in various areas of the United States and in many places throughout the world. Bible conferences were held and much was written about conditions of the Christian church. God began to respond to these cries for revival and began to pour out His Spirit upon individuals and various groups of believers. Some of the great preachers who helped to usher in the Holiness movement and the rise of Pentecostalism include A. B. Simpson, R. A. Torrey, D. L. Moody, William Booth, and Maria Woodworth-Etter. In the late 1800s, there were isolated reports of a few individuals, such as William Jethro Walthall in Arkansas (1879), Daniel Awrey in Delaware, Ohio (1890), and Carl Hanson in Dalton, Minnesota (1899), experiencing the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Roots of Twentieth Century Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism as a movement traces its roots back to January 1, 1901, when God poured out His Spirit among a group of students at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Here it is reported that Agnes Ozman became the first of millions in the twentieth century to experience the Pentecostal baptism. In spite of strong opposition, this revival spirit moved through Kansas, into Missouri, southward to Texas, and finally to the West Coast.

Here it broke out anew in 1906 in the Azusa Street Mission of Los Angeles, and from Azusa Street the Pentecostal message spread all around the world. Among the first to receive Pentecost in the Azusa Street mission was Mrs. Rachel Sizelove who later took the news to Springfield, Missouri, which is now the home of the Assemblies of God. Others experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in the Azusa Street revival included Elder C. H. Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ; Pastor William Durham, of the old North Avenue Mission in Chicago, who a few years later spearheaded discussion of the “finished work of Christ”; G. B. Cashwell, of Dunn, North Carolina, who was instrumental in taking the message to the southeastern United States; and Elmer Fisher, founder of the Upper Room Mission in Los Angeles. Joseph Smale, T. B. Barratt, and others from overseas visited Azusa Street. Still others went out from Azusa Street as missionaries to Hong Kong, Korea, South Africa, Liberia, and many other places.

To trace the stream of Pentecostal history in every direction from this point becomes virtually impossible because of its rapid spread. Nevertheless, in 1906-07, the revival broke out among students at the Christian and Missionary Alliance ministerial training school at Nyack, New York, and four early leaders of the Assemblies of God received the Holy Ghost: David McDowell, Frank M. Boyd, Gordon F. Bender, and William I. Evans. Pastor D. W. Kerr accepted the message at Beulah Park Camp Ground near Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907. That same year, Marie Burgess, later Mrs. Robert A. Brown, carried the message from Zion, Illinois, to New York City, where she and her husband pastored Glad Tidings Tabernacle, a strong missionary church in the Assemblies of God.

In January, 1907, Glenn A. Cook held a revival in Indianapolis, where J. Roswell Flower, First General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, was converted. Alice Reynolds, later Mrs. J. Roswell Flower, received the baptism of the Holy Ghost at this time. Two years later, J. Roswell Flower gave up the study of law and, assisted by his fiancée, sponsored a camp meeting in Indianapolis. At this camp he, too, was filled with the Spirit.

Forming the Assemblies of God

Word and Witness 1914Others had similar experiences as the Pentecostal fire began to spread. Eventually it seemed necessary to form an organization of like-minded Pentecostals under one Bible name for the purpose of spreading the gospel, training workers, and banding together to send out missionaries.

At the close of 1913, E. N. Bell’s Pentecostal paper, the Word and Witness, issued the now famous call for a general council of Pentecostal ministers to convene in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the spring of 1914—the call that culminated in the founding of the Assemblies of God. In the fall of 1913, Howard A. Goss, then pastor at Hot Springs, had discussed such a gathering with E. N. Bell, editor of Word and Witness. Since Goss had a lease on the Hot Springs Grand Opera House, they decided to call for a council to meet there April 2-12, 1914. Carried on the front page of the December 20 issue of Word and Witness, the call was addressed to “The Pentecostal Saints and Churches of God in Christ,” and was signed by M. M. Pinson, Phoenix, Arizona; A. P. Collins, Fort Worth, Texas; H. A. Goss, Hot Springs, Arkansas; D. C. O. Opperman, Houston, Texas; and E. N. Bell, Malvern, Arkansas.

Five of the basic reasons for calling the General Council were (1) to achieve better understanding and unity of doctrine, (2) to know how to conserve God’s work at home and abroad, (3) to consult on protection of funds for missionary endeavors, (4) to explore the possibilities of chartering churches under a legal name, and (5) to consider the establishment of a Bible training school with a literary division.

The Basis of the Assemblies of God

At the first General Council, a “Preamble and Resolution on Constitution” was adopted which identified the new Fellowship as the General Council of the Assemblies of God. This voluntary cooperative organization was inaugurated for the purpose of following “Scriptural methods and order for worship, unity, fellowship, work and business for God, and disapprove of all unscriptural methods, doctrines, and conduct” in order to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God …” (Eph. 4:17-32). The delegates also moved to consider the five purposes announced in the Convention Call in the Word and Witness.

This basis of fellowship held the Assemblies of God together until the Statement of Fundamental Truths was adopted in 1916 and until the official constitution and bylaws were adopted in 1927. From those formative years, the Assemblies of God has developed a multitude of evangelistic programs and experienced an explosive rate of growth, reaching all segments of society both in the U.S. and abroad.

While the Assemblies of God is growing in America, the real story is the ethnic transformation of the AG as our Fellowship is becoming more global, diverse, and growing. Over the years there has been a demographic shift in the AG. Certain segments of the AG seem to be in spiritual and numeral decline, mirroring the general decline of Western culture and its rejection of biblical value. However, non-whites and immigrants are eagerly embracing a strong Pentecostal identity, bringing much growth in numbers in the AG. The founders of our Movement laid the foundation for this growth when at the second General Council in November 1914, they committed the fellowship to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” Currently, as of the 2015 statistics, the Assemblies of God in the U.S. has 12,897 churches, 37,068 ministers, and over 3 million adherents. Worldwide, the Assemblies of God has over 67 million adherents.

“Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace…”

Formation of the Eastern District Council

This same religious fervor and growth as seen in the Assemblies of God as a whole, is also found in the formations of the Eastern District which is now known as the PennDel Ministry Network. David McDowell did not attend the historical gathering in Hot Springs, but afterwards, Chairman E. N. Bell, notified him of his election as a General Presbyter for the Eastern part of the United States, instructing him to organize an Eastern District.

After much planning and debate, the Eastern District was formed at a convention held June, 14, 1917 at Glad Tidings Hall, New York City, with Robert Brown as the host pastor. At that time the district included all the churches affiliated with the AG in the region east of the Ohio River and above the Potomac River. Early superintendents included John Coxe (1917-1918), Robert A. Brown (1918-1922), Joseph Tunmore (1922-1930), J. Roswell Flower 1930-1936), Flem Van Meter (1936-1943), and Wesley R. Steelberg (1943).

2015 Penndel
Ministry Network
434 Churches
1,173 Ministers

The New England District (which later was split into Northern New England and Southern New England) was formed out of the Eastern District in 1919. In 1943 a vote was taken to divide the district again, and New York-New Jersey became a district of its own (later becoming separate districts of New York and New Jersey in 1954). A. Newton Chase became the superintendent of the Eastern District after the split in 1943. Chase served as superintendent for 16 years (1943-1959), followed by Russell Williams (1959-1978), and then Philip Bongiorno (1978-2002). In 1983 the district voted to change its name to the Pennsylvania-Delaware District, which became effective on July 1, 1983. Currently the district has 434 churches and 1,173 ministers as shown in the 2015 statistics. Stephen R. Tourville is now serving as District Superintendent since 2002. This year marks the 100th MinistrieSummit/District Council as PennDel begins a year of reflection, commitment, and renewal as it embarks on its second century of growth and ministry.


An Escape from Romania

Dascalescu Wedding Mike and Ana Dascalescu were miraculously delivered from communist Romania in 1981. Their escape began one night when Mike, a merchant-marine officer, heard God tell him it was time for Ana, her brother and him to flee. As they navigated their way to the ship headed for Greece, God’s miracles began. Even though the entryway was guarded, they walked through the gate without being seen. For the next step in their nighttime journey, Ana (who was pregnant) and her brother had to jump into freezing waters so Mike could hoist them up to the deck using ropes. Ana recounts, “With the rope tied around my waist, Mike began pulling me out of the water. When I was only 15 feet in the air we both saw a searchlight from a patrol boat. At the moment it would have spotted us, the rope snapped, and I was dumped back into the water while the patrol boat changed direction. We knew that God was fully involved in every detail of our escape!”

Mike had a hiding place prepared for them once they were on the ship, but before he could take them to the closet located in the bottom level, Ana and her brother needed to hide in an empty oil tank while a final search of the ship was performed before setting sail. Ana remembers, “While remaining perfectly still, kneeling in a thick layer of sludge, my brother and I could hear the soldiers walking on the oil tank and see the beams of their flashlights penetrating through the cracks, but God again protected us. Soon, I heard a whistle from Mike indicating the coast was clear.” They were able to crawl out of the oil tank and sneak to the small, dark closet that was their cocoon for the next eight days.

Dascalescu-Article3When they arrived in Greece, the three snuck off the ship at night and sojourned across Greece into Yugoslavia where they were caught by police and sentenced to three weeks in prison for crossing the border illegally. They were then released with instructions to travel to Italy. Once in Italy, the American Embassy graciously granted political asylum for them to come to the United States which became their home for over 33 years! In 1989 Mike and Ana began serving at GT in Reading, PA.

After their harrowing escape from Romania, why would Mike and Ana want to ever return? Ana simply but passionately says, “Since the fall of communism we feel compelled to take the gospel of Jesus to the Romanian people.” They have done many missions trips back to the very country they had fled and were struck by a shortage of ministers to disciple new converts. It was this need for leaders that prompted them to answer the call to full-time missions. Leaving their secular jobs of business and nursing, leaving their three children and grandchildren, Mike and Ana returned to Romania and are planting churches, training leaders and serving in the unreached region of Southeast Romania.


A Century of PennDel Missions

For one full century, the Eastern District (now PennDel Ministry Network) has been sending missionaries to engage in “the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen!” In December of 1916 Christopher and Inez Hines went to Guatemala and would become the Eastern Districts first recorded missionaries. That same month W.W. & Martha Simpson left for China, and would represent the District’s second missionaries.

A total of 131 missionaries have been sent from our District over the years, with 38 fully appointed missionaries and 18 missionary associates presently engaged in global ministry. Their stories are as inspiring as they are diverse. Personal sacrifices were sometimes monumental. Their experiences were legendary. Some would bury their spouse on their field of service (Margaret Baltau in 1919 and Isabelle Mueller in 1922). Some would find their helpmate on the field (John & Bernice Burgess, India 1926-1953). Others would find their efforts interrupted by world events (George & Helga Hemminger had to return from Africa during World War II because travel had become so dangerous). Others, like Annie Bailey (’44-’86, China/Hong Kong) would so impact their place of service, that dignitaries would honor them in their passing.

As the United States was exiting the Great Depression and entering World War II, the Eastern District continued to advance the cause of global missions by giving $131,185 to missions (an equivalent of $2 million dollars today). World Missions has always been at the heart of the Assemblies of God. Reaching the lost both at home and abroad has been a driving force and a central purpose in who we are as a fellowship. “We’re better together” is nowhere better exemplified than in our cooperative effort in sending missionaries, compassionately ministering to lost people, and leading these lost to saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Missionary: Bernice F. Burgess (Wife of John H. Burgess)

“My early life was lived in a strict adherence to the Roman Catholic faith as was that of my entire family. It was an unusual experience for me to visit the Pentecostal Church on Parrish Street, Wilkes Barre. At that time there was a great revival in progress. Having never seen anything of this sort, this was indeed a revelation to me.
At the close of the second service I was invited to the altar. I was told I was a sinner and needed salvation. This upset me, for I had been very faithful to my Catholic Church. Romans 3:23 was quoted to me; the Holy Ghost then gripped my heart with conviction, which prompted me to call upon the Lord for salvation and I was gloriously saved. Ten days later, I was filled with the Holy Ghost. At that time God called me to India as a missionary. I went to Bible College and in 1927 sailed for India and upon arrival there, I was married to Rev. John H. Burgess. In 1927 Bethel Bible School (Punalur, India) was established.”

Network Notes of Interest:

  • First District Missionaries – Christopher and Inez Hines (Guatemala, 1916-1919)
  • Most recently fully appointed missionaries: Steve & Sophia Getchel to Eurasia and Ben & Jessica Bock to Spain
  • 31 single women have served as missionaries
  • 2 sisters served together as missionaries to China (Bernice & Thelma Hildebrand, 1936-1957)
  • Over the past 5 years, Network churches have contributed over $750,000 to District projects in India, Africa, and Israel
  • In 2015 PennDel churches gave 6.7 Million dollars to Assemblies of God World Missions

A Message of Hope

IMG_7734June 7th started like any other Sunday. Bryan and Lynn Koch got up and went to church, where Bryan kicked off GT’s newest series with a message honoring first responders. After church, they headed home, had a bite to eat, and then Lynn suggested they go out for a motorcycle ride. The couple headed out later that afternoon to one of their favorite spots… the Pretzel Hut in Lancaster, and chatted about life change and about the new role of grandparent that they’d be assuming later that year.

Shortly after 6pm, Bryan and Lynn turned onto Grange Road, just minutes from home. Moments later, an SUV crossed the center line, hitting them and pinning Bryan and the bike under its front left tire, and killing Lynn. Bryan was taken by helicopter to Reading Hospital, where over the course of the next 51 days, he would undergo 19 surgeries and receive 36 units of blood while he fought for his life. Bryan’s injuries ranged from broken bones to bruising, but the worst was the amputation of his left leg.

Throughout those 51 days, Bryan’s three sons, Ben, Bryce, and Brett, along with the rest of the Koch family and GT, would wait and pray first for Bryan to pull through each procedure, and eventually, to wake up. On August 8th, his 28th wedding anniversary, Bryan finally went home from the hospital, and on Sunday, October 18th, he preached his first sermon back on the GT stage.

Unknown-4Despite doctors’ warning him that he had a long recovery ahead and that he might be ready to be fitted for a prosthetic leg around Christmas of 2016, Bryan miraculously reached his next milestone early and was able to walk out on the stage during this year’s Christmas Eve services.

June 7th was a day that changed my life forever. Before June 7th, my testimony included a story about how I lost sight in one eye while playing minor league baseball. After June 7th, that story changed and began to include how I lost my leg and my wife while doing one of the things I enjoyed most…riding my motorcycle.

When I returned to GT on October 18th, I preached the closing message in our fall series, “EPIC.” The series had been planned long before the accident and it just so happened that the closing message would focus on the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Here they were, the entire nation of Israel, at the foot of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army close behind. They where between a rock and a hard place. And what does God do? He parts the sea, and they walk right through.

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!
If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it. All we need to do is remember what
God did in our past, look for God in our present, and trust God with our future. – Psalm 77:19

Fast forward a bit and you’ll find those same Israelites wandering around in the hot, dry desert, complaining that God hasn’t delivered them into the Promised Land, forgetting God’s past provision. The problem is, they were living in the future instead of seeking God in their present. They couldn’t be patient and wait for God’s plan to unfold, and like the psalmist says in Psalm 106, “but soon they forgot what He had done and did not wait for His plan to unfold. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.”

The Israelites learned the power of forgetting and the problem with sameness. When you’re in a difficult season, it’s all too easy to focus on your circumstances and what’s happening right now. Trust me, I know! The past seven months have undoubtedly been some of the hardest I’ve ever been through. Facing the birth of our first grandson without Lynn, and then going through the holidays without her was hard. And it could have been easy to wonder where God is in all of this.

But there’s importance in remembering, when you’re walking in the deepest of valleys, the things that God has done in your past. And there’s hope and joy in seeking out the ways God is working in your present pain. If biblical hope is confident expectation and biblical joy is intentional, incarnational, and eternal, then being hopeful and joyful in hard circumstances is a choice. We wake up each day and have to make the choice to find hope and joy in the ways God is working in the present, because whether we can see it or not, He has already made a way through it.

Haba Na Haba

There’s a Swahili proverb that uses the phrase “Haba Na Haba,” which translates to “little by little” and has become something of a motto for me through these past few months. In times of blinding pain and grief, in times of great difficulty, when we reach those hard places, God brings us through. We might not see the big picture and we might not know the path, but little by little, He guides us.



2016 Home Missions Project – Mosaic Vision

A mosaic is a beautiful work of art. What’s interesting about this piece of art is that it is made up of many broken pieces. These pieces come in different shapes, colors and sizes and they’re not much by themselves. But when they are brought together and arranged by a skilled artist, they make something beautiful. Churches are made up of many different people. We come in different shapes, colors and sizes. We experience brokenness. But we believe that God, the master artist, brings people together by His grace, and makes something beautiful of us. This is what we see happen when we plant and revitalize churches.

PRAY You can spend time as an individual or as a group pleading with the Lord on behalf of each pastor and church that God will take brokenness and make something beautiful by His Grace.

GIVE You can give financially to one or more church projects. A special offering will also be received at MinistrieSummit.

GO And, you can go, if the Lord calls you to plant a new church or to be a part of a church plant or revitalization team.

You can support this MOSAIC VISION in three ways: pray, give and go.

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PennDel Centennial Churches

For almost 100 years churches have been established under the banner of being “Pentecostal” or “full gospel.” Many started out as independent churches. Others started out in the mainline denominations, but had to find a new fellowship that embraced the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Here are 13 churches that have or are reaching the centennial mark. We have included a brief description of their origins and when they connected with the Assemblies of God. A fuller expression of their story can be found at

1894 Highway Tabernacle, Philadelphia, PA

Highway Mission Tabernacle, once known as Union Highway Mission of Philadelphia, was founded in November, 1894, by Rev. Frederick Reel, a member of the original group and also the first pastor. They started as a prayer group, conducting gospel outdoor services (attracting some 35,000 people with their “gospel car”) and then opened a Gospel Hall in North Central Philadelphia with seventy-seven charter members. The church was incorporated in May 1899. The first revival held was Thanksgiving Day week in 1897. Mark & Debbie Boucher now serve as lead pastors.

1902 Bethel Assembly, Chambersburg, PA

Bethel Pentecostal Church of the Assemblies of God was founded in 1902 by several Christian people under the leadership of Rev. D. M. Hench who became the first pastor. The first revival was held in 1902. The work started with prayer meetings, house-to-house visitation, jail services, and street meetings. Garry & Kelly Kipe presently serve as lead pastors.

1906 New Hope (Calvary Assembly), Clairton, PA

Mission Hall was the original name of New Hope Assembly of God Church, Clairton, PA, founded in 1906. It was chartered in 1924 with twenty-four members. Rev. Whiteside and Rev. Frank Casley began the work along with many other works in Vandergriff, Pittsburgh, Braddock, Turtle Creek, Pitcairn, Glassport, Horning, and Jeanette. The church affiliated with the General Council in 1948, changing it’s name to Calvary Assembly. Sharon Lopez now serves as pastor.

1906 Calvary Assembly, Waynesboro, PA

Calvary Assembly of God, Waynesboro, was founded in 1906 as a Christian Missionary Alliance church. Rev. Perry, pastor, invited Sam and Ezra Patterson (evangelists) for a tent meeting. They brought the Pentecostal message. In 1908, Rev. D. H. McDowell was the pastor and encouraged the Pentecostal experience. There were thirteen members at that time. From 1908 to 1910, the Biblical evidence of speaking in other tongues was revealed and the Holy Ghost poured out upon the people. In July 1930 the church became affiliated with the Eastern District Council. Dwan & April Newsome are the lead pastors.

1908 First Assembly, New Castle, PA

In 1908, a number of Christians in New Castle heard about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, California. This small group of believers began to hold prayer meetings in various homes. As a result, one of the most remarkable outpourings of the Holy Spirit occurred. There were about a dozen individuals in this group with many miracles of healing reported. The group held their first tent meeting in 1916, and purchased their own property in 1919 making plans to build. Chad & Michelle Steoker are the lead pastors at New Castle First.

1911 Abundant Life, Bradford, PA

In 1911, the Bradford Assembly of God, then known as the Pentecostal Assembly, was brought into being by Rev. E. Samuelson. He opened his home for church meetings. They later moved to a store front at which time Rev. Earnest Williams held evangelistic meetings and later became pastor. It is believed that Pentecost first came to Pennsylvania in Bradford shortly after the Azusa street revival through Emil Samuelson, via his work on the Buffalo-Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad. Abundant Life is now pastored by Phil & Penny Palutro.

1912 Emmanuel Assembly of God, Allentown, PA

Emmanuel Assembly of God had its inception in prayer services held in the home of Mrs. Annie Stauffer Beisel as early as 1912. Among the very first in the Lehigh Valley to pray for the sick and encourage believers to tarry for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, many hungry hearts were attracted through these ministries during the years. From 1911 to 1954 the church met in the Beisel home! In 1954 Emmanuel Home Mission was incorporated and affiliated with the Eastern District of the Assemblies of God. Jason & Wendy Gornicz have recently become the lead pastors of Emmanuel AG.

1914 First Assembly, Lancaster, PA

A small company of people led by Reuben L. Buchwalter founded the First Pentecostal Church of Lancaster, PA in the fall of 1914, in a little hall over the Southern Market House. The group continually grew until 1922 when the church was chartered and incorporated as the First Pentecostal Church of Lancaster. Hymn writer Ira F. Stamphil, author of Mansion Over The Hilltop, was the pastor in 1966. Kris & Darlene Newman have served as lead pastors at First AG in Lancaster for nearly two decades.

1914 Green Ridge Assembly, Scranton, PA

The Pentecostal Assembly of God Church of Scranton, PA had its inception in the home of Jeremiah Swingle of Dunmore. The church was incorporated in 1914 and became affiliated with the newly formed Assembly of God organized in 1916. Rev. David McDowell became the first pastor and served until he was called to be the Assistant General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in 1923. David & Laura Twiss are the lead pastors of Green Ridge AG.

1914 Jeannette Assembly of God, Jeannette, PA

Jeannette Assembly of God was founded in 1914 when Reverend Benjamin E. Mahan came to Jeannette and began holding “street meetings” in the downtown business district of the city. Converts from this ministry resulted in the establishing of this church. The church was incorporated in 1919 as the Pentecostal Church of Jeannette and became affiliated with the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1923.

1914 Hamlin Assembly of God, Hamlin, PA

The First Pentecostal Church at Hamlin was begun in 1914, through cottage prayer meetings. Emery Woodruff and Zacharias Swingle felt a need for more of God and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. They had heard of the Pentecostal experience with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. A church was
built in Gravity, PA, and meetings were held in a hall in Hamlin. The Assembly moved to its present location in 1946. Ken & Melanie Claflin are lead pastors in Hamlin.

1916 First Assembly, Wilkes-Barre

First Pentecostal Assembly of God was founded in 1916 in the home of Will Matthews of Ashley, PA. The services were going well and were being attended by so many that they decided to buy property for a church building. The second pastor of the church, Brother Byron Jones, had been saved at the age of 38 after being instantly healed of tuberculosis, and shortly afterwards began pastoring, bringing the church into the Assemblies of God in 1932.

1916 First Assembly, Wilmington

In 1916, a small group of believers had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and wanted to start a Pentecostal church in Wilmington. In 1918 they contacted John Cox, the Superintendent (then called “Chairman”) of the Eastern District. Brother Cox had pastored the Wilmington Christian & Missionary Alliance church from 1911-1914. He had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which dramatically changed his life and ministry. After serving just one year as Superintendent, Brother Cox pursued other ministry endeavors including evangelistic work and planting the church in Wilmington Delaware. “WFA” is now lead by pastor Eric & Tiffany Spanier.


Scrooge Effect

Growing up in the 60s, it wouldn’t have been Christmas without watching “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Although the story was performed by many great actors of the day, my family usually watched the Mr. Magoo version. As a sixth grader with an appetite to read everything I got my hands on, I received a set of classics for Christmas. One of those classics was the full version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

This was a life-changing novel for a kid that never went to church and did not know Christ. I marveled at the life change Ebenezer Scrooge received after his look at the past, present and future. I feel it was the ghost of “Christmas Yet To Come” that prompted Scrooge to so desperately change. Even as a sixth grader, I too wanted a future where people would think the best of me.

Little did I know that seven years later, almost to the day, I would commit to the life transformation process brought on by a different ghost, the Holy Ghost. As God’s Spirit began to work in me, I changed from the self-centered jerk that I didn’t even like to the nice guy the new nature began to reveal in me.

I soon learned you reap what you sow in life and in people. Some would call this Biblical principle the “Scrooge Effect.” Why? Something happens within us when we show kindness; our outlook is brightened. According to Psychology Today, students at Stanford University who performed five “random acts of kindness” a week were happier, got sick less often, and had better relationships than those who didn’t.

Proverbs 19:17 tells us, “Being kind to the poor is like lending to the Lord. The Lord will reward you for what you have done.” This is a principle of being rewarded by God for showing kindness, especially to those who are less fortunate.

When we go from being self-centered to generous, we also go from ordinary to extraordinary. Think of someone you admire, someone who has been kind and generous to you. You can be thought of in that same way by being kind and generous to others. It is a simple life choice, and we can do it at no cost or invest as much as God tells us.

Five of us were waiting for a friend at a very popular fast food restaurant. While in a long line, we kept letting people (about 20 of them) in front of us. We made their day with kindness!

A colleague of mine tells of a very distressed waitress. It seems a table left without paying and her boss was taking it from her salary. When finished, my friend paid his bill, the offender’s bill, and also left a very generous gratuity. My friend was lending to God according to Proverbs.

While attending a pastors’ conference with my lead pastor. He invited two new church planters to have lunch with us. He not only bought their lunch, but found out how much they sacrificed financially to attend the conference and issued checks to cover their expenses.

After Scrooge’s transforming experience, we see a much different man; a man who desires to be generous. When Bob Cratchit arrives to work on Christmas day, Scrooge raises his salary, endeavors to help his struggling family and then tells him to order more coal to warm up the office.

Volunteer at the homeless shelter one day and make a visit to a shut-in the next; perhaps shovel the snow from your neighbors sidewalk. This Christmas you don’t have to change the world, but by blessing someone with kindness, well, it changes YOUR world!

A few nuggets from the Stanford University study:

  • Be nice as often as possible. In the study, the participants who did all five random acts in one day reported the highest levels of satisfaction.
  • Do your good deeds in person. Writing a check is great, but you need to be face-to-face if you really want to experience the “Scrooge effect.”
  • There’s a reason they’re called ‘RANDOM’ acts of kindness. In several studies, the positive effects of a good deed wore off when it was repeated. Why? Anything we do over and over becomes routine. So you need to mix it up.

Men’s Conference Videos


HonorBound Men’s Conference was so rewarding this year. Check out videos of the messages.

Watch Videos

TOMMY BARNETT and his son Matthew co-founded the Los Angeles Dream Center, an inner-city church and outreach center that touches the lives of thousands of people each week through ministries that reach out to gang members, drug addicts, unwed mothers, children without parents, motorcycle groups, AIDS victims, and many others. Pastor Tommy has served as pastor of Phoenix First Assembly and authored many books, including: Dream Again, There’s a Miracle in Your House, Portraits of Vision, Multiplication, and Reaching Your Dreams.

BRADY BOYD is the senior pastor and head of the nine-member elder council serving 10,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His passion for seeing people’s lives restored by God’s grace shows up in his accessible teaching, his approachable personality, and his commitment to those who are under resourced in his community. Brady served under Pastor Robert Morris at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, where he still regularly serves as a guest speaker. Brady is the author of several books including Fear No Evil, Sons and Daughters and Addicted to Busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul. 

SAM RIJFKOGEL is the senior pastor at Grand Rapids First. His creative communication style brings a fresh perspective to sound Biblical doctrine. His own family’s conversion is an amazing story of world missions outreach and is the foundation of his deep passion for missions. Sam has participated in crusades and special projects in Thailand, Viet Nam, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia.  Sam has been a favorite speaker at HonorBound and we are grateful to have him back.

REGGIE DABBS is one of the most sought after speakers in the country, addressing more than 2 million people worldwide annually.  He has been named the #1 High School Speaker in America and talks in a humorous style about families, relationships, our individual realities and the choices we make. His message, “You can’t change your past, but you can change your future,” resonates with students and men from all walks of life.



Ministers’ Enrichment Video

Our Centennial Celebration kicked off with a great time at Ministers’ Enrichment as we recognized God’s favor and anointing in the past and were challenged to anticipate even greater days ahead under the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit.

Check out some of the pictures and comments on our Facebook page and twitter feeds:






A Legacy of Leadership

Leadership has always been an integral part of God’s plan. In the Old Testament we see men and women ordained by God to lead His people, Israel, and in the New Testament we see Jesus investing Himself in the Apostles to carry forward the task of building His church. The Apostles in turn invest themselves in growing leaders as can be seen in the relationship of Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, etc. These leaders would guide the church through its formative stages as new believers were added and discipled.

When the General Council of the Assemblies of God was formed in the first quarter of the twentieth century, regional councils were developed under the General Council umbrella. David McDowell was chosen as the General Presbyter for the Northeast region and was asked to form a District Council east of Ohio and north of the Mason-Dixon Line. A call was extended to Pentecostal believers throughout the Northeast to meet at Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York City in June 1917 for this purpose. Fifteen spirit-filled ministers met and signed the roster. This meeting became the first District Council of the Eastern District, and from that meeting began an incredible legacy of leadership that would guide our fellowship through a century of effective growth and development.

Reflect with me for a moment how much change has occurred during the past 100 years! These leaders guided a movement through a century of modernization, two world wars (and several other significant military conflicts), a Great Depression, civil unrest and civil rights movements, and a technological expansion that is unrivaled in history. It is in this context that God has sovereignly poured out His Spirit, and entrusted that outpouring to believers and their leaders for the propagation of the Gospel. The Assemblies of God has been a key player in the Pentecostal movement, and the PennDel Ministry Network has contributed significantly to our region and to our national “General Council.” As you look at the photos and brief captions of each of our District Superintendents, you will see the legacy of 10 men who have been leaders and servants to our churches, ministers, and the Assemblies of God fellowship.

“Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out be fore them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.’” (Numbers 27:15 – 17; NKJV)

John Coxe

John Coxe

John Coxe (1917) – served as the first District Superintendent for the newly formed “Eastern District.” The District was comprised of Pennsylvania and Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the New England states. Coxe would serve only one year due in part to evangelistic meetings that he was holding in the mid-west.

Robert Brown

Robert Brown

Robert Brown (1918-1922) – Pastor of Glad Tidings in New York, was elected as the next “chairman” of the Eastern District. He would continue to pastor during his tenure of leadership, and would assist the fellowship in navigating the Oneness issue, sanctification as a second definite work, and women in ministry.

Joseph Tunmore

Joseph Tunmore

Joseph Tunmore (1922-1930) – after one year as both pastor and Superintendent, Joseph Tunmore was asked to do this work on a full time basis. Thus, Tunmore became the first full-time superintendent. Tunmore led the way for a basic constitution & bylaws to be adopted (written by J. Roswell Flower, and implemented before the General Council had such an instrument available). District “Home Missions” would begin under Tunmore, with the Great Depression posing challenges to the endeavor. Nevertheless, new churches were opened, and the work of the gospel continued.

J Roswell Flower

J Roswell Flower

J. Roswell Flower (1930-1936) – having exceptional organizational abilities, would lead the District in establishing a campground and Bible school (Maranatha, 1931). Under his leadership, district departments for young people, Sunday School, and foreign missions were established. Additionally, six “zones” (sections) were defined, and Presbyters were appointed to lead in their respective areas. An assistant superintendent was elected to assist Flower in his duties (Flem Van Meter of Highway Tabernacle, Philadelphia). Flower was elected as Assistant General Superintendent at the 14th General Council, and would eventually move to Springfield to fulfill those responsibilities.

Fleming Van Meter

Fleming Van Meter

Fleming Van Meter (1936-1943) – under Van Meter’s leadership, the District Secretary and Treasurer roles were combined into one full-time position. Despite the hardships of WWII, new churches were opened, and foreign missions giving continued to increase. A parsonage was built to house the District Superintendent.

Wesley Steelberg

Wesley Steelberg

Wesley Steelberg (1943) – was elected as Superintendent to lead the process of dividing the Eastern District into multiple districts. Pennsylvania-Delaware retained the legal name, and Wesley Steelberg became the Superintendent for the New York-New Jersey District. Steelberg eventually became the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

A. Newton Chase

A. Newton Chase

A. Newton Chase (1944-1959) – saw the creation of a full time Sunday School/Christ’s Ambassador Director. Also during his leadership the Women’s and Men’s Ministry departments were created. A new office building was erected for the District, and parsonages for full-time staff were either built or purchased during this time.

Russell Williams

Russell Williams

Russell Williams (1959-1978) – wrestled with issues regarding having an accredited Bible college. Northeast Bible Institute became Northeast Bible College, and eventually moved to Phoenixville, presently the University of Valley Forge. Consolidating the camps, initiating a retirement home, and developing a district “building and loan fund” were hot button issues during William’s tenure of ministry. Property was purchased in Shippensburg to host a retirement home and central camp.

Philip Bongiorno

Philip Bongiorno

Philip Bongiorno (1978-2002) – initiated the “PennDel Loan Fund,” (now HIS Fund) which made financing church construction projects a much easier and friendly proposition. Bongiorno also led the way to consolidate the eastern and western camps into one central well-appointed conference center. A full time “assistant to the Superintendent” was added to the District staff to oversee Home Missions. Additionally, a new District Office was constructed under his leadership.

Steve Tourville

Steve Tourville

Stephen R. Tourville (2002-present) – initiated the motto “We’re Better Together,” as exemplified in the “C3” concept. Catalyst, Coaching, and Connect groups were formed, revitalizing fellowship and mutual encouragement for PennDel pastors. Although the term District is still functional, “Network” better describes the interrelationships and resourcing that are shared. Reproduction is another functional value that has driven a church planting movement throughout the Network. For the first time in our history, PennDel has crested the 400 mark, and presently lists 434 churches.


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