17 Dec 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 www.ag100stories.org.
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.