Special to The Greenup Beacon
On the weekend of Sept. 19-21, 2014, the First Pentecostal Church in Flatwoods will be celebrating 100 years of God’s faithfulness.
As with a normal family, the people within a church family are often called upon to leave the church and move on due to jobs, family situations, etc.
Because of that, we are currently searching for those who have spent a portion of their lives at FPC so they can help celebrate this huge milestone in the history of the church.
The celebration will begin on Friday evening, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. for a time of “Memories & Music.”
Different ones have been asked to be prepared to share memories and special music. People from the current church as well as from the past will be given the opportunity to share.
On Saturday evening, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., The Bowling Family will be with us, ministering through song.
The group consists of Mike and Kelly Bowling. They are joined by their daughter Hope and a longtime friend, Troy Peach.
If you miss them on Saturday evening, they will be joining us again for our Sunday morning service.
The Sunday morning service will begin at 10:45 a.m. as a special 100 Year Homecoming Celebration!
Rev. and Mrs. Bob Overton (Pastor 2001-2010) and Rev. and Mrs. Charles L. Pancoast (Pastor 1957-1964) will be with us for the entire three day event and both former pastors will speak during this special service.
As you could probably guess, many of those who have passed through the doors of FPC have experienced a personal call of God upon their lives to go into the ministry.
Two who left the church to answer the call of God and who will share memories during this service are Rev. Gene Roberts, senior pastor of New Life Worship Center in Frankfort, and Rev. James E. Rayburn who is the Bishop of the KY District Pentecostal Church of God.
The wives of these two ministers are also from FPC and we are proud of their ministries as well. They are Phyllis McKenzie Roberts and Mimi Withrow Rayburn.
After having a personal encounter with the Lord such as he had never before experienced, Rev. John Stroup, who had been an elder in the Methodist church at South Solon, Ohio, came into the Ohio Valley in 1913, preaching the Pentecostal experience. He first arrived in this area on the Ohio side of the river, in the Ironton area where residents of Flatwoods soon heard the news of the meetings being held there.
In those days, it was necessary to ride the ferry to cross the Ohio River, so it was quite an adventure to travel to Ironton for those meetings.
What excitement filled those who made their way night after night for the meetings being held there.
Time passed, the meetings continued, and the people soon persuaded Rev. Stroup to come to Advance (which is now Flatwoods) to have meetings there.
A tent was erected on the site the church now sits on and meetings continued until Rev. Stroup left the young church body to pioneer more churches in this area.
The weather soon became too cold for outdoor meetings, so house meetings became the norm until some of the men took a mule team to Danylton and dismantled an old, unused one room school building.
A widow lady, Mary Fields, deeded the land over to the church in 1916 in which the tent had sit on and the small building was placed on that land as a temporary church building until the actual church building could be erected.
Mary Fields’ son, Freeman Fields, and other men from the church came together and had the new church building completed by 1917.
By this time, Rev. John Stroup had pioneered other churches throughout the Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia area. He called a meeting of all the churches to gather together at the new church in Advance on May 17, 1917 for the purpose of organizing.
So, not only was there a church dedicated and given the name, First Pentecostal Church of Christ, but an organization was born on that day, the Pentecostal Church of Christ.
From the report of those who were fortunate enough to be part of the early years of that new church, they were exciting years, years of growth and development.
As with other churches from that time period, reports were later shared of people standing around the walls and looking into the windows during church services.
The sweet report of Ruth Fields who was part of those early days was simply put, “Honey, what a time we had! Those were such good days!”
As with any new church, all the days weren’t without shifts and changes. From that first Pentecostal Church in this entire area came many others.
In Flatwoods alone, several churches stemmed from that first church and we are happy to report that those churches, as well as First Pentecostal Church, are also still in existence and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Through the years, classrooms were added to the back of the church and then, during the years Rev. Charles L. Pancoast was pastor (1957-1964) the church was remodeled.
This was completed in 1963. To the front of the church was added restrooms, a Pastor’s Study and on a second level of this addition, three classrooms were added.
To the back, a wing was added with several more classrooms and a Social Room which is known by many by the name “The Scout Room.” Hundreds of boys had their scouting experience with the troop sponsored by First Pentecostal Church, Troop 168. The church also sponsored a handicap troop, Troop 169.
In 1964, Rev. & Mrs. D. C. Chambers came to Flatwoods as the new pastor and, as it turned out, their stay lasted 37 years with Bro. Chambers retiring in 2001 due to poor health.
During the years he served as pastor, especially in the 1970s the church experienced an explosion of growth. In the years to follow the church experienced a time of, not simply additions, but by the time it was over, all new facilities and parking.
On new property the church acquired during this time a large metal building was constructed which was to become an Activity Center and Youth Building (lovingly referred to by some as “The Barn”), more additional parking was added, a new parsonage (1980), a new Sanctuary (1983) and a new Educational Wing and Fellowship Hall (1987) and the final phase and the hardest one began with the removal of “the old church” which had suffered structural damage during the widening of Bellefonte Rd. which led to the building of the most recent addition (1997).
The removal of “the old church” which had stood the test of time since 1917 was a hard occasion. If walls could talk, the walls of that precious building would have announced events from days gone by such as weddings, baby dedications, Christmas Plays, Easter Services, funerals and many, many salvations and times of experiencing the power of the Lord.
Today, the old church is gone, but in the hearts and minds of those who were blessed to call it “my church” there remains precious memories. And to those who have called First Pentecostal Church their church during the past 31 years, the Sanctuary that was once referred to as “the new church” is no longer new, but has also shown the tests of time, with its own share of memories to be remembered.
Those serving as pastor during the years following the retirement of Rev. D. C. Chambers in 2001 are Rev. Bob Overton (2001-2008), Rev. Vernell Ingle (2008-2010), and Rev. Shane Cox (2011-2014), and between pastors, Rev. Victor Langdon (Interim Pastor, 2001) and Rev. Jared Ingle (Interim Pastor, 2010-2011).
All those who have been connected with this precious church throughout the years are being invited to come help us celebrate the past and the present and to help us rejoice with anticipation the future as we “Continue The Legacy” at First Pentecostal Church on that same little corner of this world it started on 100 years ago.
Pastor Shane Cox
and his wife Robin
Pastor John Stroup
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