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Im 1901 in an unfinished mansion called Stone's
Folly, students of the Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, begin to
receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in
other tongues. Thus, the Pentecostal movement was birthed in America.
The fire spread rapidly and often broke out spontaneously in different
parts of the United States and the world. Only twenty-five years later
our church began, not in a Bible School but with a Sunday School.
Our church has been in existence for most of the time since
Pentecost came to our nation. It has been a stable church with only four
pastors and one interim pastor during that eighty-five year period.
Many ministers have come from this church spreading what they have been
solidly taught and deeply experienced. From its long existence, almost
from the beginning of Pentecost in the nation, and from its stability
and from its unchanging doctrine, message, and emphasis we gratefully
realize that the experiences, teachings, and Biblical living of Classic
Pentecost have been preserved within and by the Body of what is now the
Union Pentecostal Church.
Sister Laura Shank
Harvey Cox, professor of religion at Harvard, has made
an observation from his years of study of Pentecostalism. It is an observation those of
us intimately acquainted with the Pentecostal movement already knew: Without women as pioneers Pentecost would have never expanded as
rapidly nor as extensively as it did. God used a woman as an instrument to begin our church. She was in the
words of Bro. Williard Helmich, "a
saint, a beautiful lady with the gifts of God in her." She was Sis.
Sis. Shank was a deaconess in the Pilgrim Holiness Church when she got
the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This led to her having to leave that Church. Later, her husband moved
her across town to keep her from Pentecostal influences. A burden and vision came into her heart at her
new home on Crown Avenue: She wanted to start a Sunday School for her children and those of the neighborhood.
She started that Sunday School on her front porch. In later years, Sis. Shank describe the vision God gave
her. It was a vision of a field of golden grain. God told her that a church would be built and the gates of
hell would not prevail. This church, God impressed her, would last. It has. Eighty-five years so far as of 2011.
Crown Point Church
Soon, so many neighborhood children were coming to
Sunday School that there were just too many for the porch. Across the
street lived the Goddard family. Sis. Shank had crossed that street and
asked the Goddard children to come to Sunday School. We still have one
of those Goddard children with us today. In fact, she is the only
original member that is still a part of our congregation.
Sister Juanita Orrill
Her name? Sis.
Juanita Orrill. "I was ten years old," she tells, "when I knelt at a
chair on Sis. Shank's front porch and got saved. I can see it like it
was yesterday." The Goddard children then went down the street and got
the Collins children (Sis. Kate Norvell, Sam Norvell's mother, was one
of those children). Then, the Collins’ parents got saved. Sometime
around 1926, when the porch could no longer accommodate the Sunday
School, the Goddards opened up their house for the meetings to be held.
"We had a long, front room. Each service we would move the furniture out
of the way for church, and, after it was over, we would move the
furniture back so we kids could sleep," remembers Sis. Juanita. She
continues, "My dad had just built a big building of some sort, a storage
building, maybe. He didn't know why he built it at the time. Soon, he
sold his house to the church and partitioned off the big building and
moved his family into it." This house turned church became the Crown
Point Church. The street it was on was intersected by a street that was
later named by Juanita after her mother-in-law, Lome. Thus, our first
location was on the corner of Crown and Lome.
This church was a neighborhood church. Although none now
remember, an old photo shows the church’s name on a sign attached to the
church. It reads, “Pentecost Community Church.” "On Lome," chronicles
Sister Norma Bicknell
Sis. Norma Bicknell, "lived the Goddards, Berries, Bicknells, Wilbur and
Juanita Orrill, Dutch and Frances Orrill, and others. Sis. Shank lived
around the corner on Crown. Many didn't have cars in those days. They
walked to church. There was no air conditioning, we set on wooden
benches, and the place was crowded. The basement was more like a cellar.
We held our Sunday School classes in that basement. The facilities were
pitiful by today's standards, but no one cared. We just had church." "It
was wonderful, wonderful," remarks Bro. Helmich. He continues, “We call
the church the ‘Little Ark.’ It was so small but people got saved
"The services were out of this world. The devil didn't seem
as prevalent back then. We'd have shout down services. That shouting
brought sinners in. They came to see what the noise was. We had the
windows and doors open. People came from up the street and down the
hill. They'd stand in the yard a while watching and listening. Finally,
they'd come in and get saved." (Sis. Juanita).
Sister Patrick Baptism
Some came to antagonize.
"Phil Berry (later an assistant minister in the church) threw eggs at
the windows--that was before he was saved." (Sis. Juanita). So many
unsaved, rowdy folk were coming that at one time a sheriff deputy
attended the services on duty to keep the trouble down. After a fracas
that involved the deputy one night,
Brother Phil Berry
Sis. Shank asked the deputy not to
come back. “She said,” recalls Bro. Phil Berry, “If we couldn’t control
our own services, we didn’t need to be having church.” Many of those
early comers were not only saved they were healed. "We had crutches and
canes on the wall and wheel chairs of people that had been healed." "The
news went across town and to other towns like West Alexandria." (Sis.
Juanita). Soon more and more people were coming.
Mia Avenue Choir
What were the services like in those days? Shouting, saving
and healing have already been mentioned, but the kind of services they
had in those days is revealed in the kind of shepherd they had in those
days. Many have said that Sis. Shank was a saint, a true woman of God.
"We called her a Mother in Israel," remembers Sis. Norma Bicknell. She
continued, "When she spoke, everybody listened. She was not
high-powered, but she knew what to say and said it in love. She would
interpret messages in tongues or prophesy, and what she said came to
past. People were afraid. She knew in the Spirit. I never heard a
negative thing said about her." This is a lady who couldn't even read
when she began the Sunday School and church. At first, Inez Goddard
would read the Bible so Sis. Shank could preach. Later, Sis. Vivian
Martin (Miller) became her Bible reader and chauffer besides being a
Sunday School teacher, piano player, and singer.
For twenty-six years, 1926-1952, our church worshipped in
that crowded house turned church on Crown and Lome. It became more and
more evident that a bigger building was needed for the growing church.
Mia Avenue Church
It was decided that the church would build. The location chosen was Mia
Avenue. The men of the church built that structure. There would be
building parties on Monday nights. The ladies would bring cake, punch,
etc., to Sis. Shank’s house to refresh the men on those nights. The
first service was held on Saturday, April 12, 1952.
Not long after the church had moved into the Mia location, it
became necessary to pass the reigns of shepherd to another. On June 25,
1954, due to bad health Sis. Shank resigned. Sis. Shank had always used
the men ministers of the church as her assistants. Many pictures show
two of them doing the baptizing. Those two were Phil Berry and Vearl
Vaughn. Bro. Berry would leave to start another church across town, the
Eichelberger Pentecostal Church, now in Englewood. Bro. Vaughn became
the pastor of the church on Mia in 1954. "Sis. Shank always dressed up
for church. When she became to weak and ill to dress up, she'd just sit
on her porch and listen to the services." remembers Sis. Juanita. Now,
as she could only sit across the street and listen, she knew that the
church was in good hands.
Brother Vearl Vaughn
Bro. Vaughn was born on March 19, 1913, to Mr. & Mrs. William Vaughn of
Nancy, Kentucky. He graduated from the Fairview High School in 1931.
In 1932 Bro. T. J. Setser held a revival at the Crown Avenue Church.
Vearl Vaughn came to see what was going on in that little church. There,
he felt God dealing with him but felt unable to move out of his seat.
Sister Goddard gave him a gentle touch and encouraged him to step
forward for Jesus. He went to the altar and was saved.
He began his ministry by assisting Sis. Shank however he could. Soon he
was to meet a beautiful, young girl named Ruth Bachelor. On December 16,
1933, they were married. After a season they were blessed with three
children, Carol Ann, Verla Ruth, and Jimmie.
In 1937 Bro. Vaughn was ordained as a minister of the Gospel. He began
to evangelize and had a great revival service at Hazard, Kentucky.
During this revival he was asked to pastor a body of believers there. He
then moved his family to Kentucky to pastor his first church, the Wabaco
Pentecostal Church. There, the Vaughns had twin girls, Julia Faye and Sharon Mae.
God blessed the pastorate there with many converts, many who began to
minister in surrounding towns and cities.
The Vaughns returned to Ohio in 1939 when Bro. Vaughn began working as
an executive at Lau Blower Company. During these years the Vaughn's
final child, Bill, was born. During this period, Bro. Vaughn pastored
briefly at the Highview Pentecostal Church and, around 1952, the Hunt
Avenue Church in Hamilton, Ohio. Later, he returned to Crown Avenue to
assist Sis. Shank once again. There Bro. Vaughn conducted funerals,
baptisms and wedding ceremonies, and was also the radio preacher of the
"Wings of Faith" broadcast while serving on the church board as well.
his pastorate the church grew rapidly until it outgrew the new building
in just under ten years. With the congregation growing to 250 plus the Mia church soon
filled up. Some remember the many steps to enter the building and the
bathrooms in the basement along with the need for more room as
influencing reasons for building another church. Soon land was located
on Union Road. Only ten years after building the Mia church, the church
relocated to our present location, 1101 N. Union Road in 1962. However, many yet
remember those days on Mia Avenue. "It was a busy, good church,"
reflects Sis. Norma Bicknell. "Good worship, good preaching, good
singing, good people, well, it was just a good time."
Artist Rendering- Union Pentecostal Church 1962
Union Pentecostal Church Dedication Service
On March 18, 1962, ground was broken on Union Road for the
new church. On Saturday, July 1, 1962, the church moved to its present
location on 1101 N. Union Road. The church had purchased a 3.2 acre
tract of land that had recently been part of a farm. Not long before the
church was built there, bison had fed on the field. The church was built
for $80,000. Fifty-nine thousand of that was raised by selling bonds to
church members. Some of those members later donated their bonds instead
of collecting on them when they were due.
Brother Vaughn doing radio broadcast
Brother and Sister Vaughn
The church at Union Road continued to grow under Bro.
Vaughn’s pastorate at times reaching 350. Bro. Vaughn had a tremendous
impact on a multitude of lives. His wit and wisdom is not only still
remembered, but it also continues to be a guiding influence on many
lives. After a long, fruitful pastorate, Bro. Vaughn resigned on April
21, 1985. His leadership went far beyond his immediate pastorate of the
local church. Bro. Vaughn was one of those instrumental in the
organizing of the Pentecostal Ministerial Association that today
continues its ministry to ministers and churches. Throughout the years
Bro. Vaughn served many years in positions of Chairman, Vice Chairman,
and Secretary of the PMA. Bro. Vaughn was a part of the leadership that
obtained land, cleared and built the Southern Ohio Youth Camp. He also
served as the Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America.
Bro. Vaughn passed away October 10, 1995.
Brother Derwin Ward
On April 21, 1985, Bro. Derwin Ward became the
pastor. He with his wife Terri, and children, Hannah and Charity,
pastored our church for over five years. Bro. Ward was not only
extremely musically talented in both singing and playing instruments, he
was also a great preacher of God’s Word.
Bro. Ward was born November 5, 1963, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the
last of eleven children born to Mr. & Mrs. L. B. Ward. Derwin was saved at the age of
5, filled with the Spirit at age 8, and called to preach at the age of
16. A talented musician and singer, Bro Ward began singing at his home
church (First Assembly of God Pascagoula) at the age of 3. Bro. Ward's
full-time evangelistic ministry began when he was 17, at which time he
first came to the Miami Valley at the invitation of Rev. L.L. Collins.
Brother Ward and his wife, Terri, were married at Forts Lake Assembly of
God in Pascagoula, MS, on November 14, 1981. Their oldest daughter,
Charity, was born in Mobile, AL, on July 9, 1983. While pastoring here
Hannah, the Ward's younger daughter, was born on August 21, 1986.
During Bro. Ward's pastorate, construction began on the Vaughn Hall, the
large activity center and fellowship hall that is such a blessing to the
church today. That building was dedicated between pastors in June of
Brother and Sister Charlie Pennington
The Ward's five plus years of pastoring saw many families join our
church. People were attracted to Bro. Ward's anointed, exceptional
preaching and singing the Gospel message.
His daily radio broadcasts on WPFB and WQRP that aired twice daily are still remembered and commented
on. Bro. Ward resigned on Dec. 30, 1990.
After Bro. Ward’s resignation, the church entered that difficult period
of searching for a new pastor. During that time, Bro. Charles Pennington
agreed to serve as interim pastor. His was a steadying hand at the helm
in those days of search and transition. His years of experience were
brought to play, in several people’s words, in “holding the church
Brother Clifford Hurst
Through students from our church, board members met an instructor at
Ozark Bible Institute. That meeting resulted in that instructor,
Clifford Hurst, becoming acquainted with Union Pentecostal Church. In
Brother and Sister Hurst
July of 1991, Clifford Hurst became the pastor of our church. He and his
wife Sandra had two children, Ashlynn and Micah, at that time. One year
after Bro. Hurst became pastor, Hannah was born. A fourth child, Andrew,
was born in September 2001. In 2011, Bro. Hurst has started his
twentieth year of service at Union Road. Clifford Hurst, a native Oklahoman, began preaching at the
age of 17 in 1979. After graduating from high school, he did some
evangelizing before entering Bible School. After graduating from Bible
School in 1984, he taught seven years at Ozark Bible Institute.
that first year of teaching, he married Sandra Barnes, a daughter of
missionaries who was a student at OBI at the time. While teaching, he
completed seminary and with his wife evangelized each summer. In 1987
he graduated from seminary. When at OBI, he also served as Supervisor of
the Men's Dorm and for two years as Principal of Ozark Christian