Famed Indiana author, Kurt Vonnegut, once wrote: “I don’t know what it is about Hoosiers. But wherever you go there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there.” This was certainly true of the late Superintendent of the Ohio District of the United Pentecostal Church, Bro. Frank Curts, who hailed from Indiana but spent the most productive years of his ministry in Ohio, building First Apostolic Church of Cincinnati and providing important leadership for the growing Oneness movement.
Frank Emerson Curts was born September 16, 1889 to Joseph and Isabelle Curts in Muncie, Indiana, where he spent his boyhood. As a young man, he was employed at the Ontario Silver Company, where he met Helen Warring. The pair were married on May 10, 1913 and moved to Indianapolis a short time later.
In Indianapolis, Helen began attending meetings at L.V. Roberts Holiness mission on East Tenth Street, where she was converted in 1916. She returned home and knelt beside her bed praying that God would save her husband. Bro. Curts testified: God spoke to me in answer to her prayer, and that same night while I was working as night foreman in a bakery, I confessed Jesus as my Saviour to the men that were working with me” (Curts 4). He gladly accepted his wife’s newfound faith and began attending meetings with her at the mission hall, where he was also converted.
Not long after the couple began serving Christ, Bro. Glenn Cook, formerly of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, brought the message of baptism in Jesus’ Name to the Pentecostal mission. At first, Bro. and Sis. Curts struggled with the new ideas:
It was rather difficult to walk in the new light after having had such a miraculous conversion, being taught sanctification as a definite work of grace, and having been told I had the Holy Ghost. But we took the Apostolic message before the Lord, with the open Bible before us, and we saw that it was according to His Word. We were baptized in the Name of Jesus, and shortly afterward received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
In 1917, while attending Oak Hill Tabernacle, Bro. Curts felt the call to preach the Gospel message. In the early 1920s, he attended a revival meeting in Greensburg, Indiana. The small group of saints invited Bro. Curts to come and preach to them on weekends, and he and Sis. Curts faithfully made the commute from Indianapolis to Greensburg for the next five years.
In April 1925, the Lord called Bro. and Sis. Curts to Cincinnati, Ohio. With thirteen people, they began services in a converted Saloon at Walnut and McMicken Streets in downtown Cincinnati. To support his wife and daughters, Evelyn and Frances, Bro. Curts worked as a silver polisher while pastoring the church. Despite modest growth in the beginning, Bro. and Sis. Curts saw a real break in revival around 1927. By 1930, the assembly outgrew the mission and moved to a converted garage at 2930 Colerain Avenue renamed Bethlehem Tabernacle (Tredway).
Bro. Curts was determined to root believers in the Word of God. A gifted teacher, Bro. Curts was strongly-committed to Acts 2:38 and saw the divine foreshadowing in the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. He authored a book on the subject and taught Bible classes using large charts to visually demonstrate his points. This created a strong doctrinal backbone for the growing assembly.
Attendance increased so much, that the church had to begin renting local theatres to accommodate the large crowds, sometimes over 900 persons! In 1961, they purchased a former cinema at 4828 Vine Street and began using the name First Apostolic Church. Bro. Curts was very proud of his congregation but took no personal credit for its size or spiritual reputation:
We do not feel that the success of this church with its several hundred members has been due to our ability, but because of the obedience and faithfulness of the people of God here, who are willing to walk with Him according to His word. (Curts 4).
His great love for his congregation was also demonstrated in the construction of a retreat center for the church in nearby Boone Lake, Kentucky. Bro. Curts owned a farm there and converted 20 acres into a veritable camp where the congregation spent much time cultivating deep relationships and enjoying Godly fellowship.
In addition to dutifully serving his local congregation, Bro. Curts served as a presbyter in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ and became the District Superintendent of the Ohio District of the United Pentecostal Church in 1955. He faithfully held that post until his untimely death. On May 8, 1969, Bro. Curts suffered fatal injuries during a car crash at University and Vine Streets, just a few miles from the church. He died on May 11, 1969.
Bro. Curts left behind a powerful legacy of service to God’s kingdom. The First Apostolic Church is still a thriving congregation, currently led by Joel Urshan. His life was lived in answer to God’s call to ministry, and he executed his duties with an excellent spirit. His passing was lamented by the congregation he led, the district he served, and the United Pentecostal Church he loved. The seeds that he planted in faith and obedience continue to bring forth fruit, and Frank Curts will undoubtedly rejoice to witness the bounty of his labors at the coming of the Lord Jesus!