Archive for the ‘Oak Hill Tabernacle (Indianapolis)’ Category

Frank Emerson Curts: Laborer for Christ

19 April, 2011

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!

Advertisements

Glenn Cook: Oneness Apostle

19 October, 2010

As the Azusa Street meetings began to produce concentric waves of revival throughout Los Angeles and Southern California, many holiness ministers visited the mission at 312 Azusa Street to contend with William Seymour, the African American leader of the burgeoning Pentecostal group, concerning his strange new doctrine of speaking in tongues.  One of the early preachers to withstand Bro. Seymour was Glenn A. Cook, who was conducting holiness tent meetings at Seventh and Spring Streets in Los Angeles.  Cook was deeply impressed by Seymour’s humility and patience and began to attend the Pentecostal meetings.  He eventually apologized to Bro. Seymour for his “hard sayings” and spent five weeks in heartfelt repentance and spiritual agony before receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost: 

I felt that I was really lost and unless I received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues I would miss all.  When I had just about given up all hope, the Holy Ghost fell on me as I lay in bed at home.  I seemed to be in a trance for about twenty-four hours and the next day in the meeting began to speak in tongues.

Bro. Cook proved to be an important asset to the work of the Azusa Mission and was soon ordained an elder by Bro. Seymour.  A former news reporter and a printer by trade, Cook assisted with the publication of The Apostolic Faith, the mission’s international publication, answered correspondence, and handled the mission’s finances. 

            In December 1906, Bro. Cook began an effective evangelistic campaign throughout the West, Midwest and South, spreading the Pentecostal message.  He arrived in Lamont, Oklahoma where “quite a number were tarrying and waiting for Pentecost.”  Hungry souls traveled to his meetings from over 100 miles away.  Heading eastward, he delivered the doctrine to Mother Mary Moise in St. Louis then on to Chicago.  In Indianapolis, he held powerful meetings, where several members of the Christian Missionary Alliance received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, including the Flower family, defectors from Dowie’s Zion who later became influential leaders in the Assemblies of God.  In an Apostolic Faith report, Cook accurately predicted that Indianapolis would become “a center of power, being an inter-urban railway center like Los Angeles.”  Cook was gladly received by a number of Church of God in Christ adherents in the South, while their bishop, Charles H. Mason, was on site at Azusa receiving the Holy Ghost. 

            In 1914, Cook was evangelizing in the east when he received a letter from Frank Ewart, who was conducting meetings in Los Angeles “stating that he and a number of my friends had started a tent meeting and were baptizing people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ewart invited Cook to return to Los Angeles to assist in the work.  He accepted Ewart’s scriptural message, and he and Bro. Ewart rebaptized one another in a rented trough.  “During the following months,” wrote Bro. Cook, “the great revival broke out, many hundreds being baptized in the Name of Jesus.” 

            Bro. Cook’s acceptance of the doctrine of the mighty God in Christ placed him in the ranks of the Oneness Pentecostals, who were transforming the movement with a deeper revelation of Jesus Christ.  As a church planter, Cook took up the burden to revisit the works he had helped to found in 1906 and 1907 with the Oneness message:

During the spring of 1915, the call came to me from the Lord to go back East and carry the message to the places where several years before I had carried the message of the Holy Ghost baptism with speaking in tongues.  My first stop was St. Louis, where I visited the Rescue Home of Mother Moise . . . Before leaving St. Louis, Mother Moise, Ben Pemberton, and about forty others were baptized in the Name of Jesus in the Mississippi River.

Afterward, he traveled on to Indianapolis where:

. . . the saints were prepared and hungry for the new message.  Great crowds turned out from the beginning, people coming in from different points in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.  During the thirty days of the meeting, I was informed by those who kept a record that some 469 were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Among those baptized were G.T. Haywood, L.V. Roberts, the new Bishop [Samuel N.] Hancock, Brother [T.C.] Davis, and about all the leaders of that day.  The Lord made a clean sweep, leaving few Pentecostal people in te city who were not baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Throughout his lifetime, Cook continued to promote the powerful message of baptism in the Name of Jesus and the fullness of the Godhead in Christ.  He contributed articles to a number of Apostolic circulars including The Blessed Truth, The Herald of Truth, and Meat in Due Season.  He continued a deep friendship with Bro. Frank Ewart, who introduced him to the Oneness truths, and worked alongside him in Pentecostal ministry in Los Angeles, where he pastored a work in Belvedere.  When he died in 1948, Bro. Glenn A. Cook was memorialized as a trailblazer.  The seeds of truth that he scattered throughout the United States as an apostle of the Faith continue to bring forth a mighty harvest.

 

 

West Side Story: the Heritage of One Indianapolis Congregation

14 December, 2009

West Side Pentecostal Church is one of the oldest Apostolic assemblies in the city of Indianapolis, beginning in 1912, just a few short years after the Pentecostal message was introduced to the city. In January 1907, Bro. Glenn Cook, an evangelist from the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, began holding Pentecostal meetings in the on Shelby Street in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. Another evangelistic party arrived from Azusa in March, including Thomas Hezmalhalch, Fred Dexheimer, Celia Smock, and Lenora Hall. These early workers helped spread the revival, and congregations began to form throughout the city (Flower 5-6).

The roots of West Side Pentecostal Church begin with Bro. Joseph Rodgers, who opened a mission in 1912 on the corners of West Ohio and Minker Street (now Reisner Street). A Bro. Edwards served as Assistant Pastor of the fledgling congregation, and the work was called Apostolic Faith Helping Hands Mission. It is interesting to note that Bro. Rodgers chose to name the mission. Many Pentecostal assemblies were simply known only by their location, a nomenclative tradition, which grew out of early Pentecostal suspicions about denominationalism and formal organization. Bishop G.T. Haywood’s large Indianapolis church was simply known as 11th and Senate. Additionally, in August 1912, E.N. Bell published an article in Word and Witness, a widely-read Pentecostal circular, asking ministers not to use the terms “mission” or “Apostolic Faith” in their church names: “Nowhere in the Bible is a congregation of believers in Christ called a ‘mission’ nor an ‘Apostolic mission’ but we read of the ‘Church of God at Corinth.’” Bell favored “Church of God in Christ” as a suitable name, which undoubtedly reflects some of the early ministerial connections with the organization of that name (Bell 2).

Bro. Rodgers continued to lead the church that he started, and the congregation steadily grew under his leadership. Unfortunately, the pastor, who was an interior decorator by trade, was tragically killed while working on a church. The scaffolding collapsed, and he fell to his death.

Part of the church’s history is rather nebulous, but it is likely that the church joined the Assemblies of God at its formation in 1914. Following naming conventions of that fellowship, the church name became West Side Assembly Church. However, Bro. Jim Jackson, who succeeded Bro. Rodgers, must have been a key figure in moving the church into the Oneness camp when the message came to Indianapolis in 1915.

Bro. Jackson’s pastorate was followed by the ministry of Bro. Hedges, who was saved at West Side Assembly. After only a few years at the church, Bro. Hedges became ill and called on the help of Bro. Delbert Spall, a young minister from Christian Tabernacle, one of the most well-established Apostolic assemblies in Indianapolis. When Bro. Hedges went to be with the Lord on 15 July 1954, Bro. Spall became the pastor. Bro. Spall recalled that the last time Bro. Hedges ministered in the West Side pulpit, he felt the spiritual mantle from Bro. Hedges pass to him.

Bro. Delbert Spall was born in Carothersville, Indiana in 1919. As a child, Bro. Spall had attended Christian Tabernacle with his parents Freeman and Freda, a dynamic Apostolic church led by Sis. Lena Spillman. At the age of 17, Bro. Spall had an attack that brought him near to death. His family called for Sis. Spillman to come and pray. The young man received the Holy Ghost and was healed and became a faithful member of Christian Tabernacle. In 1950, Bro. Spall recognized his call to the ministry.

Bro. Spall’s wife, Mary Ellen (McMorris) also has a wonderful Pentecostal heritage. As a baby, her first trip outside of the house was to Oak Hill Tabernacle, one of the oldest Pentecostal works in Indianapolis led by Bro. L.V. Roberts. Sis. Spall’s mother, Dora McMorris, was purportedly amongst the first group of Indianapolis Pentecostals to be immersed in the Name of Jesus by Bro. Glenn Cook on 6 March 1915.

This wonderful couple led West Side Pentecostal through decades of Holy Ghost revival, completing a new sanctuary in 1959. In May of 1989, they retired from full-time ministry, but both are still living and are wholly committed to the Lord.

Bro. Donald Winters became the pastor of West Side at the Spalls’ retirement. Recently, his son, Donald Jo Winters assumed the pastorate, and Bro. Anthony Oliver is his Assistant Pastor.

The West Side Pentecostal Church continues to stand strong on its historic foundations of faith and service. From its most humble beginnings as a small Apostolic Faith mission to a well-established Pentecostal congregation, West Side Pentecostal Church is undoubtedly the oldest Indianapolis congregation in the fellowship of the United Pentecostal Church International. Their unwavering commitment to the cherished doctrines of Bible salvation, holiness, and the mighty God in Christ are a testament to generations of solid, anointed leadership as they continue to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jud. 1.3).

Sources:

Bell, Eudorus N. “Not Missions, but Churches of God in Christ.” Word & Witness Vol. 8, Is. 6. 20 August 1912, p. 2.

Flower, Alice Reynolds. “When Pentecost Came to Indianapolis, a First-Hand Report of the Revival which Began in 1907.” Heritage 5 (4) Winter 1985/1986, pp. 5-6.

*Special thanks to the Spall family for conducting this interview at a difficult time.

Circle of Fire: Early Pentecostal Revival in Indianapolis

12 May, 2008

Indianapolis, Indiana was the epicenter of Pentecostal revival east of the Mississippi River. Bro. Glenn Cook, one of the elders from William J. Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, arrived in the city in January of 1907 with the Pentecostal message. Revival meetings were conducted at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Gospel Tabernacle, and several were filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The assembly’s pastor, Dr. G.N. Eldridge, who was out of town, sent a telegram refusing his pulpit to Cook, and an alternate location had to be secured for continued meetings. Ironically, Eldridge later joined the Pentecostal movement (Tyson EPR 129-130). In March 1907, Bro. Cook published a good report of the burgeoning revival in Indianapolis in The Apostolic Faith, the official publication of the Azusa Mission:

The Lord gave us a gracious time of Pentecostal power at Indianapolis, Ind. Many received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and are speaking with tongues. They came from different parts of Indiana and are now going forth to spread the good news. This will be a center of power, being an interurban railway center like Los Angeles. (Cook 3)

The group had rented a “nice hall and chairs to seat it” at 1111½ Shelby Street in Fountain Square, marking the formation of the first Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis (Cook 3).
When Bro. Cook returned to Los Angeles in March 1907, another party of Azusa Pentecostal workers came to Indianapolis, including: Thomas Hezmalhalch, Fred Dexheimer, Celia Smock, and Lenora Hall. As crowds grew, the fledgling congregation had to move to larger facilities, securing a vacant spiritualist church called Murphy Hall at the corner of New York and Alabama Streets. Pentecostal revival continued to grow, and many were healed and filled at the mission. J. Roswell Flower, the first General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and his future wife, Alice Reynolds both received the Holy Ghost in these early meetings (Flower 5-6). In 1908, Flower began publishing The Pentecost, a monthly newsletter detailing the spread of the Pentecostal message.

Garfield Thomas Haywood was filled with the Holy Ghost in February 1908 in a converted tin shop on West Michigan Street in a small work led by Henry Prentice, who had received his Pentecost in Los Angeles (Tyson, EPR 10). This mission grew, and the congregation moved to an empty storeroom on the corner of Michigan and Minverva Streets (Tyson BIS 16).

G.T. Haywood soon felt called to the ministry and began his pastorate of a small work in February 1909 located in a downtown storeroom at 12th and Lafayette Streets. The assembly also held meetings for a short time at West 13th and Canal before moving to a more permanent home at 12th and Missouri (Dugas 12-13; Tyson BIS 16-17). Eventually, the congregation relocated to 11th and Senate before constructing the beautiful building, Christ Temple, on Fall Creek Boulevard in 1924, an extant landmark of Apostolic heritage. Haywood and his interracial congregation were instrumental in the Indianapolis work, and he began publication in 1910 of The Voice in the Wilderness, an important Pentecostal periodical that became the official organ of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1918 (Tyson BIS 16).

L.V. Roberts was also an early influence in the Pentecostal movement in Indianapolis. He assumed leadership of the original Indianapolis Assembly from Murphy Hall in February 1913. Meetings were moved to No. 9 New Jersey Avenue and later to Roosevelt Avenue under the name Oak Hill Tabernacle. His church began holding an annual camp meeting that attracted Pentecostals from the Midwest (Roberts 3).

In October 1914, Lena Spillman visited Roberts’ church and was converted and physically healed of a life-threatening heart condition (Foley 203). Early in her Pentecostal experience, she recognized God’s call to the ministry. In 1929, she began holding revival meetings at Thirty-Fourth and Orchard Streets, and the assembly grew into a thriving work eventually became Christian Tabernacle at 28th and Sherman Streets (Foley 208).

In March 1915, Bro. Glenn Cook returned from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Bro. Cook had accepted the message of the mighty God in Christ and was rebaptized in Jesus’ Name. This man, who had been so instrumental in the spread of the Pentecostal message in the Midwest, now returned preaching Oneness doctrine. Indianapolis, which had experienced growing Apostolic revival, was ripe to receive the revelatory teaching; and on 6 March 1915, L.V. Roberts and his congregation were immersed in Eagle Creek in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as Pentecostal leaders G.T. Haywood and Samuel N. Hancock (French 65). On Easter Sunday, 4 April 1915, Haywood preached Oneness truth to his growing congregation at 11th and Senate. At the conclusion of the sermon, G.T. Haywood baptized 456 members of his congregation in Jesus’ Name (Tyson BIS 36). The conversion of Haywood and his congregation from Trinitarianism was instrumental in bringing the fledgling Pentecostal Assemblies of the World into the Oneness camp.

Indianapolis continued to be a center of Apostolic revival, and many other missions and churches were formed in the next few decades. Today, Indianapolis has scores of Apostolic Faith assemblies, and many of these revival churches were either formed or led by some of the most renowned names in Hoosier Pentecostal history including: G.T. Haywood, L.V. Roberts, Oscar Hughes, Raymond Hoekstra, Nathaniel A. Urshan, Paul Jordan, James E. Simison, Morris E. Golder, and James Tyson. The seeds of truth fell on fertile ground in the heart of Indiana, and the Indianapolis became the strong root system of many Oneness works around the Midwest, the nation, and the globe as concentric waves of true Apostolic revival emanated from the Circle City.

Sources:

Cook, Glenn. “Revival in Indianpolis.” Apostolic Faith March 1907, p. 3. 

Dugas, Paul D. The Life and Writings of G.T. Haywood. Stockton, CA: Apostolic
Press, 1968.

Flower, Alice Reynolds. “When Pentecost Came to Indianapolis, a First-Hand Report of
the Revival which Began in 1907.” Heritage 5 (4) Winter 1985/1986, pp. 5-6.

Foley, Bertha L. “Lena Spillman.” Pioneer Pentecostal Women, Volume II. Mary H. Wallace, ed. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1981, pp. 201-212.

French, Talmadge. Our God is One: the Story of Oneness Pentecostals. Indianapolis:
Voice & Vision Publications, 1999.

Roberts, L.V. “More Blessed Revival Fires: Fresh Blaze in Indianapolis.” Word and
Witness 9 (2) 20 February 1913, p. 3.

Tyson, James L. Before I Sleep. Indianapolis: Pentecostal Publications, 1976.

—. Early Pentecostal Revival. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1992.