McMinnville Church of God will celebrate a century of service Oct. 11 with its 100th anniversary celebration at the Locust Street Church.
“What started out as prayer meetings and Bible studies with eight people in the foothills of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee became a movement known as the Church of God,” said Locust Street Rev. Jeff Page. “In 1886, this movement organized and started meeting in Monroe County, Tennessee. Great revival broke out over the next 20 years and in 1907 adopted the name of Church of God.”
Page explained the movement came to Warren County and on Dec. 25, 1915 the McMinnville Church of God was organized under the leadership of Rev. George T. Broyer.
“Jack Durham and his family were very instrumental in getting this new church established and making sure the gospel of Jesus Christ would continue to go forth from this church for years to come,” Page said. “The first church building was a small frame structure on Warren Street with Rev. George Sprinkle as pastor. The church experienced real growth in the 1930s and saw the need for a larger building and the church which still stands on the corner of West Sparta Street and Warren Street became known as the ‘Rock Church.’”
Rev. Calvin Wigley was appointed pastor in 1951. Under his leadership the current location at 202 Locust Street was purchased and a new modern brick worship center was completed. The congregation moved into this new building in 1957 after much labor from church members, community and the TGI group at Central High School under the direction of Fred "Pop" Sain. The Ladies Willing Workers Band at church would provide cake and coffee breaks to workers.
Under the leadership of Rev. Garland Griffis, the church purchased the adjacent lot and building on the corner of Locust and Center streets. That building, which is now the Youth Center, served as the fellowship hall, kitchen and children’s church over the years. The church also purchased the lot on the other side of the church and built a new brick parsonage which has been home to succeeding pastors including Page.
In the 1970s, the Family Life Center was built which would have a gym, fellowship hall and kitchen and more educational rooms for Sunday school and Wednesday night classes.
Under the leadership of Rev. Billy Hedgepath, the 40-foot steeple, which now sits atop the church, was purchased, largely with funds from the church’s ladies auxiliary which raised money by a variety of actives including the sale of cookbooks.
“It is well know that some of the best cooks in town were members of this local church,” Page noted. “It is with a lot of work and commitment from members and their families this church has been blessed to have the facilities which are still being used to minister to our families, serve our community and to reach the world. Since then other lots adjacent to the parsonage were purchased and more parking space was added.“
Rev. Roland Sharp came to be pastor in 2002 and served for 10 years.
“Under his leadership, numerous updates to both the parsonage and the church, including the new drive-thru on the front of the church, were completed on a pay-as-you-go basis and the church did not acquire debt to do any of those projects thanks to the faithfulness of the membership and God’s Providing Grace,” Page said, adding the work of expanding the church has continued for the entire century. “The McMinnville Church of God has served as a light to this community for 100 years. Spreading the life giving gospel of Jesus Christ, touching families and changing lives.”
Page added numerous pastors in the Church of God received their call to the ministry while in the McMinnville church including the father of the current pastor, Rev. Page.
I am a product of this church,” Page revealed, noting he was born in Warren County and he and his family came back to call the McMinnville church home in 2000. He served as music minister and youth and associate pastor before becoming the lead pastor in October 2012.
“God has truly blessed this church over the last 100 years and on Oct. 11, 2015, we will celebrate the past 100 years and we will look forward to the future anticipating what God has in store for His people,” Page said. “We will have a revival leading up to our Homecoming celebration with various leaders in the Church of God ministering.”
Schedule for this week's Centennial Celebration: Oct. 7 - Former pastor Roland Sharp will be ministering.
Oct. 8 - Rev. John Childers, assistant director of World Mission, will be ministering.
Oct. 9 - Dr. David Griffis, the first assistant general overseer, will be ministering.
Oct. 10 - Rev. J. David Stephens, the second assistant general overseer, will be ministering.
Oct. 11 - Bishop Mitchell Corder, the Tennessee state overseer will be ministering.
Services will begin nightly at 7 p.m. and the Homecoming Celebration will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.