Central Assembly of God in Springfield, MO: 100 years of ministry

This past weekend Central Assembly here in Springfield, Missouri (Pastor James Bradford), held an all-church banquet on June 1, 2007 and special services on Sunday, June 3rd. The banquet commemorated to the day, the 100th anniversary of the church. It was during the wee hours of the morning of June 1, 1907 when Lillie Harper Corum was baptized in the Spirit in her living room in Springfield, after praying with her sister, Rachel Sizelove, an evangelist who had come from the famed Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles.

Further details of this testimony and much of the early history of Central Assembly is contained in a book produced by the Corum Family called The Sparkling Fountain. The book is still available for those interested. (See the Seen in Print section of the FPHC website.)

FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers and Assistant Archivist Glenn Gohr sold copies of The Sparkling Fountain, and Central Assembly sold copies of its new history book, Windows Into Central’s 100 Years of Ministry: Ordinary People God Used to Build an Extraordinary Church. This brief history contains vignettes of some of the former pastors and important families in the church as well as a time line of significant events in the church’s history. Central, now located on the block south of the AG Headquarters, became the mother church for several of the 30 AG congregations now in Springfield.

The new pictorial history of the church includes articles on the Corum family, Amanda Benedict, and Ralph M. Riggs, as well as interviews with key people who focus on various aspects of congregational life and the ministries of the church. Three former pastors also served as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God: W. T. Gaston, Ralph M. Riggs, and Thomas F. Zimmerman. Central Assembly has a rich history.

A multimedia presentation highlighted Central’s rich history at the Friday night banquet and families of former pastors were recognized as well as the family of J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds Flower, who were longtime members of the church. Former pastor, David G. Watson, offered greetings both Friday night and Sunday morning.

Addressing a packed house on Friday, General Secretary George Wood spoke on “Pass on a A Full Bucket.” He used the illustration of people passing on buckets of water in a line to put out a fire and water sometimes dripping out in the process. To effectively put out the fire, the bucket needs to be full. In similar fashion, people need to be full of the Holy Spirit and pass on a full bucket of ministry to effectively reach our world.

To illustrate his message, he focused on the significance of the Corum family (and other people later in the church’s history) in starting a Pentecostal congregation in Springfield and nurturing it. Through the years Central has been a leader in missions giving and has sent quite a number of young people into the ministry.

He also gave the testimony of Amanda Benedict who is remembered as a fervent prayer warrior. She prayed over the location of Central Assembly for its first permanent building and later for the Assemblies of God Headquarters and Central Bible College. And for one entire year she fasted and prayed for the city of Springfield, living only on bread and water.

On Sunday morning, General Superintendent Thomas Trask presented the church with a plaque to commemorate 100 years of spreading the gospel. He was also the Sunday morning speaker.

The anniversary weekend culminated with a celebration concert of music on Sunday night featuring the Sanctuary Choir, Orchestra, and JuBELLant Ringers under the direction of Tom Matrone. City officials and others were invited to attend the concert. Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson, Missouri State Representative Bob Dixon, and Missouri Senator Norma Champion each presented Central Assembly with certificates in honor of 100 years.

Additional events associated with Central’s 100th anniversary celebration will include a youth group reunion, August 1-5, made up of anyone who was a part of Central’s youth group throughout the decades. The conclusion of the reunion and the 100th anniversary celebration will be messages on Sunday morning and evening, August 5, 2007, with former U.S. Attorney General and Central youth group member, John Ashcroft. A special reception for the Ashcrofts will follow the evening service.

Truly God has used ordinary people to build an extraordinary church, and we are believing that God’s best is yet to come for Central Assembly and for all of the Assemblies of God.

Posted by Glenn Gohr

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