A brief review of First Assembly in
Huntsville from 1935 to 1960.
By: Hattie Mae (Gentle) Hamilton and Horace Hamilton
Rev. William Caxe Jr., Rev. Gordon Lindsey, Evangelists Lois Leonard and Dorothy Hopple came to Huntsville in summer of 1935 and put up a tent on Grove Street(Ave). Other ministers came at different intervals to help out. Brother Caxe and Sister Leonard were married, and since several had been saved in the tent meeting, they decided to stay and rented an old building on North Patton Street, which is now Pratt Avenue. One partition was removed to make room for church services, leaving a small space in rear for two rooms, approximately 10x12 for parsonage.
In the summer of of 1936, Horace Hamilton and John Charles Caxe came to Huntsville for revival. Several were saved, including Hattie Mae Gentle, who later became wife to Brother Hamilton. Rev. J.C.Thames, district superintendent, at that time came to Huntsville in October(?) 1936 and set the church in order. Hattie Mae Gentle became a charter member (the only one living at present time).
Brother Caxe & wife remained as pastor for a few months, then Rev A.E. Hughes, formerly district secretary & treasurer came to pastor. Because of low finances Brother Hughes had to leave the church in 1938. Elbert Harris (a member) filled in as pastor until Rev. James Standifer came to church. After Brother Standifer left, Bro. Ben Wainwright came to pastor.
Bro & Sis Hamilton married in July 1938. At the time Bro. Hamilton was pastoring Alabaster Assembly of God. We remained there for fifteen months and went to Gadsden to build the First Assembly. In the meantime, land had been purchased in Huntsville to build a church.
Because hardly any had been paid, and not making any payments for a year or more, the owner was going to repossess the land. In the meantime, we had got the church completed in Gadsden, and Rev. Marvin Smith, district supt. asked us to come to Huntsville. At that time we had two children, and lived in the two 10x12 rooms. With little financial support, but by God's help we went ahead.
We borrowed $300 from Springfield, making payments back on loan at six dollars a month. We were paying ten dollars rent on building we were in. By selling plate lunches (at .35 each) making quilts and selling $3.00 each and different types of work we completed the building. Brother Hamilton did practically all the labor. Not any thing was hired done.
Jimmy Mitchell, a young teenager, did more to help than anyone. His parents were members of the church. We stayed at the church, after completion, until 1944, when Brother Hamilton accepted pastorate at Keystone Assembly. Brother Melvin Freeman, a young man who was filled with Holy Spirit in our tent services in Gadsden, and felt call to preach came to Huntsville church.
Later Bro & Sis A.L.Shell Jr. pastored, followed by Bro. W.F.Hardwick from 1952-1954. Brother Melvin Byron pastored until 1957. Then Brother Stuckey came to pastor. The church purchased the land on Bob Wallace, and built where the church is now Located.
(these dates, etc are the best of our rememberance)
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The Assemblies of God grew out of the Pentecostal revival, which began in the early 1900s in places such as Topeka, Kansas, and the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles. During times of prayer and Bible study, believers received spiritual experiences like those described in the book of Acts. Accompanied by “speaking in tongues,” their religious experiences were associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), and participants in the movement were dubbed “Pentecostals.” The Pentecostal movement has grown from a handful of Bible school students in Topeka, Kansas, to an estimated 600 million in the world today.
Many participants who were baptized in the Holy Spirit during revivals and camp meetings in the early 1900s were not welcomed back to their former churches. These believers started many small churches throughout the country and communicated through publications that reported on the revivals. In 1913, a Pentecostal publication, the Word and Witness, called for the independent churches to band together for the purpose of fellowship and doctrinal unity. Other concerns for facilitating missionaries, chartering churches and forming a Bible training school were also on the agenda.
Some 300 Pentecostals met at an opera house in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914, and agreed to form a new fellowship of loosely knit independent churches. These churches were left with the needed autonomy to develop and govern their own local ministries, yet they were united in their message and efforts to reach the world for Christ. So began the General Council of the Assemblies of God.
Assemblies of God churches form a cooperative fellowship. As a result, the organization operates from the grass roots, allowing the local church to choose and develop ministries and facilities best suited for its local needs.