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SUMMER <strong>2016</strong> | USPS 165-700

Pennsylvania-Delaware Ministry <strong>Network</strong><br />

4651 Westport Drive<br />

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055<br />

Read online: penndel.org/connexions<br />

Editor: . . . . . . . . . . . .Stephen R. Tourville<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Editor: . . . . .Donald J. Immel<br />

Managing Editor: . . . . . Carole Bongiorno<br />

Volume 62 Number 2 - (USPS 165-700) is the official periodical<br />

published quarterly by the Pennsylvaina-Delaware District Council of<br />

the Assemblies of God. Periodical postage paid at Mechanicsburg,<br />

Pennsylvania. Circulation Stands at Approximately 7,500<br />


Send address changes to:<br />

Pennsylvania-Delaware District Council<br />

4651 Westport Drive<br />

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-4887<br />

Executive Presbytery<br />

Superintendent . . . . . . . . .Stephen R. Tourville<br />

Assistant Superintendent . . . Bryan Koch<br />

Secretary/Treasurer . . . . . . Donald J. Immel<br />

Timothy Bunney Southwest Suburban - SWS<br />

Christopher Clark North Central West - NCW<br />

Roland Coon Delaware - DEL<br />

Steven DeFrain East Central - EC<br />

Jeffrey Kettering South Central - SC<br />

Jeff Marshall Southwest Metro - SWM<br />

Robert Novak Greater Philadelphia Area - GPA<br />

James Pentz North Central - NC<br />

Randall Rhoads South Central East - SCE<br />

Walter Smith South Central West - SCW<br />

Allan Thorpe Northwest - NW<br />

David Twiss Northeast - NE<br />

General Presbyters<br />

Stephen R. Tourville<br />

Donald J. Immel<br />

Bryan Koch<br />

Honorary General Presbyter<br />

Philip Bongiorno<br />

PennDel Superintendent Emeritus<br />



Dr. Stephen R. Tourville, Superintendent<br />

CARRYING THE VISION. ...................... 4-5<br />

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent<br />


Donald J. Immel<br />

A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP . ................ 10-11<br />

Donald J. Immel, Secretary / Treasurer<br />


100 YEARS IN THE MAKING. ................. 12-17<br />



MINISTRY NETWORK. ....................... 18-19<br />

Church Planting, Tom Rees. ..................20-21<br />

Assistant Superintendent, Bryan Koch. ....... 22-23<br />

World Missions, Donald J. Immel. ............ 24-25<br />

Christian Education, George Krebs. .......... 26-27<br />

University of Valley Forge, Dr. Don Meyer ..... 28-29<br />

Youth Ministries, Doug Sayers. ............... 30-31<br />

Women of Purpose, Ruth Puleo. ............. 32-34<br />

Girls Ministries, Sharon Poole. .................. 35<br />

Royal Rangers, Greg Scott. .................. 36-37<br />

HonorBound, Tom Rees. ....................... 37<br />

PennDel <strong>Centennial</strong> Churches. ............... 38-39<br />




<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 3

Superintendent<br />







Celebrating our 100th District Council is both exciting and sobering. Exciting<br />

because we look back on the last century, and we celebrate the great things God<br />

has done through our fellowship. We are Carrying the Vision.<br />

In the words of our presbyter from the Northeast Section, Pastor David Twiss who writes<br />

about the memories of the past:<br />

Could it be the sounds of the Jericho brass reverberating off the ceiling of the Cow Palace<br />

or the harmonies of the Couriers springing from the walls and hallways of the Zembo<br />

Mosque? Is it the sounds of “Let Thy Mantle Fall on Me” and the laying on of hands by<br />

the brethren in scores of churches throughout PA and DE? Is the financial and leadership<br />

savvy of Philip Bongiorno or the heart of a Harold Crosby or Clayton Sheridan? Could it<br />

be the explosive miracles of a Smith Wigglesworth, the fire of Steve Hill, or the spectacle<br />

of the healing services of Katherine Kuhlman? Is it just glimpses of the silken preaching<br />

of David Laquintano, or the Pentecostal fire of the likes of Thomas Trask and J. Roswell<br />

Flower? Is it starting a bus ministry, sidewalk Sunday School, Kids’ Crusade, Judgment<br />

House, Christmas pageant, Easter drama, Heaven’s Gate and Hell’s Flames, Royal Rangers<br />

or Girls Ministries? Is it launching small groups, a food pantry, or any other “you name it”<br />

that has been accomplished in ministry over these past 100 years?<br />

No, we are Carrying the Vision, not simply a memory. Memory is part of vision, but vision<br />

goes beyond where memory stops. Vision takes you where you have never gone before.<br />

The celebration is not only exciting but also it is sobering. We realize there is a great<br />

challenge that still lies before us. I am reminded of the words of Rev. Loren Triplett, the<br />

former director of the Assemblies of God World Missons, who said, “You don’t measure<br />

yourself by your success, you measure yourself against the unfinished task.” While we<br />

are grateful for the thousands of individuals and the hundreds of churches God has<br />

4 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>


raised up through our network, the laborers are still too<br />

few because the harvest is still so great.<br />

What will it take to make a difference in the “unfinished<br />

task?” I am convinced it is about “Carrying the Vision.”<br />

My generation and those who have preceded me have<br />

seen many changes through the years. We have gone<br />

from store fronts and tent meetings to beautiful facilities,<br />

padded pews and megachurches and at the same time<br />

continued to embrace those store front opportunities<br />

and simple venues in order to reach “the one.” We have<br />

transitioned in many of our dress codes, developed<br />

many programs for evangelism, accepted some forms of<br />

entertainment as being permissible, and have become<br />

respectable in the religious world – even envied by some.<br />

Before World War II, ours was a pacifist movement,<br />

but that all changed with the “just war” concept to<br />

counteract Nazism. Although missions continues to be a<br />

prime directive, many individuals and churches not only<br />

send missionaries, they also go as missionaries to the far<br />

regions of the world.<br />

Lest anyone wrongly surmise that the challenges are<br />

behind us, the future holds many opportunities for the<br />

church to hold high the values and ideals of the Word<br />

of God. From the cultural acceptance of gay marriage,<br />

to evangelistic atheism and from the questions of<br />

appropriate levels of political involvement to the ethical<br />

questions raised by scientific advances related to the<br />

sanctity of human life, along with non-Pentecostal<br />

influences that present challenges to both doctrinal and<br />

governance uniformity, the future generation will deal<br />

with the vital issues that provide the opportunity of<br />

honoring God’s Word and continue to walk in His favor.<br />

The vision has been and continues to be to change the<br />

world one person at a time.<br />

The admonition of the Apostle Paul to his young protégé<br />

seems appropriate in this context “Watch your life and<br />

doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you<br />

will save both yourself and your hearers.” I Timothy 4:16<br />

(NIV) Every generation is challenged with the words of<br />

the Lord to “Write down the vision and make it plain on<br />

tablets so that a herald may run with it.” (Habakkuk 2:2)<br />

May our memories of the past prepare us to press for<br />

the vision of the future that God desires us to fulfill!!<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 5

General Superintendent<br />




Small beginnings have produced much growth. The Assemblies of God<br />

came into being as a result of a small convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas,<br />

April 2-12, 1914. At this gathering, some one hundred twenty pastors and<br />

evangelists registered as delegates representing twenty states and several<br />

foreign lands. In all, about 300 men, women, and children participated in the<br />

founding convention. And now, more than 100 years later, the Assemblies of<br />

God has become one of the largest families of Christian churches in the world.<br />

6 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Left: Alice R.<br />

Flower 1910<br />

Right: Azusa<br />

Street Mission,<br />

Los Angeles, CA<br />


A number of factors led up to the founding of the<br />

Assemblies of God. Before the closing of the frontier,<br />

a series of revivals had refreshed the land under such<br />

preachers as Barton Stone at Cane Ridge and Charles<br />

G. Finney. This culminated in the last great nationwide<br />

revival which occurred on the eve of the Civil War in<br />

1858-59, a revival sometimes called the great “Prayer<br />

Meeting Revival.”<br />

Sometime after the Civil War, the freshness of a vital<br />

experience with Christ was exchanged for a “culturereligion.”<br />

A mood of self-satisfaction and complacency<br />

began to replace the earnestness and prayerfulness of<br />

earlier years in many churches across the land.<br />

As social unrest challenged the tranquility of American<br />

domestic life, a series of devastating ideas weakened the<br />

American churches: Biblical criticism, liberal theology,<br />

Darwin’s The Origin of Species published in 1859, and the<br />

rise of the social gospel in which education and social<br />

activism were to displace the old-fashioned mourner’s<br />

bench.<br />



Two parallel, sometimes overlapping, movements—<br />

Fundamentalism and the Holiness revival—developed in<br />

opposition to what was felt to be an alarming trend in the<br />

larger church world. Each of these conservative reactions<br />

was to have a significant influence on the shaping of the<br />

coming Pentecostal revival and the Assemblies of God.<br />

FUNDAMENTALISM. Fundamentalists stressed verbal<br />

and inerrant inspiration of the Bible, which was seen as<br />

the final and complete authority for faith and practice.<br />

Contributions to the shaping of Assemblies of God<br />

theology were its views on Scripture, on the person<br />

and work of Christ, on the shaping of its doctrine of<br />

sanctification in distinction from their traditional Holiness<br />

view, and in its emphasis on the second coming of Christ.<br />

HOLINESS MOVEMENT. The Pentecostal movement owes<br />

much of its inspiration and formation to the Wesleyan<br />

Holiness revival of the 19th century. Its emphasis on<br />

spiritual experiences and its tradition of earnestly seeking<br />

God created a receptive mood for the Pentecostal<br />

revival. The methodologies of the camp meeting and the<br />

revival were eagerly adapted. From the Keswick wing<br />

(which emphasized the “enduement of power”) of the<br />

Holiness movement came the Bible institute program, the<br />

ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God, the missionary<br />

vision, the emphasis on divine healing, much of its early<br />

hymnology, and even a significant portion of its early<br />

leadership.<br />

As the spiritual tempo began to rise in the late 1800s,<br />

prayer bands met in various areas of the United States and<br />

in many places throughout the world. Bible conferences<br />

were held and much was written about conditions of the<br />

Christian church. God began to respond to these cries for<br />

revival and began to pour out His Spirit upon individuals<br />

and various groups of believers. Some of the great<br />

preachers who helped to usher in the Holiness movement<br />

and the rise of Pentecostalism include A. B. Simpson, R. A.<br />

Torrey, D. L. Moody, William Booth, and Maria Woodworth-<br />

Etter. In the late 1800s, there were isolated reports of a few<br />

individuals, such as William Jethro Walthall in Arkansas<br />

(1879), Daniel Awrey in Delaware, Ohio (1890), and Carl<br />

Hanson in Dalton, Minnesota (1899), experiencing the<br />

baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in<br />

tongues.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 7



Pentecostalism as a movement traces its roots back to<br />

January 1, 1901, when God poured out His Spirit among a<br />

group of students at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible College<br />

in Topeka, Kansas. Here it is reported that Agnes Ozman<br />

became the first of millions in the twentieth century to<br />

experience the Pentecostal baptism. In spite of strong<br />

opposition, this revival spirit moved through Kansas, into<br />

Missouri, southward to Texas, and finally to the West Coast.<br />

Here it broke out anew in 1906 in the Azusa Street Mission<br />

of Los Angeles, and from Azusa Street the Pentecostal<br />

message spread all around the world. Among the first to<br />

receive Pentecost in the Azusa Street mission was Mrs.<br />

Rachel Sizelove who later took the news to Springfield,<br />

Missouri, which is now the home of the Assemblies of God.<br />

Others experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in the<br />

Azusa Street revival included Elder C. H. Mason, founder of<br />

the Church of God in Christ; Pastor William Durham, of the<br />

old North Avenue Mission in Chicago, who a few years later<br />

spearheaded discussion of the “finished work of Christ”; G.<br />

B. Cashwell, of Dunn, North Carolina, who was instrumental<br />

in taking the message to the southeastern United States;<br />

and Elmer Fisher, founder of the Upper Room Mission in<br />

Los Angeles. Joseph Smale, T. B. Barratt, and others from<br />

overseas visited Azusa Street. Still others went out from<br />

Azusa Street as missionaries to Hong Kong, Korea, South<br />

Africa, Liberia, and many other places.<br />

To trace the stream of Pentecostal history in every<br />

direction from this point becomes virtually impossible<br />

because of its rapid spread. Nevertheless, in 1906-07, the<br />

revival broke out among students at the Christian and<br />

Missionary Alliance ministerial training school at Nyack,<br />

New York, and four early leaders of the Assemblies of God<br />

received the Holy Ghost: David McDowell, Frank M. Boyd,<br />

Gordon F. Bender, and William I. Evans. Pastor D. W. Kerr<br />

accepted the message at Beulah Park Camp Ground near<br />

Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907. That same year, Marie Burgess,<br />

later Mrs. Robert A. Brown, carried the message from<br />

Zion, Illinois, to New York City, where she and her husband<br />

pastored Glad Tidings Tabernacle, a strong missionary<br />

church in the Assemblies of God.<br />

In January, 1907, Glenn A. Cook held a revival in<br />

Indianapolis, where J. Roswell Flower, First General<br />

Secretary of the Assemblies of God, was converted.<br />

Alice Reynolds, later Mrs. J. Roswell Flower, received the<br />

baptism of the Holy Ghost at this time. Two years later, J.<br />

Roswell Flower gave up the study of law and, assisted by<br />

his fiancée, sponsored a camp meeting in Indianapolis. At<br />

this camp he, too, was filled with the Spirit.<br />


Others had similar experiences as the Pentecostal fire<br />

began to spread. Eventually it seemed necessary to form<br />

an organization of like-minded Pentecostals under one<br />

Bible name for the purpose of spreading the gospel,<br />

training workers, and banding together to send out<br />

missionaries.<br />

At the close of<br />

1913, E. N. Bell’s<br />

Pentecostal<br />

paper, the Word<br />

and Witness,<br />

issued the now<br />

famous call for a<br />

general council<br />

of Pentecostal<br />

ministers to<br />

convene in<br />

Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the spring of 1914—the call that<br />

culminated in the founding of the Assemblies of God.<br />

In the fall of 1913, Howard A. Goss, then pastor at Hot<br />

Springs, had discussed such a gathering with E. N. Bell,<br />

editor of Word and Witness. Since Goss had a lease on<br />

the Hot Springs Grand Opera House, they decided to call<br />

for a council to meet there April 2-12, 1914. Carried on<br />

the front page of the December 20 issue of Word and<br />

8 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>


Witness, the call was addressed to “The Pentecostal Saints<br />

and Churches of God in Christ,” and was signed by M. M.<br />

Pinson, Phoenix, Arizona; A. P. Collins, Fort Worth, Texas;<br />

H. A. Goss, Hot Springs, Arkansas; D. C. O. Opperman,<br />

Houston, Texas; and E. N. Bell, Malvern, Arkansas.<br />

Five of the basic reasons for calling the General Council<br />

were (1) to achieve better understanding and unity of<br />

doctrine, (2) to know how to conserve God’s work at<br />

home and abroad, (3) to consult on protection of funds<br />

for missionary endeavors, (4) to explore the possibilities<br />

of chartering churches under a legal name, and (5) to<br />

consider the establishment of a Bible training school with a<br />

literary division.<br />


“Keep the<br />

unity of the<br />

Spirit in<br />

the bonds<br />

of peace…”<br />

At the first General Council, a “Preamble<br />

and Resolution on Constitution” was<br />

adopted which identified the new<br />

Fellowship as the General Council<br />

of the Assemblies of God. This<br />

voluntary cooperative organization<br />

was inaugurated for the purpose of<br />

following “Scriptural methods and order<br />

for worship, unity, fellowship, work and business for God,<br />

and disapprove of all unscriptural methods, doctrines,<br />

and conduct” in order to “keep the unity of the Spirit in<br />

the bonds of peace, until we all come into the unity of the<br />

faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God …” (Eph.<br />

4:17-32). The delegates also moved to consider the five<br />

purposes announced in the Convention Call in the Word<br />

and Witness.<br />

This basis of fellowship held the Assemblies of God<br />

together until the Statement of Fundamental Truths was<br />

adopted in 1916 and until the official constitution and<br />

bylaws were adopted in 1927. From those formative years,<br />

the Assemblies of God has developed a multitude of<br />

evangelistic programs and experienced an explosive rate<br />

of growth, reaching all segments of society both in the U.S.<br />

and abroad.<br />

While the Assemblies of God is growing in America,<br />

the real story is the ethnic transformation of the AG as<br />

our Fellowship is becoming more global, diverse, and<br />

growing. Over the years there has been a demographic<br />


• 12,897 Churches<br />

• 37,068 Ministers<br />

• Over 3 Million Adherents<br />

• 67 Million Adherents<br />

Worldwide<br />

shift in the AG. Certain<br />

segments of the AG<br />

seem to be in spiritual<br />

and numeral decline,<br />

mirroring the general<br />

decline of Western<br />

culture and its rejection<br />

of biblical value. However, non-whites and immigrants are<br />

eagerly embracing a strong Pentecostal identity, bringing<br />

much growth in numbers in the AG. The founders of our<br />

Movement laid the foundation for this growth when at the<br />

second General Council in November 1914, they committed<br />

the fellowship to “the greatest evangelism that the world<br />

has ever seen.” Currently, as of the 2015 statistics, the<br />

Assemblies of God in the U.S. has 12,897 churches, 37,068<br />

ministers, and over 3 million adherents. Worldwide, the<br />

Assemblies of God has over 67 million adherents.<br />



This same religious fervor and growth as seen in the<br />

Assemblies of God as a whole, is also found in the<br />

formations of the Eastern District which is now known<br />

as the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong>. David McDowell did<br />

not attend the historical gathering in Hot Springs, but<br />

afterwards, Chairman E. N. Bell, notified him of his election<br />

as a General Presbyter for the Eastern part of the United<br />

States, instructing him to organize an Eastern District.<br />

After much planning and debate, the Eastern District was<br />

formed at a convention held June, 14, 1917 at Glad Tidings<br />

Hall, New York City, with Robert Brown as the host pastor.<br />

At that time the district included all the churches affiliated<br />

with the AG in the region east of the Ohio River and above<br />

the Potomac River. Early superintendents included John<br />

Coxe (1917-1918), Robert A. Brown (1918-1922), Joseph<br />

Tunmore (1922-1930), J. Roswell Flower 1930-1936), Flem<br />

Van Meter (1936-1943), and Wesley R. Steelberg (1943).<br />

The New England District<br />

(which later was split into<br />

Northern New England and<br />

Southern New England)<br />

was formed out of the<br />

2015 PENNDEL<br />


434 Churches<br />

1,173 Ministers<br />

Eastern District in 1919. In 1943 a vote was taken to divide<br />

the district again, and New York-New Jersey became a<br />

district of its own (later becoming separate districts of<br />

New York and New Jersey in 1954). A. Newton Chase<br />

became the superintendent of the Eastern District after the<br />

split in 1943. Chase served as superintendent for 16 years<br />

(1943-1959), followed by Russell Williams (1959-1978), and<br />

then Philip Bongiorno (1978-2002). In 1983 the district<br />

voted to change its name to the Pennsylvania-Delaware<br />

District, which became effective on July 1, 1983. Currently<br />

the district has 434 churches and 1,173 ministers as shown<br />

in the 2015 statistics. Stephen R. Tourville is now serving<br />

as District Superintendent since 2002. This year marks<br />

the 100th MinistrieSummit/District Council as PennDel<br />

begins a year of reflection, commitment, and renewal as it<br />

embarks on its second century of growth and ministry.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 9

written by Donald J. Immel<br />


A Legacy of Leadership<br />


Leadership has always been an<br />

integral part of God’s plan. In the Old<br />

Testament we see men and women<br />

ordained by God to lead His people, Israel,<br />

and in the New Testament we see Jesus<br />

investing Himself in the Apostles to carry<br />

forward the task of building His church.<br />

The Apostles in turn invest themselves<br />

in growing leaders as can be seen in the<br />

relationship of Barnabas and Paul, Paul and<br />

Timothy, etc. These leaders would guide<br />

the church through its formative stages as<br />

new believers were added and discipled.<br />

When the General Council of the Assemblies<br />

of God was formed in the first quarter of<br />

the twentieth century, regional councils<br />

were developed under the General Council<br />

umbrella. David McDowell was chosen as the<br />

General Presbyter for the Northeast region<br />

and was asked to form a District Council<br />

east of Ohio and north of the Mason-Dixon<br />

Line. A call was extended to Pentecostal<br />

believers throughout the Northeast to meet<br />

at Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York<br />

City in June 1917 for this purpose. Fifteen<br />

spirit-filled ministers met and signed the<br />

JOHN COXE (1917) ROBERT BROWN (1918-1922) JOSEPH TUNMORE (1922-1930) J. ROSWELL FLOWER<br />

(1930-1936)<br />


(1936-1943)<br />

JOHN COXE (1917) – served as the<br />

first District Superintendent for the newly<br />

formed “Eastern District.” The District was<br />

comprised of Pennsylvania and Delaware,<br />

New Jersey, New York, and the New<br />

England states. Coxe would serve only one<br />

year due in part to evangelistic meetings<br />

that he was holding in the mid-west.<br />

ROBERT BROWN (1918-1922) –<br />

Pastor of Glad Tidings in New York, was<br />

elected as the next “chairman” of the<br />

Eastern District. He would continue to<br />

pastor during his tenure of leadership,<br />

and would assist the fellowship in navigating<br />

the Oneness issue, sanctification<br />

as a second definite work, and women<br />

in ministry.<br />

10 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong><br />

JOSEPH TUNMORE (1922-1930)<br />

– after one year as both pastor and<br />

Superintendent, Joseph Tunmore was<br />

asked to do this work on a full time basis.<br />

Thus, Tunmore became the first full-time<br />

superintendent. Tunmore led the way<br />

for a basic constitution & bylaws to be<br />

adopted (written by J. Roswell Flower,<br />

and implemented before the General<br />

Council had such an instrument available).<br />

District “Home Missions” would begin<br />

under Tunmore, with the Great Depression<br />

posing challenges to the endeavor.<br />

Nevertheless, new churches were opened,<br />

and the work of the gospel continued.<br />

J. ROSWELL FLOWER (1930-<br />

1936) – having exceptional organizational<br />

abilities, would lead the District in establishing<br />

a campground and Bible school<br />

(Maranatha, 1931). Under his leadership,<br />

district departments for young people,<br />

Sunday School, and foreign missions were<br />

established. Additionally, six “zones”<br />

(sections) were defined, and Presbyters<br />

were appointed to lead in their respective<br />

areas. An assistant superintendent<br />

was elected to assist Flower in his duties<br />

(Flem Van Meter of Highway Tabernacle,<br />

Philadelphia). Flower was elected as<br />

Assistant General Superintendent at the<br />

14th General Council, and would eventually<br />

move to Springfield to fulfill those<br />

responsibilities.<br />

FLEMING VAN METER (1936-<br />

1943) – under Van Meter’s leadership,<br />

the District Secretary and Treasurer<br />

roles were combined into one full-time<br />

position. Despite the hardships of WWII,<br />

new churches were opened, and foreign<br />

missions giving continued to increase. A<br />

parsonage was built to house the District<br />


“Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may<br />

go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not<br />

be like sheep which have no shepherd.’” (Numbers 27:15 – 17; NKJV)<br />

roster. This meeting became the first District<br />

Council of the Eastern District, and from<br />

that meeting began an incredible legacy of<br />

leadership that would guide our fellowship<br />

through a century of effective growth and<br />

development.<br />

Reflect with me for a moment on how much<br />

change has occurred during the past 100<br />

years! These leaders guided a movement<br />

through a century of modernization, two<br />

world wars (and several other significant<br />

military conflicts), a Great Depression, civil<br />

unrest and civil rights movements, and a<br />

technological expansion that is unrivaled<br />

in history. It is in this context that God<br />

has sovereignly poured out His Spirit, and<br />

entrusted that outpouring to believers and<br />

their leaders for the propagation of the<br />

Gospel. The Assemblies of God has been<br />

a key player in the Pentecostal movement,<br />

and the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong> has<br />

contributed significantly to our region and<br />

to our national “General Council.” As you<br />

look at the photos and brief captions of<br />

each of our District Superintendents, you<br />

will see the legacy of 10 men who have<br />

been leaders and servants to our churches,<br />

ministers, and the Assemblies of God<br />

fellowship.<br />


(1978-2002)<br />


(2002-PRESENT)<br />

WESLEY STEELBERG (1943) –<br />

was elected as Superintendent to lead the<br />

process of dividing the Eastern District<br />

into multiple districts. Pennsylvania-<br />

Delaware retained the legal name, and<br />

Wesley Steelberg became the Superintendent<br />

for the New York-New Jersey District.<br />

Steelberg eventually became the General<br />

Superintendent of the Assemblies of God.<br />

A. NEWTON CHASE (1944-1959)<br />

– saw the creation of a full time Sunday<br />

School/Christ’s Ambassador Director.<br />

Also during his leadership the Women’s<br />

and Men’s Ministry departments were<br />

created. A new office building was erected<br />

for the District, and parsonages for fulltime<br />

staff were either built or purchased<br />

during this time.<br />

RUSSELL WILLIAMS (1959-1978)<br />

– wrestled with issues regarding having an<br />

accredited Bible college. Northeast Bible<br />

Institute became Northeast Bible College,<br />

and eventually moved to Phoenixville,<br />

presently the University of Valley Forge.<br />

Consolidating the camps, initiating a<br />

retirement home, and developing a district<br />

“building and loan fund” were hot button<br />

issues during William’s tenure of ministry.<br />

Property was purchased in Shippensburg to<br />

host a retirement home and central camp.<br />

PHILIP BONGIORNO (1978-2002)<br />

– initiated the “PennDel Loan Fund,” (now<br />

HIS Fund) which made financing church<br />

construction projects a much easier and<br />

friendly proposition. Bongiorno also led<br />

the way to consolidate the eastern and<br />

western camps into one central wellappointed<br />

conference center. A full time<br />

“assistant to the Superintendent” was<br />

added to the District staff to oversee<br />

Home Missions. Additionally, a new<br />

District Office was constructed under his<br />

leadership.<br />


(2002-PRESENT) – initiated the motto<br />

“We’re Better Together,” as exemplified in<br />

the “C3” concept. Catalyst, Coaching, and<br />

Connect groups were formed, revitalizing<br />

fellowship and mutual encouragement<br />

for PennDel pastors. Although the term<br />

District is still functional, “<strong>Network</strong>”<br />

better describes the interrelationships and<br />

resourcing that are shared. Reproduction<br />

is another functional value that has driven<br />

a church planting movement throughout<br />

the <strong>Network</strong>. For the first time in our<br />

history, PennDel has crested the 400<br />

mark, and presently lists 434 churches.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 11

Donald J. Immel<br />




100 Years In The Making<br />


On June 14, 1917, the first District Council of the Eastern<br />

District was held at Glad Tidings Tabernacle in Brooklyn,<br />

New York. The opening statements of those minutes give a<br />

clear expression of what happened in that meeting:<br />

“Other preachers and<br />

workers having expressed a<br />

desire for closer fellowship,<br />

and himself believing it to<br />

be the Lord’s will, Brother<br />

Robert A Brown, Pastor<br />

of Glad Tidings Assembly<br />

and General Presbyter of<br />

the Assemblies of God<br />

(incorporated), issued a<br />

call for a Conference of<br />

pastors and leaders at Glad<br />

Tidings Hall, June 14, 1917.<br />

On the appointed day the<br />

meeting was held with<br />

very good attendance and much blessing. It was called<br />

to order by Brother Brown who stated the reasons for<br />

the gathering. After prayer the Conference proceeded to<br />

transact the following business:<br />

Pursuant to call, the council met at<br />

10:30A.M., and organized by electing<br />

Brother John Coxe, Chairman, and<br />

Brother W.W. Simpson, Secretary. On<br />

motion the meeting declared itself to<br />

be the Eastern District Council of the<br />

Assemblies of God (incorporated) of<br />

St. Louis, Missouri.<br />

“On motion such persons present as hold credentials from<br />

the General Council or are in full sympathy and intend<br />

to affiliate with it in the near future were recognized as<br />

members of this Council and entitled to vote.” (excerpt from<br />

the first Eastern District Council minutes; June 14, 1917)”<br />

14 men and 1 woman from Pennsylvania, New York, New<br />

Jersey, and Connecticut signed the roster and comprised<br />

the membership of the first Eastern District Council.<br />

And so it began…a fellowship of Spirit filled believers<br />

connecting for the purpose of unity in evangelism and<br />

purity in doctrine and practice. The district was not formed<br />

to establish or introduce the Holy Spirit to the region. That<br />

began about a decade before as the outpouring of the<br />

Holy Spirit in the mid-west and on the west coast began to<br />

find its way to the northeastern United States.<br />

Emil Samuelson is reputed to be<br />

the first to bring the experience<br />

of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit<br />

to Pennsylvania. Emil was a postal<br />

worker and traveled the railroad<br />

between Bradford, Pennsylvania and<br />

Rochester, New York carrying out<br />

his duties. Samuelson wrote of his experience: “Reports<br />

had been coming that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit;<br />

people that were tarrying before Him would be blessed<br />

and would speak in other languages as they did on the day<br />

of Pentecost. Some said this was of God and others said<br />

it was not…Pastor Erdman had been in Los Angeles and<br />

had received this experience. Once while in Rochester on<br />

a Friday night I attended the Erdman meeting. As we were<br />

standing up it seemed the Lord said, ‘why not go up and<br />

find out if it is from me or not…’ After a little while Brother<br />

12 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Erdman came, put his hand on my head and asked me,<br />

‘what are you here for?’ I answered, ‘For the Baptism of the<br />

Holy Spirit.’ He said, ‘Lift up your hands,’ and with that he<br />

started to pray. I fell on the floor and while there I saw the<br />

Lord Jesus coming in the air, on clouds. Turning my head<br />

I saw a stream of people going into perdition until I cried<br />

out, ‘Lord please delay your coming in order that souls<br />

may be saved.’ Then I started to speak in other languages.”<br />

(“Samuelson’s Saga,” Emil Samuelson). Samuelson was not<br />

alone in receiving the Holy Spirit baptism. Accounts are<br />

recorded in church historical and anniversary documents<br />

identifying that the Holy Spirit was being poured out in an<br />

uncoordinated fashion in what is now the PennDel District.<br />

For example:<br />

In 1908 a number of Christians in New<br />

Castle heard about the outpouring<br />

of the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street<br />

Mission in Los Angeles. As a result of<br />

some prayer meetings in various homes,<br />

a remarkable outpouring of the Holy<br />

Spirit occurred establishing what is now<br />

New Castle First Assembly of God.<br />

From 1908 to 1910 in South Central<br />

Pennsylvania, the Holy Spirit was<br />

baptizing believers in Waynesboro,<br />

Pennsylvania in what is now Calvary<br />

Assembly.<br />

Around the same time in Northcentral<br />

Pennsylvania, Anne Beisel of<br />

Allentown received the Baptism of the<br />

Holy Spirit with no known connection<br />

to any special meeting or influence.<br />

Prior to 1910, Pentecost came to the Pittsburgh area<br />

through the ministry of Frank Causley. This group of<br />

Pentecostals would eventually form and become Calvary<br />

AG (now New Hope) in Clairton. By 1914, a small group of<br />

Spirit filled believers were meeting in Lancaster and began<br />

to hold revival meetings on the second floor of a market.<br />

This group would eventually comprise the membership of<br />

Lancaster First AG.<br />

Despite ridicule, persecution, and well-intentioned but<br />

misguided doctrinal difficulties, the Pentecostal movement<br />

was moving forward. People were being saved, filled with<br />

the Holy Spirit, and called into the ministry. Cohesion<br />

was both desired and needed. In order to fulfill a larger<br />

purpose, the Lord saw fit to assemble these Pentecostals<br />

in a movement and structure that would literally change<br />

the church world. In the Northeast, the movement began<br />

Bethel, NJ<br />

Minnie Draper<br />

to take shape in 1917 at the first Eastern District Council of<br />

the Assemblies of God.<br />

During the early years of the Eastern District, the<br />

church found itself facing historic events like World<br />

War 1, Prohibition, Women’s “Suffrage” (the right to<br />

vote). Internally, our fellowship grappled with doctrinal<br />

issues such as sanctification and the Oneness (or<br />

“Jesus only”) movement. In the second District Council<br />

future Superintendent, Joseph Tunmore, is recorded as<br />

expressing great concern over a decline in the belief of<br />

the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues and<br />

accompanying signs “as at the beginning.” Concern over<br />

spiritual vibrancy and vitality seems to be part of our<br />

Assemblies of God DNA – and rightly so!<br />

Additionally, the role of women in ministry became a topic<br />

of debate. Reuben Hartwick and J. Clayton Sheridan II<br />

noted in our 75 th District Council publication “that even<br />

though Resolution #5 of the first District Council had<br />

stated, ‘…we regard it unscriptural for a woman to be head<br />

of a Bible School for the training of men and missionaries,’<br />

most of the small Pentecostal schools had been started<br />

by women, including Bethel (in Newark, NJ) which had<br />

been started by Minnie Draper…handmaidens were being<br />

called and used by God and were seeking recognition by<br />

the new Council.” (“Musings on the Minutes and Memories<br />

of Seventy-Five Years of the PennDel District of the<br />

Assemblies of God,” J. Clayton Sheridan II and A. Reuben<br />

Hartwick)<br />

Camp meetings proved to be of immeasurable value<br />

for inspiration and discipleship within the Pentecostal<br />

movement in general, and within the Assemblies of God<br />

in particular. Camps and camp meetings were held in<br />

various locations throughout the Eastern District in the<br />

northeastern United States. They were held in Lancaster,<br />

Long Island, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Philadelphia.<br />

Notable speakers like Maria Woodworth-Etter and Aimee<br />

Semple-McPherson were featured speakers, with notable<br />

attendees, like C.M. Ward, who received the baptism of<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 13

the Holy Spirit at a camp meeting held at Kennywood<br />

Park near Pittsburgh. Frank & Will Casley were influential<br />

in facilitating camp meetings around Pittsburgh, which<br />

inadvertently delayed Superintendent Joseph Tunmore’s<br />

desire to establish a District camp in that area. The Casley’s<br />

camp meetings eventually established Free Gospel<br />

churches and the Free Gospel Bible Institute in Export, just<br />

outside of Pittsburgh. Despite the enormous challenges<br />

of the early 30’s and the corresponding Great Depression,<br />

the Eastern District continued to grow. Churches were<br />

planted, missionaries were sent, and campgrounds were<br />

established, then purchased.<br />


Maranatha became the campground<br />

(1931) for the eastern side of the state<br />

under the direction of J. Roswell<br />

Flower, and Living Waters campground<br />

was established near Cherry Tree on<br />

the western side of the state (1934).<br />

Maranatha hosted a summer bible<br />

school, which eventually morphed into Eastern Bible<br />

Institute with the consolidation of four bible schools from<br />

the Northeast, and ultimately became the University of<br />

Valley Forge.<br />

The Eastern District continued to grow and develop<br />

during the Great Depression Era, establishing Christ’s<br />

Ambassadors as the official name of ministry to youth.<br />

Sunday School and Foreign Missions departments were<br />

added to the District ministries. A full time District<br />

Superintendent had been ordered in 1923, but by 1941 it<br />

was deemed necessary to combine the offices of secretary<br />

and treasurer into one full time office. During the 1940’s<br />

the world was at war in Europe and in the Pacific. The<br />

events of a world at war were on everyone’s minds, as<br />

was reflected in the minutes of various District Councils.<br />

But the church still grew! By 1943, it was time to grow<br />

by division. The Eastern District would be divided into<br />

two districts: the New York - New Jersey District, with<br />

Pennsylvania-Delaware retaining the name “Eastern<br />

District.” The revised Eastern District was comprised of 122<br />

churches and 248 ministers.<br />

The Eastern District was also providing<br />

leadership for the General Council. E.S.<br />

Williams, pastor of Highway Tabernacle,<br />

would serve as General Superintendent<br />

for the Assemblies of God (1929-1949), as<br />

would Wesley Steelburg (1949-1952), also<br />

a former pastor at Highway Tabernacle<br />

and former District Superintendent for the<br />

Eastern District. J. Roswell Flower, a former<br />

Eastern District Pastor & Superintendent,<br />

would be called upon to serve in the<br />

national office as General Secretary and<br />

Assistant General Superintendent.<br />

WWII concluded in the fall of 1945. For the next twentyfive<br />

years, the American economy would experience<br />

growth. In Pennsylvania steel, coal, and industry would<br />

remain strong, although labor issues would necessitate<br />

presidential intervention twice in the 1950’s. Unionization<br />

gained strength in both industrial and professional<br />

contexts. Families were idyllically portrayed in shows<br />

like “Father Knows Best,” “Leave It To Beaver,” and<br />

“The Andy Griffith Show.” In this cultural backdrop, the<br />

Eastern District continued on a trajectory of growth and<br />

development. Women’s Ministries and Men’s Ministries<br />

were instituted in the early 50’s. At about the same time<br />

Christ’s Ambassadors began holding District Conventions<br />

for our youth (1956). By the 40 th District Council (1956) we<br />

would have 238 churches and 498 ministers. This growth<br />

would result in building a brand new District Office in<br />

Camp Hill and building or otherwise acquiring four homes<br />

for the full-time District leaders.<br />

In 1958, one Eastern District pastor would<br />

distinguish himself through a simple act<br />

of obedience to the Holy Spirit. David<br />

Wilkerson, while reading an article in a<br />

January issue of LIFE magazine, distinctly<br />

felt impressed to go to a trial in New York<br />

14 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>


City. Gang members comprised of young<br />

people were indicted for murder. A<br />

sketch of the seven defendants grabbed<br />

Wilkerson. “I was dumbfounded by a<br />

thought that sprang suddenly into my<br />

head - full-blown, as though it had come<br />

to me from somewhere else. Go to New<br />

York City and help those boys.” (“The<br />

Cross and The Switchblade,” page 7)<br />

Wilkerson made arrangements with<br />

his growing Philipsburg congregation<br />

to go to the city with his youth pastor.<br />

Wilkerson’s actions resulted in his<br />

expulsion from the courtroom, but<br />

ultimately began the ministry of Teen<br />

Challenge. The book “The Cross and<br />

The Switchblade,” as well as a movie by<br />

the same title, helped to make David<br />

Wilkerson a familiar name within church<br />

circles. His cut-and-dry ministry style<br />

made for a prophetic voice in the church<br />

world until his death in 2011.<br />


American society entered a period<br />

of cultural revolution during the next<br />

decade. The assassination of president<br />

John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and<br />

the hippie, women’s liberation, and civil<br />

rights movements marked the decade<br />

of the 60’s as a time of redefinition.<br />

1962 and 1963 were years that impacted<br />

religious expression by eliminating prayer<br />

and bible reading in public schools.<br />

These trends were met with responses<br />

in District Councils whereby resolutions<br />

were drafted to express various stands<br />

to curb the receding Christian influence<br />

in the public forum. The Eastern<br />

District continued to define itself in<br />

the ever-shifting currents of society. A<br />

regionalized, accredited institution of<br />

higher education caused great concern<br />

among Assemblies of God members.<br />

Once this direction was adopted and<br />

enacted, a response was issued by Hubert<br />

Bunney to create a non-accredited<br />

ministerial training alternative (Western<br />

Pennsylvania Bible Institute) which met<br />

in Butler, Pennsylvania and later moved<br />

to Long Island. Eastern Bible Institute<br />

morphed into Northeast Bible Institute<br />

and became Northeastern Bible College.<br />

During the leadership<br />

of Superintendent<br />

Russell Williams,<br />

considerations<br />

were under way<br />

to centralize<br />

the eastern and<br />

western campgrounds in favor of more<br />

modernized facilities. Property was<br />

purchased in Shippensburg for this<br />

purpose, with additional consideration<br />

being given to building a retirement<br />

home and moving the district office to<br />

this centralized location. A loan fund to<br />

finance the concept was also discussed.<br />

These ideas would eventually be realized<br />

in other forms after Superintendent<br />

Williams’ tenure of leadership. Williams’<br />

legacy demonstrated that he was a<br />

man ahead of his time. Brother Russell<br />

Williams is fondly remembered as a<br />

beloved pastor’s pastor, a premier<br />

visiting preacher with a sense of humor<br />

always at the ready.<br />

By 1966, the Assemblies of God in<br />

Pennsylvania & Delaware celebrated their<br />

50 th District Council. At 95 years of age,<br />

Emil Samuelson was the eldest credential<br />

holder present, providing a thread of<br />

continuity from the beginning of the<br />

District to its Golden Anniversary.<br />

As the 60’s rolled along, two other<br />

movements were about to be birthed: the<br />

Jesus Movement (San Francisco, 1967)<br />

and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal<br />

(January 1967, Duquesne University<br />

– Pittsburgh, PA). The charismatic<br />

movement brought Pentecost into the<br />

mainline denominations, with many of<br />

its adherents flowing into Assemblies<br />

of God churches where the expression<br />

was normative and welcomed. The Jesus<br />

movement invigorated ministry among<br />

young people.<br />

In the Eastern District the annual “C.A.<br />

Conventions” swelled to record breaking<br />

attendances throughout the decade of<br />

the 70’s. “We moved the convention<br />

from the Zembo Shrine Center because<br />

it would only hold about 2800 people”<br />

recalls Paul Wislocky - former “District<br />

In search of a Spiritual experience,<br />

professors from Duquesne<br />

University, a Catholic university in<br />

Pittsburgh, attended the Congress<br />

of the Cursillo movement in August<br />

1966. While visiting, they were<br />

introduced to the book entitled<br />

The Cross and the Switchblade,<br />

which emphasized the Holy Spirit<br />

and the Spirit’s charisms. This book<br />

became the focus of their studies<br />

and further led them to pursue the<br />

Holy Spirit.<br />

In January 1967, professors Ralph<br />

Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois<br />

attended a prayer meeting where<br />

they ultimately received the<br />

baptism in the Holy Spirit. The<br />

following week, Keifer laid hands<br />

on other Duquesne professors,<br />

and they also had an experience<br />

with the Spirit. Then, in February,<br />

during a gathering at Duquesne<br />

University, more people asked<br />

Keifer to pray over them. This led<br />

to the event at the chapel where<br />

they too received the Holy Spirit<br />

and spoke in tongues, as well as<br />

many other students who were<br />

present in the chapel. [5] Keifer<br />

sent the news of this event to the<br />

University of Notre Dame, where<br />

a similar event later occurred, and<br />

the Renewal began to spread.<br />

(Wikipedia, “Catholic Charismatic<br />

Renewal)<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 15

Christ Ambassador President” (DCAP, ’69-‘76). “We moved<br />

to the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg as our attendance<br />

increased to about 10,000.” One of the highlights of the<br />

C.A. Conventions of this time was the patriotic “Proclaim<br />

Liberty” themed convention that coincided with our<br />

nation’s bicentennial. Vietnam veteran Dave Roever was a<br />

featured speaker, and the Couriers provided special music,<br />

including “Statue of Liberty,” which would become the<br />

Gospel Music Associations’ song of the year for 1976.<br />

As the decade of the 70’s came to<br />

a close, a new era of leadership was<br />

beginning. Assistant Superintendent<br />

Philip Bongiorno acceded to the<br />

superintendency of the District. The<br />

district would see numerous substantive<br />

changes converge within a relatively<br />

short period of time. The name for the District was<br />

changed from “Eastern District” to “the Pennsylvania-<br />

Delaware District,” better relating its geographical<br />

boundaries. The district owned properties in Shippensburg<br />

were placed on the market after Camp Shand (now<br />

the Bongiorno Conference Center) was negotiated for<br />

purchase from a $1 million dollar asking price to $500,000.<br />

Immediate plans were developed and construction began<br />

to provide better meeting, dining, and lodging facilities.<br />

The Penn-Del Loan Fund (now Heritage Investment<br />

Services or HIS Fund) was established, providing an easier<br />

avenue for churches to secure financing for building<br />

projects in a banking market that was often encumbered<br />

and unreasonably difficult in its dealings with churches.<br />

In this context, the PennDel District grew numerically. The<br />

decade of the 80’s revealed a 16% growth in churches,<br />

going from 286 in 1977 to 340 before the close of the<br />

decade. A new full time District ministry was established<br />

for the purpose of planting churches. J. Clayton Sheridan II<br />

became the first Assistant to the Superintendent with the<br />

primary purpose of overseeing the district Home Missions<br />

program.<br />

As the fellowship faced the close of a millennium, urgency<br />

was felt to advance the cause of Christ with greater fervor.<br />

The Decade of Harvest became the Assemblies of God<br />

16 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong><br />

The Couriers were known for<br />

singing the hymn “I Sing The<br />

Mighty Power” a cappella to<br />

open their concerts. This practice<br />

began when the Couriers were<br />

ministering in Africa and the<br />

power went off while singing<br />

that hymn. They finished the<br />

song without the accompaniment<br />

track and continued singing it<br />

without instrumentation in most<br />

subsequent concerts.<br />

theme for the 90’s. On a national level, the<br />

effort fell short of the lofty and noble desires<br />

of this evangelistic plan. During this period,<br />

the Assemblies of God in Pennsylvania and<br />

Delaware did experience continued growth.<br />

By 1991 the Penn-Del Loan Fund had grown<br />

from $5,000 at inception to assets totaling<br />

nearly $6 million. The PennDel Conference<br />

Center experienced continued expansion<br />

and improvement. A new District Office was<br />

constructed and dedicated in 1996.<br />

The new millennium brought with it doomsday messages<br />

as well as legitimate concerns, as seemed to be the case<br />

at the turn of the previous century. Fear-mongers peddled<br />

their books and products, urging believers to prepare for<br />

the inevitable Y2K (Year 2000) disaster. History would<br />

prove that a greater danger loomed on the horizon – the<br />

proportions of which would affect our nation and the<br />

world. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 affected<br />

the east coast. The little community of Shanksville,<br />

Pennsylvania would earn a place in the American psyche<br />

as one of the significant reference points with its crash<br />

site for the Washington DC bound Flight 93. Sylvia Baker,<br />

pastor of the small Assembly of God congregation in<br />

that town, found herself ministering on a world stage as<br />

reporters and investigators came to explore the facts<br />

surrounding this piece of the tragedy.<br />


In 2002, a<br />

transition of<br />

major importance<br />

occurred. Philip<br />

Bongiorno, who<br />

had led our district<br />

for 24 years as<br />

superintendent,<br />

retired. The District<br />

Council elected<br />

Stephen Tourville to fill this role. Superintendent Tourville<br />

served our district as the lead pastor of four churches,<br />

as a sectional presbyter, and as the Assistant to the<br />

Superintendent. He was serving the General Council as<br />

the Intercultural Ministries Director when he was elected<br />

as District Superintendent. The culture of Pastor Steve’s<br />

leadership is well identified by the <strong>Network</strong> tag line:<br />

“We’re Better Together.” Immediate emphasis was given to<br />

three guiding purposes of the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong>:<br />

reproduce leaders, develop relationships, and equip<br />

with resources. With attendance at sectional fellowship<br />

meetings declining, Pastor Steve and the leadership team<br />

developed the C3 approach to meeting the ministry


and personal needs of ministers. Former Assistant<br />

Superintendent Paul Grabill identified that PennDel has<br />

a “glut of leadership,” the thought of which became an<br />

underpinning of the C3 model, releasing leaders from the<br />

confines of geography and a limited number of leadership<br />

opportunities. Ministers had freedom and permission to<br />

develop ministry among the brethren in three key areas:<br />

Catalyst groups would focus on exciting and expanding<br />

church planting efforts. Coaching groups are peer to peer<br />

opportunities for improving ministry in its many forms<br />

within the <strong>Network</strong>. Connect groups provide a format<br />

where needful fellowship and personal care are offered<br />

among those who participate. Sectional Fellowships<br />

continue in many of the geographical areas, with wider<br />

participation being enjoyed to the increased opportunities<br />

provided by the interest and needs based groups.<br />

Year Credential Churches<br />

Holders<br />

1943 122 248<br />

1946 305 163<br />

1956 418 234<br />

1966 522 245<br />

1976 605 274<br />

1986 727 315<br />

1996 755 352<br />

2006 967 354<br />

<strong>2016</strong> 1,171 437<br />

Many of our established<br />

events and identities<br />

have been reframed to<br />

remain current in how<br />

they communicate to our<br />

Assemblies of God family.<br />

The PennDel District is more<br />

often referred to as the<br />

PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong>,<br />

reflecting the idea of<br />

relationship over geographic<br />

boundaries. Ministers’ Institute<br />

is now Ministers’ Enrichment, and District Council is now<br />

referenced as MinistrieSummit. These nuances speak<br />

volumes in the approach to ministry effectiveness in this<br />

new millennium. More than branding, these identify who<br />

we are as a people and how we function in Pentecostal<br />

Christendom. That being said, the effective ministry of<br />

the <strong>Network</strong> continues to expand. In 2002, the <strong>Network</strong><br />

recorded 380 churches. Since then we have enjoyed a<br />

16% growth in churches, with 440 recorded as of this<br />

centennial year. PennDel has been the leading district in<br />

church planting for two years through partnerships with<br />

anointed church planters, catalyst networks and sections.<br />

By action of the Presbytery, over $1.8 million has been<br />

invested from PennDel directly into church planting since<br />

2000. Through the 20/20 Plan, churches that receive<br />

funding are investing 5% back each month to plant more<br />

churches. Our ministry family has grown from 746 in 1991<br />

to 1,173 in 2015.<br />

World Missions giving has increased substantially, with<br />

the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong> partnering to achieve<br />

substantial results in Burkina Faso, India, Israel, and most<br />

recently in East Africa. Over $1 million has been given<br />

through our network in project offerings to advance the<br />

cause of missions among unreached people groups across<br />

the world.<br />


What does the future hold,<br />

and where are we going<br />

from here? After 100 years,<br />

the world in which we<br />

represent Christ has changed<br />

substantially. The age of<br />

technology and information<br />

has both impacted and defined this generation. Our<br />

founders and forefathers could only have dreamed of the<br />

opportunities that radio, television, the internet, along<br />

with the ease and availability of travel have afforded this<br />

generation. Conversely, they would have been staggered<br />

by broadly accepted expressions of moral decay that<br />

have become normalized throughout both secular and<br />

religious culture. The opportunities seem counterbalanced<br />

by the challenges or vice versa. Despite cultural shifts and<br />

scientific advancements, the vision that we carry forward<br />

is to communicate the gospel with the enablement of<br />

the Holy Spirit. We want to show the love of God without<br />

compromising the truth of God’s Word. The vision is of<br />

lost people being found, of believers becoming disciples,<br />

where both the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are<br />

cultivated in the culture of Assemblies of God churches.<br />

Although we celebrate a movement that has grown in our<br />

area from fifteen ministers to well over a thousand and<br />

just over a dozen churches to hundreds of congregations,<br />

we are preoccupied by the millions who have yet to<br />

experience a full and vibrant relationship with God through<br />

the Lord Jesus Christ.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 17


Emil Samuelson<br />

A postal worker from<br />

Bradford, PA is baptized<br />

in the Holy Spirit at Elim<br />

Tabernacle, Rochester,<br />

NY. Emil is thought to be<br />

the first person to bring<br />

Pentecost to Pennsylvania.<br />

He founded the AG church<br />

in Bradford, and would be<br />

ordained in 1918.<br />

First Constitution<br />

& Bylaws<br />

adopted by<br />

Eastern District<br />

Council<br />

(preceding General<br />

Council CBL)<br />

Christ’s<br />

Ambassadors<br />

Instituted by<br />

Superintendent<br />

J. Roswell Flower,<br />

and a District<br />

Youth “Committee”<br />

inaugurated<br />

Living Waters Camp begins<br />

annual camp meetings in<br />

Cherry Tree, PA. This would<br />

become the western camp<br />

for the Eastern District.<br />

Women’s<br />

Ministries<br />

Begins with Elsie Eich,<br />

a former missionary,<br />

as appointed leader<br />

of the “Women’s<br />

Missionary Council.”<br />

1904 1927 1934 1935 1951<br />

1917 1931 1943 1953<br />

First Eastern District Council<br />

Glad Tidings, NYC<br />

Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New<br />

Jersey, New England States<br />

15 people in attendance;<br />

John Coxe elected as chairman, and<br />

would serve for one year. Robert<br />

Brown, pastor of Glad Tidings, would<br />

succeed him from 1918-1922.<br />

Maranatha Camp<br />

purchased in Green Lane, PA.<br />

The first camp was held in<br />

1932, with a summer<br />

Bible school included.<br />

This would be the precursor<br />

to EBI, NBI, NBC, and VFCC.<br />

Eastern District divided:<br />

Pennsylvania and Delaware<br />

retain the designation as the<br />

“Eastern District.”<br />

New York, New Jersey,<br />

and New England become<br />

new districts.<br />

Men’s<br />

Ministry<br />

Begins under<br />

the leadership<br />

of future<br />

Superintendent<br />

Russell Williams.<br />

John Coxe<br />

18 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>


“One generation will commend your works to another;<br />

they will tell of your mighty acts.” (Ps. 145:4)<br />

Eastern<br />

District Office<br />

Construction<br />

approved, along<br />

with funds to<br />

purchase three<br />

parsonages for<br />

District employees.<br />

Northeast<br />

Bible College<br />

(Formerly NBI) moves<br />

from Maranatha to<br />

Phoenixville and<br />

becomes Valley Forge<br />

Christian College.<br />

Formerly owned by the<br />

YMCA and known as Camp<br />

Shand, this facility was<br />

purchased to centralize<br />

east/west camps.<br />

District Office<br />

moves to newly<br />

constructed<br />

facility in<br />

Mechanicsburg, PA.<br />

PennDel<br />

Ministry<br />

<strong>Network</strong><br />

records 400+<br />

churches for the<br />

first time.<br />

1957 1976 1983 1996 2014<br />

1958 1983 2002 <strong>2016</strong><br />

Teen Challenge begins after David<br />

Wilkerson, pastoring in Philipsburg, PA<br />

takes note of troubled teens in NYC.<br />

Eastern District Council is<br />

renamed<br />

Pennsylvania-Delaware<br />

District Council<br />

Superintendent Philip<br />

Bongiorno retires;<br />

Stephen R. Tourville<br />

begins tenure of<br />

<strong>Network</strong> leadership<br />

100th District Council<br />

May 2-4, <strong>2016</strong><br />

Christian Life Assembly<br />

Camp Hill, PA<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 19

Church Planting<br />

Tom Rees<br />



Handy Christopher<br />

personally planted<br />

17 churches<br />

throughout the<br />

Eastern District,<br />

and supervised<br />

four other church<br />

plants in his role as District Home<br />

Missions director between 1924<br />

-1972. During this time he also<br />

pastored several churches and held<br />

numerous evangelistic crusades.<br />

Church Planting Past…<br />

Home Missions has been emphasized from the inception of the District with a<br />

Home Missions fund established by the 6th Council in 1922.<br />

When Home Missions really seems to click, it is a sectional project. However,<br />

most sections had very little cash so what was offered mostly was prayer and<br />

moral support. Men with a burden for a particular locality would go in with<br />

very little remuneration, sacrificing until a work was started. Older men as well<br />

as young men have done this. Eastern Bible Institute (now University of Valley<br />

Church Planting Now!<br />

Former Assistant Superintendent, Paul Grabill, envisioned<br />

and championed a day when apostolic leaders would<br />

be released to plant and revitalize churches for rapid<br />

Kingdom expansion. That dream has become a reality as<br />

the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong> has catalyzed into a network<br />

of church planting movements.<br />

Superintendent Stephen R. Tourville and the Presbytery<br />

have led the way with over $2 million dollars invested<br />

since 2002 in church planters because of the faithfulness<br />

of ministers’ tithes. At the heart of it all are the men and<br />

women that make sacrifices to pioneer and revitalize<br />

churches. Here are just a few examples…<br />

20 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong><br />



Pastor Joseph & Emily Gibson<br />

In the end, our desire is to impact<br />

our community and the world<br />

around us for the Kingdom of God<br />

far beyond our own capabilities.<br />



Pastor Joshua & Anne Koss<br />

Starting off with 12 people on our<br />

first Sunday and now ministering to<br />

over 100 people each week.... Much<br />

of this success is the direct result<br />

of the partnership of churches<br />

throughout the Southwest Suburban Section and Faith<br />

Assembly of God in Uniontown. This partnership is exactly<br />

what the PennDel District has modeled from the top down;<br />

“We ARE Better Together.”

Highway Mission Tabernacle (gospel car), Philadelphia, 1920<br />

2015 Launch, Allison Park Church<br />

MOMENT!<br />

Forge) endeavored to instill a pioneering spirit into the<br />

students, especially Milton Wells with his class in methods<br />

of pioneering churches.<br />

When A. Newton Chase, Superintendent for fifteen years,<br />

was asked what was the major factor of the growth of the<br />

District, he immediately without hesitation replied, “the<br />

willingness of men to sacrifice to pioneer new works.”<br />

“In 1926, at the 10th Council, a Home Missions policy was<br />

formulated. Still wrestling with the desired expansion, the<br />

17th Council in 1933 recommended the churches go to the<br />

neighboring town in the present day ‘Mother Church Plan’<br />

of helping a new Assembly get started in another area<br />

with finances, personnel, and even members.” (A. Reuben<br />

Hartwick, April 1966)<br />

“In May 1944, at Harrisburg, with a voting delegation of<br />

195, statistics were given that the District had a population<br />

of 10,166,685. There were 106 cities with a population over<br />

1,000 without an Assemblies of God witness. The following<br />

year, as an incentive to be a pioneer pastor, one half of<br />

his weekly salary of $40 would be paid by the District.<br />

At the 30th Council it was reported that three new Home<br />

Missions churches had been started.” (J. Clayton Sheridan,<br />

Jr., May 1991)<br />



Pastor Prabhu & Sucila Isaac<br />

Solid Rock Revival Church is an<br />

offshoot of Voice of the Solid Rock<br />

Ministries founded in Saudi Arabia.<br />

Now, the ministry has expanded<br />

with six churches in India and one in<br />

the United States. We have been serving families and the<br />

Indian community especially in the city of Pittsburgh, PA<br />

since 2006.<br />



Pastor Scott & Laurie Lewis<br />

Jesus is all about change.<br />

Transformation Church endeavors<br />

to partner with Christ in this mission<br />

of change… to experience personal<br />

change and to be used to foster<br />

change in our homes, families, neighborhoods, schools,<br />

work places, churches, campuses, communities and beyond!<br />



Pastor Eric & Tiffany Spanier<br />

We just celebrated our 100 th Year<br />

Anniversary. Now, in <strong>2016</strong>, we have<br />

recaptured that vision to become a<br />

beacon of hope for our city and for<br />

our community as New City Church.<br />



Pastor Freddie & Minnie Salas<br />

We want to show appreciation<br />

to the One who has given us this<br />

building and this opportunity to<br />

witness His Holy Spirit move in<br />

such a mighty way. He is healing<br />

and setting people free. He is empowering people to live<br />

radically changed lives. And He is allowing us to walk with<br />

Him as He continues to move in this land.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 21

Assistant Superintendent<br />

Bryan Koch<br />



Through the 3 C’s<br />

<strong>2016</strong> is a defining year for the PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong>.<br />

“Carrying The Vision” is not only the theme of the MinistrieSummit, but is also what<br />

our <strong>Network</strong> has been doing for a hundred years! There have been many effective<br />

and influential ministries established during this past century. I have been given the<br />

privilege to share my thoughts about a few of them with you.<br />

The Penndel <strong>Network</strong> covers the states of Pennsylvania<br />

and Delaware and exists to reach millions of lost people<br />

who need Jesus and to encourage ministers to partner<br />

together to see that happen. I remember when Pastor<br />

Steve was elected as our <strong>Network</strong> Superintendent to<br />

lead our powerful AG district, which is full of amazing<br />

ministers and good sectional fellowship. Steve has always<br />

been a leader that provides opportunity for all of us to<br />

share our passion for the ministries we lead.<br />

I’ve often said at GT Church in Reading “that healthy<br />

things grow and that growth must lead to change.”<br />

Webster’s Dictionary defines “change” simply as:<br />

to become different<br />

to make (someone or something) different<br />

to become something else<br />

In the spirit of “healthy change,” Pastor Steve conducted<br />

listening forums across the <strong>Network</strong> to better serve<br />

the current needs of our ministers. As a result of these<br />

forums, C3 was launched. C3 was based more on ministry<br />

growth than geographical boundaries. The three C’s are:<br />

1<br />


GROUPS<br />

Coaching is defined<br />

as: “A method of<br />

directing, instructing and training a<br />

person or group of people with the<br />

aim to achieve some goal or develop<br />

specific skills.” There are many ways<br />

to coach, types of coaching and<br />

methods to coaching. Direction<br />

may include motivational speaking<br />

and training may include seminars,<br />

workshops, and supervised practice<br />

one-on-one. Bill Ellis, who leads this<br />

initiative, has done an amazing job!!<br />


22 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Boot Camp, Carlisle, 2004<br />

2<br />

3<br />


Most people who have been around church for a while have a pretty good idea what a small<br />

Group is. Or do they? The following definition may give new understanding to the term “Small<br />

Group:” A Small Group is an intentional gathering, meeting regularly for the purpose of joining<br />

God’s mission. Connect groups meet across our <strong>Network</strong> with connecting on a personal level<br />

as the goal. We are grateful to David Kennard for all he has done to help us intentionally meet<br />

together to encourage each other and further God’s mission.<br />


The definition of “catalyst” is a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly<br />

and a person or event that quickly causes change or action. At the heart of Catalyst groups was the<br />

desire to see the apostolic leadership gift develop throughout our <strong>Network</strong>. This value was strongly<br />

planted by former Assistant Superintendent Paul Grabil. Through our Catalyst groups, this is exactly<br />

what has happened! I have personally been involved with Catalyst from the beginning. The Apostolic<br />

gifting and church planting networks have grown amazingly! If I started naming names it could be<br />

very dangerous because I’m certainly not aware of all that has happened over the last decade in C3.<br />

But I would like to specifically express my gratitude to Tom Rees for developing and launching church<br />

planters, and men like Gerry Stoltzfus, Steve Defrain and his son, Steve, along with many other church<br />

planters, multi-site launches and PAC churches! We all celebrate Reach Northeast and City Reach<br />

<strong>Network</strong>s. They have not only greatly impacted the vision of the PennDel <strong>Network</strong>, but also our entire<br />

fellowship through supernatural efforts in church planting! We are incredibly thankful for the ministry<br />

gifts and passion of Jeff Leake, Brian Bolt and their teams.<br />

All three of these C3 groups started with great passion and vision by their leaders.<br />

As we have heard many times, we are always “better together.” But in my opinion we have never been<br />

better than when we are “Carrying the Vision” together! Let this be a defining year for you… Get involved<br />

with C3 and reaching Pennsylvania and Delaware! Imagine what we can do together in the years to come!<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 23

World Missions<br />

Donald J. Immel<br />



For one full century, the Eastern District (now<br />

PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong>) has been sending<br />

missionaries to engage in “the greatest<br />

evangelism the world has ever seen!” In December<br />

of 1916, Christopher and Inez Hines went to Guatemala<br />

and would become the Eastern District’s first<br />

recorded missionaries. That same month W.W. &<br />

Martha Simpson left for China, and would represent<br />

the District’s second missionaries. A total of 131<br />

missionaries have been sent from our District over<br />

the years, with 38 fully appointed missionaries<br />

and 18 missionary associates presently engaged in<br />

global ministry. Their stories are as inspiring as they<br />

are diverse. Personal sacrifices were sometimes<br />

monumental. Their experiences were legendary. Some<br />

would bury their spouse on their field of service<br />

(Margaret Baltau in 1919 and Isabelle Mueller in 1922).<br />

Some would find their helpmate on the field (John<br />

& Bernice Burgess, India 1926-1953). Others would<br />

find their efforts interrupted by world events (George<br />

& Helga Hemminger had to return from Africa<br />

during World War II because travel had become so<br />

dangerous). Others, like Annie Bailey (’44-’86, China/<br />

Hong Kong) would so impact their place of service,<br />

that dignitaries would honor them in their passing. As<br />

the United States was exiting the Great Depression<br />

<strong>Network</strong> Notes of Interest:<br />

First District Missionaries –<br />

Christopher and Inez Hines<br />

(Guatemala, 1916-1919)<br />

Most recently fully appointed missionaries:<br />

Bobby & Kelly Bailey to Eurasia and<br />

Ben & Jessica Bock to Spain<br />

31 single women have<br />

served as missionaries<br />

24 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>


and entering World War II, the Eastern District<br />

continued to advance the cause of global<br />

missions by giving $131,185 to missions (an<br />

equivalent of $2 million dollars today). World<br />

Missions has always been at the heart of the<br />

Assemblies of God. Reaching the lost, both at<br />

home and abroad, has been a driving force and<br />

a central purpose in who we are as a fellowship.<br />

“We’re Better Together” is nowhere better<br />

exemplified than in our cooperative effort in<br />

sending missionaries, compassionately ministering<br />

to lost people, and leading these lost to<br />

saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.<br />

Missionary:<br />

Bernice F. Burgess<br />

(Wife of John H. Burgess)<br />

“My early life was lived<br />

in a strict adherence to<br />

the Roman Catholic faith<br />

as was that of my entire<br />

family. It was an unusual<br />

experience for me to<br />

visit the Pentecostal<br />

Church on Parrish Street, Wilkes Barre. At that<br />

time there was a great revival in progress.<br />

Having never seen anything of this sort, this<br />

was indeed a revelation to me.<br />

At the close of the second service I was<br />

invited to the altar. I was told I was a sinner<br />

and needed salvation. This upset me, for I<br />

had been very faithful to my Catholic Church.<br />

Romans 3:23 was quoted to me; the Holy Ghost<br />

then gripped my heart with conviction, which<br />

prompted me to call upon the Lord for salvation<br />

and I was gloriously saved. Ten days later,<br />

I was filled with the Holy Ghost. At that time<br />

God called me to India as a missionary. I went<br />

to Bible College and in 1927 sailed for India<br />

and upon arrival there, I was married to Rev.<br />

John H. Burgess. In 1927 Bethel Bible School<br />

(Punalur, India) was established.”<br />

2 sisters served together as missionaries<br />

to China (Bernice & Thelma<br />

Hildebrand, 1936-1957)<br />

Over the past 5 years, <strong>Network</strong><br />

churches have contributed over<br />

$750,000 to District projects in<br />

India, Africa, and Israel<br />

In 2015 PennDel churches<br />

gave 6.7 million dollars to<br />

Assemblies of God World<br />

Missions<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 25

Christian Education<br />

George Krebs<br />


Fulfilling the Great Commission?<br />

The leadership of the Eastern District, now the PennDel District, saw the need to disciple believers. As<br />

with any endeavor, if no one is appointed to the task, the task rarely gets done. The Eastern District<br />

established a position of Sunday School Representative and Youth Director; this position was held<br />

by Brother Edwin C. Schmid. In 1951, the position was changed from Sunday School Representative to<br />

Sunday School Director. Later in 1955, there was a separation between Sunday School and youth (Christ’s<br />

Ambassadors). Brother Schmid remained Sunday School Director until 1961.<br />

Because of his passion for Sunday school, Harold Crosby was elected as the Eastern District’s Sunday School/<br />

Christian Education Director in 1961. The goals were to establish new Sunday schools, hold conventions, rallies<br />

and camps as well as encourage churches to train teachers. These were key precepts to the disciple-making<br />

strategy of the Christian Education (CE) Department. Under Brother Crosby’s leadership, Sunday school grew<br />

throughout the Eastern District. Harold Crosby received national recognition for his work in Sunday school<br />

growth and was fondly called “Mr. Sunday School” by those who knew him.<br />

26 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Shortly after World War 2, in the small town of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, a young man took<br />

on a struggling church. There were just 21 in attendance, and the church was in dire<br />

financial straits. The goal of this pastor was to reach people. God gave him the secret<br />

formula…if adults won’t come to church, reach the children. Pastor Harold Crosby<br />

began reaching children through Sunday school and Vacation Bible School.<br />

It did not take long to grow a congregation through children. Vacation Bible School<br />

every August would last two full weeks; children filled the church, they filled the house<br />

next to the church and filled an industrial shop half way down the street. Over 500<br />

children would enroll for Vacation Bible School and every year 5-6 families would be<br />

added to the church in Tyrone. The Sunday school was also a contributing factor in<br />

reaching children and adults while making disciples.<br />

These boys and girls camps, as they<br />

were called, became a large part of the<br />

District ministry. They encompassed<br />

a whole week of morning assemblies,<br />

evening services and as much<br />

afternoon fun as a kid could have.<br />

Thousands of children in the Eastern<br />

District experienced the move of God<br />

during summer camp. Salvations, Holy<br />

Spirit Baptisms, and the call to ministry<br />

and missions were hallmarks of these<br />

camps for children.<br />

There was an equal thrust to disciple<br />

both adults and children. Sunday<br />

School campaigns encouraged<br />

churches to reach new levels in making<br />

disciples. Sunday School Caravans<br />

(teacher training events) were held<br />

throughout the district, and children’s<br />

camps were held each summer. In the<br />

early 80’s, the newly renamed PennDel<br />

District (formally the Eastern District)<br />

sold their two campgrounds, Living<br />

Waters and Cherry Tree, and purchased<br />

what is now the Bongiorno Conference<br />

Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.<br />

In many churches today Sunday<br />

School is a dying term and structure.<br />

While the values are the same, the<br />

form and methods have changed. The<br />

Sunday School model of an infinity<br />

group meeting is still valid, but it is<br />

fleshed out differently. Small groups<br />

meet throughout the week, not just<br />

on Sunday morning, while still sharing<br />

life and instructions for godly living.<br />

Children are often divided by school<br />

grade and/or gender and Vacation<br />

Bible schools may now take on the<br />

feel of sports or performing arts<br />

camps. Today the Christian Education<br />

department is still about equipping the<br />

saints to reach and disciple others.<br />

What do we see as the future of<br />

Christian Education? The focus will<br />

and should always be the great<br />

commission, “making disciples.”<br />

We see disciple-making taking on<br />

a more organic feel. We see more<br />

discipleship happening as people share<br />

life together. Mentoring relationships<br />

happen as people experience both<br />

small and large life events from dinner<br />

together to sharing the grief of a lost<br />

loved one. Doing ministry, missions<br />

trips with volunteer work teams,<br />

fellowship groups, and discipleship<br />

classes help people grow into fully<br />

devoted followers of Christ.<br />

In the area of children’s ministry,<br />

we are seeing more family type<br />

ministry with parents and children<br />

learning and growing together. This<br />

trend toward family ministry assists<br />

parents to disciple their children. In<br />

this model, parents lead their child to<br />

Christ, parents pray for their children<br />

to receive the baptism in the Holy<br />

Spirit, and parents become the main<br />

influencer in their children’s spiritual<br />

development. Children’s ministry takes<br />

on the role of reinforcing at church<br />

what the parents are doing at home.<br />

Jesus gave us the commission to<br />

proclaim the Gospel and make<br />

disciples 2000 years ago. Whether<br />

Sunday school, small group meetings,<br />

children’s ministry, volunteer ministry<br />

teams, or kids’ summer camp we<br />

are fulfilling the same goal… making<br />

disciples.<br />

“I was a 24 year old Sunday<br />

School teacher at Bethel<br />

Assembly in Pittsburgh’s northside<br />

neighborhood when Harold<br />

Crosby spoke at my church. The<br />

following year, as Sunday School<br />

Superintendent (every church<br />

had one back then), I along with<br />

6 teachers attended a “Sunday<br />

School Caravan” event led by Mr.<br />

Sunday School himself, Harold<br />

Crosby. I can testify first hand that<br />

Harold Crosby has been the most<br />

influential leader in the history of<br />

Christian Education in the PennDel<br />

Ministry <strong>Network</strong>. I have been<br />

privileged to follow his lead in<br />

encouraging churches to make<br />

disciples and reach children.”<br />









TOM REES<br />


~ George Krebs<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 27

University of Valley Forge<br />

Dr. Don Meyer<br />


The Story of the<br />

From its earliest days, the faithfulness of God has permeated the story of the<br />

University of Valley Forge (UVF). Whether it was among the numerous Bible<br />

institutes that joined the emerging institution or what it took to become a college<br />

and now a university, God’s miraculous hand has been at work. As an Assemblies of God<br />

university our mission is clear: To prepare individuals for a life of service and leadership in<br />

the church and in the world.<br />

UVF will always be indebted to Rev. J. Roswell Flower<br />

and his wife Alice Reynolds Flower (Mother Flower) who<br />

established and led a summer Bible school from 1932–1937<br />

in Green Lane, Pennsylvania. On that site, several Bible<br />

institutes joined to form Eastern Bible Institute (EBI) in<br />

1939 with Rev. Allan A. Swift as president.<br />

EBI began with 35 students to train missionaries,<br />

evangelists, pastors, Christian educators and lay people. As<br />

EBI grew in influence, it became Northeast Bible Institute<br />

(NBI) in 1967, and in 1975 a fourth year of study was added<br />

to form Northeast Bible College (NBC).<br />

In 1976, under the leadership of President Obie L. Harrup,<br />

Sr., NBC moved to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to a former<br />

military hospital property. On those sacred grounds, Valley<br />

Forge General Hospital cared for over 200,000 patients<br />

from 1943–1973. NBC purchased the original property of<br />

approximately 84 acres for $1. Many identified it as “The<br />

Miracle of Valley Forge.” On January 1, 1977, NBC became<br />

Valley Forge Christian College (VFCC).<br />

During the early years at the Phoenixville campus, the<br />

leaders faced huge challenges, especially with the physical<br />

facilities, but God was always faithful. Under the leadership<br />

of Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft (1982–1984) and later President<br />

Wesley Smith (1984–1996), VFCC began to move forward.<br />

In 1997, Dr. Don Meyer became VFCC’s tenth president. In the<br />

years since then, God’s faithfulness has been evident again<br />

and again. During his first week on campus Don Storms (‘55)<br />

asked Meyer, “How big are your dreams for this school?”<br />

Unsure of what to say, he replied, “How large can they be?<br />

They can be as great as whatever God has in store.” Within<br />

a year, the Storms committed the funds for the first new<br />

building on campus, The Storms Research Center.<br />

Whether it was new buildings going up, old buildings<br />

coming down, or current buildings being remodeled, the<br />

campus has been transformed for the glory of God. With<br />

100 acres on the main campus today, the possibilities for<br />

ongoing enhancements are limitless. Just as the sacred<br />

grounds cared for bodies, today those same sacred<br />

grounds are preparing an army of leaders to care for souls.<br />

Even though the campus improvements have been<br />

remarkable, as Meyer often says, “It’s not about the<br />

buildings. It never has been, and it never will be. It is about<br />

the mission.” To support that mission, the curriculum<br />

has grown from seven undergraduate majors to more<br />

than 50 programs and eight master’s degrees. Recently,<br />

undergraduate and graduate online degrees have been<br />

launched. In the fall of 2005, a second location was<br />

opened at Christ Chapel in Woodbridge, Virginia. And<br />

though everyone is grateful for the enrollment of just<br />

28 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

University of Valley Forge<br />

under 1000 students, as an AG missionary once said,<br />

“We don’t measure the harvest by what is in the bin; we<br />

measure the harvest by what is in the field.”<br />

On September 16, 2014, another expression of the<br />

faithfulness of God took place when the college was<br />

renamed the University of Valley Forge. The oft repeated<br />

phrase, “new name, same mission,” reinforced the reality<br />

that the mission remained unchanged.<br />

UVF will always be grateful to the PennDel District of<br />

the AG. Without this district, UVF would not exist today.<br />

Through visionary leadership of the PennDel District<br />

(formerly the Eastern District), UVF was born. In the early<br />

days, the presbyters were the Board of Trustees. In 1984,<br />

when the school almost closed, Rev. Philip Bongiorno ’55<br />

and Rev. Sam DiTrolio ’57 stepped up in a Board meeting<br />

and urged the Board to keep it open. UVF will always be<br />

indebted to these men and countless heroes within our<br />

district who believed and still believe in what God was and<br />

is doing at UVF.<br />

In Flower Chapel, named after the university founders,<br />

hang 58 flags that represent places around the world<br />

where UVF alumni serve. The flags are symbols of the<br />

constant reminder of the legacy of its alumni, who as<br />

students were prepared with the message to serve and<br />

lead. May God continue to raise up leaders at UVF to<br />

change the world.<br />

Congratulations to the PennDel District and<br />

thank you for all you have done for UVF.<br />

To God be the glory!<br />

The greatest investment PennDel has ever made, however,<br />

is the way it consistently sends its precious students to<br />

UVF. Over 50 percent of UVF students today come from<br />

the PennDel District.<br />

Another core value of UVF is “We want to be good<br />

neighbors who do things for our community and with<br />

our community.” UVF demonstrates this through many<br />

community-focused campus events and studentled<br />

ministries, such as Christmas at Valley Forge and<br />

Community Service Day (sometimes called “The Ministry<br />

of Sweat”) — a day set aside for students, faculty and staff<br />

to serve the community of Phoenixville.<br />

UVF student-led ministries are continually expanding. Just<br />

this year alone 10 student missions teams will serve — from<br />

Italy to Mexico, and from Haiti to Nicaragua and beyond.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 29

Youth Ministries<br />

Doug Sayers<br />


PennDel Youth Ministries—A Concise Hist<br />

Youth Ministry in the Assemblies of God began as Christ’s<br />

Ambassadors (C.A.) in the 1920s. By the 1930s, the<br />

movement was spreading across the nation and arrived in<br />

the Eastern District. In 1934, the Eastern District appointed its first<br />

C.A. Chairman following a scathing report from Brother Duncan,<br />

chair of the Young People’s Committee, and a letter of direction<br />

from General Superintendent E.S. Williams. Brother Duncan’s<br />

report indicted the Eastern District for “being slow in recognizing<br />

and pressing forward a prosperous Young People’s movement,”<br />

and acknowledged, “we have not shown them the proper<br />

considerations.” J. Roswell Flower appointed John Jenkins as the<br />

first “C.A. Chairman.”<br />

Two camps began around the same time; the western section<br />

camp called “Living Waters,” and the eastern section camp<br />

“Maranatha.” At Living Waters, tents could be rented for $3.50/<br />

week, and straw mattresses for an additional 75 cents. Meals<br />

were also available: breakfast cost 25 cents, dinner was 45 cents,<br />

and supper was 35 cents. Every day a mandatory sunrise prayer<br />

service was held at 6am, with services for different ages at 9am,<br />

10:30am, 3pm, and the C.A. service at 6:30pm. A final daily service<br />

for all campers was held at 7:45pm.<br />

In 1944, Speed The Light (STL) was born and adopted as the<br />

missions-giving arm for the Christ’s Ambassadors. Eastern District<br />

students began giving enthusiastically to missions through<br />

Speed the Light! Speed the Light would later give birth to two<br />

other giving initiatives: BGMC and Light for the Lost. The Eastern<br />

District C.A. President, Al Skymer, began holding youth rallies<br />

throughout the district. Church youth rallies soon grew into<br />

sectional youth rallies.<br />

Around this time the first recorded District Youth Camps began as<br />

“Youth Conference” at Maranatha Park. In 1947 the cost to attend<br />

Youth Camp was $19. The speaker for the week was Sister Alice<br />

Flower and included a campfire service, a camp-outing day, and a<br />

banquet.<br />

In 1949, the Eastern District created a full-time position for C.A.<br />

Secretary, combining it with the role of “Sunday School Secretary.”<br />

The presbytery appointed Edwin Schmid to fulfill this dual-office.<br />

In 1954, this position was divided into two separate full-time roles:<br />

Sunday School Secretary and C. A. Secretary. Edwin Schmid<br />

continued as Sunday School Secretary and Chester Jenkins<br />

became the C. A. department leader, serving for nine years until<br />

1963. Youth rallies continued to grow in popularity and gave<br />




• More than 8,600 Assembly of God youth are in PennDel churches<br />

• Youth Convention is attended by more than 4,000 people<br />

• 3 Winter Retreats, 2 Youth Camps, Youth Advance, Bible Quiz<br />

Camp, and District Fine Arts Festival are held annually at<br />

Bongiorno Conference Center<br />

• Approximately $10,000,000 has been given to Speed the Light<br />

by PennDel youth!<br />

FINE ARTS:<br />

• Over 1,500 students participate<br />

annually in the PennDel Fine<br />

Arts Festival<br />

• There are 8 main divisions: Art,<br />

Communication, Dance, Drama, Exhibition,<br />

Instrumental, Vocal, and Writing<br />

• Participants may enter any of the 66<br />

categories offered<br />

1920s<br />

National Christ’s<br />

Ambassador’s (C.A.’s)<br />

begins<br />

1930s<br />

Living Waters &<br />

Maranatha Camps<br />

begin<br />

1934<br />

Christ’s Ambassadors<br />

is formed in the<br />

Eastern District.<br />

1944<br />

Speed the<br />

Light begins<br />

1956<br />

First Youth<br />

Convention,<br />

Zembo Shrine<br />

Center,<br />

Harrisburg, PA<br />

30 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong><br />

1937<br />

Warren Anthony,<br />

C. A. Secretary<br />

1936<br />

Marie Wilson, C. A.<br />

Secretary<br />

1934<br />

John Jenkins, first C. A.<br />

Chairman<br />

1947-1948<br />

George<br />

Gould, C. A.<br />

President<br />

1944<br />

Al Skymer, C.A.<br />

President<br />

1949-1954<br />

Edwin Schmid,<br />

C.A. Secretary<br />

1955-1963<br />

Chester Jenkins,<br />

C.A. Secretary

C.A. Convention, Zembo Shrine Center, Hbg., 1960s Youth Convention, Giant Center, Hershey, <strong>2016</strong><br />

ory<br />

birth to the first Eastern District Youth Convention in 1956. The<br />

convention was held in Harrisburg, and 3,000 people attended.<br />

In 1962, Bible Quiz was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and soon<br />

made its way to the PennDel District. The Fine Arts Festival began<br />

as “Teen Talent” in the following year, designed as a discipleship<br />

tool designed to “help students discover, develop, and deploy<br />

their ministry gifts.” The first PennDel D-CAP (District Christ’s<br />

Ambassadors President) was Robert Clayton, selected in 1964.<br />

Youth Alive launched nationally at the General Council of 1979,<br />

and has always focused on sharing the Gospel with every<br />

student in every school. In the 1980s, Youth Alive focused largely<br />

on student-led Christian clubs meeting on secondary school<br />

campuses, including campuses in Pennsylvania and Delaware.<br />

Bernie Elliott became the PennDel District Bible Quiz coordinator<br />

in 1985. In 1989, Allison Park AG was the first PennDel Bible<br />

Quiz team to go to nationals. Doug Sayers was selected as the<br />

first District Youth Director (DYD) for PennDel in 1991. Youth<br />

Convention grew and migrated to the David L. Lawrence<br />

Convention Center in Pittsburgh, to the Farm Show Arena in<br />

Harrisburg, then to the Hershey Arena, and finally the Giant<br />

Center, in Hershey. PennDel won its first national Bible Quiz<br />

championship in 1995 (Allison Park).<br />

In the 1990s, Youth Alive began to develop and train students<br />

as “Campus Missionaries.” In 1998, U.S. Missions approved the<br />

first nationally appointed Youth Alive Missionaries. The Seven<br />

Project came into national development at this time, and in 2003,<br />

PennDel took on its first nationally appointed US Missionary for<br />

Youth Alive—Paul Kirschbaum. Under Paul’s leadership, The Seven<br />

Project held more assemblies and night events in PennDel during<br />

the launch year than any other district in the nation.<br />

In 2006, Jason Lamer became the second nationally appointed<br />

US Missionary to PennDel. He continued strong leadership of<br />

The Seven Project, and began strong development of Campus<br />

Missionaries, and held the first Campus Club training in the<br />

PennDel District. Lee Rogers became the third US Missionary<br />

for Youth Alive 2011. Continuing The Seven Project, Campus<br />

Missionaries, and Campus Clubs, Lee expanded the Youth Alive<br />

focus to leadership and resource development—launching the<br />

Exponential Leadership Cohort, www.reachtheschool.com,<br />

compiling a Campus Club training workbook, and writing two<br />

books for Campus Missionaries.<br />


• Since 1989, PennDel has had the<br />

highest number of quiz teams in<br />

the nation.<br />

• Allison Park A/G was the first PennDel<br />

team to go to nationals in 1989, and the<br />

only PennDel team to win nationals (1995).<br />

• We currently have 112 quiz teams (the next<br />

closest district has 35).<br />


• Over 1600 Campus Missionaries are currently<br />

active in PennDel schools<br />

• PennDel Youth Alive has a measurable presence of Campus<br />

Missionaries and Clubs on over 250 public school campuses.<br />

• 64,000+ students in PennDel have seen the Seven Project<br />

school assembly, and over 6,000 students have responded to<br />

altar calls at Seven Project night events.<br />

• Youth Alive has conducted over 60 Campus Missionary and<br />

Club trainings throughout PennDel.<br />

1962<br />

Bible Quiz begins<br />

1963<br />

Fine Arts Festival<br />

(Teen Talent) begins<br />

1979<br />

Youth Alive<br />

begins<br />

1995<br />

First PennDel<br />

National BQ<br />

Championship<br />

Team<br />

2003<br />

First<br />

PennDel<br />

Youth Alive<br />

Missionary<br />

2013<br />

Buildcast<br />

begins<br />

1964-1968<br />

Robert<br />

Clayton,<br />

D-Cap<br />

1969-1975<br />

Paul<br />

Wislocky,<br />

D-Cap<br />

1976-1982<br />

John<br />

Butrin,<br />

D-Cap<br />

1984-1990<br />

Timothy<br />

Satryan,<br />

D-Cap<br />

1991- Present<br />

Doug Sayers DYD<br />

1983<br />

Rex Bornman, D-Cap<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 31

Women of Purpose<br />

Ruth Puleo<br />


WMC Retreat, Harrisburg, 1967<br />

WE’VE COME A<br />


Even before the General Council of the Assemblies of God was formed<br />

in 1914, there were women called of God to reach their communities for<br />

Christ. One such woman was Mrs. Anne Beisel, a member of the Free<br />

Methodist church of Allentown, who responded to the presence of God<br />

during her personal prayer times and began to speak in a language<br />

she had never learned. In 1909, the Beisel family purchased a home<br />

in Allentown and began holding prayer meetings. In 1911, God spoke<br />

to ‘Annie’ during prayer that she was to use her home to hold church<br />

services, to serve meals to those in need and to house missionaries and<br />

evangelists passing through. Mrs. Addie Marsteller, a neighbor, sought<br />

spiritual advice from Annie and was soon filled with the Holy Spirit.<br />

Together, these two power-packed women, Anne and Addie, labored<br />

side by side as the first spiritual leaders of the Emmanuel Home Mission<br />

(would eventually become Emmanuel AG in Allentown). In 1915, Anne<br />

became a widow living by faith without income from her husband<br />

and no offerings were received during the services. Yet in spite of the<br />

lack of funds, thousands of meals were served and many people were<br />

housed in this humble home. As attendance increased steadily, so did<br />

their needs for finances, but God always provided above and beyond<br />

what they had asked for. Helping those in need, ministering to the lost,<br />

praying for Spirit baptism and healing was their daily assignment. Soon<br />

they were giving to missions regularly, starting Sunday School programs<br />

for children throughout the area, and expanding ministries in other<br />

locations. Anne and Addie were truly pioneers of the faith that blazed a<br />

trail for women for generations to come.<br />

BY 1935, THE GENERAL<br />





1,000 WOMEN WERE<br />







32 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Women of Purpose Convention, Hershey, 2015<br />



Women were being ordained by the General Council<br />

as missionaries and evangelists - ministering across<br />

the United States and in many countries of the world.<br />

However, in 1917, during the first Eastern District Council,<br />

they voted that ‘it was unscriptural for a woman to be<br />

the head of a Bible school or be ordained as a pastor.’<br />

That did not discourage the women who knew they were<br />

called of God. They simply “served God without a title”<br />

and “began their own ministries when there were no open<br />

doors in the established churches. Then, in 1932, (the 16 th<br />

District Council) a resolution was approved to appoint a<br />

committee of 3-5 people to start a summer Bible school<br />

(the beginning of EBI, now UVF). Alice Flower, wife of<br />

Supt. J. Roswell Flower, was on that committee ~ and we<br />

know she led the Bible school! (She must not have gotten<br />

the memo about women not being in leadership over<br />

men). By 1935, the General Council of the Assemblies of<br />

God was ordaining women as pastors since over 1,000<br />

women were already serving as pastors, evangelists,<br />

missionaries and presidents of Bible schools throughout<br />

our nation.<br />


In 1944, a burden for our missionaries had gripped the<br />

hearts of the church women in our district. There was<br />

a great need for linens, household supplies, food and<br />

bandages. Our missionaries were making tremendous<br />

sacrifice to travel to a foreign land without much financial<br />

support or household provisions. Elsie Eich had heard<br />

reports that women from other districts had formed the<br />

Women’s Missionary Council to support their missionaries<br />

and she proposed that this be adopted in the Eastern<br />

District. Voices spoke strongly against it - referring to<br />

this formation as the “Lazy Aides Society!” Without<br />

their support, Elsie became the first to lead the women<br />

of the district, proving that this organization would be<br />

a blessing both to our missionaries, local churches and<br />

district camps. All ages were included with this early<br />

formation of a women’s ministry, including programs<br />

for school age girls to mentor them in the faith. By 1951,<br />

the formation of the Women’s Missionary Council came<br />

to the Eastern District Council floor once again. As a<br />

debate ensued as to why this “society” was necessary,<br />

George and Helga Hemminger (parents of Rev. Laverne<br />

Weber), district missionaries that were home on furlough,<br />

expressed their appreciation for the barrels of quilts,<br />

linens, clothes, canned goods, candy and small appliances<br />

that missionaries had received. Their personal testimony<br />

swayed the vote and the Women’s Missionary Council<br />

became official in the Eastern District.<br />


We knew that if God called us, He would equip us, provide<br />

for us and direct our steps. He did just that! Women were<br />

being raised up all over the district to start churches, to<br />

raise funds for missions, to build up women in their faith<br />

and to train young women for the work of the ministry.<br />

In 1951, the first Pentecostal church service in Shanksville,<br />

Pennsylvania was held in a “pool room” with evangelists<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 33



1951-1956 MRS. ADOLFUS T SMITH<br />

1956-1957 MRS. ALFRED BUCKLEY<br />

1957-1964 MRS. HELEN JENKINS<br />

1964-1978 MRS. HAZEL WILLIAMS<br />

1978-1980 MRS. HEATHER OWEN<br />

1980-1996 MRS. JAYNE GROVE<br />

1996-1998 REV. LILLIAN SPARKS<br />

Hazel Williams Heather Owen Jayne Grove Lillian Sparks<br />

1998- REV. RUTH PULEO<br />

Mary Abate and Roberta White. Elizabeth Armstrong<br />

(later to become Elizabeth Crosby, wife of Harold Crosby)<br />

joined Margaret Judy in pastoring the group at Shanksville.<br />

Elizabeth Crosby shared stories of 6 single women<br />

pastoring their own church in their section alone! She went<br />

on to say, with a twinkle in her eye and a wink, “people<br />

often referred to us as ‘Brother William’s haram’ and our<br />

District Superintendent didn’t mind that at all!” Elizabeth<br />

said, “as Bible college graduates, women found very few<br />

open doors for ministry. So, where there wasn’t a ministry,<br />

they made one. Where there weren’t opportunities, they<br />

made them happen.” Their firm conviction was to obey<br />

Christ and He would make a way for them.<br />


The very first Women’s Ministries retreat was held on<br />

September 1967 at the Schraff Motor Inn of Harrisburg<br />

with speaker Ann Alf. From reports of women in our<br />

district that were in attendance, these early meetings were<br />

infused by the power of God and the anointed speakers<br />

challenged them to greater faith, confidence in their<br />

call and instilled a compassion for the needs of others.<br />

They began with The March of Dimes to raise money for<br />

US Missions to help plant new churches and instituted a<br />

Linen Parade to provide household items for Missionaries.<br />

As more needs were presented, a greater response was<br />

given. Ladies responded to a call for compassion, because<br />

that is who we are! Women collected their loose change<br />

for the Baby Bootie Club funding our national children’s<br />

orphanage. We adopted missionary families - remembering<br />

their birthdays and sending gifts for the holidays. We<br />

collected used postage stamps for the Library Fund to<br />

purchase books for missions and Bible schools. Every year<br />

since the start of Women’s Ministries, there have been<br />

mission’s projects. There has always been an overwhelming<br />

response to address the needs presented! In the last 100<br />

years, it is estimated that the women of our district have<br />

given (either by cash donations or donated items) over<br />

$1 million to projects, missions, as well as district and<br />

local ministries. Just in the last ten years, the response to<br />

raising the monies for our project offerings has increased<br />

tremendously. The combined giving from churches,<br />

ministries and private donations for the Redemption Home<br />

reached over $200,000. The generosity towards the Single<br />

Moms Day Out events in three locations was estimated<br />

at $85,000. Only heaven will reveal the magnitude of<br />

sacrifice and generosity of today’s Women of Purpose.<br />


We’ve come a long way, Baby…since our early beginnings.<br />

God has increased our influence from 52 women attending<br />

the first retreat in 1962 to our conference last year at<br />

Hershey of almost 3,400. But our prayer is still the same…<br />

that the Holy Spirit would be present at every Women of<br />

Purpose gathering. We want God to be there in power to<br />

change lives! Our commission is ever before us: to connect<br />

women of all ages, backgrounds and church affiliations, to<br />

empower women to live for God and to respond to the call<br />

of God to serve, to inspire sacrificial giving to reach the<br />

lost at home and abroad. We are challenged to encourage<br />

women called to full time ministry – believing with them<br />

for open doors where they can serve. The cause that<br />

inspired our foundation is still burning deep in our hearts –<br />

to see world missions see exponential growth and results.<br />

Our <strong>2016</strong> project offering for the Baneasa Community<br />

Center in Romania is to raise $150,000 for the building<br />

and $150,000 for the furnishings! We can do it as we work<br />

together! I also believe that God is clearly directing us how<br />

to reach the next generation, setting the stage for God<br />

to call them, give them a cause to fight for, burn in them<br />

a passion and fulfill the great commission laid out before<br />

them!<br />

34 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

Girls Ministries<br />

Sharon Poole<br />



In 1925, Etta Calhoun, a spirit-filled woman from Houston, Texas,<br />

organized a group of women for intercessory prayer. The group<br />

became the first Women’s Missionary Council (later became<br />

Women’s Ministries). Early in the 1950s, the women began to see<br />

a need for a program to teach missions to young women and to<br />

prepare them for involvement in Women’s Ministries. The national<br />

Women’s Ministries Department developed the Missionettes program<br />

in response to this need. It was their desire to establish a systematic<br />

plan for the older women to train the younger women (Titus 2:3,4).<br />

The program remained as an auxiliary of WM’s until 2005 when they<br />

became their own National and District Department.<br />

The first Missionettes club was officially chartered in January 1956. In<br />

our own District, Missionettes Clubs began in a number of churches<br />

including Jeannette Assembly of God.<br />

Angie Hafner Sorbo became the first District Auxiliary Director<br />

in 1980, under the leadership of Jayne Grove, District Women’s<br />

Ministries Director. Under Angie’s leadership many District events were<br />

developed including the most enduring, the Star’s Powette. Her most<br />

memorable highlight during her 18 years as Director were the many<br />

girls whose lives where changed while spending time at the altars at<br />

Missionettes events.<br />

Angie Hafner Sorbo<br />

Debby Seler<br />

In 1999, Debby Seler became the District Director, where she remained<br />

until 2000 when she moved to Springfield, MO to lead the National<br />

Missionettes Department. Susan Lanza was appointed to be the District<br />

Director and remained until 2005. It was during her leadership that<br />

the program became it’s own department. In July 2005, Sharon Poole<br />

became the District Director. Soon after, the Missionettes became<br />

Girls Ministries. Along with the name change came cultural and image<br />

updates. But the ultimate purpose of winning girls to Jesus Christ and<br />

teaching them to live victoriously has never changed.<br />

Susan Lanza<br />

Sharon Poole<br />

Through it’s inception, Girls Ministries (Missionettes) has been<br />

foundational in developing girls and young women in the Word of God<br />

and in relational training. Many of the female ministers from PennDel<br />

including missionaries, evangelists and pastors have been impacted by<br />

this program. It is a bright and growing future for Girls Ministries!<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 35

Royal Rangers<br />

Greg Scott<br />


The Legacy of Royal Rangers<br />

By the 1950’s it became apparent to the Assemblies<br />

of God leaders that young people were leaving<br />

the church, and that many who stayed were<br />

inadequately prepared to be strong followers of Jesus<br />

Christ. In the summer of 1960, the Men’s Fellowship<br />

Department launched a thorough study of various boys’<br />

programs to decide whether one of them could be<br />

adapted for use in the Assemblies of God. In the end, the<br />

decision of the team was that none of them accomplished<br />

the goals defined by the team, and it was decided a new<br />

ministry needed to be developed. The number one priority<br />

and objective was to get men involved in the soul-winning<br />

and discipling of boys.<br />

“A new age is upon us! It is an age of jet travel, space<br />

consciousness, pleasure madness, and moral indifference.<br />

Our boys are growing up in this overpowering<br />

environment. They will be the victims of it unless our<br />

church men do something to guide the energies and<br />

thoughts of the boys into right spiritual channels. Action<br />

must be taken quickly.” It was with this urgent call that the<br />

Assemblies of God and Johnnie Barnes introduced Royal<br />

Rangers, a new discipleship program for boys, to readers<br />

in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1962. Royal Rangers grew<br />

quickly, reaching across denominational, national, and<br />

ethnic divides, and by 2015 over 3 million boys across the<br />

world have been shaped through this program designed<br />

to turn boys into godly, responsible men. Today, Royal<br />

Rangers is in 92 different countries around the world and is<br />

approved for use by over 50 different denominations.<br />

Royal Rangers was introduced to the Eastern District (now<br />

PennDel) around 1965 by our first District Commander,<br />

Gordon Buckley, who served from 1966 to 1971. He saw the<br />

vision of the program and how it could meet the needs<br />

of the boys in our district. He conducted our first District<br />

Powwow in 1968. Our Powwows have been instrumental<br />

in saving thousands of boys. Following him was Thurman<br />

“Butch” Keifer, who served from 1972 to 1980. He took our<br />

district to their first National Camporama in 1974 at the<br />

Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. These two men<br />

traveled extensively throughout our district promoting<br />

the Royal Ranger program. In 1981, Joseph Finan took<br />

over the leadership of our department and served until<br />

2005. Joe was instrumental in developing staff leaders<br />

within the 12 sections of our district and creating a strong<br />

district leadership team. Following his 25 years of service,<br />

Greg Scott assumed the duties of District Director and<br />

has served in the position from 2006 to present. He has<br />

been instrumental in developing a strong Leadership<br />

Organization Team and has placed significant emphasis<br />

on the development of our Junior Leader Development<br />

Academy. He also realized that Royal Rangers could not<br />

be just a camping program anymore and that it needed<br />

to evolve in the areas of sports, trades, arts, technology<br />

and high adventure in order to meet the needs of our ever<br />

36 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

changing boys. To best do this, it became evident that the Royal Rangers<br />

needed a camp of their own that they could develop. In 1999, Cmdr. Scott<br />

was one of the founding leaders of the PennDel Royal Ranger Camp<br />

located in Honey Grove, PA. A beautiful 137 acre property located along<br />

the Tuscarora Creek near Port Royal, PA. The camp has been extremely<br />

instrumental in drawing boys into the program where they can experience<br />

salvation, baptism in water, foot washing services, leadership training,<br />

fellowship, fun, and much more.<br />

Our objectives haven’t changed since the founding of the program in<br />

our district. They are still geared toward evangelizing, equipping, and<br />

empowering young boys and men to become Christlike servant leaders.<br />

Many of our methods have changed as our boys have and the culture<br />

in which they grow has also changed. However, we have stayed intact<br />

through a strong leadership team that works in one accord. We truly<br />

believe that the future of Royal Rangers is brighter than our past and<br />

that God did not call us to be<br />

part of a mediocre ministry. We<br />

have seen over 405 churches<br />

charter Royal Rangers in our<br />

district over the past 54 years.<br />

Although our past has been<br />

memorable and remarkable,<br />

we cannot move forward by<br />

spending time looking back.<br />

Our #1 objective is to increase<br />

our charters by 10 percent<br />

over the next year, facilitate<br />

Gordon Buckley Joseph Finan<br />

a 50 percent increase in<br />

communication, and help at<br />

least 25 percent of our boys<br />

to tell someone about the<br />

Gospel. Our growth will come<br />

to fruition by putting together<br />

an effective marketing strategy,<br />

effectively communicating,<br />

strengthening our reputation,<br />

and promoting the recognition<br />

of our brand. More significantly,<br />

the growth will come from the<br />

boys and young men we are<br />

training up to become leaders<br />

“When we got back to our church (from<br />

a District Powwow) and were unloading<br />

the boys’ gear, I had a chance to share<br />

the good news with the grandmother<br />

and aunt. When I told them that I asked<br />

the boys, “If you were to die today,<br />

where would you go?” and that both<br />

boys told me “Heaven,” the grandmother<br />

and aunt broke down in tears and just<br />

hugged me for over a minute. They were<br />

so happy that God had answered their<br />

prayers. They had been praying for these<br />

boys for years. The grandmother said,<br />

“You don’t know how happy I am.”<br />

and mentors of others.<br />

If this was the only thing to ever happen<br />

The legacy of Royal<br />

Rangers – its proven<br />

effectiveness in mentoring<br />

boys to become responsible,<br />

committed Christian men – is<br />

demonstrated in its history and<br />

in the lives of its over 3 million<br />

participants worldwide. It will<br />

not stop; it cannot stop. As long<br />

as there are boys with needs,<br />

there will always be the need<br />

for Royal Rangers.<br />

out of Rangers, then this would be worth<br />

it. The only exposure to Jesus in these<br />

boys’ lives came through the Royal<br />

Rangers. I feel very blessed to have been<br />

a part of the Royal Rangers for the last 6<br />

years as the Senior Commander. This for<br />

me was a God moment.”<br />

ROB HOSS<br />

Outpost 83<br />

Bethel Assembly of God, Carlisle, PA<br />

HonorBound<br />

Tom Rees<br />


Men’s Ministries<br />

The District “Men’s Fellowship” (now<br />

Men’s Ministries) began at the 37th<br />

District Council under the leadership<br />

of Russell Williams. Superintendent<br />

Williams referred to it as the “sleeping<br />

giant.” Through the years we have<br />

seen men’s retreats, mission trips, and<br />

the Light for the Lost steak wagon.<br />

Today, HonorBound Men’s Ministries<br />

has grown to include an annual Band<br />

of Brother’s Men’s Conference, held<br />

in cooperation with the Potomac<br />

District, that had over 1,400 men each<br />

fall. Light for the Lost giving helps our<br />

Teen Challenge Centers and PennDel<br />

Missionaries globally with men giving<br />

$77,993.54. In our local churches,<br />

one of the greatest continuing<br />

benefits of working together has<br />

been the mentoring ministry to boys,<br />

Royal Rangers. A new generation of<br />

men’s ministries has been aligned<br />

with strategic partnerships with<br />

AdventureMen (Greg Nass), Circle of<br />

Swords (Wayde Wilson) and ManTour<br />

Ministries (Jamie Holden).<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 37

Highway Tabernacle, Philadelphia, PA<br />

Pearce House, New Castle, PA<br />

Gospel Wagon, Highway Tabernacle Original Church Bethel Assembly, Calvary Assembly, Waynesboro, PA Lancaster 1930 Radio Broadcast<br />

Chambersburg, PA<br />

For almost 100 years churches have been established under the banner of being “Pentecostal” or “Full Gospel.”<br />

Many started out as independent churches. Others started out in the mainline denominations, but had to find a new<br />

fellowship that embraced the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Here are 13 churches that have or are reaching the centennial<br />

mark. We have included a brief description of their origins and when they connected with the Assemblies of God. A<br />

fuller expression of their story can be found at www.ag100stories.org.<br />



Highway Mission Tabernacle, once known<br />

as Union Highway Mission of Philadelphia,<br />

was founded in November 1894, by Rev.<br />

Frederick Reel, a member of the original<br />

group and also the first pastor. They<br />

started as a prayer group, conducting<br />

gospel outdoor services (attracting some<br />

35,000 people with their “gospel car”) and<br />

then opened a Gospel Hall in North Central<br />

Philadelphia with seventy-seven charter<br />

members. The church was incorporated<br />

in May 1899. The first revival held was<br />

Thanksgiving Day week in 1897. Mark &<br />

Debbie Boucher now serve as lead pastors.<br />



Bethel Pentecostal Church of the<br />

Assemblies of God was founded in<br />

1902 by several Christian people under<br />

the leadership of Rev. D. M. Hench who<br />

became the first pastor. The first revival<br />

was held in 1902. The work started with<br />

prayer meetings, house-to-house visitation,<br />

jail services, and street meetings. Garry &<br />

Kelly Kipe presently serve as lead pastors.<br />



Mission Hall was the original name of New<br />

Hope Assembly of God Church, Clairton,<br />

PA, founded in 1906. It was chartered<br />

in 1924 with twenty-four members. Rev.<br />

Whiteside and Rev. Frank Casley began<br />

the work along with many other works in<br />

Vandergriff, Pittsburgh, Braddock, Turtle<br />

Creek, Pitcairn, Glassport, Horning, and<br />

Jeanette. The church affiliated with the<br />

General Council in 1948, changing its name<br />

to Calvary Assembly. Sharon Lopez now<br />

serves as pastor.<br />


1906 WAYNESBORO, PA<br />

Calvary Assembly of God, Waynesboro, was<br />

founded in 1906 as a Christian Missionary<br />

Alliance church. Rev. Perry, pastor, invited<br />

Sam and Ezra Patterson (evangelists) for a<br />

tent meeting. They brought the Pentecostal<br />

message. In 1908, Rev. D. H. McDowell was<br />

the pastor and encouraged the Pentecostal<br />

experience. There were thirteen members<br />

at that time. From 1908 to 1910, the Biblical<br />

evidence of speaking in other tongues was<br />

revealed and the Holy Ghost poured out<br />

upon the people. In July 1930, the church<br />

became affiliated with the Eastern District<br />

Council. Dwan & April Newsome are the<br />

lead pastors.<br />


1908 NEW CASTLE, PA<br />

In 1908, a number of Christians in New<br />

Castle heard about the outpouring of the<br />

Holy Spirit at the Azuza Street Mission in<br />

Los Angeles, California. This small group<br />

of believers began to hold prayer meetings<br />

in various homes. As a result, one of the<br />

most remarkable outpourings of the Holy<br />

Spirit occurred. There were about a dozen<br />

individuals in this group with many miracles<br />

of healing reported. The group held their<br />

first tent meeting in 1916, and purchased<br />

their own property in 1919 making plans to<br />

build. Chad & Michelle Stoecker are the lead<br />

pastors at New Castle First.<br />


1911 BRADFORD, PA<br />

In 1911, the Bradford Assembly of God, then<br />

known as the Pentecostal Assembly, was<br />

brought into being by Rev. E. Samuelson.<br />

He opened his home for church meetings.<br />

They later moved to a store front at which<br />

time Rev. Earnest Williams held evangelistic<br />

meetings and later became pastor. It is<br />

believed that Pentecost first came to<br />

Pennsylvania in Bradford shortly after the<br />

Azusa street revival through Emil Samuelson,<br />

via his work on the Buffalo-Rochester and<br />

Pittsburgh Railroad. Abundant Life is now<br />

pastored by Phil & Penny Palutro.<br />

38 | <strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong>

PennDel <strong>Centennial</strong> Churches<br />

By Donald J. Immel<br />

Original Church Jeannette AG,<br />

Jeannette, PA<br />

Thomas Twiss 1912, Hamlin, PA<br />

Gravity Church, Hamlin, PA<br />

John Coxe, Founder of First<br />

Assembly, Wilmington, DE<br />


1912 OF GOD, ALLENTOWN, PA<br />

Emmanuel Assembly of God had its<br />

inception in prayer services held in the home<br />

of Mrs. Annie Stauffer Beisel as early as 1912.<br />

Among the very first in the Lehigh Valley to<br />

pray for the sick and encourage believers to<br />

tarry for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, many<br />

hungry hearts were attracted through these<br />

ministries during the years. From 1911 to 1954<br />

the church met in the Beisel home! In 1954<br />

Emmanuel Home Mission was incorporated<br />

and affiliated with the Eastern District of the<br />

Assemblies of God. Jason & Wendy Gornicz<br />

have recently become the lead pastors of<br />

Emmanuel AG.<br />


1914 LANCASTER, PA<br />

A small company of people led by Reuben<br />

L. Buchwalter founded the First Pentecostal<br />

Church of Lancaster, PA in the fall of 1914, in<br />

a little hall over the Southern Market House.<br />

The group continually grew until 1922 when<br />

the church was chartered and incorporated<br />

as the First Pentecostal Church of<br />

Lancaster. Hymn writer Ira F. Stamphil,<br />

author of Mansion Over The Hilltop, was<br />

the pastor in 1966. Kris & Darlene Newman<br />

have served as lead pastors at First AG in<br />

Lancaster for nearly two decades.<br />


1914 SCRANTON, PA<br />

The Pentecostal Assembly of God Church of<br />

Scranton, PA had its inception in the home<br />

of Jeremiah Swingle of Dunmore. The<br />

church was incorporated in 1914 and became<br />

affiliated with the newly formed Assembly of<br />

God organized in 1916. Rev. David McDowell<br />

became the first pastor and served until<br />

he was called to be the Assistant General<br />

Superintendent of the Assemblies of God<br />

in 1923. David & Laura Twiss are the lead<br />

pastors of Green Ridge AG.<br />


1914 OF GOD, JEANNETTE, PA<br />

Jeannette Assembly of God was founded<br />

in 1914 when Reverend Benjamin E. Mahan<br />

came to Jeannette and began holding<br />

“street meetings” in the downtown<br />

business district of the city. Converts from<br />

this ministry resulted in the establishing of<br />

this church. The church was incorporated<br />

in 1919 as the Pentecostal Church of<br />

Jeannette and became affiliated with the<br />

General Council of the Assemblies of God<br />

in 1923. Thomas & Debra Kroll are presently<br />

pastors at Jeannette AG.<br />


1914 GOD, HAMLIN, PA<br />

The First Pentecostal Church at Hamlin<br />

was begun in 1914, through cottage prayer<br />

meetings. Emery Woodruff and Zacharias<br />

Swingle felt a need for more of God and the<br />

fullness of the Holy Spirit. They had heard<br />

of the Pentecostal experience with the<br />

evidence of speaking in other tongues. A<br />

church was built in Gravity, PA, and meetings<br />

were held in a hall in Hamlin. The Assembly<br />

moved to its present location in 1946. Ken &<br />

Melanie Claflin are lead pastors in Hamlin.<br />


1916 WILKES-BARRE, PA<br />

First Pentecostal Assembly of God was<br />

founded in 1916 in the home of Will<br />

Matthews of Ashley, PA. The services were<br />

going well and were being attended by so<br />

many that they decided to buy property<br />

for a church building. The second pastor of<br />

the church, Brother Byron Jones, had been<br />

saved at the age of 38 after being instantly<br />

healed of tuberculosis, and shortly<br />

afterwards began pastoring, bringing the<br />

church into the Assemblies of God in 1932.<br />

Ron & Colleen Swanson are lead pastors of<br />

First AG in Wilkes-Barre.<br />


1916 WILMINGTON, DE<br />

In 1916, a small group of believers had<br />

received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit<br />

and wanted to start a Pentecostal church<br />

in Wilmington. In 1918, they contacted<br />

John Coxe, the Superintendent (then<br />

called “Chairman”) of the Eastern District.<br />

Brother Coxe had pastored the Wilmington<br />

Christian & Missionary Alliance church from<br />

1911-1914. He had received the Baptism<br />

of the Holy Spirit which dramatically<br />

changed his life and ministry. After serving<br />

just one year as Superintendent, Brother<br />

Coxe pursued other ministry endeavors<br />

including evangelistic work and planting<br />

the church in Wilmington, Delaware, “WFA”<br />

is now led by pastor Eric & Tiffany Spanier.<br />


1916 BLAKELY, PA<br />

Terry and Rebecca Drost are lead pastors at<br />

Peckville AG.<br />

<strong>Centennial</strong> Celebration | May <strong>2016</strong> | 39

Pennsylvania-Delaware Ministry <strong>Network</strong><br />

4651 Westport Drive<br />

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055<br />

Find us online: penndel.org<br />

Follow us on Facebook: PennDel Ministry <strong>Network</strong><br />

Follow us on Twitter: #penndelag<br />


In 1956, my late wife and I planted a church in the Bellefonte area at the request of<br />

the Sectional Presbytery; we were given a 3 acre plot of land in Milesburg. Within<br />

6 months we did all the site work and had plans to put up a new building. The<br />

State approved our building plans and we submitted the plans to the builder. He<br />

gave us an estimated cost of the building of $21,000.00. We made an application to<br />

all the banks in the area and were turned down because of our lack of history. The<br />

only hope we had was a benefactor who turned out to be the contractor himself. He<br />

was a godsend! In 1957, with a congregation of approximately 125, we moved into<br />

our new building.<br />

When I became the District Superintendent, the Lord laid on my heart to create<br />

a fund that would help new church plants to secure finances for their building<br />

projects. After discussion with the Presbytery, it was decided that we should move<br />

forward in creating the PennDel Loan Fund which is now HIS Fund. Since 1981,<br />

to the present day, we have financed hundreds of churches with<br />

mortgages, and churches have faithfully met their payments. The<br />

Fund’s motto is “An Investment That Works” for the church of our<br />

Lord and our investors. To God be the glory!<br />


Superintendent Emeritus<br />



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An investment that works<br />

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Minimum deposit to open a Note is $500.00. The initial interest rate on all Notes will depend on effective interest rates at the time of purchase. Term Notes pay interest at a<br />

rate fixed at the time of issuance. Once fixed, the interest rate on a Term Note will not be changed until the Note matures. At least thirty (30) days prior to any decrease in<br />

the interest rate on a Demand Note, HIS Fund will notify the holder of such change. *Demand Notes are not available in South Carolina. HIS Fund interest rates are subject<br />

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This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy the securities issued by HIS Fund. The offering is made only by the prospectus. The unsecured<br />

securities of HIS Fund are not offered or sold in any jurisdiction where not permitted. The Notes are not savings or deposit accounts or other obligations of a bank and are<br />

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