HomeChurch HistoryIntroduction to Pentecost

Introduction to Pentecost

The following article recounts events of the Price Revival that brought Pentecost to Belleville Illinois.  This is the revival where Paul Froese's family was first introduced to Pentecost and found the Lord.  The history of Pentecost in Belleville, shared here, was written by the Assemblies of God.  Although this history is written by the Assemblies of God, it is the avenue that brought Pentecost to Belleville.  The Froese family did not remain in the Assembly of God movement as God revealed to them the Oneness of God.

Belleville First Assembly of God

These are the events that transpired between 1928 and 1931 that led to the launching of Belleville First Assembly of God.  This account is from the perspective of T.M. Kimberlin, one of the church's founders and Senior Pastor from 1944 to 1964.

Our Introduction to Pentecost

It was September in the year 1928 that an event transpired that was destined to change my entire life as well as the lives of hundreds of other people during the years that followed.  At that time the writer of these pages was a member of the Old Jackson Street Methodist Church in Belleville, Illinois, having been honored by the church with the offices of President of the Official Board, General Superintendent of the Sunday School, and head of the Men's Brotherhood.

In the early part of the year, Billy Sunday had conducted a city-wide revival campaign in the old Coliseum on Washington Avenue in St. Louis.  I attended several of these services, on one occasion hiring a bus to transport the teachers of the Sunday School and a number of the other members of the church to the services.  I was so mightily impressed with Mr. Sunday's dynamic and unusual preaching that I never lost an opportunity to tell others of this man of God and his ministry.

One morning in that memorable month of September 1928 a young lady who was a fellow employee in the railroad office where we were employed greeted me as she entered the office with these words, "Well, Ted, I heard a preacher last night who has your Billy Sunday beat all hollow."  Being on the defensive, I demanded to be shown how there cvould be such a person.  The account that she gave of a big tent meeting that was then in progress in East St. Louis so intrigued me that I stopped on my way home from work that afternoon at my good pastor's home to relate the things that had been told to me that morning, adding that I understood the preacher to be a Methodist.  I suppose my enthusiasm caught fire with my pastor for he immediately expressed a desire to attend the meetings that very same evening.

Accompanied by our wives, Rev. George W. Humphrey and I made the trip to East St. Louis not knowing what that evening would bring forth, nor the effect that it would have on our entire future religious lives.  Having some difficulty in finding a parking place because of the crowds attending the meeting, we arrived at the tent a few minutes after the service had begun.  To our further surprise, for the Lord had reserved seats for us in the very front row.  We entered the tent from a side opening and were escorted by an usher to our seats accompanied by the singing of that great crowd of happy people.  It seemed to the writer that we were walking on air as the strains of "I have found a friend in Jesus" rang out in the most joyful sound we had ever heard.

We saw and heard things that night that were indeed strange to our eyes and ears.  It seemed that we were standing in the vestibule of Heaven as the word of God went forth with power.  The prayer line was a revelation indeed, as we witnessed the healing power manifested in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The lame were healed and even the blind received their sight at the matchless Name of the Stranger of Galilee.  But the great surprise of the evening came at the close of the service when a number of our own congregation hastened over to greet us. And then we learned that they had been attending the revival without saying anything to the pastor. But now seeing him present with the president of his official board, the ice was broken, and this was the beginning of blessings in our own city in a revival such as he had never been seen in the community's history.

Although we did not realize it, that meeting on that never-to-be-forgotten September evening was the beginning of the process of our becoming Pentecostal believers in a new and blessed Christian fellowship.  A committee was appointed to wait upon Dr. Charles Sydney Price, inviting him to come to Belleville for a revival campaign in our city.  The committee, composed of George Voelkel, one of the senior pillars of our church, his son Arthur, and son-in-law, Edward J. Mutto, called upon Dr. {Price, pressing this urgency of the need of a real spiritual move in our community with such earnestness that the good brother agreed to pray about the invitation and wait upon the Lord for a few days before giving an answer.  It was not a matter that could be decided in a moment, inasmuch as the Price party had a meeting scheduled to begin in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, immediately after the close of the East St. Louis campaign. The Oklahoma meeting had already received extensive publicity, and the people there were rejoicing at the privilege of having Dr. Price in that great southern city.

 After our committee met with Dr. Price, he advised us that he felt in the will of God to come to Belleville for a short meeting, and he agreed to give us one week, providing we could secure a building large enough to accommodate the crowds, although this meant a postponement of the Oklahoma City meeting, and a disappointment to the good folk there. Encouraged by this agreement, the committee immediately began to seek out a suitable building for the meetings.  Here again, the leading of the Lord was manifested in a remarkable way.  The Loyal Order of Moose Lodge had recently constructed a new building in the very heart of the city, in the downtown area, and this organization offered the use of its building at a rental of $200.00 per week.  Mr. Arthur Voelkel, a member of the committee, personally underwrote the rental of the building, and Dr. Price was so notified, rejoicing with us in the Lord's provision, and we proceeded with other arrangements incident to arranging for a revival campaign of the normal magnitude of all of the meetings that had been conducted elsewhere by the Price party.

The Crowds Continued to Come

The first night of the campaign in Moose Hall can never be forgotten by those of us who were responsible for its promotion, nor by those still living, who were privileged to press their way into the building that night.  Long before the arrival of the evangelist and his party, the Moose Hall was packed to capacity.  Every seat was filled early in the evening, the aisles were jammed with hungry-hearted fold, and the crowd overflowed onto the steps and into the streets on two sides of the building.  Folks had come from as far as a hundred miles, and from every nearby community, and it was impossible to accommodate them all in the building.  The local fire chief became alarmed at the hazard of an over-packed building and sent to Springfield, Illinois, for the state Fire Marshall, who came down on the second night of the meetings and took charge of the crowds, allowing no one in the building after all the available seating room was filled.  Still the crowds kept coming, even though the doors were closed by the fire marshal. Not to be deterred, many folk from out of town came in the morning, bringing a basket of food and remaining in the building all day in order to be assured of a seat in the evening.

It soon became evident that the meetings could not be discontinued after only one week, and Dr. Price wired the Oklahoma friends, canceling the meeting there entirely. The crowds continued to come, and the same scene prevailed night after night. The building was filled early, the doors were closed upon hundreds who begged an entrance but had to remain outside, where they lingered, hoping to glean a few of the blessings being enjoyed by the privileged folk inside the building, or being content with the services as they came over loud speakers that had been set up on the building.

Night after night, the power of God was present to heal the sick and to save repentant sinners, and to bless the hearts of the believers. However, in the crowds who failed to gain admittance to the building, there were many sick and afflicted who had come hoping to be prayed for in the nightly healing lines. These needy folk waited patiently night after night, hoping, like the impotent man at the pool of Siloam, to have someone to help them into the healing waters. As the evangelist drove up to the building, pressing his way through the crowds, they would cry out to Dr. Price, begging him to get them into the building. By the end of the first week, the great compassionate heart of the man of God could not longer listen to the cries of the needy host, and he decided to conduct two meetings each night - one from seven until nine o'clock and the second from nine until eleven, as one crowd was released through a side door, and the waiting crowd admitted through the main entrance on High Street.

In addition to the two meetings nightly, Dr. Price conducted a special children's meeting on Saturday afternoons. Here, as in the evening meetings, the power of the Lord was present, as sick and afflicted children were taken into the arms of the Great Physician and blessed as they experienced His healing power. One instance stands out clearly in the mind of the writer of these pages, in which a young lad from the nearby community of Freeburg was brought to Dr. Price with a thick white covering over one eye, causing complete blindness in that eye. As Dr. Price anointed the lad and prayed for him the power of the Lord came upon the boy's mother; and as she lifted her hands and began to praise the Lord, the white covering over the boy's eye turned to water and ran down his cheek, leaving the eye as clear and as normal as the unaffected one. Heaven alone bears the record of all that was accomplished in those three weeks for the glory of God and suffering humanity. But the time came, after three weeks of the most exhausting a physical strain, that the evangelist felt the need of drawing apart for a time of rest and recuperation before moving on to other fields that were also white unto the harvest.

In his book in which he recorded the story of his life, Dr. Price wrote that in many ways the Belleville meeting was the greatest in his entire evangelistic ministry. In later years, it was our privilege to again enjoy the ministry of Dr. Charles Sydney Price, as he returned to minister in our District camp meetings.

The Spencers

Having come in to the Land of Canaan, and having tasted of its corn and wine, we desired nothing better than these blessings to continue in our own home church. During the Price meetings in the Moose Hall, a young evangelistic team had assisted in the meetings, and in conference with Dr. Price as to how we might continue the promotion of the Full Gospel message in our own church, he recommended that we invite these young evangelists to continue in revival with us. So immediately following the close of the meetings with Dr. Price, we announced the meetings in our church with the evangelists Ray and Vera Spencer. Mr. Spencer was an able song leader and trombonist, and his wife did the preaching.

The blessings that prevailed in the Moose Hall were manifested in our church from the opening service. Here the work of the Holy Spirit was in evidence, not only in the salvation of souls and healing of the sick, as we had seen it in the Price meetings, but also in the deeper work of the Spirit in the lives of the Christians, as night after night many were baptized with the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament pattern in Acts 2:4. The altars were fill with seekers, and God met their hungry hearts, as with joy they drew waters from the wells of salvation. Our own beloved pastor, a true man of God, received his baptism with the Holy Spirit on a Saturday night about 12 midnight, on his own platform, behind his own pulpit desk. The following morning ushered in a new Lord's day in which the power of the Holy Spirit was felt in a miraculous way, as the Spirit swept over the congregation in old-time power.

It should not have been surprising to us that the enemy would not remain long inactive, and in the midst of the revival his hand was made evident. Our district superintendent, a great, burly man, hearing that something unusual was taking place in the church, paid us a visit one night. The presence and power of the Lord was manifested in an unusual way in that particular service, and the "slain of the Lord were many." In a few days after the good brother's visit, we received a letter from him addressed to the official board, in which we were criticized for promoting this revival campaign without conferring with him, or receiving his consent. Being but newcomers to the merger between the English and German branches, our church having been an old German congregation, we pleaded ignorance to any ethical violations and asked permission to continue the revival services. This was reluctantly given in another letter from the superintendent, but the damage had already been done, and after three weeks the meetings with the Spencers came to a close with their promise to return to Belleville for a future, city-wide tent revival. Under pressure from within and without, the tarrying meetings and public prayer lines for the sick were soon discontinued. At the end of the conference year, our good pastor was transferred to a smaller charge in the southern part of the state, and many new converts began to leave the church.

A small group of the membership, desiring to continue the Pentecostal message, disassociated themselves from the home church, hoping that somehow leadership would be provided that would enable them to establish a Full Gospel church in the city. So began a new phase in the leading of the Lord, which will be enlarged upon in the following chapters.

Days of Prayer and Waiting

The days following our separation from the home church were not by any means uneventful. Without a building in which to worship, without any one particular person as leader of the group. The Lord very wonderfully preserved the little band, and their very need knit them close together in a sweet and blessed fellowship. In lieu of a church or building in which to worship, the little group met weekly in the homes of the various members. These were times of praying, waiting and watching, and the Lord met with the little flock in many wonderful evidences and manifestations of His love and grace.

The Eichinger home on East Washington Street became a sort of rallying place where we met most frequently, and where we were always most welcome. It was there that the writer of these pages was completely healed in a Wednesday night prayer meeting, after having been informed by physicians that his condition would not be improved until he went under the surgeon's knife. However, after reporting their diagnosis to the friends in the prayer meeting, we knelt for prayer and anointing with oil by a little ex-Baptist minister who had been relieved of his pastorate for preaching the Pentecostal message. And that night the Great Physician came and performed the miracle of healing that has lasted for over 36 years.

On another occasion, one of our group was walking down East Main Street and chanced to look into the face of a passerby. And the Lord spoke to him and told him to turn back and speak to this man. He retraced his steps and, walking quickly, he soon overtook the stranger and spoke to him, saying that he appeared to be troubled. In a few minutes the stranger told our brother a tale of misery and disappointment with life, stating that he was then on his way to take his own life. At the invitation of the Christian brother, he went with him to the Eichinger home, which, in the providence of God, was only three or four blocks away. There they told the poor sinful man the story of the Lamb of God that came to take away his sins, and give him peace and joy. Then, kneeling with him they encouraged him to pray, with the result that he was wonderfully saved, and became a new creature in Christ Jesus. Thereafter no one was a more faithful attendant at our little family cottage prayer meetings than the little old baker from North St. Louis who had been so marvelously saved, because one of the little band had obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit on the Main street of Belleville, and led, the poor, discouraged man to the Lord in the home of one of the group.

A year passed after the separation from the home church, and there was no word from the Spencers concerning their promised return for a city-wide revival. The little flock began to experience a period of discouragement, when God again moved to hold them together Reverend B. J. Ballard, the Baptist preacher who had lost his church in the Edgemont area of East St. Louis, felt led to rent a little building on State Street a few blocks from his former Baptist church. This again proved to be God's way of holding the group together, and the little mission hall became the scene of many blessings and the deepening of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the group who worshipped there until the summer of the year 1930. Then the Holy Spirit began to move again. At that time He used the writer of these pages to bring about His purposes for a Pentecostal Assembly of God in Belleville, Sitting at his desk one day early in the summer of 1930, the writer became burdened for the work of the Lord in a greater way than that which was taking place in the little mission hall. The promise of the Spencers to return to our community burned in the heart of the writer, and learning that they were then in Yakima, Washington, he got off an air mail letter, urging them to return to Belleville as soon as possible. As a further evidence of God's leading, a few days after the letter to the Spencers, the writer received a wire from them, stating that they were closing the meeting in Yakima immediately and returning to Belleville, appointing a time and place to meet them to lay plans for the long-delayed city-wide revival in our community.

When the Spencers arrived, a group of the men met with them in the little mission hall in East St. Louis, and began to plan for a tent campaign. Through Reverend Arthur Bell, the Superintendent of the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God, a new tent was purchased in St. Louis, and pitched on a large lot just across the Southern Railroad tracks on West Main Street. However, the noise of the passing freight trains during the progress of the meetings, and the not too desirable location, caused the group to seek a better location. Again the Lord manifested His choice for the tent, and a lot was secured in the downtown area of Belleville within three blocks of the Moose Hall where the Lord first visited the city with an old-time revival. The meeting in this location continued for nine weeks under the blessing of the Lord, and concluded with a nucleus of about fifty saved persons for the church that was to be.

The Church Begins

Following the folding up of the Gospel tent, the old problem that had confronted the group two years before arose again. Where were we to find a meeting place? Suitable buildings were very scarce and high in rental cost. But through a local Realtor we were able to secure a little church building at the corner of East Main and Grand Avenue, just eight blocks from the Public Square. The building had been the church home of the disbanded Free Methodist group. There we began our regular worship services under the leadership of the Spencers, who agreed to remain in Belleville and shepherd the flock. It was in this little church building that the writer received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on September 12, 1930.

But we were not permitted to remain in this location very long. We were informed that our meeting was in violation of a State fire law insofar as the church was too close to a gasoline filling station that had been established before the group moved to this location. The church then moved to a lodge hall on the second floor of a building on South Charles Street. But here the foul stench of old tobacco smoke and the presence of an array of brass cuspidors around the walls did not prove conducive to a spiritual atmosphere. Then the second move was made to the lower floor of what had once been the Lyric Theater. On the second floor above us there was a pants factory that operated day and night, often downing out the worship of the saints below. The pants factory eventually moved into a new building, but we were not free of disturbance, for a gymnasium was opened on the floor vacated by the pants factory. However, it proved to be a financial failure, and we were soon left to ourselves to worship the Lord without inside interference, and here we were destined to remain under God's blessings as well as through many trials until the day to come when we would move into a building of our own construction.

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