About Us - Church History

Belleville First Assembly of God, 1931-Present

Service of Vera Spencer (March 1931 - July 1931)
After witnessing a great move of God during an evangelistic campaign in Belleville, Illinois, a group of believers felt compelled to begin a Full Gospel church. These were the days of the great depression following the tragic stock market crash of 1929. Finances were at a minimum, many in the little flock were out of work, and yet those were blessed days. God met with them in wonderful ways, and their very needs drew them closer together and closer to God. Those who were employed bore the burden of the work, and somehow there was always enough to meet the church expenses and provide for the pastor.

The assembly continued to grow numerically and spiritually, and on March 16, 1931, a congregational meeting convened to set the church in order as an affiliate member of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and of the Illinois District Council.

(Click on the following link to see a copy of the first business meeting minutes from this March 16, 1931 meeting when the church became officially affiliated with the Assemblies of God.)

Mrs. Vera Spencer served the assembly as pastor until July, when she resigned to reenter the evangelistic field.

Vera Spencer
Vera Spencer

Service of Arthur Bell (1931 - 1932)
The Reverand Arthur Bell, District Superintendent, was elected as Pastor in 1931. Under Rev. Bell's Service as District Superintendent and pastor of the Belleville Assembly, the District Camp meeting was conducted in Belleville at the old Fair Grounds, from July 22-31, 1932. Due to the unusually rainy period, a leaky tent, the disturbance caused by numerous passing freight trains, the Belleville Camp meeting was not the success that had been hoped for.

One month later, on Sunday morning, August 21, Reverend Bell tendered his resignation as pastor to devote all of his time to the work of the Illinois District.

Service of L.E. King (1933 - 1934)
During Reverend King's tenure in office, the evangelistic effort received a greater emphasis. Outstanding evangelists, such as the Loren Fox party, of Canada, Otto J. Klink, Willa Short, and others, contributed greatly in projecting the Pentecostal message in our community.

During Reverend King's ministry, plans were formulated pointing to the erection of a church building. At a special business meeting on August 27, 1933 the congregation voted to purchase a piece of property located at the corner of North Church and East "B" Streets in the downtown section of the city. The transaction was completed in the St. Clair County Court House, Belleville, Illinois, in the office of the Recorder of Deeds, the name of the assembly being designated as: The Full Gospel Tabernacle, of The Assemblies of God, Inc.

Service of H. E. Simms (1934 - 1935)
Reverend Herbert E. Simms was elected Pastor on 11 October, 1934.

In the latter part of the year 1934 the church entered into a radio program jointly with the First Church, Granite City, and the Full Gospel Tabernacle, East St. Louis, Illinois. Each of the churches shared in the production and expense of the weekly programs over Station WTMV, East St. Louis, Illinois. The program was short-lived due to the financial burden.

L.E. King
L.E. King

Service of Harry E. Bowley (1935 - 1937)
Reverend Harry E. Bowley assumed the pastorate during the month of September 1935. He was a very Godly man of much prayer and a most able Bible expositor, who did much to raise the spiritual tone of the assembly.

During his administration, plans were completed for erecting a basement structure as the first unit in a church building on the church lot. The record indicates that the third quarterly business meeting of the congregation was held in the new building on September 28, 1936, Reverend Bowley, the pastor, presiding.

Service of T. Kermit Jeffrey (1938 - 1941)
Reverend T. Kermit Jeffrey was voted in as Pastor on February 3, 1938. He was the son of a pioneer Pentecostal minister, and at the time of his call to the Belleville assembly, was the pastor of an Assembly church at Wilmington, Delaware. In the interim between Reverend Bowley's resignation and Reverend Jeffrey's arrival, the pulpit was supplied by a number of neighboring ministers and evangelists.

Reverend Jeffrey proved to be a very able minister, an exceptional Bible expositor, a man of prayer, and of few interests outside of his ministry to the congregation, which he served faithfully until March 21, 1941, at which time he resigned to accept a call to another church.

Service of Gobel Lawrence (1941 - 1943)
Reverend Lawrence began his term of service on June 1, 1941. During his administration every possible effort was made to reduce the payments on the church debt. The determination and desire of the church to liquidate its indebtedness is revealed in the many records in the minutes of the meetings, in which it was decided to pay certain amounts on the debt. Reverend Lawrence resigned in December 1943.

Basement Church
Basement Church

Kermit Jeffrey
Kermit Jeffrey

Service of T. M. Kimberlin (1944 - 1964)
By this time, that is, the beginning of the year 1944, the congregation of the Belleville Assembly of God church had wearied of the frequent change of pastors, and the official board began to consider seeking out someone who was more familiar with the local conditions, since a number of personality problems had been involved in the past administrations. A few nights prior to the annual business meeting of January 13, 1944, the official board called on former secretary of the board, T.M. Kimberlin who had left Belleville First in 1937 to pioneer a church in Mascoutah, Illinois, and requested that he allow his name to be presented to the congregation as a prospect for the pastorate of the Belleville church.

Upon accepting the nomination and being elected, T.M. Kimberlin became the seventh Pastor to serve Belleville Assembly of God.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Kimberlin preaching. Audio - Pastor Kimberlin Preaching

With the prayers and cooperation of the good folk in the church, plans were laid for the future improvement and enlargement of the basement structure. The remaining debt on the church was paid off with funds already existing for that purpose, and the church began to consider plans for the erection of an upper sanctuary.

Towards the end of the year 1949, prospects for erecting the upper sanctuary had progressed to the point where Edward M. Stoeckel, one of the young men of the assembly, was commissioned to draw up plans and specifications for the new structure.

T.M. Kimberlin
T.M. Kimberlin

Work was begun in October, 1950, with the removal of the sections of the roof on the north and south sides of the building in preparation for setting the tall arches. After the arches had been secured in position, six hours further work by the brick masons on November 4 concluded the work of construction, as severe winter weather prevented any further work until March, 1951.

During the preceding winter months, with little provision having been made for keeping out rain and snow, which seemed to come quite frequently, the congregation worshipped under the most adverse conditions, as rain literally poured into the building from unprotected areas around the bases of the arches and other portions of the roof. On occasion, worship services were halted while the people took brooms, buckets and mops in hand to get rid of the pools of water. There were a few instances in which it was necessary for the folk to continue the cleanup operations until after the midnight hour. But assuming that "all things work together for good to them that love God..." The people swept and mopped and sang, and laughed and groaned, looking forward to that day which eventually came.

On Monday night, September 17, 1951, the first prayer meeting was conducted in the new sanctuary. The pews had not yet been installed, there was no piano or organ in the sanctuary. An accordion was used to accompany the most joyful singing. It was a blessed service indeed, as the folk rejoiced in the goodness of the Lord.

Sunday, September 30, was a "high day" indeed. Both morning and evening services were wonderfully owned and blessed of the Lord, as He placed his approval upon the sanctuary that had been erected for His glory. The evening service was ordered by the Holy Spirit, as the congregation testified and rejoiced in God's goodness. There was no need for a sermon that evening - just an altar call, and the new altars were dedicated with tears of rejoicing and praise.

The evangelistic and Missions programs of the church were enlarged, and every effort to advance the kingdom of God gave evidence of His approval. And the church began to grow in greater favor with God and man.

On October 30, 1963, Pastor Kimberlin presented his resignation to the church, to take effect in the coming month of January, 1964, marking the end of thirty-six years association with the church that he helped found in 1928.

1951 Church Addition
1951 Church Addition

1951 Church Addition Article

Service of Robert D. Shaw (1964 - 1965)
Pastor Robert D. Shaw and his wife Mary began their successful ministry at Belleville First Assembly in January 1964. He was a strong preacher and Sunday School promoter and builder. His passion for the flock was evident by his willingness to listen and his approachability.

Pastor Shaw’s gift as an orator allowed him to effectively deliver the Word of God. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit he expounded on the Word in love and in an easy to understand manner. One had a practical understanding of the message and how to apply it to life.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Shaw preaching. Audio - Pastor Shaw Preaching

Robert D. Shaw
Robert D. Shaw

Service of Ronald D. Loy (1965 - 1968)
Pastor Ronald D. Loy assumed the pastorate of Belleville First Assembly assisted by his wife Nancy after Pastor Shaw’s departure. Both were very talented and energetic people who endeavored to lead the church into new and innovated areas of ministry. Noted for their love of music, new emphasis was placed on the choir and special music during his tenure.

The church had always been supportive of Mission outreach. Pastor Loy instituted a program of having a Missions Convention once each year. There would be several missionaries invited to speak at our church as well as other Assemblies in the area. The convention would begin with a banquet with all participating Missionaries invited to attend.

Under Pastor Loy’s leadership several initiatives were launched. Of note was the Bus Ministry to support Sunday School and other church functions and the Royal Ranger program where a ten acre parcel of land located near Millstadt was donated to the church for their use.

Ronald D. Loy
Ronald D. Loy

Service of D. L. Bennett (1969 - 1970)
Pastor D. L. Bennett assumed the pastoral duties. The entire church family responded in various ways to make them comfortable and settled in the parsonage. Some brought in food and other helped in the unloading in placing of the furniture.

The faithfulness and ministry of the choir, song leaders Bill Meier and Edward Mutto, Music by Katherine Vogler, LaVona Witt at the piano and organ, along with the Orchestra, combined to create a wonderful atmosphere to minister to the people of our Church.

Pastor Bennett relied heavily upon the church board as they labored to further the ministry and outreach of the church. Beyond question, the souls reached for Christ and the growth and development of the congregation were the high points of this ministry. In addition, other high lights were the missionary crusades and the youth activities.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Bennett preaching. Audio - Pastor Bennett Preaching

D.L. Bennett
D.L. Bennett

Service of Wesley E. Reynolds (1970 - 1985)
The Reynolds family, Reverend Wesley E., Miriam, Gregory, Cherilyn and Brent moved to Belleville the latter part of December 1970 and were installed in the pastorate on December 27th of that year by Illinois District Superintendent, Richard Dortch.

Talk turned to enlarging the present facilities or moving to a new location and a new building. On January 29th 1975 the congregation voted to move and build.

January 22nd 1976 the congregation agreed to offer $96,000.00 for property located at 900 Fair Oaks Drive. After acceptance, the church secured financing at Citizens Savings. Thompson Associates were appointed as architects and with the sale of the North Church property including the parsonage in conjunction with a bond program, construction began on May 7th 1979.

May 11th 1980 dawned bring and clear. By 9:30am the congregation had gathered in their cars at the old church and with a police led motorcade the procession left for the new facilities at 900 Fair Oaks Drive. It was a time of great rejoicing and thanksgiving to the Lord for His faithfulness in leading and guiding the church in this endeavor. Dedication of the new facility was held on June 22nd 1980 with guest speaker, former Pastor Robert Shaw and dedicatory message by Richard Dortch.

Countless more memorable services were experienced up through the tenure of Pastor Reynolds which concluded on February 17th 1985 with a communion and baptismal service.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Reynolds preaching. Audio - Pastor Reynolds Preaching

Wesley E. Reynolds
Wesley E. Reynolds

900 Fair Oaks Ground Breaking
900 Fair Oaks Ground Breaking

Service of Douglas R. Rose (1985 - 1996)
Reverend Doug Rose accepted the pastorate at Belleville First Assembly of God in April of 1985. While traveling to Belleville, Pastor Rose stayed in several motels along the way. One evening someone broke into his car and stole all of his clothes and his Bible. He arrived in Belleville with one suit and no Bible. The congregation quickly came to his aid as several people brought him suits, shirts, etc.

Staff members included Paul Free as Christian Education Pastor, Reverend Jeff Smith as Music and Youth minister, later followed by Richard Grindstaff and then David Raynaud as Youth Pastors, and Steve McLellan as Music Minister.

The church grew in numbers reaching an all time high in 1985. Revival services included Reverend Jimmy Davis and Tim and Beverly Buchholtz, plus many musical guests. The church hosted the “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” presentation and also the “True Love Waits” campaign.

The balcony area was enlarged in 1988 to make additional seating and also much needed Sunday School rooms. A special Mortgage Burning Ceremony for the present building was held on May 2, 1993 with former Pastor Wesley Reynolds as the guest speaker.

A ground breaking ceremony was held in October of 1993 to construct a new $1.2 million educational building. This expansion added 23,000 square feet for classrooms, a fellowship hall and a multi-purpose room with seating for 600 plus larger kitchen facilities. The Dedication of the new Gym and Sunday School facilities was held Labor Day weekend, September 2nd of 1994.

Under the direction of Pastor Rose, we were able to start a one hour television broadcast called “Worship that Heals” with the local Cable Company at no cost to the church except for the equipment needed to produce it. The program continues to be aired weekly. Pastor Rose and his family left Belleville in 1996.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Rose preaching. Audio - Pastor Rose Preaching

Doug Rose
Doug Rose

Service of Raymond Davis (1997 - 2000)
Pastor Raymond Davis came out of retirement and began as a temporary position while the church conducted a pastoral search. During this time an increasing move of the spirit lead leadership to present Pastor Davis to the congregation as the leader of the flock. Music Pastor Steve McLellan and Youth Pastor David Raynaud remained in service.

Many changes were in store as we re-focused on the teaching of scripture and grounding our faith in truth. The Pastor’s wife, Joyce, set a wonderful example in support and teaching as well. When Pastor McLellan left for another ministry in Chicago Pastor Raynaud was installed as the Associate Pastor and Karen Siddle accepted the Christian Education position.

The work of leading the church to a closer walk with God took a heavy toll on Pastor Davis and his eyesight began to fail. With sadness and heavy heart the Lord lead him to once again retire in January 2000.

Pastor Davis and Joyce continued to attend and support the ministry of the church as well as the pastoral transition while staying in the area until moving to Kentucky in the Fall of 2000. Associate Pastor Raynaud held the pulpit faithfully during the search for a Senior Pastor.

Click the following link to hear an audio clip of Pastor Davis preaching. Audio - Pastor Davis Preaching

Raymond Davis
Raymond Davis

Service of David M. Raynaud (2000 - Present)
After serving as Youth Pastor and Associate Pastor at Belleville First Assembly since December of 1991, Pastor David Raynaud was elected as Senior Pastor on April 9, 2000 with installation services conducted on May 7th. With his wife Deana and two children Joshua and Kaleigh by his side, Pastor David has committed his life to shepherding, serving and investing in the lives of each body member at Belleville First. This investment has manifested itself in a relentless focus on the constant teaching, not only on the importance of scripture, but how believers should study it and apply it to their lives.

Soon after becoming Senior Pastor, Pastor David began working with the different leaders in the church to rightly align its leadership structure with biblical principles. One of the most significant decisions that came out of this realignment was the installment of an Eldership Counsel that now works alongside Pastor David to help spiritually guide, train, and protect the body.

The Elders have since worked with Pastor David, the Board of Deacons, and Ministry Leaders to draft the Guiding Principals which are meant to act as a constant reminder of our calling as individual believers and as a Body. Click on the following link to read the Guiding Principles.

It is the desire of Pastor David, his family, the Elders, Deacons, Ministry Leaders, and body members of Belleville First Assembly of God to continually strive toward in unity, rooted in the word of God, and to carry out the work of a loving Father who is on a mission to redeem his people. This work will continue, furthering the Kingdom of God in Christ’s love, until His return.

David and Deana Raynaud
David and Deana Raynaud

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