our faith

The scene was indeed impressive. A beautiful and enthusiastic group of young people led a procession down Austin Avenue with a huge banner that read, “Apostolic Faith.” Millicent McLendon and a team of fiery, young Christian men and women announced the opening of evening services at 4th and Franklin, and everywhere they went the citizens of Waco took note. It amazed the city in that day that young people could be so focused and adamant about the scriptures, and their love for Jesus Christ.

Wasn’t that an occupation reserved for stodgy old men and aged ladies?

Crowds were attracted to the street services where they found enthusiastic singing, heartfelt worship, and goodwill. Many attended the Bible school during the day and evangelistic services at night. It was the beginning of Pentecostal revival in Central Texas, and the year was 1907.

Evangelists, fresh from revivals in Kansas and Houston, first preached the book of Acts message in Waco that January of 1907. There were well known figures, such as: Howard Goss, W.F. Carouthers, D.C. Opperman and Millicent McLendon. Revival fires, started that year, burned continuously throughout the century and continue to enflame youthful evangelists even today.

After the Bible School closed, services continued in homes around the city, for there was no church building, or resident pastor in the city. The Lances and the McDavids were two of the first families to begin holding service in their homes and they later moved into storefronts they could acquire. Finally around 1920, a building was secured on River Street in the Mill block which served the Pentecostal faith family.

A huge question had divided the Pentecostal faith around 1913, however: Were there three separate and distinct persons who made up the image of God, or was the Power of the invisible God merely manifested among men differently for different times?

The little church in Waco had decided to follow tradition and continue to preach God as three separate and distinct persons, and nothing much was said about the matter, thereafter. That is, not until 1923 when Mrs. Georgia Powers moved into the city with her large family. She began immediately to look for a church to attend, and she found the little trinity church at 1801 River church. She began taking her children to church with her there, and her anointed testimonies blessed the church. She would often testify of her revelation from God concerning the Oneness of the Godhead, and the saints of that small congregation had never heard such a message, or felt such conviction. They would come to her and say, “We want to know more about this Oneness Doctrine.”

Powers began teaching Bible studies in her home for the ladies who were hungry for more truth. She had the approval of the River Street pastor, who told her she was welcome there anytime, but she began to feel a desire to begin a work for the Lord.

In 1924, Georgia Powers begin to hold church services in her home and sought God’s help for the building of an Apostolic church in Waco. Four women were with her from the beginning: Sister Hammonds, Goodner, Mullins, and Bronson. They solicited some local businessman for funds to move a very small building from Sister Mullins backyard to a vacant lot at Second Street and Bosque Avenue, and the work has progressed from that very humble beginning to the luxury of our present day facility.

Georgia Powers pastured the little flock with assistance from ministers who traveled through the city. She sought everywhere to find a man who would assume the pastorate of the little church, but they would only stay for short periods, hold revivals, and then move on. Two of the most notable of these ministers were: George W. Weathersbee, who preached in that first “chicken coop” building during 1928 and 1929, and Allen Cooper, a tent revival preacher from Corpus Christi, Texas.

Weathersby was a railroad engineer who had received the Holy Ghost in 1915. He had a large family and held meetings in various towns throughout Texas and Louisiana, preaching the Pentecostal message between engineering engagements.

In 1930, Allen Cooper came to town and the church purchased a large tent for a meeting on the lot near the church. It was a huge revival, which attracted attention throughout the city of Waco. Hundreds came by to make fun, or gawk at the worshippers, but many who came met for the first time a very true and living Savior.

The church then constructed a tabernacle, which many called Cooper Tabernacle, and the revival continued with Reverend Cooper preaching and Reverend Weathersbee assisting.

Still no pastor had been formally installed. The church sign said “The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ”, but the city records identify it as, “The Apostolic Church.” One early record in the city directory even refers to the church as the Pentecostal Presbyterian Church, which demonstrates very clearly that most citizens and denominal Christians had no idea what God was doing down in Mill Block.

From the churches humble beginning until 1999, the church has elected ten pastors who have served faithfully and each has contributed to the growth and success of “First United Pentecostal Church.”

It was in August of 1999 when Pastor Robert Nelson was elected to lead the First Pentecostal Church, and he and his wife have already accomplished great things in their endeavor to move the church forward. They are visionaries, who have proven anointed and Spirit-led in the transition and continuity they have provided for our great church. Prayer remains foremost under their guidance, as they have led us to perfect our praises and deepen our worship.

Some of the milestones they have already accomplished include: completely remodeling and painting the sanctuary and foyer areas, installing a beautiful metal roof, directing and revitalizing the Music Department, encouraging a very innovative and growth oriented Sunday School Department, and Youth Department.

In March of 2002, Pastor Nelson outlined for the church his bold new vision for tremendous church growth in the near future. Reaching the city with a fresh new image became paramount. We want the citizens of the city to take notice of changes on the outside, and to come inside to find out what God is doing at the church on Robinson Drive. It was for this simple reason that the church voted to change the name of the church to Christian Life Church.

CLC will welcome people inside from its new sign on the street, but the doctrine, the worship, and the traditions we love will forever remain and reach back through the years to the humble little building at 202 Bosque. We could have never made it this far without them.