A Great Heritage
Morgantown Church of God is one of the oldest Pentecostal congregations in southern Mississippi. Although the church is focused on present ministry and has a vision for the future, the local congregation also appreciates the heritage of its past.
Morgantown church is affiliated with the Church of God movement with international offices in Cleveland, Tennessee. (For more information on the Church of God movement, we recommend viewing the article “A Brief History of the Church of God” by Dr. David G. Roebuck.)
Our First Service
“Just closed a meeting here. The Lord sure did bless.
A few were saved and an altar full of seekers. I feel
that there have been some gospel seeds sown that will
spring up into everlasting life.”
Church of God Evangel – August 7, 1915
It was extremely difficult for these early Pentecostals. Skeptics tossed raw eggs at the believers as they traveled to and from the services. Shots were sometimes fired at the worshipers who gathered under open-air arbors for services, and many were shunned by relatives and neighbors for their desire to receive a deeper Christian experience. Yet, by remaining faithful and leaning upon Jesus Christ, these men and women endured and overcame. They persevered and pioneered a church that continues to play a significant role in reaching the world with the good news of Jesus Christ and the full gospel.
Morgantown Church of God History
Revival, unity and vibrant worship are characteristics of the Morgantown Church. During the formative years of the Church of God in southern Mississippi, the Morgantown Church reaped a great harvest of souls through long, protracted meetings and revivals that lasted for weeks at a time. During these meetings it became commonplace for as many as 50 individuals to make professions of faith and be filled with the Holy Spirit as they spoke in languages they did not understand.
Church workers and preachers called into ministry.
Among those called into places of ministry were R.R. Walker, a local high school superintendent, and his wife Leedie, who were filled with the Holy Spirit during a 7-week meeting in 1933. They united with the local church, and Reverend Walker became the first minister in the Church of God movement with an undergraduate degree. In 1934 he was appointed to serve as principal of the high school division of the denominational school in Cleveland, Tennessee (now Lee University). He later became a prominent leader and administrator in the Church of God.
Special Meetings & Events
During those early years prominent figures in the Church of God often conducted meetings at Morgantown, including M.S. Haynes, S.W. Latimer, F.J. Lee, M.S. Lemons, Otis L. McCoy, Sam C. Perry, Hal Pressgrove, E.L. Simmons, A.J. Tomlinson, J.H. Walker Sr. and numerous others. Bishop A.J. Tomlinson, general overseer, was conducting a meeting at Morgantown during the early 1920s when the news first reached the community that Tomlinson was facing legal charges. This was during one of the darkest periods of the Church of God movement from which two bodies (the Church of God and Church of God of Prophecy) were ultimately formed. Eventually this caused a split in our local church as well, but in 1995 we again united into one body locally.
Women in Ministry
Women ministers also played a key role in the local church. Several were members of the local church, including Annie Belle Alexander, Nellie Dunaway, Annie Heath, Mava Morgan McCoy, Hettie I. Pearson, and Clara Priest. Reverend Annie Heath served as the local pastor during the early 1930s.
Evangelism and Church Growth
By 1920 the Morgantown congregation had spearheaded local evangelism and assisted in the organization of six other Church of God congregations in the local area and others throughout southern Mississippi and in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The Morgantown District contained the largest percentage of members in the Church of God in Mississippi. During that year Reverend W.E. Johnson, from Kinder, Louisiana, visited Morgantown and conducted a meeting which resulted in the established of the first Oneness Pentecostal church in the area. Today that congregation is known as the Oak Grove United Pentecostal Church, and it is the only other church serving the Morgantown community in addition to the Church of God. During the 1930s through the mid-1950s there was no Oneness church in Morgantown, however, and most of the members of that church worshiped with the local Church of God congregation.
With the exception of the present location in Jackson, Miss., Morgantown served as the state headquarters for the Church of God in Mississippi longer than any other location. During that time many state overseers resided in the Morgantown community.
In 1936 the Reverend Roy Blackwood began serving as the local pastor. He, along with his son, R.W. Blackwood, and brothers James Blackwood and Doyle Blackwood, comprised the Blackwood Brothers Quartet of international fame. The Morgantown congregation often enjoyed their singing. Another famous singer to minister at Morgantown was Jerry Lee Lewis, before his rise to fame in Rock-n-Roll music. Although he often ministered at a nearby Assembly of God, once he led the music at Morgantown while his cousin David Beaty preached. Kelly J. Hammond, a famous Mississippi lawyer and politician, was raised in the local community and church. Much of his early practice at public speaking took place in the local church.
Revival of Spirit Infilling & Healing
During World War Two the Morgantown church experienced a 9-week revival in which more than 80 individuals accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and more than 60 people were filled with the Holy Spirit as they spoke in other tongues. Dynamic healings also occurred, as in the case of Mrs. Effie Dunaway who had been crippled for 7 years. During the singing one evening Mrs. Dunaway leaped from her seat without the aid of her crutches and began dancing throughout the church building. Her crutches were nailed on the inside wall of the church as a testimony of God’s healing power. As a result of this revival, a new building was constructed in 1945, which was the first brick structure for the Church of God in Mississippi.
Sound biblical discipleship, accompanied by signs and wonders, can be traced throughout the history of the local church, including the blinded eyes receiving sight, broken lives being restored, and individuals receiving power to live in spiritual freedom through the power of God. It is evident that God has honored the consecrated lifestyle, faithful service, and earnest prayers of local members for several generations.
Through the years the Morgantown Church of God has continually experienced powerful times of refreshing and revival. The church has continued to expand also, including the construction of a large Family Life Center and gymnasium in 1984 and several renovations and additions to the church building and parsonage.
Currently the Morgantown fellowship is a leading congregation in the Church of God in Mississippi. The leadership is endeavoring to equip local members with proper training and resources to engage in effective community evangelism efforts, which is resulting in many people accepting a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The church is experiencing a tremendous time of refreshing and growth with an increase in spiritual, financial, and physical blessings. At the present preparation is being made for the construction of a new church building to meet the needs of the growing congregation.
Those seeds first planted more than 95 years ago are continuing to produce laborers for God’s harvest and are insuring that Morgantown’s ministry will continue to “spring up into everlasting life.”
- Warren E. Evans Sr. (founder) (1915 – 1916)
- Robert C. Price (1916 – 1917)
- James Leon Thornhill (1917 – 1917)
- James Thomas Priest (1917 – 1920)
- J. Oscar Hamilton (1920 – 1922)
- James Roman Smith (1922 – 1923)
- P.F. Fritz (1923 – 1926)
- Robert E. Blackwood (1926 – 1928)
- James Leon Thornhill (1928 – 1929)
- S.J. Heath (1929 – 1930)
- Mrs. S.J. (Annie) Heath (1930 – 1931)
- J.C. Lentz (1931 – 1931)
- H. Bynum Magee (1931 – 1932)
- William Founte Sharp (1932 – 1934)
- Russell Fowler (1934 – 1934)
- Roy Blackwood (1934 – 1936)
- Horace Taylor (1936 – 1937)
- C.W. Kendall (1937 – 1938)
- DeWitt Sharp (1938 – 1939)
- A.O. Stewart (1939 – 1941)
- Buford M. Woolwine (1941 – 1942)
- Robert E. Blackwood (1942 – 1944)
- William R. Messer (1944 – 1947)
- General Grant Williams (1947 – 1949)
- Elmer R. Waller (1949 – 1951)
- Robert E. Blackwood (1951 – 1953)
- Ralph A. Boyles (1953 – 1956)
- J.E. Kennedy (1956 – 1960)
- Ralph A. Boyles (1960 – 1964)
- R.G. Hathorne (1964 – 1966)
- Tommy Lee Waldon (1966 – 1977)
- Gary L. Baugh (1977 – 1978)
- Dempsey Neese (1978 – 1982)
- Pettis Brewer (1982 – 1990)
- James E. Gholson (1990 – 1993)
- Ricky T. Cook (1993 – 1994)
- Raymond D. Aven (1994 – 1998)
- Salone J. Green (1998 – 2006)
- Elbert E. Mosley (2006 – 2008)
- Lamar Davis (2008 – 2010)
- Randy Miller (2010 – 2011)
- Cory Odom (October 2011 – Present)