Celebrating 70 Years

100_0127This year in November, the congregation of Gospel Tabernacle,  236 Scott Lane , will celebrated the church’s 70th anniversary.

The church began in the mid 1930s when the Brelo family – Auman, Andy and Anna Brelo along with Andy’s wife, Becky, moved to the area from Detroit MI. They had become Pentecostal Christians in Detroit and sought a spirit-filled church in the area when they moved here.  Finding none in Philipsburg, they attended  the Assembly of God church in Coalport, pastored by Rev. Edward Opdenhoff.

But they were anxious to see a work begin in their new home town and asked the pastor to conduct prayer meetings in their home.  As the meetings grew, they asked Pastor Opdenhoff to help them find a pastor for them to start a work in this area.  Rev. Handy Christopher accepted the call to pastor the fledgling church in 1943 and rented a garage/tire shop at the corner of Water and Maple Streets.

Three years later the congregation bought a house on Presqueile Street which had belonged to an area doctor. They renovated the home into a church facility that seated 200 people. Four Sunday School classrooms were located in the basement, two on the main floor with the sanctuary and the remaining upstairs was converted into living quarters for Pastor Christopher.

By 1953, Over 180 people were listed on the church roll.Rev. Christopher continued to hold area revivals as the church grew.  The Reverend also conducted weekly  radio programs and became instrumental in helping to start Assemblies of God  churches in the surrounding areas of State College, Milesburg, Port Matilda and Clearfield.

In 1954, Pastor Dave Wilkerson arrive in Philipsburg and pastored the church until he left for New York City  in 1059 to begin his work among the drug addicts there which later became Teen Challenge. In 1955, he purchased Scotts’s Field, a former semi-pro baseball field in the area. The original church building was erected on the property along with a small parsonage by 1956.

After Brother Wilkerson, there were a total of 11 pastors  including: Rev. Dean Ash, Rev. Ed Stigile, and Rev. Lee Lockett. Rev. Walter Schell was a popular evangelist.  who also  was involved in church building. He  made several  renovations to the original building and parsonage. He also aired radio broadcasts and preached revival meetings while he was here.

Following Brother Schell was Rev. William McCommons, Rev. Paul Jacobs, Rev. LaMarr Pirkle, Rev. G. Robert Ferguson, Rev. Bruce Williamson, Rev Frank Linton and the Current pastor, Rev. Daniel Winters who grew up in the church from 1961 to 1972,  The church has produced many leaders over the years including missionaries, pastors, teachers,  singers and writers.

Kathie Pearcy, the singer for the afternoon service during the 70th anniversary celebration was one of those young people. She has begun a music ministry  and shares her testimony  whenever she can.

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