But an event that may have, at the time, seemed insignificant was the beginning of a church and a move of God in the state of Kentucky. The Reverends Sam Perry and Billy Wilder came to London to conduct a revival meeting. Now, preaching meetings were common to the area and even great camp-meetings were help by well-known preachers such as Marie Woodsworth-Etter and "Uncle" Bud Robinson. But this meeting was significant because the Pentecostal doctrine was, according to Pentecostal historian, Carl Brumback, first preached in the state of Kentucky, in London.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century a spirit or revival swept the world as a result of the deep spiritual hunger among evangelical believers. As the spiritual tempo began to rise, God began to respond to the cries for revival and poured His Spirit our upon groups simultaneously - in the United States, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Norway and among missionaries of many denominations. This outpouring was accompanied by the phenomenon which began on the Day of Pentecost - speaking with other tongues!
Then on January 1, 1901, God poured out his Spirit upon Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, where Agnes Ozman experienced the Pentecostal Baptism. This revival spirit moved through Kansas, into Missouri, southward to Texas and finally to the Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles.
The Reverend Billy Wilder visited the Azusa Street Revival and was so inspired that he began spreading the message everywhere that he went. His travels with the Rev. Sam Perry brought them to London, where they used the old Opera House near 7th and Main and began conducting meetings. These meetings resulted in "fifty to seventy-five of the best Christians and outstanding citizens of London" coming together to form a fellowship and ignite a fire that has been burning for ninety years now. For nine years the group met in various locations. For a while they were in a tent on College Hill and then in a store building on Broad Street. It wasn't until 1916 that the group was given the deed to a plot of ground on Manchester Street ( East Fourth Street) by one of their members, Mr. W.S. Jackson.
The earliest written Record of business was dated January 10, 1910 and indicated the church was given the name " The Church of God at London" and later to " The First Pentecostal Church of London".
These records also reveal some of the early leaders of the church. Among them were Dr. George F. Lucas, Judge P.R. Pennington, W.S. Jackson and Judge W.E. Begley. Judge Begley became a teacher and leader in the church until his death in 1947. The church had no full time pastor for many of those early years but had various ministers who came for indefinite periods of time to minister to the congregation.
The records are incomplete but sources place Rev. Garrett White as the pastor for more than twenty years until the late 20's or early 30's. The Rev. McArthur Jollay came to London in 1932 and pastored the church for approximately four years. Many visiting ministers filled the pulpit during the years that there was no full-time pastor. According to our limited records, Rev. Mrs. Stanley Cook came to pastor in 1942 and stayed until 1946. Other ministers who served the church for short terms were Rev. Ernest Felts, Rev. Bob Williams, Rev. Alex Robinson, Rev. John D. Oliver, Rev. Jesse Harrison, Rev. Milliard Scott and Rev. Grover Gabbard.
In the spring of 1952, a young evangelist, Rev. Gene Huff came to pastor the little church on Manchester Street. He had been conducting revival meetings in the county and was invited to take the pastorate. The church had approximately 23 members at the time. Many who had been converted in area revivals began to attend the church during this short term of two years and seven months. Even though he left at this time he would return in 1963 and stay for twenty-Six years.
In the early part of 1955 Rev. E.A. Gilpin came to pastor the church. The church continued to grow and "almost every Sunday night is was standing room only in the little white frame church". The need for a new and larger church was evident and ground was broken for the new church in May of 1960. The new church was built on the same site as the old church beside the new parsonage that had been completed in 1958. The new church had a seating capacity of 300 and also included a kitchen, evangelist apartment and additional Sunday School classrooms. Brother Gilpin began to feel like his time as pastor was completed and that Brother Gene Huff should return. At any earlier time Brother Huff would not have considered the church, but when Brother Gilpin spoke to him at this time he agreed to come back to London. Brother and Sis. Huff and their five children, Arlene, Marty, Marsha, Anna Marie and Jeanie returned to the church March 13, 1963.
The first year of Bro. Huff's pastorate the Lord sent a mighty revival that lasted for four weeks and resulted in a large number being saved and baptized in the Spirit. Another revival in 1970 saw 48 saved and 84 baptized in the Spirit. These moves of the Spirit, along with the starting of the Bus Ministry in June of 1974, brought many additions to the church and once again created a space problem. In August of 1974, the Sunday School record was broken with 411 in Sunday School. Then in March of 1975 a magnificent new church, with seating capacity of 900, was completed after more than two years of hard Work. The new building is on South Main Street on a nine-acre plot strategically located near one of the busiest intersections of the city. The building was dedicated to the Lord on April 6, 1975 with Governor Julian Carroll as special guest speaker. The building was filled to capacity for this great celebration. But the vision was not yet completed, later a rally emphasizing Christian education was held. With only a few weeks to prepare, the Church decided to start a Christian School. By the help of the Lord, the London Christian Academy opened on August 11, 1975 with 35 students. The School in now in its 26th year.
Brother Huff's ministry has not only blessed this community, but has had great affect upon our movement. As the floodtides of compromise began to influence churches across the country, Bro. Huff was one who held to strong Biblical convictions and would not follow the direction of the Majority. He has been a speaker at many conventions, camp meetings and various special meetings and his strong stand for Biblical holiness ahs make a vital impact. The Lord allowed him to serve in the Kentucky State Legislature for twenty-six years and was the strong, sometimes single, conservative voice there for many of these years.
In August of 1976, Brother Huff resigned the church but was away only for six months. This was a crisis time for the church and resulted in division. Brother Huff returned to the church in January of 1977 and continued as pastor until August of 1989, for a total of 29 years at First Pentecostal Church.
From 1989 until 1990 Bill Zawko served as the interim pastor. Then in the fall of 1990 Brother Rich Goldizen came and pastored for a short term. The following Summer Brother Kevin Prisock was elected as pastor and continued until May of 1994. During Brother Prisock's pastorate several improvements were made to the school offices and the church parsonage.
In December of 1994 Brother Vernon Jarvis and his wife Marsha (formerly Marsha Huff ) came to pastor at First Pentecostal with their children Erica, Amanda, Kara, and Zackery and continues to reach out to many in the community and " the vision is yet for many days ". We are beginning a new Century and our prayer is that the glory of the outpourings at the beginning of the previous century will cause us to once again cry out to the Lord that our latter end may be more glorious than our beginning.