By Melanie Patterson
The North Jefferson News
One church in north Jefferson County has stood the test of time.
Kimberly Church of God holds the distinction of being the oldest continuing Pentecostal church in the United States.
At almost 106 years old, the church is celebrating its Pentecostal heritage on Sunday with a special service. Larry Timmerman, state administrative bishop for the Church of God Alabama Executive Office, will speak at the service.
The church got its start in 1902 when Martin Scott Haynes preached at a tent revival held on the land that the church still occupies.
Stan Cook, pastor of Kimberly Church of God for four years, said that the rich Pentecostal heritage is still evident in the church.
“The spirit of Pentecost is still alive today,” said Cook. “The people are evangelistic. They share their faith. They believe in miracles. They have an expectation of the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Cook said that another significant fact about Kimberly Church of God is that it has been in the same location for 105 years.
“That’s unusual for Pentecostal and charismatic churches,” he said. “Usually, they grow and move, grow and move.”
Kimberly Church of God went from a tent to a house, and now is in its second church building.
It stands on land once owned by William Martin Doss, who was a town leader in Kimberly in the early 1900s.
Doss helped orchestrate the founding of Kimberly Church of God when he invited Martin Scott Haynes to preach at a tent revival on his property in 1902, according to a written history of the church provided by Cook.
Haynes had moved to Birmingham “to build a factory for Don Drennen for the production of surries, buggies and stage coaches,” according to the history.
Leaders in the Methodist Church were so impressed by Haynes’ work that they asked him to design and build a Methodist school campus - Birmingham Southern College.
Again, his work caught peoples’ eye. This time, leaders in the Catholic church hired Haynes to design and build St. Vincent Hospital.
Haynes was familiar with Kimberly because Kimberly mines supplied the coal for his steam engines on the construction projects.
According to the written history, Haynes’ assistant invited Haynes and his family to listen to a Methodist preacher.
They “heard this message about the Holy Ghost and all were baptized in the Spirit with the evidence in speaking in other tongues,” the history stated. “It was after this Pentecostal experience that Martin Haynes answered the call to the ministry to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
When Haynes preached at the tent revival on Doss’ property, it was the beginning of a worship community that thrives almost 106 years later, according to Cook.
He said that the church has practical Bible study in Sunday school classes, and youth services that are “geared for discipleship.”
“We have very open and expressive worship,” he said. “We have dynamic preaching that’s relevant to your everyday life.”
By Melanie Patterson