AG congregations celebrate century mark
By Jonathan Lindberg
Two notable Assemblies of God churches founded on the heels of the Azusa Street Revival are celebrating 100-year anniversaries this year.
Both Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Mo., and Memphis First Assembly in Tennessee predate the foundations of the Fellowship, which organized in 1914.
During the past century, Central Assembly and Memphis First Assembly have graduated hundreds of missionaries onto the mission field and sent tens of millions of dollars in aid and supplies to missionaries. Scores of pastors can trace their development to these two churches.
In February, Memphis First Assembly welcomed General Superintendent Thomas Trask, missionary Doris Johnson and a dozen former pastors to a celebration weekend. Thousands gathered for three services, capped by a Sunday night hymn sing.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Thomas Lindberg read a letter from Billy Graham commending the legacy of Memphis First Assembly. The celebration weekend concluded with the hymn sing led by Paul Ferrin, former music minister at Memphis First and past director of the national Music Department.
In June, Trask and General Secretary George Wood are serving as keynote speakers during a celebration weekend at Central Assembly. In August, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft will visit the church, paying tribute to the impact Central Assembly has had in his life.
“Central Assembly continues in its commitment to global ministry,” says Senior Pastor Jim Bradford. “Through various compassion ministries and personal outreach strategies, Central is becoming more effective in its goal of reaching those who do not know Jesus.
“Pastoring this church allows me the opportunity to speak at events around the world, and at each event I meet individuals who tell me how their lives have been impacted by Central Assembly.”
Lindberg says the purpose of his church remains the same. “We serve so people can connect with friends, families connect with each other, and everyone connects with the Lord Jesus,” he says. “The great heritage of Memphis First Assembly over the past 100 years is that Jesus has been real to those who walk in our doors.”
Though each church began seven years before the Assemblies of God, their impact within the Fellowship is unmistakable. One cannot mention Central Assembly and Memphis First without including the names of former senior pastors Thomas F. Zimmerman and James E. Hamill, respectively. The men offered the Assemblies of God leadership during the 1950s and ’60s.
Today, Bradford and Lindberg serve as leaders within the Fellowship, sitting on various Assemblies of God boards, as well as mentoring pastors around the world with their writings and teachings.
Both churches have produced remembrance books with pictures and stories telling the history of their congregations and the Assemblies of God. Worship services are featuring video greetings from various leaders, local and national, paying tribute to the impact each church has made.