The history of the church of God presently worshipping at 709 E. Grand Avenue, Springfield, OH 45505
Isaiah 62:6 “I have set watchmen upon the walls that shall never hold their peace day nor night.”
The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago …
It all started when Bro. and Sis. Benjamin Marion moved from Alabama to Springfield, Ohio, in November 1926 to minister to a small Church of God congregation that was without a pastor. When a former pastor of the church returned to reestablish his ministry to the congregation, the Marions and some others moved on. Bro. and Sis. Marion and their six children, Bro. and Sis. Taylor and their son and three grandchildren, Bro. and Sis. McFarland and their daughter, Sis. Turner and her daughter, and Bro. and Sis. Martin and their four children left the small congregation and rented a church building on Dibert Avenue where they began to worship. Once again, the flock was uprooted when former members and owners of the building on Dibert wanted to resume their services. Not discouraged, Bro. Taylor opened one side of his two-family home on Raffensperger Avenue to the saints for worship. The saints worshiped at this location for about two years.
In 1928, the saints purchased a garage located at 1819 West Washington Street. The saints worked together converting the garage into a church building. Soon thereafter, Bro. and Sis. Mitchell, a couple who had worshiped alone in Missouri, were led to move to Springfield and worship with the saints on Washington Street. Bro. Mitchell contributed his talents as a carpenter to renovate some of the side rooms of the church into living quarters for his wife and himself. The living quarters were later used for Sunday school rooms.
At that time, there were approximately nine adults and fifteen children worshiping with the Church of God congregation on Washington Street. Later, the flock increased when members of another large local Church of God congregation took a stand against segregation and began worshiping with their blood-bought brethren on Washington Street. Here, as in the bible, the color of another’s skin was not a test of fellowship. The saints on Washington Street were able to purchase a large tent and chairs, which they used for camp meetings. Saints came from as far as California to fellowship and worship under the tent. Many glorious camp meetings occurred in this manner, and God’s power saved and sanctified souls, and healed bodies.
In 1941, Bro. and Sis. Marion, having completed their work for the Lord in Springfield, returned to Alabama to answer their call as missionaries. Sis. Marion passed away in 1943, while in Greensboro, Alabama. In 1946, Bro. Marion returned to Springfield. He went to be with the Lord in May of 1946. His funeral was the only one held at 1819 West Washington Street.
Sweeter as The Years Go By …
Bro. Joseph Taylor became pastor of the congregation when Bro. and Sis. Marion left for the mission field in 1941. Bro. Taylor ministered to the saints and supported the ministries of three pastors that succeeded him until his death at age 98. He was a short-winded preacher, causing excitement in the children of the congregation when he would ascend to the pulpit. Bro. Taylor was not a well-educated man, but he had scriptures committed to memory, and preached thereby. Genesis 1:1 was an oft-used scripture of his.
He purportedly taught himself to read and write after he was eighty years old. He would spend time at the literacy center working on his education. In the cold Ohio winters, Bro. Taylor would walk all of the way from the east side of Springfield to the church building (which is on the west side) to start a fire in a wood-burning stove early in the morning to warm the building for the saints. He was not prone to be loquacious, but his life spoke volumes.
Abiding and Confiding in the Lord …
Around 1936, Sis. Hettie Edwards and her five children moved from Oklahoma to Springfield, Ohio. Once in Springfield, Sis. Edwards established and began pastoring a small Church of God congregation. The small flock met in the basement of her home located on Clark Street. Through the Church of God camp meetings in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Sis. Edwards became acquainted with some of the saints worshiping at the congregation at Washington Street. After much discussion and prayer, the saints of the two congregations united to form one congregation at Washington Street.
Known as a long-winded preacher, Sis. Edwards became the pastor and led the flock for approximately eight years. Modesty and long dresses were a point of emphasis in her ministry. Under her leadership, the saints would go out on the streets and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Sis. Edwards was noted for requesting prayer for her daughter Adele. Sis. Edwards passed in 1954 from an apparent stomach sickness.
More of Jesus and Less of Me …
The conditions of Sis. Adele Butler’s salvation were quite grave. The Lord showed Sis. Hettie Edwards, Sis. Butler’s mother, that Adele was planning to commit suicide. At age 21, Adele lost her eyesight. Young Adele drove a vehicle with children at times, and to compensate for her dimming vision, she played a game with them. The game was for the children to tell her when to stop, go, turn, etc. The situation of her declining eyesight was much more than game. The saints prayed for Sis. Edwards’ daughter, and under dire circumstances, God saved Adele.
Sis. Adele (Edwards) Butler received her calling to the ministry while under the pastorate of her mother, Sis. Hettie Edwards, but it is reported that Sis. Butler told Bro. Stafford Wynn of her calling first. Upon the death of Sis. Edwards, Sis. Butler became the pastor. Although Sis. Butler had lost her physical sight, keen was her spiritual vision. It is recorded that Sis. Butler had a vision of an eagle’s eyes entering her spirit, and the gift of discernment rested upon her. She was a powerful preacher, counselor, and prayer warrior. Through prayer, God began to add to the church, saving several of the saints’ children. Sis. Butler would passionately sing the song “More of Jesus and Less of Me” with her husband Paul, whom she honored despite her position in the kingdom.
After 18 years of pastoring, Sis. Butler received her calling to be an evangelist. During this time, the church was praying and fasting over a decision whether to join forces with another local Church of God congregation. The answer came through a dream given to Sis. Butler by the Lord. In the dream, the words “Carl over it” appeared on a blackboard. Consequently, the saints knew that God wanted the congregation to remain on Washington Street, but under the new pastorate of Bro. Carl Kenerly. Sis. Butler continued to minister under Bro. Kenerly, serving as a great helper and mentor to him and the other ministers in the congregation. Her boldness for Christ as well as her stand for modesty and holiness perpetuated the fountain of truth that God had opened amidst the congregation. Sis. Adele Butler went to be with the Lord in 1984. On the evening of Sis. Butler’s duly anointed funeral service, God saved Sis. Mercy King.
Cry Aloud and Spare Not …
Bro. Carl Kenerly accepted the Lord on August 15, 1961, and he claimed that his calling to the ministry was through teaching Sunday school. He became the pastor after Sis. Butler resigned in 1972. During his ministry, Bro. Kenerly saw a vision of saved young men sitting along a wall of the church. Bro. Kenerly’s vision came to pass, and God began to add young men and women to the flock. The wall of the church soon teemed with saved young men. One was Bro. Ronald Cavin, whose conversion God used directly to win many young men and women to Christ, thus fulfilling the vision.
In 1974, the congregation at Washington Street held its first wedding, that of Bro. Roger and Sis. Dorothy Burke. Eventually, the congregation began to outgrow the converted garage that comfortably held about sixty people. Concerned about a lack of space, the saints consulted Bro. Kenerly about moving to a larger building. Bro. Kenerly purportedly said, “When this church is filled, we will look for a new building.” During a revival held at the church in February 1976, as the building filled up to approximately one hundred and ten people, a man took the last seat at about 9:00 p.m. Following the revival, the saints began diligently looking for a larger place of worship. A fund was established, and the saints made generous pledges, which paid for the larger facility. In September 1976, the saints at Washington Street were able to purchase the church and property located at 709 East Grand Avenue. The first event that took place in the newly acquired building was the wedding of Bro. Ronald and Sis. Joan Cavin on October 2, 1976. The congregation held the first worship service on October 3, 1976. By faith and prayer, the little flock made a half-price down payment and miraculously paid off the building on September 30, 1980, in merely nearly four years.
Under Bro. Kenerly’s anointed pastorate, God continued to add families, saints, and ministers, prospering the work of God on Grand Avenue. God gave Bro. Kenerly a peculiar gift to teach the bible’s doctrines. He initiated Friday night bible studies to occupy the influx of young people, teaching the book of Revelation and the church of God doctrines. The stand that Bro. Kenerly took on key doctrines (e.g. sanctification, child training, marriage and divorce) reverberated throughout the land, challenging ministers to live up to the Word of God. Indeed, Bro. Kenerly trumpeted the biblical qualifications and parameters for ministers, much to the chagrin of many. He would often refer to his beloved scripture: Isaiah 58:1.
Bro. Kenerly loved children, so he provided several outlets for their development temporally and spiritually. He also exemplified hospitality by taking several into his open home. In 1990, the congregation published the first edition of the Salvation Echoes newspaper, and the newspaper flourished under the guidance of Bro. William Robinson, Jr. (Bro. Robin). This, too, advanced the gospel truth across the world. God used Bro. Kenerly’s pastorate to bring forth out of the treasure-filled fountain of truth things new and old. Elder Carl V. Kenerly, Sr. lived for over 71 years. He went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, March 7, 2002 at 6:10 p.m. at his residence.
Obeying Much More in His Absence…
Elder Ronald Cavin II wrote a lamentation in his calendar agenda for that day: “Sad day – Bro. Kenerly leaves us.” Bro. Ron’s favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12. In the absence of his pastor, mentor, and yokefellow, Bro. Ron took that principle to heart.
Jesus gloriously saved Bro. Ron on March 3, 1973. He made a clean break from the world and sin, and God used his revolutionary conversion to save several souls. Not long afterward, God called Bro. Ron to preach with an audible voice in Jackson, Michigan, saying, “I want you to preach my gospel.” People also recall that the aforementioned Bro. Taylor received a dream from the Lord confirming the calling of the young man to the ministry. On May 17, 1975, at age 20, Bro. Ron preached his first sermon at a Tuesday morning prayer service. Sis. Juanita Robinson noted that Bro. Ron, as a certain fish, came forth swimming. The evidence of the gift of God’s spirit in Bro. Ron was overwhelming. Bro. Carl Kenerly, Sr., Bro. Frank Hampton, Jr., Sis. Adele Butler, Bro. Eric Jones, and Bro. Alex Figueroa were prominent ministers who ordained Bro. Ron Cavin in February of 1981 at a meeting in Lakeland, Florida. Bro. Ron served as an associate minister and supported Bro. Kenerly’s ministry.
After years of closely serving under Bro. Kenerly, the Lord called Bro. Ron to pastor the congregation. After Bro. Kenerly passed, the ministerial body, board, and congregation installed Elder Ronald Cavin II as pastor on December 21, 2002 at the annual fellowship meeting. Bro. Ron was a “people person,” a natural leader, and an expert manager. Under his pastorate, the congregation grew to its largest, numbering well over 100. People came from across the country to be under his pastorate. This presented challenges, but God blessed Bro. Ron with wisdom. All five of the ministerial gifts in Ephesians 4 abode upon him, as he essentially planted a work in Columbus, Ohio, prophesied regarding the nation, the church, and the lives of people, evangelized epically in several states, pastored for nearly twelve years, and taught the Word of God with inspiration and practicality. Bro. Ron picked up the baton of the Revelation message from Bro. Kenerly, and he would often get so excited when teaching it that he would start preaching it!
Known for his witty sayings, mundane demeanor, exhilarating delivery, doctrinal knowledge, remarkable fairness, and loving heart, Bro. Ron served internationally as a minister to ministers as well as saints. He often chaired ministers’ meetings and negotiated through choppy waters with unparalleled tact. He never met a stranger, and saints from other congregations longed to hear him preach, and to receive his ever-listening ear after he descended from the pulpit. Bro. Ron loved people, and people loved Bro. Ron. The Lord caused earthquakes through Bro. Ron’s conversion and messages, leading scores of souls to Christ, including future ministers. God called Ronald Morgan Cavin, II from earth to eternal bliss on October 18, 2014 at around 11:20 a.m. at his home. The congregation has continued in his absence, and though large the void, God has helped the saints.
From cement floors, coal stoves, and outside restroom facilities … a converted garage … through tests, trials, sicknesses and deaths … to this present time, God has been good to this congregation.