Oldest World Missions Congregation Continues Centennial Celebration


A century ago Missionary Carl M. Padgett established the Church of God on Green Turtle Cay, a small island in the Bahamas.  Now the oldest continuing Church of God outside the United States, the local church was set in order on July 24, 1913.  Church Historian David Roebuck and the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center participated in the congregation’s centennial celebration, which began on Pentecost Sunday.

The first ministry of the Church of God outside the United States occurred when Bahamian Edmond S. Barr and his American-born wife, Rebecca, arrived in Nassau in November 1909.  Robert M. and Ida Evans, along with Carl Padgett, joined them the following January.  Robert Evans and Edmond Barr reportedly visited Green Turtle Cay in 1911 resulting in the conversion of Mira Roberts and the establishment of a mission there.  Later appointed as national overseer, Carl M. Padgett returned to the tiny island in 1913 and set the church in order on July 24 with eight members. 

The congregation took the name Miracle Church of God as a testimony to the miraculous way in which its current facility was purchased, furnished, and expanded.  The Bahamian government had placed a freeze on borrowing money, but after much prayer the freeze was unexpectedly lifted when property became available to the church in 1991.  Members and friends responded generously to the ministry vision which allowed the church to be furnished and the mortgage paid in less than five years.  Bishop Johnny T. Lowe has served as pastor for the past 19 years during which the congregation has grown significantly.

The congregation began their centennial celebration on Pentecost Sunday with a week of special services.  Speakers included former World Missions Director Douglas LeRoy; National Administrative Bishop John N. Humes; North Metropolitan (Florida) Pastor Degrando Franks Jr.; World Missions Coordinator of Education and Publications Bill George; North Cleveland Church of God Pastor Mitch Maloney; World Missions Director Tim Hill; Church of God Historian David G. Roebuck; Administrative Bishop Earl Harrison; and General Overseer Mark L. Williams.  An additional service was held on July 24 with Bishop Jerry J. Jeter, who is the Lead Pastor of RiverLife Church in Bradenton, Florida.

As part of the week-long activities, Dr. Roebuck taught three mornings and was the key-note speaker on Saturday evening.  During the morning sessions, he presented the early history of the Church of God; the leadership of the first general overseer, A. J. Tomlinson; and the birth of the denomination’s world missions program.  On Saturday evening, Dr. Roebuck told the story of the Pentecostal World-Wide Missions Band that brought the gospel to many islands in the Bahamas in 1911.  Emphasizing the vision and sacrifice of those early missionaries, he challenged the congregation to consider their vision for their second century.

Also as part of the centennial celebration, Pastor Lowe presented the early financial records of the congregation to Dr. Roebuck for safekeeping in the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center.  These will be added to the Green Turtle Cay Collection at the research center.  In 2010, the Miracle Church of God donated to the research center the records of their business meetings, which date back to 1913.  Dr. Roebuck commended the congregation for the extraordinary effort they have made to maintain their records.  The original records are now being preserved in archival quality conditions at the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center.  The center has scanned the early minutes and provided a copy to the Miracle Church of God for their ongoing use.

Posted 7/24/2013