HISTORY OF BETHEL ASSEMBLY OF GOD CLOVIS, NM
At the invitation of Rev. Roy Stewart, who was pastoring First Assembly of God in Clovis at the time, Rev. Tom E. Simpson and family moved from Fort Sumner to Clovis and worked in First Assembly in anticipation of starting the Oak Street church. First Assembly purchased the lots at 11th and Oak Streets and assisted in financing the church, as well as in furnishing the nucleus of believers to open the church. The church was begun in 1947. Rev. Simpson erected the building and served as the first pastor.
Rev. John F. Eades followed Rev. Simpson and pastored in the early 1950's. His married sons and their wives worked with him. John and Bobbie and Clive and Maureen Blackburn Eades. Maureen played the piano.
Rev. Claudy E. Spilman and his wife Corrine came to pastor in October of 1953. Under his leadership the church flourished greatly; It was a home missions' church with about 25 in attendance when they came, and the church,had grown to an attendance of 125-130 when they left. Mrs. Lois Frogge tells an interesting story that may partially explain at least Rev. Spilman's part in the growth. Lois was about 12 years old when her mother, Effie Thatcher and Lois' 3 sisters started ,attending Oak Street Assembly. They lived at Texico, and they would bring to church with them the Barnes' family that had 7 or 8 girls. They would be piled 3 or 4 deep in the car, and Lois vividly remembers them hitting the Sycamore Street dips (which, incidentally, are still very much in existence!). Sometimes Mrs. Thatcher's car would not run so Rev. Spilman would go over on Saturday to work on the car so the two families could get to church. No wonder the growth was impressive!
Rev. Spilman was followed by Cy Fuller, who was here for perhaps four or five months-serving basically as an interim pastor. Mrs. Juanita Klopfenstein described him as an excellent preacher.
Rev. Joseph Milton Tucker came in the later 1950's and remained as pastor until the early 1960's. Rev. Tucker was described as an excellent pastor.
The next pastor was Rev. J. W. "Jimmy" Pinkston and his wife Opal. The church did well as he pastored in the early to mid 1960's. The name of the church was changed from "Oak Street Assembly of God" to "Bethel Assembly of God" while Rev. Pinkston was here. The Douglas Landrum family, who were pillars of the church for many years, began coming to Bethel at this time.
Rev. Victor Elliot followed Rev. Pinkston. He came in February of 1967 and remained until June of 1969.
While Rev. Elliot was the pastor, a family moved to this area from Midland, Texas: Rev. and Mrs. V. Ray Allen. Rev. Allen had not been in active ministry for several years but had been working in real estate. He was anxious to get back into the ministry and had been finishing up his degree at Eastern New Mexico University and was working with Rev. Melvin Sasse at First Assembly in Clovis. They attended Bethel Assembly on both Mother's Day and Father's Day, and when it became known that the Elliot's were leaving, the people wanted the Allen's to come, which they did in July of 1969, staying until late spring of 1993.
A time of real growth and revival occurred in the middle 1970's. The building was renovated. The windows in the sanctuary were removed, and dark paneling and new lighting and carpet were installed. Mrs. Allen's sisters donated a grand piano and a Hammond organ. About this time the Rev. Melvin Sasse's resigned from First Assembly. The Allen's bought the Sasse's home on Williams Avenue and moved out of the parsonage which was next door to the church. This freed up the parsonage to be renovated into facilities for children's church and Sunday School rooms, as well as a pastor's office. The children's church was moved from the fellowship hall in the back of the church. The children no longer had to coordinate their singing with the congregational singing to cut down on noise! On occasion the "parsonage" continued to serve as living quarters and storage area for preachers in between churches. Rev. Claud and Donna Walker and Rev. David and LaHoma Sasse (the Allen's daughter) and Rev. James and Kathy Cope (another daughter) so used it. Throughout his pastorate Rev. Allen made it a point to mentor budding young ministers and to encourage the ministry of retired ministers in our congregation- men such as Rev. Doyle Thompson who came to us in the middle 1970's and has blessed us with his experience, encouragement, and ministry. Rev. Tony McNatt, Rev. Lewis, and Rev. Jim Cope were some of the associate ministers. Rev. Lloyd Francis, Rev. David Adkins, and Glenda Homer ministered much as Rev. Allen's health began to decline.
Rev. Allen continued working in real estate for several years after becoming pastor. He had seen a prime piece of property on Norris Street and had told Robert Lydick that if that piece of property ever became available, he wanted to buy it. This happened in about 1977. I think the property was purchased for about $37,000+. As I recall, it was paid for in seven annual payments of about $7000. This does not seem like a lot, but it was quite a struggle for the congregation. One fund raising project (not an original idea) involved giving each person a $2 bill and allowing them to choose the way to multiply it-as the men were given the ''talents'' in the Bible. The number of innovative ways some of the people multiplied their "talents" was amazing. Mrs. Mary Jones reminded me of the good-natured rivalry between her family and Mrs. Mae Landrum's family. Mae and her daughters made enormous quantities of "stretched" peanut brittle, and Mary made the regular kind of peanut brittle. Mary's husband Harlen and her elementary-aged twin daughters were the salespersons for Mary. These were just two examples of the effort and sacrifIce that went into the purchase of the land.
After the land was paid for, there was a long period of time in which the building fund was built up, slowly but surely. The original architectural plan was for a building like First Family Church in Albuquerque. The Allen's were forced to resign because of his failing health before he was able to see the dream of a new building come about. Rev. Wynes Manney came as pastor in September of 1993, and the decision was made to build
a metal building instead of the original plan so that the project could get under way.
Fund raising got started in earnest. There were some big contributors, but once again a lot of the funds came from creative and innovative ideas. One such endeavor involved the fishing expertise of Lamon and Irene Wilson. They caught a large number of fish and with the help of their family did all the work of putting on a big fish fry, complete with all the trimmings. They then donated the proceeds to the building fund.
Rev. Manney was an excellent pastor, and helped to make the always difficult transition between a long-term pastorate such as Rev. Allen's and a new pastorate. The Manney's left in August of 1994, and Rev. Curtis L. Tucker came in November of 1994.
Ground was broken for a new church building in early 1995, and the congregation fmally moved into the new building around Thanksgiving of that year. The building was the result of the efforts and contributions of many people. Mr. Claudio Vela, who had been a part of this congregation, along with his large family, for many years, donated parts of the concrete work from Vela Concrete Company. Mr. Ed Rierson, another member of our congregation, who was employed by the metal building company, served in his usual capacity as foreman of the project. Mr. Steve Duffield, a plumber, and his family and extended family donated countless hours in numerous capacities. Rev. Tucker's father, Rev. Ronnie Tucker is a painter; he came from Bowie, Texas to do the painting. Funds for a parking lot were not available so Mr. Dee Pierson and Mr. Lamon Wilson put the temporary fmish on the lot. Vela Concrete again aided with some of the concrete work. District Superintendent Ken George came to dedicate the building. A highlight of the early time in the new building was the coming of Assistant General Superintendent Charles Crabtree for a service.
Rev. Tucker resigned effective December 31,2000. We had had two full-time youth pastors during Rev. Tucker's tenure: Rev. John Vistine and Rev. Robert Moon. Rev. Lloyd Francis had served as Christian Education Director under Rev. Manney and as Associate Pastor with Rev. Tucker. When Rev. Tucker left, two of these men, the Revs. Moon and Francis, shouldered the responsibility for the church until Rev. Harry Gray came as interim pastor in June of 2001 and left on May 16,2002. Our present pastor, Rev. M. Lemuel Perry came in September 2002.
(Compiled by Glenda R. Homer. Information came from Rev. Roy Stewart, Mrs. Helen Simpson Hunter, Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Mae Landrum, Miss Kay Landrum, Mrs. Juanita Klopfenstein, Mrs. Helen Roman, Mrs. Helen Willis, Mr. Jimmy Cravens, Mr. Dwayne Fuller, Mrs. Bo Allen, Mrs. Lois Frogge, Mrs. Earlene Sutton, Mrs. Evelyn Nutt, Mrs. Judy Williams, Mrs. Opal Pinkston Holly, Rev. Claudy E. Spilman, and Rev. Victor Elliot)