The First Pentecostal Holiness Church
1944- 1964

Original Wilmington First Pentecostal Holiness Church Congregation  Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

Original Wilmington First Pentecostal Holiness Church Congregation
Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

In 1934, 10 years before St. Andrew's stopped serving the Presbyterians, a Reverend named W.H. Turner, who had just returned home from missionary work in China, was sent by the North Carolina Pentecostal Conference to establish a church in Wilmington.

Turner introduced the Pentecostals to Wilmington by holding tent revival services on South 3rd Street, the same street that was (and still is) home to the First Presbyterian Church. His sermons attracted a large enough flock that on August 26, 1934, the First Pentecostal Holiness Church was established. The tents were packed up when a damaging storm forced them to worship in a building on Castle Street.

The same conference that sent Turner to Wilmington also sent Reverend I.D. Dickens to the Port City one year later, and, in 1935, he became the Pentecostals' first full-time pastor. The newly formed congregation moved into a small, white-framed church on Parsley Street, between 3rd and 4th streets, in 1937. (This church still stands today, and has been relocated to Carolina Beach Road.) After several years, the congregation outgrew the small, white building and negotiations began with St. Andrew's to buy the 4th Street church.

The group moved into St. Andrew's on June 2, 1944. Rev. Dickens served as pastor for 11 years (1937-1948). Located behind the main church building, The Annex held national conferences for the Pentecostal Church. On February 13, 1949, the church followed in the footsteps of its Presbyterian predecessor and held its first radio show, broadcast over the local station, WGNI.

City Directory 1946  Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

City Directory 1946
Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

By 1952, the Pentecostals had not made any of the agreed-upon payments to St. Andrew's-Covenant. The slate roof was in need of significant, constant repair, straining the Pentecostal's funds with each incident. They were also in talks with a glass contractor to fix the stained-glass windows. By 1953, the congregation owed several thousand dollars to St. Andrew's. As an option to reduce some of their financial stress, the Pentecostals offered the Manse to the Presbyterian's. Part of the offer included trying to secure a loan from Carolina Building and Loan Company in order to pay for improved electrical and fire safety systems, which had both failed city codes. St. Andrew's-Covenant refused the deal.

“The Jolly Pastor,” Pentecostal Reverend Ralph R. Johnson, started a building fund on July 12, 1954, hoping to one day see the church create its own house of worship and rid itself of the mounting damages and debt the St. Andrew's building had burdened them with. When Johnson left in 1954, the church fund had not passed $700.

Reverend Bailey C. Lewis replaced Johnson in 1956. Lewis continued the building fund by obtaining deeds to a plot of land on Chestnut Street. Rev. Lewis was able to build the fund to an impressive $27,000. The next year, in 1957, after the church board agreed that the purchase of a more modern house of worship was necessary, the First Pentecostal Holiness Church put the St. Andrew's property up for sale. They moved out of St. Andrew's on August 4, 1957.

The Pentecostals moved temporarily to a firehouse on Fifth and Castle Streets until October 27, 1958, when they moved into their new—and current—location at the corner of 27th and Chestnut Streets.

Not everyone wanted to leave. A small group of 27 members elected to stay in the church, claiming “God would not have them to discard all time efforts and obligations on the church property.” This smaller group met with the NC Pentecostal Conference 20 days after the larger one left, and the Conference renamed the church Fourth Street Pentecostal Church.

Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

Photo Courtesy First Pentecostal Holiness Church

Reverend Glenn Bailey was sent to help reduce the payment still owed to St. Andrew's-Covenant and worked to repair the church's damages until the Conference met again in 1962. Bailey was replaced by Reverend Robert Brafford, who oversaw the departure of the last members of the Fourth Street Pentecostal Church and the moving into their new home at the corner of Wrightsville and Macmillan Streets. The Holy Trinity congregation bought the St. Andrew’s property in 1962.

Today, the larger party that moved to 27th and Chestnut Streets has retained the First Pentecostal Holiness name, while the smaller group changed its title to Winter Park Holiness, then later changed it again to Gateway Church.



1964- 1997 Holy Trinity Church