FPC Lake Charles Founded
Lake Charles, Louisiana received its first oneness gospel message in 1914. At that time, Rev. Johnny Williams and Sis. Ellen, his wife, along with Sis Johnney Reeves stretched a tent on old Simmons Street on the edge of Goosport. Many were converted, which established the foundation of the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine in this area. Rev. Williams built a tabernacle north of this location, which founded First Pentecostal Church.
64 years of combined Pastoral Leadership
In the early days of Pentecost, due to finances and hardships, pastors were unable to continue in one place for any length of time. Therefore, First Pentecostal Church continued with multiple pastors through the years, which added to the uniqueness and personality of the church. In 1939, Joseph W. Evans became Pastor and served the longest to date, a period of thirty-three years. During Pastor Evans' tenure, the church changed locations twice.
In 1944 the church moved from Simmons Street to the corner of Moeling and Goos Boulevard. After several years, the church developed beyond its location. Pastor Evans envisioned a new location and after seeking God, the church was able to purchase property positioned on Sixth Street. In March 1956, the building was complete and services began in the new location.
In the fall of 1971, Pastor Evans asked the church to begin a search for a new Pastor. In January 1972, the church elected Rev. C. D. Thornton as pastor. He would pastor until January 2003, for a total of 31 years. Pastor Thornton is married to Grace Thornton, and has four children, Carol, Becky, Theresa (Teci), and a son, Curtis.
After Pastor Thornton assumed position, the church immediately began a building program. In one year's time, the church moved into a beautiful new sanctuary, and then remodeled the old sanctuary to accommodate Sunday school space. In 1982, the prayer room walls were taken down to enlarge the sanctuary to accommodate a growing congregation. Approximately five years later, a Family Life Center was built.
New Location on Bunker Road
In 1998, inquiries from several church groups expressing interest in purchasing First Pentecostal Church facilities encouraged Pastor Thornton to consider options. The land property on Bunker Road was secured on June 23, 1999. God fulfilled His promise, allowing the land to be purchased at approximately one-fourth the price for property along I-210.
On March 15, 2000, FPC signed over the deed to Pastor Red and Throne of Grace. On that same date, First Pentecostal Church purchased twelve acres on the corner of Bunker Road, Hwy 90, and I-210. Official ground breaking ceremonies was a joyous occasion with many officials and church membership in attendance on July 12, 2000. While located in the temporary facilities, Pastor Thornton experienced some health issues, which continued into 2002.
Newly Elected Pastor Jeff Ralston
On September 8, 2002, Rev. Jeff Ralston, engaged First Pentecostal Church as a guest speaker for a month. Pastor Thornton made the decision he was ready to retire, and spoke with the board recommending Rev. Jeff Ralston as pastor. The board accepted and recommended Rev. Jeff Ralston to the congregation. On December 4, 2002, Rev. Jeff Ralston was voted in as Pastor of First Pentecostal Church, with Rev. C.D. Thornton elected as Honorary Pastor. On February 1, 2003, Pastor Ralston officially assumed position as lead pastor of First Pentecostal Church. After pastoring in Jena for a number of years, Rev. C.D Thornton returned home to First Pentecostal Church as Honorary Pastor.
The present pastoral staff of First Pentecostal Church includes: Rev. Jerod and Shelly Grissom (January 1997) their three children are Alayna, Kyle, and Mya. Hyphen Pastors, Rev. Johnathan and Tori Walker and their son, Cooper (June 2015). Also assisting in outreach is Rev. Glyn and Jill Bogard, and daughter Baylee; Rev. Harry and Bonnie Sommers, which are Care-Pastor of First Church; and Sister Dana, secretary since 2017, married to Lin McDonald; Director of Children’s Ministries, Ariel Conley; Student Pastors, Rev. Michael and Hannah Cena and their son, Isaiah (September 2018).