First Pentecostal Church of Panama City has a rich, fifty-year
history. The fact that the First Pentecostal Church still
preaches the same message and holds firmly to the same convictions it did
years ago is a convincing testimony to the solidity of its membership and
the cold winter of 1938, Rev. D.L. Welch and his family arrived in Panama City to
preach a revival. Located in Bay Harbor
at the entrance to the paper mill, was a community church owned by the
mill. It was used by different congregations of the area to hold
services. Rev. Welch preached in that building to some who had
already accepted the apostolic message. With his encouragement,
they erected their own tabernacle, without a floor or windows, on James Avenue
and Second Plaza. This building housed
many big meetings as these preachers came through town declaring the
truth: Rev. C.W. Teston, the McPherson
sisters, Rev. O.B. Ramsey, Rev. David Brimmage,
and Rev. W.L. Kirkland.
After preaching such
a meeting, Rev. J.D. Boyd stayed a few months as pastor. Under a
resident pastor, the First
Pentecostal Church began to solidify. In
the winter of 1939, Rev. A.A.Castleberry
arrived in Panama City
and remained for almost two years. During this period, the church
experienced revival. Rev.
Joe Lane moved his family to Panama City and
became pastor in 1942. In the year and a half he was here, the
congregation moved the materials from the tabernacle on James Avenue
to Kraft Avenue
and Second Plaza. They rebuilt and
greatly improved the tabernacle by adding a floor and windows. The
church continued to grow. In 1943, Rev. A.W. Hicks and his family
arrived in town and assumed pastorate of the First Pentecostal
his leadership the congregation grew and the church building was
remodeled and expanded, adding a vestibule, baptistery, and Sunday School
rooms. During this time, Rev. George Christoff
served as interim pastor for a few months.
On November 15, 1947
the church accepted Rev. and Mrs. O.C. Crabtree as its pastor. The
next three years brought tremendous growth with a record breaking Sunday
of 300 in attendance. A greatly needed, beautiful block building
was dedicated on May
10, 1952. An educational facility, kitchen, and dining
hall were added in 1958. Further growth and a vision for the future
motivated the church in 1968 to purchase five acres on Tyndall Parkway where the church is
now located. Building began in 1972 with a two-story steel
structure that housed the sanctuary downstairs and Sunday School
facilities upstairs. The climax of the dream was realized in 1978
when the spacious sanctuary the church now occupies was completed.
Personal sacrifice and commitment on the part of the Crabtrees
and the church family was rewarded by God's blessings, not only in the
physical plant, but in the spiritual growth of the church. Rev.
O.C. Crabtree's 35 years of dedicated leadership sowed sound, Biblical
teaching and unswerving perseverance. The First Pentecostal
Church reaped a
mature, solid, caring body of believers.
In April of 1982 the
church called for Rev. Allen Crabtree to serve as pastor of the
congregation when Rev. O.C. Crabtree was elected District Superintendent
of the Florida District. During the past several years many
improvements have been made on the grounds and in the buildings, with the
remodeled sanctuary completed in February of 1988. Rev. Crabtree
has actively led the church in structuring for growth through prayer,
fasting, outreach, and involvement in every phase of God's work.
The First Pentecostal Church HONORS the past, but LOOKS to the future as
God allows us to be a part of His end-time work.