Reverend Paul Christopher (P.C.) Nelson

The Nelson family migrated here from Denmark due to the persecution they faced for being Christians. P.C. Nelson’s dad was not only jailed and fed bread and water, but he was also flogged and left for dead. Worst of all, his father disinherited him because of his faith.

The Nelson family experienced constant tragedy. On the boat to America, they were hit by a hurricane where Mrs. Nelson became so sick, she almost died. When they arrived in America, they were robbed of all the money they had, and the home where they were staying was burned down with all their belongings inside. One daughter died at birth, another daughter died at the age of six, a son died at the age of two weeks. P.C. Nelson’s dad then died of a horrible farming accident when P.C. Nelson was eleven years old. Two weeks later the firstborn son died of asphyxiation, and two years later, another son drowned at the age of twelve. Two more of the children were overcome with mental illness and sent to state homes to live.

After P.C. Nelson lost his father at the age of eleven, he surrendered his life to the Lord. Running home five miles, he shared with his mother of the incredible experience he had with the Lord. It was here, he felt the calling to preach. Peer pressure and persecution brought this young new Christian’s newfound salvation to a halt. Those who lived around him heard about his conversion, and so belittled him, that P.C. Nelson ended up walking away from the Lord. Later that year, because his mother had no way to take care of him, he was given away to different families to be raised.

After nine years of running from the Lord, at 1:00 a.m. on the morning of November 20, 1888, a now 20-year-old P.C. Nelson knelt by his bed and surrendered his life to Christ once again. On August 31, 1889, P.C. Nelson was licensed to preach by the First Baptist Church in Harlan, Iowa.

From that moment on, P.C. Nelson not only pastored at small Baptist churches, but he traveled extensively doing numerous revivals as an evangelist in Baptist Churches all over the country. In October of 1920, P.C. Nelson was hit by a car and crippled. He was miraculously healed and then filled with the Holy Spirit in November of that same year.

It wasn’t long before he realized that a veil had been lifted off his spiritual eyes, and he began to preach and teach with an anointing he had never experienced before. God began to use him in a healing ministry, and he would see healings take place everywhere he preached. Nelson said

“Jesus wanted to be in touch with all the ways and sorrows and afflictions of all the people in all the world.”

He saw why many people had forsaken traditional denominations, where eloquent sermons were being preached in cathedral like buildings with robed choirs and piped organs. Nelson recognized that there was a great power in the gospel when preached in its original fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Each time he prayed, God revealed more to Nelson about how he had been trying to do his work as a minister in a way that was utterly impossible; trying to win men and women by offering them a gospel in which there was no relief for their sufferings and afflictions. He said

“I had been chasing after people to come to the services, instead of offering them a gospel so rich and full that they could not be kept away.”

On October 4, 1924, Evangelist P.C. Nelson, came to Galesburg, Illinois, to hold a series of revival services. The first service was held in the Banquet Room of the State Armory on North Broad Street. The house was full as Reverend Nelson preached his first message; “The Touch Of Faith”. Mrs. C.A. Barnes sang a solo, and the Nelson’s prayed for the sick or afflicted people present.

During the first year, under Rev­erend Nelson’s teachings and leadership, well over 600 people were converted, at least 125 were baptized in the Holy Ghost, and 163 were taken to Highland Lake in East Galesburg and baptized in water. Huge crowds gathered on the hillsides to watch, and participate in the services. In ev­ery service, Reverend Nelson and his wife, Myrtle Garmong Nelson, prayed for the sick and afflicted, which brought many verified healings and conver­sions.

Newspaper accounts tell of “standing room only” crowds in every service in the Armory. Sunday afternoon services had to be held in the drill hall to accommodate the crowds.

Nelson’s philosophy was, “To take the whole gospel for the whole man to the whole world, will take the whole church”. Over the platform, he raised a huge banner that read


He never wanted the church to for­get who saved them, healed them, and performed the mira­cles.

Many accounts of the meetings were recorded; one on October 11, 1924, said P.C. Nelson’s topic at the 2:30 p.m. service was “Christianity and not religion are Galesburg’s need”. “Many have religion, “he said, “but do not know Christ Himself”. He indi­cated that Galesburg needed “a revival of old-time religion to save the down and out and the up and out”.

By late October 1924, Reverend Nelson had to put an advertise­ment in the paper, stating that the services were to continue due to the large crowds. On Saturday, October 25, 1924 a work force, under the direction of John Bursh, started building a very large wooden “Tabernacle”, 60 feet by 84 feet, on the west side of north Cedar Street, be­tween west North Street and the Santa Fe Railroad.

On the following Wednesday, October 29, 1924, the “Taberna­cle” was completed enough for services; and on Sunday, No­vember 2, 1924, it was dedicated as a place of worship, and named Bethel Church. Dr. and Mrs. C.A. Barnes, and Miss Ruth White, gave special numbers in song. Many were anointed for their healing. This became the first organized Pentecostal church in this part of Illinois.

Later, the men of the church erected a permanent church, inside the Tabernacle, of fired blocks, and tore the Tabernacle down. They had to bring in trucks and wagons to take away the many stretchers, wheel chairs, crutches, braces, ear trumpets, spectacles, and other articles left behind when people who were healed abandoned them. Most had been hanging on the walls of the Tabernacle.

Bethel Church had an initial membership of approximately 200 regular attendants, though no member­ship roll was kept. Mrs. A.A. Carpenter succeeded Reverend P.C. Nelson in 1925. She had assisted the Nelson’s in their Galesburg meetings. She served approximately seven months as pastor.

Reverend Herbert Halwe fol­lowed Mrs. Carpenter in 1926, and W.E. Thurmond came to Bethel Church in 1928. Bethel Church had a youth group led by Ruth White, Dorothy Holcomb, Ruth Nelson, and Irene Bergi at various times.

An unnamed person tried to pas­tor a short time, but due to excesses, the church began to fail. He is only mentioned as a “false prophet”.

Reverend Melvin Smitley became pastor around 1930, and stayed until there was a church consoli­dation in 1932. He left Galesburg to become a nationally known Assemblies of God Evangelist.

Some of the Bethel Church mem­bers wanted to build a better church building, and on April 4, 1928, they started another Pente­costal church. The new church was called “The Full Gospel As­sembly”, with Reverend S. Miller as the supply pastor. Many members went to both churches, Bethel and The Full Gospel As­sembly.

After a short stay in a hall, on the second floor of the White Dental Parlor building, at Main Street and the public square, the con­gregation moved to 99 South Seminary Street and elected Rev­erend Bert Talcott as their pastor. He later became an Assistant Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Illinois.

The new church secured a lot, and built a new church building at 266 East South Street. On September 23, 1928, they changed the church name to Cal­vary Pentecostal Church and dedicated their new building to the Lord.

A Pentecostal mission was started in Knoxville, in an old dance hall at Tinder and Ann Streets. Charles, Alva, and Ira Berard were principals. Ira Berard later be­came the pastor of an Indepen­dent Pentecostal church in Galesburg.

Bethel Church, under Mrs. A.A. Carpenter, Herbert Halowe, W.E. Thurmond, and Melvin Smitley and Calvary Pentecostal Church, under S. Miller, Bert Talcott, Sam Perry, Guy Phillips, Phillip Shabaz, Charles Harris, Roy Caldwell, continued to maintain congregations until May 31, 1932, when Calvary Pentecostal Church disorganized. Both congregations reorganized at 266 East South Street, as Calvary Pentecostal Assembly of God Church. The Knoxville Mission people had joined the Galesburg congregations in the meantime.

Reverend Everett L. Phillips, out of the Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of Central Bible Institute, was called to be the first pastor, having been highly recommended by Reverend Melvin Smitley of Bethel Church.

In September 1932, the church affiliated with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. The church name was shortened in 1936 to Calvary Assembly of God.

During Reverend Phillips’s stay in Galesburg, he started the first Assembly of God church in Monmouth, with the help of some of the young men of Calvary Assembly of God. This church thrived for 13 years before it was closed, and the congregation joined with another group to form the Four Square Gospel Church.

Preaching stations were also established by the Calvary young people at Aleana and Gladstone, Illinois. The Acie Hunt family moved from Galesburg to Abingdon and started Sunday School in their home, which was the nucleus of the Abingdon Assembly of God.
Calvary Assembly had a 28-piece orchestra in the mid 1930’s, and a fast-growing Christ Ambassador group, which became 92 members, in the early ’40s.


The Illinois District Council held its 11th Council meeting in Galesburg in May of 1934. Rev­erend Phillips left Galesburg, af­ter resigning his pastorate in November of 1935. He was suc­ceeded by William L. McMullen as acting pastor from December 4, 1935 until September 27, 1936. While McMullen was on leave for five weeks, starting July 10, 1936, his Son-in-law, C. Lasater, sup­plied as pastor.

On October 21, 1936, Reverend Samuel Bell, son of District Su­perintendent Arthur Bell became Pastor and served until January 13, 1938, when he left Galesburg to pastor a Baptist Church in Wisconsin.

A missionary and former pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Church before the consolidation, Rever­end Phillip J. Shabaz, accepted a temporary stay as pastor from February 6, 1938 until May 17, 1938. Reverend Shabaz was a missionary to Turkey.

Reverend S. Clyde Bailey was called to lead the congregation from June 20, 1938 until June 9, 1940. Evangelist Charles Neece was elected pastor July 15, 1940, but he could not serve. So, Rev­erend James Clark was accepted on August 26, 1940. During this time, the church grew. On May 1, 1941, the largest congregation was attained with 352 in atten­dance.

On August 4, 1943, Robert Shaw and John Janes of Calvary opened a second church in Knoxville. Robert Shaw became an Illinois pastor and Presbyter. Reverend O.W. Lemberg be­came the pastor for seven and one-half years, with his wife Mar­garet. Later they served in pas­torates in Illinois and Wisconsin. Otto Lemberg became Illinois Christ Ambassador Secretary-Treasurer, and after moving to Wisconsin, he became Assistant District Superintendent for many years. They pastored in Janes­ville, Wisconsin for 25 years. Margaret Gemberg was Wiscon­sin District Woman’s Ministries Vice-President for 8 years. She still keeps active with this work since Brother Lemberg passed away. They were members of the Galesburg church.

Mr. M.F. Hendrickson, with Mr. James Bergi, and Mr. Donald Porter operated a Sunday School on Sunday afternoons in the factory district on McClure Street until Mr. Henderickson was transferred to Pekin, Illinois in his work. The Sunday School of around 40 was brought into the Calvary Assembly of God congregation. Out of this Sun­day School, Reverend Joe Hanna came. Later he became a pastor in Illinois and an Indian mission­ary in Arizona and New Mexico.

Reverend Hardy W. Steinberg was elected pastor on September 13, 1943, having served in the West Point, Illinois church as pastor. He pastored the Galesburg Church for 3 years, until September 1946. After Galesburg, he served as Bible teacher at Central Bible College, President of Great Lakes Bible Institute and on the Board of the School of Theology in Springfield, Missouri. He served as the National Secretary of the Department of Education.

Reverend E.R. Bucher, an Evangelist, became pastor on October 7, 1946 until October 23, 1949. Reverend Hinecker was made temporary pastor from December 21, 1949 for a short period. George Clark, a missionary to Central America became Pastor in March 1950. He served until January 20, 1954, when his wife Lucille acted as pastor until school was out in June.

Harry Walterman followed George Clark and pastored from February 19, 1954 to 1966. During his tenure, the Knoxville Assembly merged into the Galesburg Assembly on July 9, 1954. On April 27, 1955, the church gave their old Sunday School bus to the Monmouth Assembly of God. The Monmouth church was started again with a new membership after nine years without a church. Reverend Donald Porter had helped Reverend E.L. Phillips in forming the first congregation. He was Christ Ambassador President in the Galesburg Church before going into the ministry.

It was decided at a Special Business Meeting at Calvary Assembly of God, on June 27, 1956 to purchase the property east of the sanctuary. Expansion eventually fell through and the church voted on December 14, 1960 to purchase and remodel the old Grove Theater on Grove Street and Kellogg Street. Pressed for ample parking and Sunday School classes, the old theater was made into a two-story educational unit first.

Dave Iverson came to pastor in 1966 to 1969. Reverend C.R. De­pringer came in 1969. During his ministry the sanctuary was added, along with parking lots and parsonages to finish the expansion. The building on Kellogg and Grove was also paid off.
Following his leaving in 1989, Reverend Gary Watkins served from 1989 to 1990. Reverend Jim Snyder then served from 1990 to 1997. Reverend Bob Malone became the new pastor of Calvary in 1997. In 2004, property on Linwood Road was purchased and paid off. The church sold the Kellogg and Grove property to the Salvation Army in 2008, and began meeting in the movie theater at Carl Sandburg Mall. In 2009, Calvary Assembly began building phase one on the property. The church moved into the new building on Christmas Eve 2010. In October of 2011, Pastor Bob Malone stepped down as pastor, and Assistant Superintendent Gary Blanchard became the interim pastor. In March of 2013, Reverend Jeffery W. Morrow was elected as the new pastor of Calvary Assembly. In April of 2013, the week of Resurrection Sunday, Judy Knox, a former resident of Galesburg, donated her home located at 1885 Cornelia Road, as the new parsonage.

Reverend Jeffery W. Morrow and his wife Sharon are still serving as of this year’s 95th Anniversary Celebration.

Calvary Assembly of God attracted much public attention because of the healings and miracles in its beginnings. When tent and street meetings were held there was much abuse. At times, services were interrupted with rowdy crowds and vandalism of vehicles and buildings. A cat was crucified (in the same manner that Jesus was) outside one tent meeting.

There were struggles with false doctrines, lack of finances, and shortages of workers. Often there were severe contrasts: men weeping at the altars, or, as one man did, dragging his wife from the church by her hair. There were huge revivals and times when no pastor would come to serve. Always, there were those who lived by the Holy Spirit’s direction and saw us through the hard places with fasting and prayer.

According to eyewitness accounts, and the Calvary Assembly Historians, as of the early 1960’s, there were over 50 ministers, minister wives, missionaries, and special church workers, youth pastors, prison ministries and Rescue mission workers that came out of Calvary Assembly of God. Former pastors have served in the Illinois District and General Council capacities. There are at least fifteen churches in the Galesburg and surrounding area that are off-shoots of the original church. Literally, thousands of people have been saved, healed, and blessed by the ministries of those sent out from our congregation.



P.C. Nelson  –  1924 to 1925
A.A Carpenter – 1925 to 1926
Herbert Halwe – 1926 to 1928
W.E. Thurmond – 1928 to 1930
Melvin Smitley – 1930 to 1932


Pastors who served from 1928-1932
S. Miller
Sam Perry
Philip Shabaz
Roy Caldwell
Bert Talcott
Guy Phillips
Charles Harris

The Church dissolved in 1932 and reunited with Bethel Church.


Bethel Church and Calvary Pentecostal Church reunited under the name Calvary Pentecostal Assembly of God Church in September 1932. The name changed to Calvary Assembly of God in 1938.

Everett Phillips – 1932 to 1935
First Pastor of the reunited churches.
W.T. McMullen – 1935 to 1936
Samuel Bell – 1936 to 1938
Philip J. Shabaz – 02/38 to 05/38
Temporary Pastor
S. Clyde Bailey – 1938 to 1940
Jimmie Clark – 1940 to 1943
Hardy Steinburg – 1943 to 1946
E.T. Bucher – 1946 to 1949
Rev. Hinecker – 1949 to 1950
George Clark – 1950 to 1954
Harry Walterman – 1954 to 1966
Dave Iverson – 1966 to 1969
C.R. DePrenger – 1969 to 1989
Gary Watkins – 1989 to 1990
Jim Snider – 1990 to 1997
Bob Malone Jr. – 1997 to 2011
Gary Blanchard (Interim) – 2011 to 2013
Jeffery W. Morrow – March 2013 to Present