The former Evangelist W.M. Cupps, and Brother and Sister Euie Coughran held a three week revival in the fall of 1948 on the Todd lot across from the Mulligan Store (NW corner of Marshall and 14th St.). After the revival, the pentecostal believers in this community decided to establish an Assembly of God Church and secured the old Lakeview Community House on 14th St., south of the Lakeview Baptist Church, where they held their first service under the leadership of Brother Cupps. However, some of the people who were in charge of the community house asked the congregation to relocate because of the strong preaching and emphasis on holiness. Services were then held in the front rooms of the J.R. Miller residence on Varsity Drive.
The first members of Lakeland Heights Assembly of God Church were Junior and Jessie Harrington, Brother and Sister A.L. Baker, Brother and Sister Euie Coughran, Brother and Sister Homer Richardson and their four daughters. Brother and Sister Peoples along with some of their relatives were also attending services regularly, but didn’t join until later.
The members raised $300 and purchased the lot, near the 2100 block of SE 14th, where the old church now stands. Brother Cupps left, and the church was without a pastor. Rev. Lawrence, from Arlington, held a tent revival on the property, and afterwards the church elected Brother Jack Morgan as pastor on June 26, 1949. However, the property did not have a building or a tent in which to hold services out of the weather.
Brother and Sister Jake Penny owned the property adjacent to the church property, and allowed the members to have their services in the two front rooms and, since the weather was warmer, the church members built a brush arbor. When the weather became cool again, meetings were held in a tent borrowed from the Duncanville Church. The Lord blessed and they began to build the church. The first service was held on Thanksgiving night, 1949.
Brother Morgan pastored for two years. Then, Rev. E.E. Shaffer was elected to fill the position until he was appointed to the mission field in 1952 to South Africa. While Bro. Shaffer was pastor, the members puchased the Penny’s property to use as a parsonage and additional parking space. After Bro. Shaffer resigned, Bro. Lee Richard was elected as pastor on October 5, 1952.
Under the leadership of Brother Richard, a new auditorium was built and dedicated to the Lord on December 13, 1953, four years and sixteen days from the time that they moved into the first building. Sunday School attendance increased from an average of 20 to an average of 155. In 1969, the third auditorium and educational building was completed, and the first two auditoriums were torn down to build a parking lot. In the late 1970′s, a new educational and fellowship building was constructed.
Brother Lee Richard retired in October 1983, and Rev. Jim and Donna Snyder were elected as pastors in January 1984. They each minister the Word of God in teaching and preaching in an evangelistic and personal capacity.
The members voted to change the name of the church from Lakeland Heights Assembly of God to Radiant Life Church of the Assemblies of God on April 29, 1995.
The church continues to grow and minister to the needs of the community. Over 100 pastors, missionaries and evangelists have been converted to Christ around the altars of this chruch and have gone forth to preach the gospel.
The Assemblies of God can trace its roots back to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California. The year was 1906, noted for the tragic earthquake that hit San Francisco. But an earthquake of divine proportions was scheduled to strike an abandoned storefront/barn, where a strong nucleus of Christians met regularly to pray for an evangelical awakening. God began baptizing believers in the Holy Spirit. Time seemed to stand still as God’s power flooded hungry hearts with unprecedented force.
Apathetic religionists were electrified by the supernatural signs, wonders and miracles that followed. Mighty healings and deliverances accompanied the dynamic, godly visitations. Revival had come to Azusa Street, and the evangelist was the Holy Spirit.
Intense spiritual hunger gripped the participants who had once chafed under staid formalism and stilted, restrained ritualistic worship. The new “Pentecostals” committed themselves to prolonged Bible study, waiting on God and being lead by the Spirit.
By 1913, these Pentecostals had been driven outside the framework of traditional, organized Christianity. Thus a need developed for stabilization among independent Pentecostals. Indifferent church government was rendered a deathblow as the Spirit himself became the organizer and prime mover of people enfisioning a common goal: the formation of a new denomination. Many Pentecostals left secular denominations, and the traditional barriers that had divided them from one another were broken down. God fused together disparate groups into divine harmony and purpose. Into this spiritual vacuum flowed the small revivalistic group that ultimately met in April 1914, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to forge a Statement of Fundamental Truths, which woiuld define accepted doctrine, ethics and goals for the new “Assemblies of God.”
The new Movement grew with accelerating vitality through world-wide ministries. Miracles, signs and wonders continued to accompany its entry into the realm of older, established denominations. Assemblies came to be known for their lively, spirited singing, fervent worship, anointed preaching and busy altars. Revival became the norm as churches welcoming Pentecost experienced strong growth.
Raw courage characterized early preachers of Pentecost. Evangelism hit new strides as these “Assemblies preachers,” living by pure faith, traveled, preached, sang and played musical instruments in tents, storefronts, brush arbors, schoolhoused and on street corners. As Mainline denominations declined, numerous unused church buildings were eagerly bought and relabled “Full Gospel Tabernacle.” Our heritage and history were built on countless storefront missions and roughly built tabernacles that welcomed God’s power and presence. Visible manifestations of God’s glory attracted multipliet thousands to these humble churches.
Despite severe economic downturns, God caused the young Movement to triumph over crises. Educational and institutions flourished. Global evangelism strategy was hammered out. Heavy emphasis was placed on Bible school graduates engaging in active Christian work, and strong missions priorities produced phinomenal growth. The Assemblies of God penetrated society as never before. As America grew, the Movement met and matched demand, seizing every opportunity to spread the gospel in ever-widening streams of evangelism.
Although the Assemblies of God has never been endowed financially by benevolent philanthropists, it is financed by rank-and-file members who obey biblical patterns of tithing and giving sacrifically.
In 1914, no one knew that the Assemblies of God would ultimately become the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. But God did!