About Us

The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council (WVETNC) is the 23rd Episcopal District of the international Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), a Christian organization that is the oldest Apostolic Pentecostal organization in existence. The WVETNC is one of 13 districts in the eastern United States that was uniquely founded through direct involvement and leadership of longtime P.A.W. Presiding Bishop Samuel J. Grimes.
The P.A.W., began as an outgrowth of the great Azusa Street revival, with records showing loosely organized meetings with some of its founders as early as 1907. It was formalized shortly after 1915, then incorporated in Indiana in 1918. Today, the P.A.W. has more than 7,000 churches throughout the United States and in Canada, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, India, Nigeria, Egypt, Togo, Liberia, Australia, the South Pacific, South America, and several European nations. It is the second largest predominately African-American Pentecostal church organization in the world.
The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council, often referred to as District 23, was founded in 1932 and consists of churches throughout West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. The district currently includes churches as far north as Parkersburg and northwest as Huntington (both on the Ohio border), and as far south as Bluefield (on the Virginia border) in West Virginia. It extends as far south as Wytheville and southwest as Abingdon in Virginia (near the Tennessee border). The district also includes several churches as far southwest as Knoxville in Tennessee.

The Early Years
The Apostolic Temple located in Gary, WV (site of U.S. Steel Corporation's primary coal producing operation in the United States) resigned its affiliation with the Emmanuel Tabernacle church organization in 1930. Emmanuel Tabernacle was under the leadership of Bishop M.R. Gregory.
Following two years of study, which included deliberations with landowner (U.S. Steel), Apostolic Temple affiliated itself with the Indianapolis-based Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. in 1932. P.A.W. Presiding Bishop Samuel J. Grimes of NYC, who was actively rebuilding the P.A.W. in the eastern U.S. following a failed merger with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, became pastor of Apostolic Temple. With just two P.A.W. churches in West Virginia (Gary and Huntington), Gary was established as district office headquarters.

Bishop Samuel J. Grimes

Bishop Grimes organized the initial meeting of West Virginia churches in 1933, with an eye toward expansion. Several additional churches were then established in communities throughout West Virginia. Meanwhile, Evangelist Shelton Redd (who had been saved at Apostolic Temple in Gary) moved with her family to Johnson City, TN in 1928 and established Grace Temple. When this church joined the others, it began the P.A.W.'s first expansion into eastern Tennessee. This new and growing group of churches became recognized by the international P.A.W. as District 23 - The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council. Elder A.H. Callahan of Gary became the first District Elder.

Pastor V. Shelton Redd
Council Growth / Prominent Figures
In the ensuing years, the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council expanded throughout West Virginia and into various cities in eastern Tennessee including Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, and Knoxville. Its foothold in eastern Tennessee spilled over into nearby southwest Virginia, as churches were established in Abingdon, Chilhowie, Marion, and eventually Wytheville. While yet smaller than some of the national organization's other dioceses, this geographic expansion created a diocese of significance within the P.A.W.
District 23 has produced its share of prominent national religious figures. Some moved on to major urban centers and established widely recognized ministries, while others established their platform from within the district. Aside from Grimes, who is the longest serving Presiding Bishop in the P.A.W.'s history; the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council has produced several prominent nationally-recognized figures:
* Dr. Ada Parker
(Apostolic Faith Church - Beckley)
Past President of the P.A.W. Ministers' Wives Auxiliary
* John Hairston, Jr.
(Apostolic Temple - Gary, WV)
longtime Director of External Affairs at the NASA Glenn Research Center
* Dr. W. James "Jimmie" Abbington
(Apostolic Temple - Gary, WV)
Emory University music professor, author of numerous books and hymnals, and Executive Editor of GIA Publications' Sacred Arts division
* Bishop Winfred Hamlet
(Mt. Zion Pentecostal Church - Bluefield, WV)
Vice Presiding Bishop, Pentecostal Followers of Jesus Christ, Inc. (Hartford, CT)
* Bishop Thomas Streitferdt
(United Apostolic Faith - Beckley)
longtime Editor of the P.A.W.'s national magazine ''The Christian Outlook'' (Thomas Streitferdt),
* Dr. Leslie D. Callahan
(Apostolic Temple - Gary, WV)
former Princeton University professor, current New York Theological Seminary professor, and pastor (Philadelphia, PA)
* Bishop Clarence Moore
(Greater Mt. Zion Pentecostal Church - Bluefield, WV)
past Chairman of the P.A.W. International Foreign Missions Department
* District Elder Robert Hairston
(Iron Street Pentecostal Church - Marion, VA)
well-known national evangelist and church-builder
* William Pritchett
(Apostolic Temple - Gary, WV)
Assistant to the President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (Washington, DC)
Transitions in Leadership

The council's episcopal structure cedes ecclesiastical polity to its Diocesan Bishop, who is selected by the P.A.W.'s international Board of Bishops. However, the district leadership routinely includes elected chairpersons for defined terms of service, to assist in the operation of the district. Among its Diocesans, the legacy of Bishop Grimes remains uniquely powerful as the council founder, international Presiding Bishop, and evangelist/church builder. According to Morris Golder's ''History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World'', Grimes was the driving force in helping save the P.A.W. from extinction following the failed merger of the early 1930s.

Grimes spearheaded the organization's rebuilding and growth in the 30 years to follow, specifically establishing 13 "councils" or episcopal districts in the eastern U.S. The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council was an early one among the 13, and was one that he maintained hands-on supervision of until his health began to failing in the late 1960s
Grimes' hand-picked protege Booker T. Jones was elevated to the office of Bishop at the P.A.W.'s 1965 Jubilee Convention in Indianapolis, along with four others that assumed parts of the eastern conglomerate of councils that Grimes had established. Bishop Jones served as Diocesan of the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council from 1967 until his passing in 1997. He served concurrently as Diocesan of the Virginia State Council until 1994, when District 23 pastor and International Foreign Missions Chairman Clarence E. Moore was selected to serve the Old Dominion churches as its Bishop. During Jones' tenure, he relocated the District 23 office headquarters to his home church in Keystone, WV.
In 1997, the pastor of Grace Temple in Johnson City, TN succeeded Jones as Bishop of the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council. Then-P.A.W. Presiding Bishop Paul Bowers of Cincinnati installed Bishop Aaron H. Redd as Diocesan in sacred ceremony that same year. Bishop Redd, upon ratification by council officials, again relocated the district offices . . . this time to eastern Tennessee. Given the council's incorporation in the state of Tennessee, Johnson City became the district office headquarters. It remained that way until he resigned his post, due to prolonged illness in 2009. Notably during Redd's tenure, he named the first female District Elder in the district's history . . . placing him among the first Bishops in the national organization to do so.
At the P.A.W.'s international convention in Minneapolis in 2010, the organization's Board of Bishops elected and consecrated Samuel R. Moore as Bishop. Named as an infant by council founder Bishop Samuel Grimes as his namesake, Moore was assigned to succeed Bishop Redd as Diocesan of the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council in Minneapolis. He was installed in that post at the district's fall meeting in Lewisburg, WV on October 14, 2010.
The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council maintains an episcopal polity, in accordance with the parent body - The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. The council diocesan is the Chief Executive in business matters and Presiding Prelate in ecclesiastical affairs. His official title is "Bishop".
The episcopal structure features several ecclesiastical positions that are appointed by the Diocesan Bishop. These officials serve under the authority of and at the discretion of the Diocesan Bishop.
Among them are:
* Suffragan Bishops
a term technically defined by the Encarta Dictionary as "assistant bishop." His/her duties are assigned by the Diocesan Bishop

* District Elders
His/her duties include acting as an advisor/consultant to the pastor of an assigned group of churches within the diocese. This
position serves as a liason between those churches' pastor and the Diocesan Bishop

* Pastors
His/her responsibilities lie in the leadership of a local assembly within the district

* Elders
This position reflects ministers that are officially ordained by the council, under the authority of the Pentecostal Assemblies of
the World. Many in this position serve under the leadership of a pastor in a local assembly.

* Ministers/Evangelists
This position reflects clergy that are licensed by the council, under the authority of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World;
however, they are yet to be officially ordained. Most in this position serve under the leadership of a pastor in a local assembly.

Non-ecclesiastical, elected positions include:
* Chairperson
* Vice Chairperson
* Treasurer
* Secretary
* Auxiliary or Department Heads

== References ==

''The Early Pentecostal Revival'', James Tyson, Word Aflame Press 1992;
''A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World,'' Morris E. Golder, 1973;
''Christian Outlook - Convention Issue,'' September 1965 (p. 11);
''Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements,'' Zondervan Publishing 1996;
Personal interview with Bishop Clarence E. Moore (10-11-10);
Personal interview with D. Ann Abbington-Barlow (10-12-10);
Personal interview with Bishop Aaron H. Redd (2005);
''The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council, Inc. Directory'' - 2nd printing (2005).