The Pre-Virginia State Council Years
In the mid-1920s and early 30s, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.) churches in Virginia were a part of the Eastern District Conference. Created by Elder Samuel J. Grimes of New York, under the administration of Presiding Bishop Garfield T. Haywood, the Eastern District Conference consisted of churches stretching from Massachusetts to Florida.
Already a well-traveled international missionary in the tradition of the Apostle Paul, Grimes established, organized, and provided oversight for the churches of the Eastern District Conference.
Bishop Samuel J. Grimes
However in 1931, following Bishop Haywood’s death, the majority of the P.A.W.’s leadership merged with the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ to form the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ (PAJC).
The PAJC was an interracial organization that effectively reunited most of the factions that had separated from the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, seven years earlier at the 1924 Chicago convention. During that convention, Haywood (the only African-American P.A.W. Executive Officer) had been elevated from General Secretary to Chairman. A year later, he was selected the organization’s first Presiding Bishop.
The Merger and Virginia
Bishop Floyd I. Douglas (California) and Bishop A. William Lewis (Ohio) were the only P.A.W. Bishops to reject the 1931 PAJC merger. Likewise, Elder Grimes, Elder R.F. Tobin, Elder Harry Barnett, Elder Akers, and a small group of churches from around the country opposed the merger. They sought to re-establish the P.A.W. under its original charter.
Bishop Floyd I. Douglas
As for Virginia, several of its congregations joined the PAJC. And since Elder Grimes had objected to the merger; Bishop Karl Smith of Columbus (OH), who had joined with the PAJC, attempted to organize those churches under that banner. Meanwhile, Bishop Lewis retrieved the P.A.W. charter; and in a 1932 meeting at Bethesda Temple in Dayton (OH), he and Elder Grimes led the effort to re-form the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. A year after helping Bishop Lewis to save the P.A.W. from extinction, Grimes was installed in the office of Bishop. A year after that, he was selected as the P.A.W.’s second Presiding Bishop.
The VSC Is Formed
Following the Dayton meeting, Grimes began the process of reorganizing the Eastern District Conference into 13 distinct councils. Under his guidance, each council established themselves as individual dioceses, but continued to work together as a consortium on issues of common interest within the national body.
The Virginia State Council was formed in 1935, from a remnant of churches that had formerly been members of the Eastern District Conference. Following several visits, earnest prayer, and the internal unraveling of the PAJC alliance, Bishop Grimes retrieved five churches and formed the VSC.
Pastors of the original five churches were:
Elder James Cann and Elder James Hart Christ Temple (Lynchburg)
Elder J.L. Hackley
Mt. Sinai Pentecostal (Lynchburg)
Evangelist Grace Bradley
Mt. Zion Holiness (Lynchburg)
Elder Sandy Schofield
Temple of Christ (Ridgeway)
First meeting of the Virginia State Council – 1936 (Ridgeway, VA)
The first meeting of the Virginia State Council was held in 1936, at the church pastored by Elder SandySchofield in Ridgeway. By 1936, the VSC had added churches in Columbia
(Pastor H.M. Johnson), Roanoke (Pastor Theodore Craig), Sword Creek (Pastor C.E. Church), and Lovingston (Pastor John Richardson). Although Mayfield Apostolic in South Boston (Pastor E. L. Mills) was established in 1931, and was one of the state’s largest Pentecostal congregations, it didn’t join the VSC until 1938. As the former P.A.W. churches that had joined the PAJC became increasingly disenchanted with the alliance, many of them began to return to the P.A.W. One-by-one Bishop Grimes reinstated churches and the VSC continued to grow. By 1939, there was a church in Savage (Pastor George Bell), Danville (Pastor Nathaniel Walters) and Prospect (Deacon W. Gaines). By 1940, there was a church in Roseland (Pastor Charles Dennis); and shortly thereafter a second church in Danville (N. Edmonds), as well as churches in Machodoc (Pastor Wilber), Petersburg (Pastor Linwood Christian), Richmond (Pastor Sue Edwards), Halifax\Blue Rock (Pastor Earl Edmonds), Speedwell (Pastor C. H. Jenkins), Ty River (Pastor R.S. Penn), Oak Level (Pastor Sandy Schofield), Suffolk (Pastor H. J. Jackson), Waverly (Pastor C.W. Vaughn), Hague (Pastor R.L. Brown), South Boston (Pastor Nettie Burnside), and Norfolk (Pastor Lillian Freeman). Through the years, some churches closed or dropped their affiliation with the council, while new churches were established, moved, or expanded in other cities. Among the locations were Covington, Hague, Sutherlin, Crewe, Blackstone, Farmville, Bedford, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Spring Grove, Midlothian, Manassas, and Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hopewell, Chester, Ringgold, Hampton, etc. During this time, the VSC has also established itself as a significant player and trendsetter in the ranks of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Examples include: The July 1952 Christian Outlook, the PAW’s official publication, printed an appeal to the entire organization for support when Pastor Elizabeth Mills’ church (Mayfield Holiness Church in South Boston) burned to the ground. The magazine called the church, which seated 1,200 and drew attendees from throughout Halifax County, “one of our best representatives in the south and a loyal support to our organization.” Elder Tapper and the VSC hosted the Winter 1965 Eastern District Conference in Richmond. The VSC hosted the first PAW Annual Convention ever held in a hotel, when the convention met in Richmond. The 1970 convention, held August 17-22, convened at the John Marshall Hotel.
VSC Diocesan Bishops
Bishop Grimes served as P.A.W. Presiding Bishop and VSC Diocesan until his death in June 1967. During his tenure, he introduced the office of Suffragan Bishop to the P.A.W. and described it as “where a diocese demands unusual Episcopal supervision, under the discretion of the diocesan and Board of Bishops, a District Elder may be assigned to act during the emergency as an assistant or Suffragan Bishop.”
Bishop Samuel J Grimes
Upon Grimes’ death, Bishop William H. Davis of Inman (SC) was assigned Virginia “until the convention” by acting Presiding Bishop Ross Paddock. Later that year, at the 1967 annual convention, the Board of Bishops, assigned Bishop Booker T. Jones of Bluefield (WV) as diocesan of the Virginia State Council.
Bishop William H Davis Interim Diocesan 1967
Bishop Booker T Jones Diocesan 1967-1994
Bishop Jones had been diocesan of the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council since the August 1965 Jubilee Convention in Indianapolis, and had previously served Bishop Grimes as a Suffragan Bishop there as well as in Virginia. Upon his appointment, he added the diocese of Virginia to his duties. He served both councils until resigning in 1994, to focus solely on the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council. Under Jones, the VSC established a council radio broadcast, purchased the land for a VSC campground, and engaged in joint fellowship meetings with the West Virginia & East Tennessee Council on two occasions. The VSC also formally incorporated, during his administration, on January 28, 1985.
In the 1994 Kansas City convention, the P.A.W. Board of Bishops elevated Suffragan Bishop Clarence E. Moore of Bluefield (VA) to the office of Bishop. Moore had been Chairman of the P.A.W. Foreign Missions Department since 1989. P.A.W. Assistant Presiding Bishop David Ellis of Detroit installed Moore as diocesan of the VSC at the November council meeting in Bedford.
Bishop David Ellis installs
Bishop Moore as Diocesan
Under Bishop Moore’s leadership, the official VSC church roster has grown to more than 50 churches, council attendance has surpassed the ability of local sanctuaries to host the council, and development of the VSC Campground has allowed it to open for limited use. In an effort to actualize the purpose of the organization as a vehicle for support, fellowship, inspiration, as well as spiritual and natural development, he created several initiatives. Among them is the “Advancing the Vision” program, which draws on the insight of some of the nation’s leading experts on various topics relative to today’s church. Additionally, the council established a website (www.vastatecouncil.org) to provide updated information regarding its meetings and beliefs, and offering ongoing contact with council officers and auxiliary leaders.
Elder C.W. Vaughan
Chairman 1968 -1980
The first Chairman of the Virginia State Council was Elder James Cann, founder of Mt. Sinai Pentecostal (Lynchburg). He was followed by Elder George Bell of Church of All Nations (Spring Grove, VA) around 1942. Elder James Hart of Christ Temple in Lynchburg was the third Chairman of the VSC from 1945 through his passing in November 1953. Elder Bell again served as Chairman from 1953 through 1968, followed by Elder C.W. Vaughn of Lily of the Valley Holiness Church (Waverly, VA), who served from 1968 until 1980. In 1980, District Elder Robert Tapper of All Saints Apostolic (Richmond) became Chairman of the VSC. He served until 1996, when District Elder Robert Baker of Christ Church (Hampton) began his tenure as Chairman of the council. Suffragan Bishop Baker completed his term as Chairman in 2004, and was succeeded by the current VSC Chairman District Elder Bernard Wilkins of Greater Mayfield Apostolic (South Boston).
Dist. Elder Robert L. Tapper
The VSC from 2010 Until 2019
Suffragan Bishop Joseph Farmer
Suffragan Bishop Delmar Jackson
Our VSC current chairman is an enthusiastic man of God; Suffragan Bishop Delmar Jackson; pastor of Abundant Grace Assemblies Apostolic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. He has working faithfully with him as VSC-Vice chairman Suffragan Bishop Joseph Farmer, pastor of White Stone Pentecostal Church in Sutherlin, Virginia. These two might men of God are endeavoring to hold up the blood stained banner and help take the VSC to new heights.
Today, the Virginia State Council is a 51-church district within the 7,000+-church Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the oldest apostolic Pentecostal organization in the country. Churches stretch east to the Hampton Roads area and west to Roanoke; as far north as Manassas and south into portions of Virginia. They range from small rural congregations to relatively large congregations in more urban areas.
The VSC council features six very active auxiliaries that are reaching people throughout Virginia and bordering cities and towns of Virginia.
• Missionary/Women’s’ Auxiliary
• Brotherhood Auxiliary·
• Ministers’ Spouses· Auxiliary
• Young People’s Auxiliary ·
• Christian Education Auxiliary
• Ushers Board Auxiliary
The Missionary/Women’s, Brotherhood, and Young People Auxiliary coordinate auxiliary conferences or fellowship meetings during the year, aside from the full council meetings. The entire district, including all of the auxiliaries, meets three times annually, in varying locations throughout the state of Virginia.
Elder Joseph Hart
Elder George Bell
1942-45 and 1953-68
Suffragan Bishop Baker
Dist. Elder Bernard Wilkins