A revival started by a 17-year-old Pentecostal preacher in the rough-and-tumble oilfield community of Goose Creek lives on a century later through the ministry of Trinity Tabernacle Assembly of God church in Baytown, celebrating its 100-year anniversary.
The congregation will celebrate the milestone at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 at the church, 1008 E. Lobit Ave., with several special guests, including Tim Barker, district superintendent of South Texas Assemblies of God Ministries and Don Wiehe, executive secretary and treasurer. Wiehe is a former associate pastor of Trinity Tabernacle.
Currents pastors Robert and Carrie Guy will also provide leadership for the service. It Baywill also feature special music and a video presentation of the congregation’s history.
Trinity Tabernacle was founded the same year as the ExxonMobil Baytown Refinery, with its beginnings a revival meeting led by James Wells (Jimmy) McClellan, a 17-year-old from Houston who arrived in the rustic boomtown from Houston with twenty-five cents in his pocket and a passion for God in his heart.
In a testimony McClellan wrote for Trinity Tabernacle’s 50th anniversary in 1969, he said, “In the early spring of 1916 I gave my heart to God and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit one week later…. Almost immediately I began to preach the Gospel…. About two years later God called me to go to Goose Creek, which was a boom oil field town at that time, to hold a revival.”
That revival meeting in a rented theater building led to what ultimately grew to be one of the leading Assemblies of God churches in Texas.
In 1931, the congregation started Southern Bible College to offer affordable full gospel college training to any young person interested. Over the years, that college merged with other like-minded institutions into what is now Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie.
Another special guest speaker Sunday will be John Savell, an associate professor at that university. He is also the grandson of a pastor who served Trinity Tabernacle on three different occasions.
A longtime church member, G. L. Eiland, said the well-known Houston pastor John Osteen first witnessed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at Trinity Tabernacle. Osteen founded Lakewood Church, now led by his son, Joel.
Eiland said the church broadcast live from KRCT in Baytown and later from Pasadena for a time.
The youth were innovative, inviting the youth from other churches for special play nights, moonlight cruises on double-decker tour boats in Galveston, a fund-raising project that climaxed with a chicken and bean banquet—winners eating chicken, sitting across from losers who were eating beans (including bean cookies) and serving the winners.
Trinity moved from its two-story auditorium on East Jack and North Second with ceiling fans to the air-conditioned East Lobit location in 1957. The facility was completely remodeled and expanded 30 years later.
Two years ago Trinity had an Easter Egg Drop from a helicopter with a good response from the community. It was repeated this year with more eggs, prizes and attendance.
As the church celebrates its anniversary, he quoted a former pastor, “Trinity should be a hospital for the hurting, not a museum for the saints.”