A Brief History of the Church of God at God's Acres
The Church of God at God's Acres
675 North Cedar Street
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, D.S. Warner recognized the beautiful, biblical truth of Christian unity. Thereupon was the birth in modern times of the Church of God Reformation. D.S. Warner, along with other pioneer ministers, truly denied themselves in the spreading of the Gospel message, suffering great hardships with little remuneration for their efforts. But God blessed their labors and sacrifice with a movement that had congregations carrying the truth of the early church to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Early in the nineteenth century, the firm convictions of these early pioneers was brought to Newark, Ohio. Evangelist Brother Andy Byers preached in the Newark area, and a congregation was established in the Rocky Fork community. A group of saints began to gather in the basement of the Licking County Courthouse. Then they began to worship in a storefront located on South William and Grant Streets. In
1916 the saints acquired a small brick building on the corner of Sixth and Locust streets in Newark, Ohio.
Brother E. E. Caldwell was the first permanent shepherd of the local congregation (1919).Once Brother Caldwell resigned (1925), the congregation was left without a pastor. God heard the prayers of the saints and called
a tiller of the soil who was residing in the Rocky Fork community, Brother W.A. Wilson, to shepherd the flock.
God blessed Brother W.A. Wilson's ministry, and many converts were added to the church. More room was required for Sunday school and was obtained by excavating a basement under the old building. This seemingly impossible feat was accomplished by prayer and the free-hearted labors of the pastor and his relatively small congregation.
During the years of Brother W.A. Wilson's ministry, he not only pastored the local work but was active in evangelistic work as well. He was invaluable in establishing and promoting the work of God in southeastern Ohio. Salvation from sin and divine healing were realized by a host of people through his ministry.
work of God grew and prospered in the 29 years that Brother W.A. Wilson pastored. It soon became apparent that the congregation was quickly outgrowing the old church building. In 1940 a building fund was started. After several leads were investigated, God opened the way for the purchase of the adjoining property. In July of 1949 a house on this site was torn down by the congregation. The ground was broken for the new building the first week in October of the same year. After nearly two years of continued efforts by the pastor, builder, and the congregation, this building was dedicated in 1951.
A Vision of Good Things to Come
before his death, God laid a vision of a campground on the heart
of Brother Wilson. In this vision, he saw men and women of different
colors, races, and nationalities coming together to hear the Gospel
After much time in prayer, his vision became a reality
in September of 1954 when God provided for the purchase of the
tract of land known today as "God's Acres." A barn was
converted into a tabernacle and an old corn crib was made into
a lunchstand. An old log house served as the first dormitory and
weekend meetings were held.
Wilson often said that he would not live to see the first service,
and true enough, October 2, 1954, he was called to be with the
Lord. After his death, his son, Brother Emerson Wilson answered
God's call to lead the congregation.
To the Glory of God
E.A. Wilson was instrumental in fulfilling the vision of his
father. In June of 1955, "God's Acres" was set apart
and dedicated to the Lord's service. Since that day, the grounds
have been used each year for old-fashioned camp meetings where
people from all over the United States and around the world
come to worship God and hear the Gospel preached.
As the congregation grew, the old church building downtown became
inadequate. After much prayer, the decision was made to build a new
building that would meet the needs of the congregation and the
camp meetings. A new tabernacle was designed and engineered by
the local brethren, and on Sunday, June 29, 1969, it was dedicated
to the glory of God. Brother E. A. Wilson faithfully served as pastor of the
congregation for 33 years until his death on April 11, 1987.
Truth Marches On
In May of
1987, Brother Roger Decker answered God's call to become the new
pastor. Over the years many people have come and gone since the
old tabernacle downtown was first dedicated in 1951. But one thing
is certain—the Gospel is still being preached and lived
in the hearts of men and women who have yielded their lives to
His service. Souls are still being saved, and as in days past,
people still come from around the world three times each year
to worship the Lord at camp meeting—all to the glory of