Saluting the Ministerial Body of the Progressive Church
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.

One of the most challenging positions in the church is that of being a minister of the Gospel. Even more challenging is the calling and sacrifice required to be a pastor or shepherd over a flock of God's people. The men of God are entrusted with spiritual instruction of the saints. They may make the difference between heaven and hell for those to whom they preach. The men of God serve as God's spokesman to the human race.

Have you ever stopped to think about the service that the men of God render to you? They counsel with you during difficult times in your life, pray with and for you as you face sickness and life's problems, provide encouragement when you are discouraged, visit you during your illnesses and hospital stays, and most importantly they preach to you the living and uncompromised Word of God. They often sacrifice spending precious time with their families to care for the needs of the saints. How many times have our pastors interceded on our behalf when God would have allowed swift judgment to come upon many of us? Take a moment to read Numbers 14:1-20, and it will help you to better appreciate the intercessory role of your pastor. It is so easy for many to criticize the men of God, without realizing the important role they play in our salvation. Hebrews 13:17 tell us to, "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

As each of you begin the year 2006, make it a priority to thank God for the pastors, elders and ministers of the Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc. Resolve that you will pray for your pastor and for all the men of God, rather than criticizing them. Pray that God will bless the men of God, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Edward Smith, and pray that God will continue to give them a "Word from Heaven" to meet the needs of His people. When you have the opportunity, share with your pastor and the other men of God how much you appreciate their labor of love. By far the greatest thing you can do for the men of God is to live lives that exemplify the Christ whom they preach unto you!

A Prayer for My Pastor

Father, let me be a pillar of strength to help hold up my pastor and not a thorn in his flesh to sap his strength, or a burden on his back to weigh him down. Let me support him without striving to possess him. Let me lift his hands without shackling them. Let me give him any help that he may devote more time to working for the salvation of others and less time to gratifying my vanity.

Father, let me appreciate him as the pastor of all the members and not compel him to spend precious time in pleasing me. Let me be unselfish in what I do for him and in what I ask him to do for me. Let my life be an example of the Word of God he preaches.

"Saluting the Oldest Member of the Progressive Church"

Sister Mary Brown - Columbia, SC

There aren’t many people alive who were members of the first Progressive Church in the Taylors Community of Columbia, SC. Yet, Sister Mary Brown, can vividly remember walking down the long dirt road, with her young children, on her way to services in Taylors. Baptized in 1946, she is the oldest remaining member of the Progressive Church.

Sister Brown recalls that when she was first saved, there were less than ten members in the Progressive Church. Yet, she left a prominent Baptist church in the City of Columbia, because she was convicted by the Word of God. In 1946, while sitting on the choir stand at the Baptist church she attended, she listened to the guest speaker for the evening, Elder Lymus Johnson, talk about baptism in water in the name of Jesus Christ. Sister Brown had never heard this before, and she went home to study her Bible. After reading, She discovered the same words the minister had preached that evening. Shortly thereafter, she went to the Progressive Church in the Taylors Community to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Despite the few members in the Progressive Church and the “storefront” building, she took pride in her church and began to witness to others about water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ everywhere she went. Like the woman from Samaria, she told everyone who would listen about Jesus and the change He had made in her life. Through her witness, many souls came to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  There were only a few children in the church at that time and Sister Brown, who had eight children, brought many of her children with her and they also became very active in the church. During the early years of the church, Sister Brown sang with the Senior Choir and was an original member of the Progressive Harmonetts group. She would often sing jubilee songs which would “set the church on fire.” Sister Brown faithfully supported the Progressive Church and her pastor, Bishop J. D. Williams.

Today, at the age of 92 years old, Sister Brown is still faithful to God and to the Progressive Church. She still loves to sing the old jubilee songs of the church. It is not uncommon, during a Sunday Night Worship Service at the church in Columbia, SC, to have Sister Brown sing a song that will set the service on a spiritual high. She often says that before she received the Holy Ghost, she could not “hold a tune in a bucket.” But after God saved her, he anointed her voice to sing the songs of Zion. She also presently sings with the Senior Ensemble of Columbia, SC. We are blessed and fortunate to have Sister Mary Brown with us. Perhaps no one alive today has a greater appreciation of our history and the many blessings God has bestowed upon the Progressive Church.

Progress in St. Petersburg, FL

The Progressive Church in St. Petersburg, FL began in 1992, with the first soul being baptized in water in Jesus name.  In the first few years, Elder Wender Gavin and Presiding Bishop Edward Smith made many trips to the city to provide spiritual instruction for the saints. From that time, the young church has since made significant progress under the leadership of their pastor, Elder Ron Donaldson. Souls are continuing to be baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. 

The church offers monthly programs for its members through departmental meetings and outreach programs. Members of the growing congregation are involved in continual witnessing in the community and providing hospitality services to those who are sick on an “as-needed” basis. The saints' efforts in this progressive city, only miles away from Tampa and Clearwater, FL, have paid off. With a congregation of approximately 80 members (including saints from Haiti and Jamaica),  Elder Donaldson proclaims the message of salvation to some 100 congregants each Sunday Morning.

Presently residing in a small building, and averaging three souls a month in baptism,  most  Sundays are  “standing room only.” On a recent trip by Presiding Bishop Edward Smith to St. Petersburg, in May 2004, two souls were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ during the Sunday Morning Worship Service, and a total of eight souls received the Holy Ghost. God is still demonstrating His saving power through the efforts of this church.  

As one of the youngest congregations in the organization, the saints in St. Petersburg are “on fire” for the Lord and strongly bearing the  name of a “progressive” church. The fruitful congregation is currently in the process of locating a new church edifice that will more adequately meet their physical needs. Elder Donaldson always admonishes the saints to “Just stop and let the Lord have his way.”  Elder Donaldson, who was originally saved at the Progressive Church in Denmark, SC, has always been a man that teaches and believes that God is able. He and the congregation are looking for greater things to come in St. Petersburg, FL.

Progress in Florence, SC

The Progressive Church of Florence, SC has been busy reaching to meet the needs of the community. Since becoming pastor of the church in 1992, Elder Jimmie Deas has had a desire for the church to be more proactive about reaching out to those who are in need. As a result, many great programs and activities have been sponsored by the church.

Recently, Elder Deas and members of the church rendered services at Carriage House Nursing home in Florence, SC.

They had a wonderful time in the Lord, as they sang uplifting songs for the residents of the nursing home.

Personal testimonies were given by the clients of the nursing home. One client’s praise was "how God had healed her of cancer.” Another client told us how God gave her strength to use her hands again after having a stroke.” God Is Still Working Miracles!” Elder Deas preached the Word of God, which blessed many of the residents. The service was quite uplifting and the residents of Carriage House Nursing Home greatly appreciated the love and concern of Pastor Deas and the saints in Florence.

Seeking to promote positive health among the membership and in the community, several of saints in Florence participated in Frances Marion University’s  "American Heart Walk." This three—mile walk was designed to increase awareness about physical fitness and its importance to good cardiovascular health. Many of the saints enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship together.

On September 8, 2002, the congregation in Florence, SC broke ground for a new $300,000.00 Family Life Center and Multi-Purpose Building. Elder Deas and the saints together had a vision for a building that would provide a place for wholesome activities for the saints of God, as well as a facility through which they would be able to sponsor greater outreach programs to the Florence Community. After approximately one year of construction, the new facility was dedicated on Saturday, July 26, 2003 by Presiding Bishop Edward Smith. Saints from the neighboring churches came to celebrate with Elder Deas and the saints in Florence on this wonderful occasion.

As a man who believes in providing programs and activities that will meet the needs of God’s people, Elder Deas has been blessed to lead the church in Florence, SC to new heights over the past 12 years. They continue to look forward, expecting God to bless them to achieve greater accomplishments in the future.

Project Africa

Project Africa came into being as a result of a trip by Elder Lang Priester to the continent of Africa in 2002. While in Africa, Elder Priester had the opportunity to visit and worship with the saints in the cities and in the villages of Africa. He was quite impressed with the appreciation exhibited by the native people for the Apostolic Faith. The places of worship in Africa were very humble, to say the least. Some of the buildings were only four walls with roofs constructed of leaves. Some of the churches were made of cement blocks, but were quite small. None of the churches had air conditioning, pews, or pulpit furniture. In most, there was only a table to stand behind when speaking. Only the headquarters church had musical instruments.

Elder Priester visited a number of churches in several villages.  During one of the services, Elder Priester witnessed the entire offering which amounted to only $1.50 in American money. Walking is the primary means for getting to church for many of the saints, including the pastors. In another village visited by Elder Priester, the saints had purchased land and had begun to erect a building in which they could hold worship services. The building was framed using bamboo and covered with leaves for roofing. There was an acre of land adjacent to the building that the saints also wished to purchase but could not afford to buy the land. When Elder Priester inquired as to why they had not purchased the land, they shared with him that the land owner wanted too much money for the land. He was asking for what amounted to $65.00 in American money for them to purchase the land. 

When Elder Priester returned home from Africa, he had a burden on his heart to do something to help the saints in Africa. After more than a year of contemplating what could be done, he consulted with some of the saints in the Charlotte Assembly and created a program called, “Project Africa.”

Project Africa has three programs designed to help those in Africa become self-supporting. Those programs are: Adopt-A-Pastor, Adopt-A-School, and Adopt-A-Church. Project Africa is a non-profit organization operated by a board of directors. They recently formed a committee of youth and young adults whose focus is on the involvement of our youth and young adults in interacting and helping the programs of Project Africa reach their goals. There is also a committee of persons in Africa that works with the committee here in the United States to oversee the programs in Africa.

The board of directors for Project Africa is grateful for the saints and friends of the Progressive Churches who have given Project Africa financial and moral support since its inception. In January of 2004, a delegation of saints visited the Ivory Coast and fellowshipped with the saints in Africa. Also recently, Pastor Niamke traveled to the United States from Africa to attend the 60th Holy Convocation and he also spoke at the Progressive Churches in Charlotte, NC; Tucker, GA; and Columbia, SC about the wonderful and miraculous move of God in Africa. The sponsors of Project Africa desire continued prayer for the program and for the saints that are striving to hold fast to the Apostolic Faith on the continent of Africa.

In January of 2005, a delegation of saints will be traveling back to visit the saints in Africa. If you are interested in information about traveling with the delegation, you call 704-392-2803 or you may e-mail