The writing of any history involves careful thought and writing as well as the use of many different resources. Therefore, it is necessary to name the resources used. First, the Alliance website and the archives of their magazine, Alliance Weekly/Witness/Life, provided useful background information as well as an impressive amount of information about the original founding of the church and those involved with it. The Alliance Weekly/Witness/Life also provided some of the dates when pastors arrived and left the church as well as for some of the missionaries sent out into the field. Second, interviews with Mr. Gene Talbott, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Bauman, Mrs. Barbara Martin and Mrs. Cindy Oliver, the daughter of Mrs. Louise Smith. These people were all extremely helpful in fleshing out certain periods of time as well as with detailing people’s lives and personalities. Together, this information has been compiled to form a history of Pelham Road Christian Fellowship (formerly known as Pelham Road Alliance Church) and to show God’s movement within the church.
Pastors And Their Ministries
In November, 1990, Timothy Yale, became the full-time pastor at Pelham Road Alliance Church (currently known as Pelham Road Christian Fellowship). He hailed from the state of North Carolina where he had served as pastor of Biltmore Alliance Church and as a chaplain for the Asheville Police Department. Alice, his wife, and their two young children, Amanda and Josh, made the trip to Greenville with him. In 1992, not long after Pastor Yale arrived, an addition to the church was completed that contained several offices and a couple classrooms. This extension included the Pastor’s office, copier room, and the young preschool room. On October 10, 2002 a small building was put to the side of the church to house the youth group and numerous people helped to build a walkway to the building. The building was in use until the completion of the Christian Education (CE) Building in April 2005. The CE Building housed the Youth Group, some classrooms, and the International Fellowship Church (IFC). IFC, led by Pastor Suhas, is a growing and thriving outreach into the community. Throughout these various renovations and expansions the hand of God was moving and all of them have been paid off. Most recently, beginning in late 2008, the Holy Spirit began to move among the church elders and the pastor to get the church vibrant again. Fanning the Flame was begun at that time and is currently being used to develop the spiritual gifts of the congregation. However, throughout the entire history of Pelham Road Alliance Church, from its founding to the present day, the Hand of God can be seen.
In the late 1930’s, a small group of believers in Greenville, South Carolina were patiently waiting for an Alliance church to open in the city. It was not until July 1, 1944, as part of an Extension Effort Key City Project, that a store front located at 108 East Stone Avenue was bought for $7,000 and then renovated to become the first Alliance church in the state of South Carolina. On August 13th of that same year, the first meeting was held with Mr. Paul E. Fried leading an attendance of about 150 people. During those first few days, evangelical meetings were held with Mr. David J. Fant, Sr. and Dr. R. A. Forrester preaching. Mr. Fried continued as pastor of the church for only a year, but his personal story is amazing. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Fried, were missionaries to Palestine for over twenty years. Mr. Ralph Fried was a Jew from Hungary who immigrated to the United States as a young man and eventually met an attractive young woman. The woman, his future wife, led him to Christ. Paul Fried, while pastor in Greenville, South Carolina, married Betty Jane Seawell, of North Carolina, on October 17, 1945, and later founded the Trans World Radio ministry in 1952. This radio ministry continues to thrive and spread the gospel throughout the world to this day.
At the end of 1945, Paul Fried left Greenville, South Carolina and it was not until June of 1946 that a new pastor, Rev. B. Francis Glenn, was appointed. Under the leadership of Rev. Glenn, the church grew too large for the store front and, as a solution, a larger property was purchased on West Park Avenue. The members of the church dug out a basement and built classrooms where the church could meet. The smaller classrooms formed a box around a central, larger room which was used for the actual church services.
On April 1, 1949, Rev. William B. Bedford was appointed pastor of the fledgling church. He pastored the church while teaching Social Sciences at Bob Jones University. Mrs. Bedford was an excellent Bible teacher and people came to Sunday School just to hear her teach. They also came to hear her excellent piano playing. Less than a year later, on March 1, 1950, Park Avenue Alliance Church was officially organized and adopted the charter of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. While Rev. Bedford was pastor, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Jones, Jr. attended the church and were active members until 1957. Their son, Bob Jones III, attended youth group and went on retreats with the other youth. It was also under Rev. Bedford’s leadership that the upstairs of the church was completed with a capacity for seating 500 people. The completion of the upstairs was itself a miracle because all of the wood was furnished on advance from a lumber company in Travelers Rest. On Easter Sunday, 1954, the Park Avenue Alliance Church was officially dedicated and Rev. Bedford served as its pastor until February of 1955 when he moved to a new pastorate in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Two months later, Rev. Charles H. Kegerize, ordained in 1948, was called to be pastor at Park Avenue Alliance Church although he only served for a little over a year. He came to Greenville with his wife and daughter. While pastoring in Greenville, Rev. Kegerize also traveled to a church in Tennessee and held special services from April 2 to April 8, 1956 that resulted in eighty people surrendering their lives to Christ.
In August of 1956, Rev. Garland A. Powell was called to Park Avenue Alliance Church and he served for a year, as well.
Chaplain Herbert H. Spencer became pastor in September of 1957 and was followed about a year later by Rev. Laurance J. Pyne in November of 1958. Rev. Pyne and his wife were from New England and they were more familiar with larger churches. They experienced culture shock when they moved to the South and to the much smaller congregation at Park Avenue Alliance. Mrs. Pyne, a gifted musician and pianist, attempted to form a choir, but there was not enough interest.
Rev. Harold G. Johnson was appointed pastor in June of 1960 and served for three years. He was a charismatic and emotional man, but he served the congregation well. Rev. Johnson was also an accomplished artist who painted a mural on the baptism pool. After leaving Park Avenue Alliance, Rev. Johnson also left the CMA and became part of the Missionary Baptist organization.
Rev. Alexander J. Bibighaus began as pastor on March 22, 1964.
Rev. J. Mark Klinepeter became pastor in September, 1966. During Rev. Klinepeter’s pastorate, Mrs. Louise F. Smith was sent out to Gabon to teach in the school at Bongolo Hospital in 1968.
Rev. Ronald G. Wellner, Ph.D. was called as pastor in February, 1969 and served until September 23, 1974. Rev. Wellner taught at Bob Jones University and later at Toccoa Falls Bible College while pastoring the church in Greenville. It was Rev. Wellner who noticed the exodus from the city into the surrounding countryside and decided to move locations. In the early 1970s, the Park Avenue property was sold and a new property was purchased off of Pelham Road. As the new church was being built, the congregation met at Brushy Creek Elementary School for a year. The new church was dedicated on September 16, 1973 and named Pelham Road Bible Church. Also, during the tenure of Rev. Wellner in 1972, Joe and Eberly Mehesy were commissioned to serve in the four corners region of the United States with the United Indian Missions.
Rev. Robert Lovette served as pastor from November, 1974 to September, 1978.
Rev. Stephen W. Gregory served from January 21, 1979 to March, 1982. Mr. and Mrs. Gregory were young and had two daughters when they arrived at Pelham Road Alliance Church. They were the good friends of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Bauman.
Rev. D. Nelson Taylor served from October 10, 1982 to June 24, 1990. Rev. Taylor served as pastor, but also had a part time job working for Bell South. He had three lovely daughters and a caring, wonderful wife. However, it was extremely difficult to preach and work part time.
Pastor Paul Madak, with his wife, Jenny, began attending and serving at the church in October of 1992. Paul became the Assistant Pastor in June 1994 and began working with the youth in August of the same year. Since that time, both Paul and Jenny have been involved with children of all age groups. They have been involved with ski trips, camps, and drama as well as youth Sundays. Recently, August 2009, Paul’s title was changed to Youth Pastor to better reflect his focus and passion.
Pastor Suhas Raiborde arrived from India with his family, Vijaya, Sujaya, and Suyash in September of 2004. Previously, Pastor Suhas had been involved with ministries in Bombay, India and Calgary, Canada. Pastor Suhas and his wife have always felt a special call and passion to work with the Indian people. At the present time an average of ten to twelve people are attending the India Fellowship and two Bible studies are being held in people’s homes. This has been difficult ground to break, but Pastor Suhas is looking forward to seeing the ministry grow. Currently, Pastor Suhas serves as our Director of International Ministries.