MERCED FIRST ASSEMBLY OF GOD
Pastoral History *
The church was founded by H. H. Burgess in a tent revival on the site of the present Bell Station Post Office in 1932. After worshiping in a store the first church building was constructed at 12th and J Streets in 1933. This church was known as The Assembly of God Tabernacle and housed the congregation for the next twenty-one years.
John Schmidt, who had helped to build the church, became the next pastor in 1939. During his ministry the church grew and began a program on the new radio station, KYOS.
T. E. Woods was pastor from 1946 until his untimely illness and death in 1950. During his tenure the Sunday School grew to an all time record of 330.
Brother J. C. Gaither pastored the church successfully for the next two years.
J. C. Snyder was pastor from 1952 to 1955. The present church building at 1350 Yosemite Parkway was constructed during this time and dedicated July 19, 1954.
C. Gould took over leadership in 1955. During his seven year ministry the constitution was revised and the name changed to First Assembly of God.
Neil Parmer came in of 1962 and was succeeded by Finley Huff in 1965.
Searl Stover led the congregation for almost a decade beginning in 1967. A new parsonage behind the church was built during this time.
Ron League became pastor in 1976.
He was followed by Vern Harper in 1981.
Rick Pruitt, youth pastor under Brother Harper, took over as pastor in 1984.
Jack Holt served from 1989 until his retirement in 1994. A new constitution was adopted during Brother Holt’s term.
Randy Bissel briefly served as pastor in 1994.
Later in 1994 Harvey Mitchell became pastor and led the congregation through the 75th anniversary. Under his leadership, the church had renewed growth, extensive remodeling, and expansion to the adjoining property formerly occupied by a Baptist church. He retired in August 2014.
Associate Pastor Arnie Hultgren was appointed Interim Pastor on August 24, 2014; and elected as Senior Pastor in November 22, 2014. He retired on December 29, 2019.
Pastor Anthony Calabro was elected January 26, 2020, and began serving as lead pastor on March 1, 2020.
[i] * Thank you to Dan Henke for this historical contribution, Dan has been a life-long member of Merced First Assembly.