The Pentecostal message was first preached in the Iola area in 1912 by Rev. Harry Blunt, first in a school building, then moved to a union church in the area. After this they held meetings in a home and later built a tabernacle with donated lumber and this was called Byers Grove. In 1927 the people decided to move into Iola, at which time they rented a garage and Rev. Hira Byers was the pastor. They worshipped there until 1934 when they purchased the Post Office building and it was revamped for the church, then remodeled again in 1949. The church was blessed and Bro. Byers remained pastor until 1958.
Since 1958 many capable men carried the torch: Rev. Charles Keifling, Rev. George Taylor, Rev. H. W. Crotser, Rev. Leon Drew, Rev. Joe Ferino, Rev. Robert Bailey, Rev. Robert Bishop, Rev. Grady Brown, up to the present time with Rev. Michael Durre as pastor.
As a boy attending the church I have many happy memories. It was a time that was less complicated and church was the focal point. When you had a revival it lasted at least 2 weeks, if not longer, and many of the community came to visit. I can remember one revival as a small boy that lasted 6 weeks and every night the little old building was full, and folks were sitting on cars outside and standing by the windows...and one big fan to keep everyone cool. Yes, those were the days. I remember the many wonderful people who had a vision to keep the church going through the years. It was also here as a young man I began to feel the call of God on my life but did not express this to anyone.
In 1968 while living Gainesville, Florida, God began to deal with my heart again with a call to the ministry, which I had felt as a teenage boy. I began to pray and pursue God's will for my life. I shared with my wife that God was dealing with me and I felt that at some point I would be pastoring the church in Iola.
It was some time later God showed me in a dream the old sanctuary in Iola. It was full to capacity and people were still coming. This dream stayed with me for years and it was no surprise to me when we were elected to be pastor in December 1979. The land we had our eye on as a building site became available for purchase in the fall of 1981. We purchased it at that time and then prayed for God to give direction. The church continued to grow and many, many souls were baptized in Jesus name and filled with the Holy Ghost. A new facility was much needed.
We broke ground on September 4, 1994 and actually began building June 19 1995. The hours were long, and the men of the church worked hard. The ladies would fix dinner on Saturdays. Young men and boys of the church helped in every area they could. The undertaking was a great one but it was worth every hour of it. Much support was given by people who didn't attend this church.
Our first service in the new sanctuary was January 1998. We continued to work on the back part of the building. Very little of the work was contracted. God blessed and when the money was needed, it was there.
A man is no greater than his dream, and every person should have dream and goal they want to see accomplished in their life. Thanks to the great God I serve and the great family I have: Tracee, Michael, Guye, Rhonda, Wade, Carrie, Stephanee, Eugene and my great wife who kept me going when I felt like I couldn't take another step. All of this is possible because someone cared and loved. Oh, yes, let's not forget to mention the wonderful grand children who will carry on should God tarry!
We give God the glory for all He has done. We will never be finished...we will continue to grow and expand as God blesses and leads.
by Rev. Michael Durre
Published in the Calvary Chronicle Special Edition
Volume No. 6, Issue No. 1, Date: 06/03/01