HISTORY OF 15TH STREET COGIC
In the year of 1921, Elder Jimmy Fair came from Crawfordsville to West Memphis and conducted a great revival. People of all religious beliefs attended the revival and many were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. Elder Fair with the help of Bro. Hawkins built a log house on 14th Street to have service. Elder Fair served as Pastor. He would go to different homes and have prayer. During this time Bro. W.T. Holmes (later Elder W.T. Holmes of Lincoln Heights C.O.G.I.C.) was saved. He served as Deacon, Sunday School Superintendent and Sunday School Teacher. In 1922, Elder Roy Jones came over and joined with Elder Fair. The Lord continued to bless. Some of the first members were; Elder Holmes, Bro and Sister Mitchell, Brother and Sister Aaron Glover, Brother and Sister Hermon Glover, Brother Bindom and Sister Stallion who came to the church in 1922. The first Deacons were Brother W.T. Holmes and Brother Bindom. The first missionary was Sister Mary Stallion.
In 1924, two lots were purchased on 15th Street from W.L. Johnson real estate and a church was built there. The Lord added souls and continued to bless the saints. Elder Fair continued to pastor for several more years. After he left there were several Pastors: Elder Dave from Forrest City, Elder Jones, Elder Day and Elder Miller. Elder W.J. Rodgers pastored until his death. Elder Famous Smith was appointed Pastor and Elder White was the Assistant Pastor. Pastor Smith along with his wife Pearl Smith would drive from Blytheville to West Memphis and Marion for every service. Over the years the Lord continued to bless and a new sanctuary was dedicated to the glory of God.
In 1958, Elder Walter Shannon of Memphis was conducting a Holy Ghost Revival which lasted for two weeks. At this revival Sister Mary Suggs and Sister Delois Parker were saved. Fifteenth Street C.O.G.I.C. at that time was a large white-framed building with a small building on the side called the Mission. It was used for cooking and the saints would enjoy eating the delicious food cooked by Mother Ray, Sister Hammond, Sister Oliver and others. The Mother’s board consisted of 13 mothers with Mother Hightower as the Church Mother. The Deacons were Brother Hightower, Brother Rodgers, Brother Day and Brother Bolton.
The choir was under the direction of Brother Rochester Rodgers while Sister Betty Harris and Sister Jessie Mae Oliver served as President. Later Sister Rosetta Harris became Vice President of the choir. The musicians were Brother Willie Bolton Sr., Brother Hightower, Brother Wiley and sometimes Brother Oliver who would come from Marion to play with them. The instrumentation consisted of guitars and Mother Ethel Mosley would beat a drum. They were known for singing songs such as “Stretch Out”, “Old Landmark” and “Whom Shall I Turn” lead by Sister Betty Harris. A few of the choir soloists were Sister Jessie Mae Oliver, Sister Betty Harris, Sister Marie Bolton, Sister Delma Spencer and Sister Lillian Hayes. Sister Cora McGee led the choir in “Jesus Will” and Sister Ernestine Gore led “Walk and Talk with Jesus.” The Lord blessed the choir to record a single called “Thankful” led by Sis Marie Bolton. Choir Day was a main fundraiser for the church. To this effort Sister Oliver was known for selling BBQ from her station wagon along with the assistance of Sister Rosetta Harris and Sister Magdalene Perry. During this time Bishop Walker held a revival and Sister Pauline Jones was saved. She was known for leading the choir in singing “Sweeping Thru the City.”
A few years later Elder Dewitt Hill brought a tent to West Memphis and Sister Ernestine Gore, Sister Cora McGee, Mother Woolfork and Sister Annie Lee were saved. During the same time Sister Ann Earvin was saved and became a member of 15th Street. God continued to add to the church. Pastor Smith had natural gas installed in the church so that there was no longer a need to use wood and coal to heat the church.
In 1967 the existing church structure was sold and relocated from 15th Street to North 9th Street. In 1968 construction on a new facility began with approximately $14,000. Pastor Smith could not secure a contractor so he began building the church along with Bro Charles Sanders, Brother Eugene Harris and Brother Oliver. They finished the outside of the church with the exception of the bricks. Pastor Smith negotiated with First National Bank for a loan of $10,000 to finish the inside and install the heat and air units.
In April of 1969 the congregation moved into the new church singing “Oh Happy Day” and it was truly a happy day. The Lord continued to add to the church. During this season several large families relocated to other cities but Elder Famous Smith kept preaching the word and encouraged the congregation to continue living right. He declared, “There are people walking the street that will be saved.” After this word Sister Hollis was the first person to accept salvation. Then the Lord saved and added to the church more large families like the Harris family, the Curtis family, Trotter family and many others. Popular songs during this time were “Going up yonder” and “Already been to the Water.” The Lord blessed Sis Ruth Jones of Los Angeles to come and assist the church in recording our first album “Whenever God Says Yes.”
In 1987 a tornado demolished the church. The members were devastated but came together and worshiped in Marion at the Sunset Church Of God In Christ. With the visionary leadership of Pastor Smith and the support of the congregation the Lord blessed us to move into a new facility in November of 1988. Pastor Smith and the congregants also had the fellowship hall erected a few years later. Pastor Smith developed a plan during the Homecoming Service of asking every member to sow a seed of $300. That plan proved successful down through the years.
Pastor Smith was responsible for forming the original 15th Street Band. One day some of the young people from the church and their friends were walking past Pastor Smith’s house with their instruments. Pastor Smith asked them where they were going with those instruments and they indicated that they were in the school band. He told them to bring their instruments to church to blow for the Lord.
In October of 1996 the Lord called Pastor Smith home. He was honored by Mid-South Community College by naming a board room after him. The transition of Pastor Smith caused a lot of grief and hurt in the church because he was truly missed. We will never forget one of his favorite songs “Without Him I Can Do Nothing.” He was one who knew his sheep by name and knew when they were missing from service.
In February of 1997 Pastor John Bennett was appointed by Bishop L.T. Walker as Pastor of the 15th Street Church Of God In Christ and was officially installed later that year. He was joined by his wife Missionary Ruthie Bennett and their children Tosha, Shamada, and John. Under the leadership of Pastor Bennett the 15th Street C.O.G.I.C. had 15 functioning auxiliaries within the church. Pastor Bennett developed Operation PULL, an outreach program that focused on giving youth the opportunity to receive counseling and rehabilitative services. He also developed and implemented Sober House, an outreach ministry that provided residential housing for men recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. He and Missionary Ruthie Bennett devoted their efforts to the establishment of the 15th St. Childcare Development Center/ABC Program, which is an accredited school by the state of Arkansas. Pastor Bennett was known for the phrase “God will pull you through if you can stand the pull.” In June of 2014 God called Pastor Bennett from labor to reward.
In September of 2014 Pastor Alvin Coleman Jr. was appointed by Bishop Jewel R. Withers Jr. as Pastor of the 15th Street Church of God in Christ and was officially installed in May of 2015. He was joined by his wife Missionary Carreather Coleman and their three sons, Alvin, Andrew, and Allen. Under his leadership, the ministry has experienced significant spiritual and numeric growth. His innovative approach to worship, anointed and masterful delivery of God’s word, and genuine love for people has positively impacted the church and community.
of 2015 Pastor Coleman implemented Project Jabez. Project
Jabez is a five-year Capital Campaign that will make measured
improvements to the existing structure of the church and ensure
development of viable support ministries. Those support ministries
include: Youth and Young Adult Ministries (mentorship, character
building, leadership development, & academic support),
Financial Literacy (personal finance consultation & training),
Senior Sponsorship (healthcare awareness, & advocacy)
and Prevention Services (teen-pregnancy, crime, & health