As told by the late Don Tredway
This local church assembly had a very humble beginning in an old Saloon converted into a small Missionary Hall at the corner of Walnut & McMicken Avenue in downtown Cincinnati. In April 1925 a young preacher felt the calling to come to Cincinnati and begin a work for the Lord. Pastor Frank F. Curts had 13 Christian people that loved God and had a great desire to serve and see other people saved and ready to meet the Lord.
An old saloon converted into a mission hall at the corner of Walnut and McMicken streets in Cincinnati.
Pastor Curts brought with him the strong belief that the Bible, especially Act 2:38, was what people needed to be ready to meet the Lord when he comes to catch away his church. He had a burning desire to see people walking with God. He began preaching the word of God. His knowledge told him in order to reach heaven when the Lord came you must be born of the water (baptism), and the Spirit (being filled with the Holy Ghost) as the Bible so clearly taught throughout the book of Acts which describes the birth of the new testament church. This was a church that began with great men of the Bible such as Peter, James, John & Paul who wrote most of the New Testament.
Brother Curts became the pastor of the church when it was at Walnut and McMicken Avenue. The assembly grew and in the fall of 1930 moved to 2930 Colerain Avenue in a converted garage. It was at that time that the church adopted the name “The Bethlehem Tabernacle”. I remember that garage before the church moved there and as a child of about seven I would go there to watch the car mechanics work. As an adult I saw God working on people to get them ready to meet him at his coming just as I had seen mechanics working on cars as a young boy.
As the church at 2930 Colerain Avenue continued to grow and expand the church could no longer hold all that had a desire to come and worship with us. Our Sunday school records continued to be broken and the regular church attendance moved forward. We could no longer find space for those attending our Colerain Avenue Church so we looked across the street and rented a theater there to accommodate all those who wanted to come and worship with us. It was during this time when we rented this theater that we set the new record for attendance for our Sunday school on November 23, 1958 of 931, a record that has never been broken. When the theater on Colerain Avenue was no longer available to us we rented another old theater at Brighten to house the over flow crowd especially on Sunday mornings. We began to pray for a much larger church to house the rapidly growing congregation. God was mindful of our great need to reach the lost and dying world.
Church at 4828 Vine Street in St. Bernard.
In July 1961 the church moved to 4828 Vine Street in St. Bernard which was a converted movie house. By this time the church had adopted the name “The First Apostolic Church”. The auditorium was air-conditioned which was a great improvement from our previous church, which had no air conditioning. While in our church at 2930 Colerain Avenue we had relied on a huge fan in front of the church which was in back of the choir when we sang on Sunday night. That was really nice for the choir because in the summer time that was the coolest place in church. The church on Vine Street was air conditioned and made worshiping God so much more comfortable and a great relief when we worshiped God.
Brother Curts teaching about “The Tabernacle In The Wilderness”.
Brother Curts was the author of the widely distributed book “The Tabernacle In The Wilderness”. This book described the foundation of the Tabernacle that God directed the Children of Israel to build as they journeyed though the wilderness on the way to their new home in Palestine. This book clearly showed the similarities between the Tabernacles and Jesus’ plan of salvation.
Brother Curts also became district superintendent for the state of Ohio as well as serving on the executive board of the International United Pentecostal Church with headquarters in St Louis Missouri.
In those early days of our church there were 13 members in the congregation that were full of enthusiasm but they had very little solid knowledge of the Bible. Then Brother Curts came and became their pastor he began to instill in the congregation a solid Bible teaching and knowledge. With this solid Bible knowledge, the church began to grow and reach out for other people who were seeking a way to reach God. By the time the church moved to 4828 Vine Street some members were going out to other communities to teach what thus says the word of God.
Through the teaching of His ministers, God was shaping and remodeling his people as quickly as we were remodeling buildings using Bible knowledge in accordance with 2 Timothy 2:15. Times change the appearance and purpose of many structures just as it changes people but the church held fast to its ideals and doctrines as described throughout the New Testament. The Message we preach today is still the same basic doctrine that the pioneers of our local church assembly preached under the direction of Brother Curts. This message is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the soon coming of Jesus again to catch his bride “The Church” away to meet him in the air so shall we for ever be with him. This message is described in 1 Thes. 4:14-18. Upon this Bible belief the church in Cincinnati was born and remains firm today in its beliefs.
Brother Curts working to support his family and the church.
In the early days of the church Brother Curts labored not only as the pastor of the church but because the church was small and really couldn’t support a pastor he also labored as a metal polisher to support his family and aid in the growth of the church. He not only preached from his Bible but also had made up several large charts showing the bible teachings of several phases of the Bible such as the tabernacle in the wilderness and Ezekiel’s wheel. These charts made scriptures much clearer for the church to see, read, and understand. We held many revivals and I remember one great revival we held in them Emery auditorium in Cincinnati because our church at that time was too small to hold all the people that wanted to attend. We had a special little preacher come that time called Little David and he preached the word of God. Many people came to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus as described in the Bible in Acts 2:38 and we were kept busy baptizing them.
In those early years of the church there were many great men helping to direct the church and keep it heading in the right direction. There was Brother G.G. McMillen who worked as the right arm to Brother Curts. When Brother Curts first came to Cincinnati he stayed with Brother McMillen for awhile. Brother Mack became one of the pillars of the church throughout the years of the church. Brother Mack served the church as assistant pastor and also served as senior Elder. I have many fond memories of Brother McMillen leading song service and preaching. He was a great and humble man of God. Brother McMillen worked as a superintendent on the railroad and I remember him telling how he would walk the railroad tracks, climb in a railroad car and pray for the church and its people.
Another great man and leader of the church in its early years was Brother Jack Zeisler who stood for the word of God and loved to testify and tell how the Lord had stopped his bleeding nose when he prayed. The bleeding that seemingly wouldn’t stop until the Lord intervened. He was a great praying man of God. The church dearly loved him and respected his word and testimony.
Our church moved several times from Walnut & McMicken to 2930 Colerain Avenue and then to our beautiful church at 4828 Vine Street in St Bernard, Ohio. By then the church had adopted the name “The First Apostolic Church”.
There were many great men and leaders of the church in those yearly years. Besides our pastor there were four elders and their families, eight Junior Deacons who had charge of the children’s and young peoples meeting and five deacons who not only took charge of the services on Saturday night and along with the Junior Deacons became advisors and helpers to their Pastor. These men helped the First Apostolic Church grow to around 900 God fearing and believing Christians. God was remodeling people as quickly as we were remodeling buildings.
Senior Choir under the direction of Sister Evelyn Tyson.
In those early years we had a Senior choir of about eighty five men and women under the direction of Brother Wilbur Wolfangel then later under Sister Evelyn Tyson, as well as a male choir of some thirty five men under the direction of Brother Jack Wilson. We also had a Junior choir under the direction of Sister Lois Kidd as well as a Sunbeam choir under the direction of Sister Margaret Tredway who also made the robes that they wore.
Men’s Choir under the direction of Brother Jack Wilson.
The Choir had many great times and activities almost too numerous to mention, one I especially remember and enjoyed was at Christmas time. We always had a memorable Christmas program with the combined Junior and Senior Choir members concluding the program with a candlelight service celebrating Christmas. The Choir would walk down the church aisles with their candles lit and proceeding to their assigned places in the choir singing the songs of Christmas. Another thing I remember as a Choir member about the Christmas season was during the Christmas season the choir would all assemble go out to sing carols especially to the sick of our church. When we finished caroling we, as choir members would assemble at Brother Curts home for a Christmas party. After we finished eating cookies, cakes and drinking hot chocolate we would all sit down and Brother Curts would show his Christmas movies. What a great time the choir had during and commemorating the Christmas season.
Brother Ernie Haynes, with other Sunday school receptionists.
There were numerous devoted Christians helping the church to make it function smoothly. The Sunday school office staff (led for many years by Brother Ernie Haynes) kept the Sunday school running and in order; the Sunday school receptionists greeted every one as they came to church and Sunday school. Bus drivers picked up people for services not only when the weather was nice but weathered the ice and snow to make sure that those who wanted to come to church would have an opportunity to do so. We had an usher group to keep order in the church. All great men of God all.
A young Brother Curts.
In the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews Paul says: “And shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of…” many other great people from the Bible. Here are some of the great men and women of our movement who went on to great heights in spreading the word of God: Brother Allen Hicks, Brother Pennington, Brother Henson, Brother Friend(who started a church in Hamilton, Ohio), Brother Burton (who became a missionary in South America), Brother Harris (who became superintendent of the Kentucky district of the UPC), Sister Marie Langham, missionary to Liberia, West Africa, Brother Cox, Sister Emma Zeisler, Sister Ada Pittman who was the first person to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost under Brother Curts, Sister Gibson, and Sister McMillan.
Brother Curts had a desire to build a lake so that the church had a place to come for church picnics and fellowship. It was also a place that one could invite a friend to introduce them to our Christian fellowship. Brother Curts had a farm in Northern Kentucky so he set aside about twenty acres for the church to enjoy. Brother Curts and the men of the church cleared the land and built a dam across a stream that went through the acreage. I remember one time when we were working at the lake one of the men who had been driving the tractor got off the tractor but forgot to set the brake. When he turned around he saw the tractor going down into the lake. He rushed back to tell Brother Curts about the submerged machine and Brother Curts just said, “Did you say IN JESUS NAME?”
On Saturdays we would go to the lake to work before a special holiday and at lunchtime Brother Curts would give a couple of the women the money to go shopping for things to make a nice picnic lunch there in our club house. Our church worked together and drew closer to each other as we worked for Jesus.
When the lake was finished we built a clubhouse for the convenience and pleasure of all the church members. There was cooking, eating, and sleeping facilities. There was also a picnic area on the grounds and the members of the church built tables and we spent many summer days and nights having nice church picnics and meetings. Brother Curts made sure that the lake was well stocked with fish so that we could all enjoy a day of fishing. Not only the men and women of the church to enjoy but the children had a nice place to fish also. On holidays there was a special time at the lake because many church members gathered there spending the day having fun eating, fishing, playing ball and other activities to enjoy their vacation and weekend times. We also had many other youth activities there such as Sunday school picnics, over night camping trips, wiener roasts and many other special activities. Many young people made life-long commitments to Jesus at youth services on the hillside of that lake.
Our church was founded on the word of God and it has remained the backbone of our church. The book of Acts, which describes the founding of the church of Jesus Christ, was and remains our pattern. As we were taught the word of God in those early years of our Assembly following the whole word of God we can today go to our Bible and see how it is the same today for us now as it was in our early years of serving Christ. The word of God never changes and we must continue to follow the pattern laid out by the Bible.
These were great times and we had the teachings of many great men of the Apostolic movement. This was a time when we became solidified and anchored in the word of God with our goal to be ready to meet Jesus when he calls his church home.
In June 1953 Brother and Sister Norman R. Pasley became an associate Pastor for Brother Curts. Brother Pasley was a good Bible teacher and scholar. He taught many great sermons and helped lead the church to its highest peak for attendance of over 900 at one of our revival services. This relationship lasted until 1968 when he along with many of our church members founded his own church in Springdale, Ohio. This led Brother Curts to bring to Cincinnati a new evangelistic team, Brother & Sister Buller, to lead and to take over the reigns of the church. Acting as associate pastor Brother LeRoy Buller helped lead the church until Brother Curts died at which time he became the official pastor of the church at 4828 Vine Street. In May 8, 1969 on Mother’s Day Brother Curts was struck by a car while crossing a street to take his family to celebrate Mother’s Day and died a few days later. This was indeed a sad day for the First Apostolic Church of Cincinnati.
This again was a time of change for our church at 4828 Vine Street. Our Deacon Woodrow Wilson felt the call of God to move to Frankfort, Kentucky along with some members of his family to start a new church in that city. Our Deacon Brother Elsie Wilson and a group of our church felt the call of God to move to Lebanon, Ohio to start a church in that city. Others moved away joining other assemblies leaving a small but solid core of Christian believers to form the basis for the continuance of the Gospel under the leadership of Brother LeRoy Buller and family.
WE BUILD A NEW CHURCH IN KENWOOD – A NEW BEGINNING
New site for the First Apostolic Church with Brother Jack
and Sister Shirley Wilson, with their son James.
Under the leadership of Pastor LeRoy Buller in the early 1970s we began looking for a new site to build a new church. The church at 4828 Vine Street had become too large for the congregation, so a search began to build a new church, one that would comfortably hold the existing congregation. We searched several sites and in 1978 we put the old church up for sale and started on the road to build a new church. A favorable location was found on a large piece of land, with an existing home at 7595 Montgomery Road in Kenwood.
Our earlier churches had all been in an existing and renovated building but this time we were starting from scratch. The Church at 4828 Vine Street was sold; however, we were permitted to have services there in the afternoons until our new church was almost finished and we were ready to move into our new building.
Brother Buller breaking ground for the new church.
The start was slow and as usual the estimate to build was low and we ran out of money before we could complete the building. The Building and Loan decided not to give us anymore money at first but we continued to negotiate with them. It was finally decided that the Building and Loan would indeed loan us the money with the stipulation that the church members would put on deposit at the Building and Loan the required amount that we would need to continue building and completing our church. Our church members took out Certificates of Deposit as well as regular bank accounts so that we could borrow enough money to complete our church. After two years the money was returned to the church members with all the accumulated interest and we were ready to continue to build that new church.
Besides the work that the contractors had been doing there were many of our Church who spent endless hours working on the Church as well. I want to especially mention Brother Joel Voltz who helped build the basement so that we could use it some times to have dinners with a nice kitchenette for cooking and serving. He also did many other carpentry jobs around the Church as well as many other members of our congregation to make it beautiful.
Brother Buller clearing the property.
It was a very trying time for our church but God is faithful and supplied our needs for which we were very thankful. When the building had to cease for a time I know that I would go over to the church building during my lunch break to walk and pray for a successful completion of our building and for God’s blessing on the coming church. Many other members I am sure were doing the same. When the church was about completed we were still using folding chairs. Some of us bought rows of pews for each family. A plaque still hangs in our lobby to commemorate and list those who were so faithful in so doing. There are many other plaques of recognition now added in the lobby.
7595 Montgomery Road before the church was built.
We were about two years in building and moved into our 7595 Montgomery Road church on June 8, 1980. Before we moved into our new Church building we used the existing home for several weeks to hold our services. When we finally could use our church the house was remodeled and made into Brother Buller’s parsonage.
By 1980 the church numbered about 150 solid church members and we early church. We teach and believe that repentance and baptism is to be in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins as commanded in the Book of Acts 2:38 through 40.
It had been decided that at this time we wouldn’t build extra Sunday school rooms but would use the church basement for our Sunday school classes which continues to this day. We put up partitions in the basement to separate the classes. These then can be taken down to accommodate special occasions such as special dinners or other special occasions when more room is needed.
We had a committed group of elders that offered many suggestions as we built. Some, of course, were used and some were not, but we all got along with some frustrations. This was expected in an endeavor this large. As a group we had not built or run into so many grave problems before, but as always, God was good. Some of the elders have either moved away since the church was done or gone to sleep in Jesus. There still remains a great group of God fearing men to assist Pastor Buller as we continue on to preach and teach the word of God.
Now the church is finished and built to our specifications and needs. We had put plenty of windows and lighting. The church at 4828 Vine Street had been a converted theater there was no windows and very poor lighting. That was one of our first priorities, plenty of windows and lights in the new church.
Our choir has changed also and for awhile it was led by Sister Evelyn Tyson. Later when she relocated to Florida Brother Jack Wilson became the director. Eventually, Brother John Wilson replaced his father in this capacity and remains the choir director and leader to this day. All the older choir members have changed and a new group of young people have taken over the choir and are doing a great job magnifying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through song. We now have a choir of some 35 God-fearing and dedicated members.
We now have a beautiful church with adequate parking and plenty of room for all to enjoy. We had a rough time in building our new church but now we can enjoy the fruit of our laborers.
The years have come and gone; people have left or passed on but new members continue to be added to the church. We now have a strong congregation sometimes nearly filling the church that hold about 300 during special occasions. We look for the day under additional leadership when we will find a need to expand our church or seek out a new location to build a new and greater church.
We sense a revival in our church and also throughout our entire church organization and want to press forward. Come and join in the revival. We are looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12: 2). We are a Bible believing and teaching Church and Pastor LeRoy Buller preaches many good soul searching messages with a goal of having the church ready when God calls his church home.
Let it be said when each of us have finished our lives on this earth “I have fought a good fight I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7.
We have many activities in our church including our inspirational puppet ministry. There is a group of dedicated leaders who work faithfully in this ministry to give the bible to our children in a different way. The entire church gets to see and hear this ministry once a month in our combined Sunday school class. They do a great job and pass along many valuable lessons to our children through this ministry.
We have many money making endeavors to supply funds to our Mothers Memorial Fund such as bake sales, auctions on donated articles and things of that nature. Our young people on occasion rent a skating rink to have a night of fellowship in a good Christian environment. The activities are endless.