History of Full Gospel Fellowship
Because of the tremendous revival during the 1940’s and 1950’s, many irreversible changes happened to some of the Pentecostal organizations. Hundreds of ministers that had participated and prospered in that revival, commonly called the Deliverance Movement, found themselves at odds with their organizations, and they were not contented to remain under their leadership. For those that broke ranks and wanted to continue in their new found liberty, a serious problem developed with the Federal Internal Revenue Service.
A group of ministers met together in Dallas, Texas in 1962 to discuss the possibility of forming a loosely knit coalition of churches and ministers, and to organize in such a way as to be recognized by the Federal Government as a nonprofit religious parent organization, yet each local church remain sovereign under the headship of Jesus Christ. Under the skilful leadership of Gordon Lindsay, the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International was born. One of its charter members was T.H. Welch.
T.H. Welch, a man of faith and vision, felt strongly about registering this newly formed organization in a state, however most of the other charter members considered it unnecessary. Eventually, with Gordon Lindsay’s blessing, Thomas Welch registered a sister fellowship on February 23, 1967 in the State of Oregon, bearing the name, Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International of Oregon Inc.
Brother Welch, motivated by a vision of the Lord, increased his travels and intensified his ministry. While traveling home on one of those trips, he had a vision. Speeding along the highway, he looked out over the beautiful landscape of Oregon, but instead of seeing the greenery, he saw a medieval man dressed with a long flowing stocking hat, long pointed slippers, pants and shirt resembling the styles of the 1600’s and holding a flaming torch. All around were stacks of brush and straw. This little man with the burning torch began to run haphazardly around the field lighting this one, and then skipping others, lighting another, until the field was ablaze. It seemed there was not any rhyme nor reason to his endeavor. Nevertheless, eventually the entire field was burning.
The ministerial activities of Brother Welch resembled the vision. He relentlessly and unsystematically traveled the Northwest lighting the fires of revival, vision and fellowship. His vision was not only for the ministers to come together in unity, but the entire church. FELLOWSHIP on the grass roots level characterized the beginning of the Full Gospel Fellowship.
The first camp meeting was held in Portland, Oregon in 1968 at 108th and Holgate, a Pentecostal Holiness campground. Then the camp meeting was moved to Turner, Oregon, and many of us remember the great times in Jubilee Hall and in the huge tabernacle. Those were great times in the Lord and some of you were introduced to camp meeting, Brother Welch style. The Bogle, Baker and Wright families played a great part in those early days. Rev. Albert Farrar, the Tacoma police captain turned preacher, came to Turner for the purpose of investigating the rumors about a revival. The love of God hooked him and Edith, and they became members for life.
In 1970, while on a hunting trip in the extreme Northeastern section of Oregon, Brother Welch visited a Methodist campground on the shore of Wallowa Lake, near Joseph, Oregon. He experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in the autumn shadows of the surrounding awesome snowcapped mountains, and he immediately made up his mind to have a camp meeting there the following year. 1971 began a series of camp meetings over Labor Day at Wallowa Lake that spanned 12 years. What glorious tales that can be told about the wonder of those meetings; the fellowship, the fun, and the miracles. Hundreds were saved, either in the unforgettable lodge or under the chill of the “canvas cathedral.” Some of you can remember feeding the deer, or seeing the black bears that would raid the garbage cans, or being baptized in the chilly waters of Wallowa Lake, or being filled with the Holy Spirit while laying on the cement slab of the Lodge or on the ground under the tent, or the healing of the deaf ear of Brother Grover, or hearing the strum of brother Perry Wright’s banjo, or the voice of Brother Charles Tuttle leading choruses, or the youth activities at night under the direction of Brother Ralph Trask. Can you remember the delicious meals served by Macy and Ruby Hinthorne, the fruit and vegetables of the Willis farm, the picnic-style-dinners by Ron and JoAnn Beaman? Most of these events were recorded on cassette tapes by Leland and Ilene Koken.
The “good ole days” are worth remembering. Hundreds of people each year traveled at least 500 miles to experience Wallowa Lake, in spite of the gasoline crisis of the mid-seventies or the national economy. Why? Because of the blessing of the Lord!
While going down into his basement, pondering on an opportunity to buy a printing press, Brother Welch saw these words written in fire, “Printing press.” Without any more hesitation, the printing press was purchased and from that time on, gradually at first because there was not anyone with printing experience in the Full Gospel Fellowship, the press churned out tracts, magazines, newsletters, flyers, books and study guides. The printing ministry has endured in spite of many difficulties.
Suddenly, Rev. T.H. Welch died in the Fall of 1981. The mantle of leadership was passed on to Leon Willis in January, 1982.
Then change came in 1984. Under the leadership of Jim and Joan Johnson, Howard Walbran, Jim Hornbeck, and Ron Beaman, the annual camp meeting was moved to Lost Creek campgrounds near Naches, Washington. For the next four years, God nurtured the Full Gospel Fellowship in Lost Creek. Under the tall pines of the Cascade Mountains of Washington, the Holy Ghost fell in abundance. Youth leaders, such as Marlene Hinthorne and Tina (Page) Worthington, emerged to bring a touch of God’s power among the youth and a touch of humor in the camp. The swimming pool, not only served as a place of fun, but also the baptismal tank. The “canvas cathedral” that served so well in Wallowa Lake, continued to serve in Lost Creek.
Special visions were given by the Lord in Lost Creek that are still motivating ministry today. Golden bridges were seen spanning the ocean and many people crossing them. Lost Creek became a launching pad of missionary activity. God called the Full Gospel Fellowship to move out into the deep and IT HAS. Now there are scores of teams traveling the world, preaching the gospel and healing the sick. It was at Lost Creek that the INTERNATIONAL part of our organization was realized.
When the news came about Greta Welch’s passing, it was during the final camp meeting held in Lost Creek in 1987. I heard in my spirit the rustling sound of a page being turned in a book. Surely, a chapter of history had been closed and another chapter opened.
In 1988 the annual camp meeting was held in Turner, Oregon, in 1989 Brooks, Oregon, in 1990 and 1991 in Salem, Oregon. In the late 1980’s, others were inspired to hold their own camp meetings, not in competition, but only to enhance what was already happening. Besides the Annual Convention, in 1990 there were six camp meetings. Praise God for the vision to assemble together, worship the Lord, and go forth in power!
In 1993 a Minister’s National Convention was held in Dumaguete City on Negros Island of the
Philippines. A team of 21 members accepted the challenge to minister to 2500 special guests.
The presence of God was truly manifested, along with His great power.
A door of opportunity opened on the continent of Africa in 1997. Teams have gone over each
year to minister in Ghana, Togo and Benin. In 2004 an International Convention was held in
Accra, Ghana. 1200 ministers from six different countries gathered together and God answered
their needs in dramatic fashion. As of 2006 teams are continuing their work in this war-torn and
disease afflicted continent.
In 2005 another door of opportunity opened in Nigeria.
The work has continued in the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria. Scores of pastors are being prepared
to make an impact in their perspective countries. Thank the Lord that He has allowed us
to a part in the great end time harvest of souls.
The harvest is ripe, but workers are needed!
The above history is not meant to be comprehensive, but only a brief overview of the past thirty
nine years. To those of you who have joined us recently, I hope this has been helpful in understanding
our vision as a group, though loosely knitted together legally, we are tightly woven
A new horizon of opportunity is before us. There will be new faces that will join us and old
faces that will fade away, but all in all, may the work of the Lord be completed.