In 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Whitsel and family came to Oskaloosa, Iowa from the Northwest. They began to inquire about a Pentecostal Church and minister. Seeking out given information of possible ministers and locations only brought disappointments.
A Newton, Iowa newspaper fell into Mr. Whitsel's hands and it was there he read about a Pentecostal revival conducted in Monroe, Iowa by Rev. Frank and Edith Cline. At this time, Rev. W.E. Longdin, pastor of the Assembly of God in Knoxville, came to Oskaloosa to hold services in the homes of interested people, especially the Whitsel's home. Help to continue these meetings had been requested of the District, but were informed that funds were depleted because of the recent donation to Central Bible Institute.
While in the Northwest, Mr. Whitsel received a call and had a vision from God to preach the Gospel. God had showed him to a field of garnered wheat and only a few sheaves of wheat was left in the corners for him to garner. The field of wheat was the souls of men to be garnered into the Kingdom. With that burden on his heart and since moving to Oskaloosa, he wanted to do just that. He took out ordination papers with "The Church of God, Cleveland, Tenn."
Due to financial problems, he felt he could not go full time in the ministry but his heart was in the work so he mortgaged his home and bought a tent. In the summer, he would invite different ministers as well as himself to hold tent meetings. He pitched the tent in Fremont, Iowa and Northern Missouri areas. Rev. Charles Plotts and others preached there. Many folk were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, such as Eskie Clevenger's folks who were nearby farmers.
One Sunday afternoon, Mr. Whitsel hitched-hiked to Monroe to see the Clines' about conducting services in Oskaloosa. Rev. Frank Cline was holding services in Eldon, Iowa at this time.
In 1928, the Cline's family of six and their piano player, Archie Pickrow from Leon, Iowa made their home with the Whitsel's in the big two story home on North 3rd Street. Mr. Whitsel ran a shoe repair shop while his wife and daughter ran a small grocery store east of the house. The tent was pitched on the corner of South 4th Street and 6th Avenue East. The meetings began on July 22nd with large crowds attending and the interest was good.
Mary was a senior in High School and to get a Church established in Oskaloosa it took the money her parents had saved to send her to Evangel College in Springfield, Mo., and also the savings of the little grocery store they ran.
The meetings came to a close to soon and the interest was great but the District had called a special meeting in Des Moines which the Cline's deemed to attend. During this meeting, Mary Whitsel and Corney Langstraat became acquainted and later married. Rev. Stanley Comstock, pastor of Knoxville, officiated at the wedding.
In the fall of 1928, the hall at Layton Music Store, now part of Penn Central Mall was rented for $22.00 per month. The Clines stayed until spring, living on North First Street. Shortly after they left, one day a young preacher came into the Whitsels' Shoe Repair Shop saying the Lord had sent him to Oskaloosa. The preacher "Rev. Theodore Gannon" had heard the voice of the Lord impressing on him the need to come to Oskaloosa. It was 10 degrees below zero weather. All the money he had in his pocket was $1.00 and his shoe soles were worn out. His father being a railroad man secured a pass for his travels. He stayed for three months and later became the West Central District Superintendent and Director of Home Missions in Springfield, MO. Other ministers came after that, Stanley Comstock, Bessie Downing and Nellie Cox.
Meetings continued in homes for a time and services were held in a hall at First Avenue West. In 1932, Mr. Whitsel secured a small church on North E Street which was sold and the money was invested in a tent. Rev. Taylor Stark purchased the tent and held meetings in both Oskaloosa and Grinnell areas.
In 1935, Rev. A.B. Sorenson was conducting revival services for his brother-in-law Rev. Ralph McCaulley. Rev. Sorenson had come from Scranton, Kansas where he had pastored the Assembly of God Church there.
At this time, Mr. John Kuiper owned some lots of South First and Eighth Avenue East that were vacant. After the meeting in New Sharon, Rev. Art Sorenson came to Oskaloosa and conducted a tent meeting on the vacant lots, with the tent furnished by Mr. Whitsel. After there had been several ministers, some free and independent, the local group decided to get someone who was established for the work to go on.
Rev. Art Sorenson was ordained in the Assembly of God. Meetings were held in the tent until the weather turned cold.
Rev. Art Sorenson and LeRoy Williams heard of an old garage building in Deep River that was for sale. After working hours, both men drove to Deep River to examine the building, finding enough material to build a tabernacle 40 by 60 feet. Mr. Alvin Shroyer's father signed a note for $200.00 making the money available to buy the building. The old building was torn down and the lumber moved to the sight 118 8th Avenue East where the tabernacle was constructed. Rejected tile from the tile plant at Harvey, Iowa was used to lay the foundation. Native cottonwood lumber was used for the seats from the sawmill at Tracy, Iowa from John Ray. Latter part of November, services began in the tabernacle that had a sawdust floor. The building was heated by two old furnaces from Harry Suiter, who was Rev. Art Sorenson's employer. Mary Sorenson (Rev. Sorenson's wife) picked chickens at the poultry house and canned tomatoes at the canning factory while her husband walked three miles to work in Ellis Coal Mine and later worked for Harry Suiter putting in furnaces. Robert Scott was the first janitor. In 1939, Rev. A. Sorenson and family moved to Washington, Indiana.
On July 18, 1937, the local church was organized by the District Superintendent Rev. Roy Scott with 42 members. Serving on the board at that time were: LeRoy Williams, L.C. Sorenson (Rev. Sorenson's father), Corney Langstraat, and Hattie Sherod as Secretary-Treasurer. After Hattie moved to Newton in 1939, Mary Langstraat was elected Secretary-Treasurer of which she served six years as Secretary and 22 years as Treasurer.
Pastors that followed were: Rev. and Mrs. Calvin Davis (1939-1940), Rev. and Mrs. Everet Schoonover (1940-1941), and Rev. and Mrs. James Hosier (1941-1944).
Rev. and Mrs. Stanley Clarke came in 1944 and built the first part of the structure of the church on 3rd Avenue West and South D in 1945, a 36 by 72 foot building with full basement at the cost of $15,000. The money was secured from the revolving loan fund in Springfield, Mo., the West Central District, and the father-in-law of Rev. Stanley Clarke. Rev. Clarke remained one year after the church was completed as he was voted in as District Superintendent of the West Central District of the Assemblies of God.
Rev. and Mrs. David Hastie came to accept the pastorate on June 23, 1946 and stayed until July 21, 1947. During their stay the church was gutted by fire and the services were held in the YMCA rooms. The church suffered a set back because of this, with an annual Sunday School attendance down to 64 people.
Rev. and Mrs. Max Johnson came to be our pastors, and their first service in Oskaloosa was August 17, 1947. Some of the things accomplished under their ministry: All new sidewalks were constructed and trees from property were removed. The furnace was repaired, the building was painted to cover the smoke damage, and the insurance monies came for the fire settlement. Ten Sunday School rooms were constructed in the basement, as there had been none up to then. Broter Manges (Eloise Shroyer's father) and Rev. Johnson went to Cedar Rapids to get blocks for the Sunday School rooms. The upstairs auditorium was furnished with new pews. The increase in Sunday School attendance prompted the building of a basement annex west of the church and a new gas furnace was installed. The resident's house west of the church was purchased for $5,500. In 1959 the super-structure was added to the front of the Church. New pews were installed and a small furnace was installed in the north part of the Church.
On October 12, 1959, the new addition and improvements were dedicated by Rev. Stanley Clarke now from Brainerd, Minnesota, Rev. Art Sorenson, and Rev. T.E. Gannon as guest speaker.
Rev. and Mrs. Johnson served as our pastors for 28 years. Under their ministry the church grew numerically, financially and especially spiritually. They were loved by all.
Rev. and Mrs. John Wibley arrived in Oskaloosa in 1975 with Rev. and Mrs. Keith Roman's assisting.
During the pastorate of Rev. John Wibley, the present church was built on Highway 23 South, with the first services held in March of 1977. May 30, 1977 the beautiful church was dedicated by the District Superintendent of Iowa's Assembly of God Churches, Rev. Allan Ullestad. With facilities designed to make participation in worship convenient and comfortable, the church's ministry continues to meet the spiritual, educational, physical, and social needs of this community. The Wibley's left in 1978, accepting the pastorate in Worcester, Mass.
Rev. and Mrs. Charles Harrison came to Oskaloosa as our pastors in February of 1979 with the assistants Rev. and Mrs. Mark VanGorp and Rev. and Mrs. Dennis Martin.
Rev. and Mrs. Jeff Chatham arrived in 1983 with Rev. John and Karol Rockwell assisting. They left in 1987.
Rev. Harold and Nan Schutte became our pastors in February 1987. A new zeal and anointing of God's power has been refreshing since their coming. A new mind and interest for revival spirit is in the air. Yes, First Assembly of God presents a Christ-centered, Bible - oriented message with the mighty baptism, looking for the Blessed Hope, the rapture of the church, the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Schutte's resigned in March 2007 and currently serve as Sr. Pastor in Iowa City.
Rev. Michael & Mary Dotson came to Oskaloosa in August 2007 from Baraboo, Wisconsin where they had served as Sr. Pastor for almost 21 years.
In October 2008 Troy & Brenda Renter were added to the ministry team as full time Children's Pastor. The Renter's came from Port Washington, Wisconsin where they served as both Youth & Children's Pastors. The Renter's have two children, Jonah and Aleda.
In August 2009 Oskaloosa First Assembly invited Sean & Holly Cully to join the ministry team as Youth Pastor.