In 1919, during the aftermath of World War I, a Holiness preacher came from Sugar Hollow, a section of Roan Mountain, Tennessee and settled in Erwin bringing the Pentecostal movement with him. His name was Rev. R. A. (Bob) Edney. The Pentecostal message was strange and new to the people of Erwin. Even though the Pentecostal movement that is the Church of God was birthed on August 19, 1886, in Monroe County, Tennessee, it did not reach Northeast Tennessee until many years later at the arrival of Bro. Edney. The Reverend and his Pentecostal message were met with fierce opposition, but he was not discouraged. He continued to proclaim the Word when and wherever he could, with most of his encounters being “one-on-one”. Slowly and through perseverance, a hand full of people began to witness and pray with their friends and families. Some of them were won to the Lord, and the seeds of a church were planted.
Four years transpired with little change, but in 1923, the Lord supplied the group with a meeting place when Carl Jump opened his home for cottage prayer meetings. These services continued at the Jump home until the group transitioned from the Jump house to the Presbyterian Mission. This building served a dual purpose, as a school and a church.
In 1926, the church was organized and became known as the Rock Creek Church of God (changed to Erwin Church of God in the 1960's). The first official Pastor would not be appointed for four more years, but Bro. Edney and other ministers carried on the work. After being organized, this courageous group, with willing hands and obedient hearts, began a bold venture; they would purchase their own property to house the growing Church. Undaunted by the hard economic times, shortly before the Great Depression, they approached Mr. Stokes McKinney about the purchase of a store building and on July 27, 1927, the transaction was made. Erwin Church of God worshiped in that building for over 90 years. During that 90 years, the members of the church transformed that building from a small storefront into one of the most recognizable buildings in Unicoi County. They also transformed that small congregation into one of the most active and vital ministries in our county. The congregation has held firm, surviving and ministering through the most trying times of the 20th and 21st centuries, the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, 2 wars in the middle east, difficult financial times, attacks of the enemy, and now the COVID -19 Pandemic of 2020, but we have always persevered and come out victorious through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, in 2016, it became necessary for us to move out of our beloved historic building due to flooding and ground water damage. In 2019 the building was demolished, but the church continues to minister and grow, reaching the lost, not only in our community through our worship, outreach, and community activities, but also all around the world through our online presence and live streamed worship services. We now meet in our new "Spirit Life Center" just a few hundred feet from that historic property.
More than a century after Bro. Edney first came to town, Erwin Church of God is still preaching and teaching the Gospel Message of Love, Grace, and Holiness that Bro. Edney started here. Many things have changed over the years, but one thing that has never changed is the desire of the Erwin Church of God family to win souls and glorify The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Erwin Church of God continues to stand and will continue to stand for as long as men and women of this historic church continue to persevere against opposition, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and being a light of hope to the community we serve. Erwin Church of God stands as a beacon, shining a light of love in a world full of darkness. Many Pastors, Evangelists, and lay-men and women have paved a road with their obedient service, allowing us to continue to travel the narrow road with confidence, knowing that just as the Son has shined in the past; He also shines into our future.
Erwin Church of God is located on the banks of Rock Creek in beautiful Erwin, Tennessee, at 772 Rock Creek Road. If you are in the Tri-Cities Area, please come and help us celebrate Jesus. We are easy to find, from Johnson City take I-26 toward Asheville, when you reach Erwin, take the Main Street Exit. Turn left off the exit and go to the Red light (Main Ave.). At the light turn right onto Main Ave and go to the next red light (Rock Creek Road). Turn left on Rock Creek Road and go 1 mile. We are on the right; look for the Spirit Life Center Sign. If you are not in the Tri-Cities Area, join us anytime online. Our worship services are streamed every Sunday at 11AM and 6PM eastern time at www.facebook.come/ecogspiritlife, and can be found other times there and at www.youtube.com/BishopJohnEdwards.