In the year 1979, Elder Dave Draper, Sr. (pastor of the New Market Church) and Elder Terrell Harris, Jr. (pastor of the True Light Mission), along with members of their congregations, held a purposeful meeting in the Memorial Funeral Home Chapel and agreed to come together and become a part of Alabama Jurisdiction #1. In December 1979, Supt. O. L. Meadows, representing Bishop C. A. Ashworth – the Jurisdictional Prelate, officially accepted the two churches as a functioning district in Alabama Jurisdiction #1. Elder Dave Draper, Sr. was installed as District Superintendent, Missionary Irene Davis was installed as District Supervisor of Women, and Elder Terrell Harris, Jr. was appointed Chairman of the District.
The first year was a year of progress. In March 1980, Elder Terrell Harris, Jr. was installed as pastor of the True Light Church in the City of Huntsville. Two months later, the First Huntsville District Conference was held at the New Market Church. Two months after this great conference, Supt. Draper and the New Market congregation purchased church property near downtown Huntsville. In November 1980, the church that is located on Beirne Avenue in the City of Huntsville was dedicated. It was evident that the Lord had placed His stamp of approval on the newly formed Huntsville District, which now consisted of two churches in the City of Huntsville.
Throughout the 80’s the newly formed district grew quite rapidly. Shortly after the district was in place, Elder Sam Crutcher and his congregation at the Lacey’s Spring Church joined the district, which extended the borders of the district to Morgan County. Following the demise of Elder Crutcher in March 1985, Elder James Strong was installed as pastor of the Lacey’s Spring Church. Two years later the name of the church was changed to Crutcher Temple in honor of Elder Crutcher who served as pastor for more than 48 years. During the mid-80’s the District Evangelist Department, under the leadership of Elder Strong, was stirred to hold tent revivals in the City of Madison. In June 1987, the district was extended to the City of Madison when Elder Bobby Sledge was installed as pastor of the Madison Church.
The 90’s brought many victories, as well as a bit of sadness. In 1992, Mother Mary Strong became the Assistant District Supervisory of Women. Elder Sledge was led to relocate to Brownsboro. In October 1994, the newly purchased church in Brownsboro was dedicated. Three years later, Elder Bobby Sledge and his congregation purchased church property in the City of Huntsville. The Victory World Outreach Church was dedicated in August 1997. Almost concurrently, Elder Odell Knowles was led to begin a Mission in the City of Huntsville. In October 1997, Elder Odell Knowles was installed as pastor of God’s Temple Mission. One half a year later, on 27 April 1998, Supt. Draper went home to be with the Lord. Immediately following his demise, Elder Harris was appointed as District Superintendent of the Huntsville District and Elder Strong was appointed Chairman.
The district has continued to grow under the competent leadership of Supt. Harris. In June 1998, Elder Dave Draper, Jr. was appointed pastor of the Beirne Avenue Church. Several months later, the name of the church was changed to Draper Memorial in honor of Supt. Dave Draper, Sr. who served as pastor for more than 35 years. Elder Jesse Draper was led to begin a Mission in the City of Huntsville. In October 1998, Elder Jesse Draper was installed as pastor of the Right Way Mission and Elder Dave Draper, Jr. was installed as the pastor of the Draper Memorial Church. The growth process continued when Elder James Strong was lead to begin a Mission in the City of Huntsville. In August 1999, the Fountain of Life Mission was dedicated. In December 1999, due to the resignation of Mother Irene Davis, Mother Mary Strong was installed as District Supervisor of Women.
After the turn of the century, the Lord has blessed our district to grow both spiritually and naturally. In May 2000, Elder Charles Brown was installed as pastor of the Crutcher Temple Church. By 2004, under the leadership of Supt. Harris the number of churches on the district grew from five to God’s complete number seven. But the Lord was not finished with the progress of the district. Elder Anthony Wheeler was led to begin a Mission in the City of Madison. In 2005, Elder Anthony Wheeler was installed as pastor of the Beacon Hill Ministries Mission. In the meantime, Elder Bruce Crum was also led to begin a Mission in the City of Huntsville. In June 2007, Elder Bruce Crum started All About Souls Ministries Mission. During the past 30 years, the district membership has increased from less than 70 to more than 700. The total churches have increased to nine.
Due to serious health issues of the Pastor and 1st Lady of God’s Temple COGIC, the church was dissolved and combined membership with Crutcher’s Temple. April 2011, Elder Billy Sanders, Associate Minister of True Light COGIC, was also led to begin a Mission in the City of Madison and started Ray of Hope Ministries COGIC.
Our Superintendent’s vision is to provide vital ministries on the district so that every saint of God will be able to reach his or her fullest potential in God and that every pastor will experience tremendous growth both numerically and especially spiritually within his congregation. As these congregations reach their fullest potential, his further vision is that God would add new congregations to accept the overflow and add others who desire to be a part of the Huntsville District. And, the ultimate vision is that all will be ready to meet Christ at His coming through the vehicles established on the district.
Written by Dr. Paul Ruffin & Evangelist Carolyn Boswell