Rev. & Mrs. O.C Crabtree
About Us - Our Heritage
The First Pentecostal Church of Panama City has a rich, fifty-year history. The fact that the First Pentecostal Church still preaches the same message and holds firmly to the same convictions it did years ago is a convincing testimony to the solidity of its membership and leadership.
During the cold winter of 1938, Rev. D.L. Welch and his family arrived in Panama City to preach a revival. Located in Bay Harbor at the entrance to the paper mill, was a community church owned by the mill. It was used by different congregations of the area to hold services. Rev. Welch preached in that building to some who had already accepted the apostolic message. With his encouragement, they erected their own tabernacle, without a floor or windows, on James Avenue and Second Plaza. This building housed many big meetings as these preachers came through town declaring the truth: Rev. C.W. Teston, the McPherson sisters, Rev. O.B. Ramsey, Rev. David Brimmage, and Rev. W.L. Kirkland.
After preaching such a meeting, Rev. J.D. Boyd stayed a few months as pastor. Under a resident pastor, the First Pentecostal Churchbegan to solidify. In the winter of 1939, Rev. A.A.Castleberry arrived in Panama City and remained for almost two years. During this period, the church experienced revival. Rev. Joe Lane moved his family to Panama City and became pastor in 1942. In the year and a half he was here, the congregation moved the materials from the tabernacle on James Avenue to Kraft Avenue and Second Plaza. They rebuilt and greatly improved the tabernacle by adding a floor and windows. The church continued to grow. In 1943, Rev. A.W. Hicks and his family arrived in town and assumed pastorate of the First Pentecostal Church. Under his leadership the congregation grew and the church building was remodeled and expanded, adding a vestibule, baptistery, and Sunday School rooms. During this time, Rev. George Christoff served as interim pastor for a few months.
On November 15, 1947 the church accepted Rev. and Mrs. O.C. Crabtree as its pastor. The next three years brought tremendous growth with a record breaking Sunday of 300 in attendance. A greatly needed, beautiful block building was dedicated on May 10, 1952. An educational facility, kitchen, and dining hall were added in 1958. Further growth and a vision for the future motivated the church in 1968 to purchase five acres on Tyndall Parkway where the church is now located. Building began in 1972 with a two-story steel structure that housed the sanctuary downstairs and Sunday School facilities upstairs. The climax of the dream was realized in 1978 when the spacious sanctuary the church now occupies was completed. Personal sacrifice and commitment on the part of the Crabtrees and the church family was rewarded by God's blessings, not only in the physical plant, but in the spiritual growth of the church. Rev. O.C. Crabtree's 35 years of dedicated leadership sowed sound, Biblical teaching and unswerving perseverance. The First Pentecostal Church reaped a mature, solid, caring body of believers.
In April of 1982 the church called for Rev. Allen Crabtree to serve as pastor of the congregation when Rev. O.C. Crabtree was elected District Superintendent of the Florida District. During the past several years many improvements have been made on the grounds and in the buildings, with the remodeled sanctuary completed in February of 1988. Rev. Crabtree has actively led the church in structuring for growth through prayer, fasting, outreach, and involvement in every phase of God's work. The First Pentecostal Church HONORS the past, but LOOKS to the future as God allows us to be a part of His end-time work.