Pentecostal Pioneers: Calvin Samuel Albert
By C. S. Albert
On January 15, 1913, at Reber Place in St. Louis, Missouri, John David and Margaret Ellen Post Albert welcomed my birth. Ethel, Lela, Ruth, and Roy made our family. They attended the Christian Church.
When I was eight Aunt Sarah, enthused with the Holy Ghost, visited us. Father opposed her message, but after studying Acts my mother wanted the Holy Ghost. Aunt Sarah took me and her to a mission on Cardinal Street pastored by B. H. Hite. Mother received the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues. Benches served as pews and the services were not programmed, but the glory of God filled this humble place. Later Brother Hite rented a long, narrow building on Easton Avenue.
One day I felt conviction and found Mother cleaning the bathroom, so I told her how I felt. “Kneel here beside the bathtub,” she said. I confessed my sins and in February 1921 Brother Hite baptized me in the name of Jesus.
Our family met two great ladies, Mother Mary Barnes and Mother Moise (Maria Christina Gill Moise), who operated a rescue home for girls and a mission located at 3333 Washington. Then my sister Lela received the Holy Ghost.
After several years, Brother Hite moved the mission to 1414 North Grand Avenue, an upstairs hall seating two hundred. On October 15, 1925, my pastor said, “Don’t you feel you are old enough to receive the Holy Ghost?” That night the Holy Spirit fell on hundreds, including me and my sister Ruth.
Then Pastor Hite felt led to build a new church. We moved into a new building located at 3105 Cass Avenue in 1926. We called it Gospel Tabernacle, a place of miracles. After being healed, people went home leaving crutches and canes, which hung on the wall as a silent testimony.
One night a little girl led a blind man up for prayer. Brother Hite prayed, then asked the man if he could see. The man said, “No.” Brother Hite prayed again, putting his hands on the man’s eyes. Nothing happened. Brother Hite asked again if he could see. The man answered, “I can see light and people far away.” Brother Hite prayed once more, “Let the man have full vision.” The man began to shout, “I can see!” We had revivals and healing services every night but Monday.
God called me to the ministry at fifteen. My mother advised me to study the Word, fast, and pray. Pastor Hite appointed me as youth leader and song leader. At eighteen, he put me on the church board “to see how the church functions.”
In May 1934 I met Laura Webb, who had been attending church regularly and was devoted to the Lord. On June 30, 1935, we were married in the church by Brother Hite.
In the middle of the Depression the mortgage on the church came due. The loan company notified Brother Hite that we must have thirteen hundred dollars soon. When he read the notice to the church, total silence prevailed. After weeping and praying Brother Hite asked, “Does anyone have anything to give?” No one did. “We have prayed for God to provide. If God gives me any money, I’ll give it. How many will do the same?” A few responded. “God will help us.”
At that time he was an official with the Pentecostal Church, Incorporated, with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. A man asked him to come to Texas. When he arrived, the man offered him one thousand dollars if he would move to Dallas to work for the P.C.I. “I cannot accept, because God told me not to leave St. Louis,” Brother Hite said. The man gave the check to him anyway saying, “Do what you want with it.”
When Brother Hite returned, he said, “This check is mine. The man gave it to me but I’m going to give it as I pledged.” Then he raised the other three hundred dollars. Before the due date, the church debt was paid.
In 1931 I attended my first Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance convention at Gospel Tabernacle. In 1932 the convention in Little Rock elected Brother Hite as leader. The ministers voted to include local churches so they changed the name from Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance to Pentecostal Church, Incorporated.
About 1928 a tall, blond man came to Gospel Tabernacle. Evangelical in faith, Harry Branding hungered for God. He liked what he felt so he came back. He received the Holy Ghost, was baptized in Jesus’ name, attended church, accepted responsibility under Brother Hite, and began preaching. A pastor had left a mission church at Eleventh and Hickory, so the people called Brother Branding to help. When they needed larger quarters he purchased a Methodist church building at Thirteenth and Gravois, remodeling it into a spacious church.
In 1939 the Pentecostal churches of St. Louis, East St. Louis, Granite City, and Belleville organized youth groups and asked me to lead monthly rallies. I also suggested a giant Labor Day youth rally. This rally ran for a while, then Missouri made it a district function. The last several years they held the rally at Westphalia. Then they divided it, holding one at the campground and the other in southeast Missouri. The rallies lasted over forty years.
Feeling God leading him, Brother Hite had first come to St. Louis in 1920 with only $3.50. As he was walking down a street, he met a beggar who asked for help. “I only have $3.50 but I’ll give you half of it,” Brother Hite promised. When folks asked for money for food, he always gave. If an unknown preacher needed services, he invited him to preach and gave him an offering.
He encouraged young men in the ministry. At his suggestion I applied for local license with the P.C.I. on April 1, 1942.
By this time my family had increased. Dorcas Ruth was born July 31, 1936, and on July 8, 1941, Calvin Samuel, Jr. arrived. At age three Dorcas contacted whooping cough. Brother Hite prayed for her and God healed her instantly.
Revival continued at Gospel Tabernacle with power packed services. George and Helen White came, repented, and received the Holy Ghost. Brother White felt a call to go to Java and asked his wife, Helen, “Where’s Java?
Let’s go to the library to find out.” Helen told her husband, “God called you to Java. He didn’t call me.” After prayer, she also heard the call. The Whites prepared themselves, then traveled to the churches, sharing their burden and raising financial aid.
In 1943 Superintendent Howard A. Goss ordained me at the P.C.I. conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. At this time the constituents voted to move the P.C.I. headquarters from Houston, Texas, to St. Louis.
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ was another Oneness organization whose chairman was W. T. Witherspoon and whose headquarters was in Columbus, Ohio. Both organizations embraced practically the same doctrine.
In 1944 when the P.A. of J.C. held its convention in St. Louis, Harry Branding of the P.C.I. and Oliver Fauss of the P.A. of J.C. met to draft a resolution to merge. In 1945, the two groups accepted the resolution. They chose the name of United Pentecostal Church and elected Howard A. Goss as general superintendent, W. T. Witherspoon as assistant general superintendent, and S. W. Chambers as general secretary.
I worked with Brother Hite and at my job at Central Pattern Company. He asked if I felt led to full-time ministry. There were no Bible colleges for men to attend, but we counted forty-eight preachers who had gone out from Brother Hite’s church. He told me of a church in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Why don’t you and your family take this church?” My wife and I prayed. Finally I just walked off the job and came home. “We’ve got to find the mind of God,” I declared. We prayed and then the next morning prayed again.
While we prayed, the telephone rang. Sister Oscar Smith from Roadhouse, Illinois, said, “I’m trying to open a church in Roadhouse and we need a pastor. ” We moved there and pastored for six months. Since Sister Smith had leadership ability, there seemed no need for us to stay longer.
Detroit, Michigan, needed pattern makers so we went there. After a few miserable months, we realized that this was not God’s will. “We must move back to St. Louis,” we decided, so we packed. Then Pastor Johnson from the church on Schoolcraft knocked on our door. “Brother Branding from St. Louis wants you to call.” I went to a pay phone and called. “Hannibal needs a pastor, Brother Albert.”
“We wouldn’t be interested, Brother Branding.” I explained “We’re moving back to St. Louis tomorrow.”
“Well, stop by the church and let’s talk about it,” Brother Branding insisted. “Every time I pray about a pastor for Hannibal, Calvin Albert has stood before me.”
So we visited the storefront where Frank and Faye Osbourn were ministering in Hannibal. The building was for sale, so we purchased it. Six rooms upstairs made our home. We moved to Hannibal on July 1, 1945.
At first we had seventeen in Sunday school, mostly women and children with little financial support. I got a job in Quincy, Illinois, and paid most of the church bills. We drove ninety miles to St. Louis for fellowship.
One afternoon in 1946 Brother Alexander Raby preached a fellowship meeting in Hannibal. Conviction seized several who prayed in the prayer room. As we prayed the power of God fell Slain by the Spirit, seekers more people crowded in. Six received the Holy Ghost.
Robert Dougherty came for three nights of services. “Get a half-page ad,” he advised. The ad cost fifty dollars! About thirty attended, and our building seated seventy five. “Plenty of room,” we said. The first night every seat was full, so we asked him to stay. “Only if you’ll get a larger place.” The town officials said, “Use the armory building; it seats three hundred.” We advertised on the radio and the armory filled. We received $150 in the offering!
Several received the Holy Ghost. Many were healed and we baptized our first candidate, Laura Majors, in the Mississippi River. Later we baptized several others in Bear Creek, including Bill Inlow, who got up from a sick bed, and Sister Embree. She had not planned baptism but waded out in her dress clothes eager to obey God. A widow woman, she had four married children plus three small boys when she came.
In simple faith, she practiced our teaching. She told of an urgent need. “I told the Lord, ‘You promised to supply all our needs and Pastor said that we could stand on the Word of God.’ ” So she laid her Bible on the floor and stepped on it, telling the Lord, “I’m standing on the Word.” Later I told the saints to claim by faith what they needed. “If you need a new suit or a new dress, go to the store, select it and trust God.”
Sister Embree walked through the business area by Lucke’s Maytag washer store. The owner, Mr. Lucke, asked, “May I help you.” She said, “The Lord is going to give me this washer.” Mr. Lucke looked at her, amazed. She told him about the sermon. “I need a good washer. I support my three little boys doing laundry for folks.”
“When do you want it delivered?” Mr. Lucke asked. “Oh, I can’t take it now. I don’t have the down payment. ”
“When do you want it? I’ll deliver it first thing Monday and you can pay as you collect from your washings.”
That night Sister Embree laughed and cried at the same time as she testified about her miracle.
George White, Jr., son of the missionaries to Java, preached one of our first revivals, and then Claude Young came. When Brother Young preached an eight-week revival for L. D. Segraves in Kennett, Missouri, some country music singers received the Holy Ghost. They had so many invitations they had no time for worldly appearances.
They came to Hannibal, and as they sang, the power of God swept over us. Sinners ran to the altar. Some of the musicians were Chuck Grey, Carl and Ola Denny with their band, and Norman and Maxine Luna. They returned for years.
In 1949 Claude Young preached again. One morning he said, “I dreamed I preached high in the air over Hannibal!” Later he asked, “Why don’t you use the radio? What an opportunity to get the truth to Hannibal!” In 1950, I asked about radio costs. “Forty-two dollars a half hour.” I asked folks to pray about a broadcast. Sister Laura Majors waved a dollar saying, “I want to give the first dollar.” Others gave. We started broadcasting the next Sunday when Brother Young began our revival. After service, he exclaimed, “Brother Albert, this is the fulfillment of the dream I had about preaching high over Hannibal.”
The Lord helped us acquire the Congregational Church building that had stood empty for a year on Eleventh and Broadway. We had looked for a larger building but felt it was futile. One day a real estate man asked, “Would you be interested in selling your church? I have a man who wants it.”
“Yes, if we could get the right price,” I replied.
“How much do you want for it?”
“We’ve never considered a price.”
“Meet and set a price and I’ll be back,” he said.
We paid 5,000 dollars for the property, so we decided on 8,000. “Let’s ask 8,500 to give me a commission for selling it,” the agent said.
Not expecting him to agree so readily, I said, “Just a minute, we can’t sell until we have somewhere to go.”
“There’s a church building at Eleventh and Broadway for 25,000 dollars,” he mentioned.
“No way! We don’t have that kind of money,” I answered.
He kept coming back. “I’m trying to get it for you.”
“Mr. Brice, you know how much money we have. We’ll have 5,000 dollars left after we pay our loan of 3,000 dollars on this building,” I said firmly.
“Just make an offer on the building,” he insisted.
“I can’t make an offer,” I tried to explain. Mr. Brice went back to the sellers and told them that 12,500 dollars was all we could afford. They let us have that building right on the main artery to downtown Hannibal for 12,500 dollars. God answered our prayers! We moved the last of October 1948.
Built at the turn of the century, the church needed a new roof, a new furnace, and a paint job. After we finished, it was a very impressive building with carved trim and stained glass. A beautiful place to worship!
When we began broadcasting over station KHMO in 1950, many people came. We raised the money first, then I felt free to preach if the broadcast was paid for. One night just before we went on the air, we still needed twenty-six dollars. No one responded. A drunk man came to the platform and paid the entire bill. Many of the people who came said, “I went to this kind of church when I was a kid.” We broadcasted each week from May 1950 until the fall of 1983.
I worked all those years and also pastured the church. But in July 1959 I quit my job to give full time to the church.
We had an evangelist who prayed for the sick and God blessed. Word spread and the sick came for prayer, including a jeweler from Decatur, Illinois. When the minister called for a prayer line, I saw two men help the jeweler down the aisle. He could not walk. He had short legs from having rickets as a baby. After prayer, he walked down the aisle alone.
In regular church services, we often asked the church to fast and pray on Tuesday and then come on Thursday night expecting a miracle. One young mother, Frances Keller, brought her month-old baby for prayer. Later she returned rejoicing. “My baby had not been using her left arm. After prayer, the baby began moving the arm. When I got to the doctor, I told him about it. ‘Yes, I know.’ he told me. ‘I didn’t tell you that the nerve in that arm was dead, leaving the arm useless. But the Man upstairs has done His work.’ ”
Dorothy Keller, one of our older saints, stepped off a curb and broke her hip. She was reading her Bible when the doctor came to see her. The doctor told us, “She’ll have to go to a nursing home. Due to her age and the place where the hip is broken, healing will take a long time.” After a few days in the hospital, Sister Keller felt that God had touched her. “I want to go to church. If I can just get to church and be prayed for, I’ll be all right.” When the doctor came in, she told him, “I want to go home.”
After examining her, the doctor said, “That little black book you’ve been reading has helped you. You can go home on crutches, but you’ll have to be careful.”
That night Sister Keller came, and when we prayed, she shouted and danced right off her crutches. I was scared, but she walked out with her husband carrying the crutches. In her eighties she was still walking.
One Sunday night Carl Nelson told me, “I’ve been witnessing to a man whose wife is dying with cancer. I’ve invited them to church for prayer. His wife is in a wheelchair and can’t sit up long. I told him we’d help and that we’d bring pillows so she could lie down on a pew.”
When Brother Carl saw the couple, he and the men helped bring her in. After the preaching during altar service, several saints gathered to pray. After a while she sat up. The saints kept on praying until she began to walk around the church. Her anxious husband and some of the saints followed her. She came back and sat down. Their little three-year-old girl looked bewildered, so she lifted the child up on her lap. Her husband wept, “My wife has not been able to do that for three months!” Later they came back to the church without the wheelchair. She even went down to the river on fishing trips with her husband.
Our thirteen-year-old Dorcas complained about pain in her wrists. My worried wife called the doctor. When I arrived home, the doctor was there. “We need to get this girl to the hospital within the next ten or fifteen minutes,” he said, then called the hospital for a bed. “I’ll meet you there in about ten minutes.”
After he left, I prayed, “Lord, we’ve always preached healing and now our daughter is sick. We need you, Lord.”
My wife got Dorcas ready. As we left she cried, “Don’t take me to the hospital. I’m healed.” She felt the Lord touch her as she went out the door, but we weren’t sure. “Let’s go ahead,” I said. “The doctor will be expecting us.” When we got there, they examined her and said that she had rheumatic fever. My wife made plans to stay that night.
“You should go home because she’ll probably be here six months to a year,” the nurse said. After the nurses and doctor left, Dorcas said, “The Lord healed me as we went out the door. I want to go home.” She kept saying she was all right, so the doctor gave us permission to take her home. “But she’ll have to be kept very quiet.”
We went home, but she went to church that night, played her accordion, and sang in a trio. I thought, Well, if she drops dead here, this is what she wants. There’s nothing I can do.
Healing is such a miracle that it’s hard to comprehend. Dorcas married at eighteen and still has good health.
Through the years I served in different capacities in the Missouri District of the U.P.C.I. When Brother B. H. Hite passed away in 1948, he was the superintendent of Missouri District. Brother Branding was secretary. He was elected as superintendent, and I was appointed as district secretary and served until 1952. I served as presbyter of our section from 1945 to 1984, when poor health forced me to retire from the church I established in 1945 and pastored for over thirty-nine years.
When I retired, we had a good group of ministers. Through the years we had grown to eight churches in our section: Hannibal, Mexico, two churches in Moberly, Macon, Canton, Montgomery City, and Kirksville. I also served as editor of The Voice of Missouri District, our district paper, as well as secretary of the Sunday school department of Missouri, and later as Sunday school director. For a time I served on the board of Gateway College of Evangelism in St. Louis. Later I taught a class on Corinthians. I feel that my life has been enriched by all these tasks.
God gave me another desire of my heart when He allowed me to make a trip around the world. We left Missouri the first of February 1973 and returned in March. Our friends the George Whites, missionaries in Java in Indonesia for many years, had invited us to come to Java. For Christmas of 1972, the church had given us a trip to the Holy Land, so we decided to combine this trip with the visit to Java. On this trip we ministered in England, India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, and Hawaii. It was a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime trip.
In January 1974 we ministered in Mexico City, Mexico. In May 1980 Brother Glen Smith, superintendent of the Caribbean, invited me to Puerto Rico to preach their pastors’ conference and speak to the Bible school students. Afterwards we flew to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where Brother Vannoy took us to two of the Haitian churches.
In May 1982 we hosted the annual Missouri District spring conference at our church in Hannibal. The district planned a surprise banquet in my honor. The guests included Mayor John Lyng of Hannibal, Congressman Harold Volkner, a number of leading Hannibal businessmen, General Superintendent Nathaniel and Jean Urshan, Missouri District Superintendent Guy and Lily Roam, Illinois District Superintendent M. J. Wolff and his wife, Stanley Chambers and his wife, many other fellow ministers, and the saints from Hannibal. As my son led me around to read the posters that honored me for sixty years in Pentecost, I was overwhelmed.
In May 1985 the Missouri District planned a ceremony renewing our wedding vows in celebration of our golden wedding anniversary. Our children planned another surprise celebration in honor of our golden wedding anniversary on June 28, 1985, in Illinois.
The Lord was so good to allow us to build a wonderful body of precious saints in Hannibal, Missouri, over a period of nearly forty years. In September of 1983, my strength began to abate, yet I tried to keep on with my activities as pastor. By November I was completely helpless. I had to give up the church and the office of sectional presbyter that I had held since 1945.
Our daughter, Dorcas Willis, took us to her house in Chicago so that her family could take care of me. The doctor said, “Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and congestive heart failure.” Then in December I took the flu. Brother Chambers, Missouri District superintendent, and Brother Manning, district secretary, flew to Chicago to see about me. They asked the Missouri churches to pray especially for me and, praise the Lord, He answered prayer. At this writing, four years later, my health has been renewed, and I have traveled and preached in a number of churches throughout Missouri and Tennessee.
Besides our two children, Dorcas and Calvin Jr., we have nine grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren. I am looking forward to attending the great jubilee some day in the New Jerusalem.
Editor’s Note: Desiring to return to their native state, the Alberts moved to Bridgeton, Missouri, and attended New Life Center, pastured by their old friend, Guy Roam, and his son, Jim Roam. Calvin S. Albert died on September 18 1990.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS COMPILED BY MARY H. WALLACE AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1992, PAGES 11-25. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.