First to Join Pioneers and Planters
White Wing Messenger|August 2021
Michael Edwards is pastor of Orange Grove Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A fourth-generation bishop, he is the grandson of former General Overseer M. A. Tomlinson and great grandson of A. J. Tomlinson. Bishop Edwards is a graduate of Tomlinson College (1979). He and his wife, Cindy, have been married more than 45 years.
MICHAEL EDWARDS

In every new church plant, there is a moment when someone is the first person to place their right hand on the Bible and take the Membership Covenant. In that moment, a mission (a church plant) is transformed into a new local church. None are more surprised than me that this is my membership story, who as a teenager in the early 1970s was one of those who was first to join the newly established church in Windsor, Canada.

The when, where, and why of this story goes back a generation to when my dad was a young Christian attending our Hazel Park Church in Detroit, Michigan. Years later, in remembering those days, he shared with me how he would look across the Detroit River at the Canadian city of Windsor and feel a calling to establish a Church of God (of Prophecy) in that city, which did not have one. It took over 30 years for him to see this “vision” fulfilled, a journey which included him accepting the position of National Overseer of Canada in 1969. Our family then immigrated to the city of Windsor, where Dad threw himself into traveling to our churches across the country, as well as being at conventions, camps, and emergency situations (often traveling on his own money). However, when not traveling, he made time to rent a room in the old downtown Windsor YMCA, where we would have worship services on Sundays. I doubt when moving his family to Canada that Dad imagined the night he organized the mission at the “Y” into a new local church it would be his son who joined first.

Yes, the YMCA was an old, old building with limited street parking and old wooden chairs that would snag your clothes, and since it was also a residential “Y,” some curious residents observed our church services with various reactions. Dad would preach when he was in town and recruited young ministers from the Detroit area churches to fill in when he was traveling. That rented room at the “Y” was where I held my first church position, as I was the set-up man (kid), setting up chairs before church began and putting them away after we were done. Little did I realize my first position in the church would be something I would continue doing all my years as a pastor.

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