The First 100 Years
THE HISTORY OF PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLY CHURCH
A man hungry for God
Around the year 1906, when the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was being poured out, Joseph P. Rulien, a Swedish immigrant hungry for more of God, traveled to Topeka, Kansas where he received his personal infilling of the Holy Ghost. Joseph P. Rulien began to have gatherings in 1908 with only five or six families. Meetings were held in private homes with the first services conducted in the Swedish language. Vacant stores and rented churches were used when available. Before they had a permanent place to meet, the Chippewa River was primarily used for baptisms. At one particular service, Bro. Rulien baptized 87 people in the Name of Jesus.
Bro. Rulien organized various home and tent meetings. He also rented the Rod and Gun Club on and sent to Midway (now ABI) for two evangelists. Harvey McAlister and Claude Philleo came in March, 1918. Meetings were held every night and twice on Sunday for over six weeks. Many families hearing the message were baptized in Jesus’ Name and filled with the Holy Ghost.
Jesus Saves Gospel Mission
The people decided to organize and become a church, and on January 20, 1920, Eau Claire Pentecostal Assembly was incorporated with Bro. Joseph P. Rulien as pastor. They purchased a storefront property at 430 Water St. and outfitted it with old theater seats, a big pot-bellied stove in the middle, and a baptismal tank underneath the platform. It was known as
"Jesus Saves Gospel Mission."
Joseph P. Rulien
9 Ninth Avenue
In the late 1930s Bro. Rulien told his congregation that God spoke to him and asked him to build a tabernacle large enough for 325 people. On April 8, 1940, the congregation created a building fund. At the end of July, 1941, land at 9 Ninth Avenue was purchased.
With the outbreak of World War II, construction materials were very hard to obtain, delaying the construction of the tabernacle. The congregation dug deep into their pockets, volunteered labor, and enlisted the help of others. Unable to buy lumber the church purchased logs and cut their own lumber. Despite the lack of money and materials, on June 19, 1944, digging of the basement was started. They would build their tabernacle on faith.
"When Bro. Rulien said, 'Verily, verily I say unto you,' it was to me as the very voice of God. It was so positive and powerful.
God's spirit was in every service."
~Evelyn (Olson) Forry
On June 11, 1945, work on the structure began. When things got tough, the congregation prayed. Their efforts and prayer paid off. God miraculously provided materials that were unattainable. Reinforcing iron was needed for the cement work, but due to the war, it could not be purchased for any price. The needed iron was purchased from the city at a very reasonable price. This iron came from the collapsed Water Street Bridge. Approximately four and one-half tons of it is placed in the walls of Pentecostal Assembly and six, large, steel, one-ton beams support the roof.
Members of the congregation hauled nearly three hundred loads of field stone. One of the big undertakings of the construction was the splitting and facing of all of this stone. This was done mainly by Alice Ebling, Fred Piehl, and Roy Nelson. Alice had the knowledge of stone-cutting from her father who was a stone mason. Nearly all of the stone facing was chipped into shape by the hand of Alice Ebling.
Alice’s husband, Richard Ebling supervised the building of the church and did a large portion of the work. He donated over three years of labor. Richard lived only four years after the church was completed. He died on
May 4th, 1953 at the age of 63.
On June 9, 1946 the first service was held in the uncompleted basement of the tabernacle. The congregation continued to have services in the basement while they completed the upstairs of the building.
"We had one late, wonderful service where several had received the Baptism and we were starting to go up the stairs to get out of the basement and as everybody got up to the top they started shouting and praising the Lord and waving their hands. There were the northern lights right over the top of the building, just streaking lights, all down on top of us, we thought the Lord was going to come! Eventually it went away. People were down on their knees in the dirt and the sand!"
The Eau Claire Pentecostal Assembly was dedicated on Sunday, July 3, 1949.
Leonard W. Coote, President of International Bible College of San Antonio, Texas gave the dedicatory address.
Upon its completion the tabernacle seated 350. The total cost of the building was $47,000.
The church was debt-free at the time of dedication.
Pastor Joseph P. Rulien died December 21, 1952 at the age of 89.
In June of 1953 Richard S. Davis, from Portsmouth, Ohio, became pastor of Pentecostal Assembly. In 1954 a new parsonage was built and the old one was removed.
During the 1960s, three properties on Menomonie Street were purchased. In 1969, a new front entrance was built onto the stone building. Bro. Davis was the pastor of the church through 1969, nearly seventeen years.
Kelsey Griffon was pastor from 1969 until 1970.
On January 31, 1971, Bro. John Tandberg became the new pastor. He brought with him his wife, Anita, and daughters Jane and Julie. They were not strangers to Pentecostal Assembly. Both John and Anita attended Pentecostal Assembly prior to their marriage by first pastor Bro. Rulien. They had also attended as a family when Bro. Davis was pastor.
In 1978 New Hope Christian School was established, with the Learning Centers being located in the basement of the church.
In June, 1995, Pentecostal Assembly held a 75th anniversary celebration. Nathaniel Urshan (UPCI General Superintendent, William Sciscoe and former pastors Kelsey Griffin and Richard Davis were guest speakers.
included a Pioneer
Banquet and many
came from near and far
to reminisce, fellowship, and worship together.
In July of 1983 a ground breaking service was held for the building of a fellowship hall. In 1988 that building became the church sanctuary.
In 1997 construction began again for Pentecostal Assembly. Despite many setbacks including a wall collapsing in June of 1997 and a devastating fire in June of 1998 the first service was held in the new sanctuary on May 30, 1999. On June 2–4, 2000, dedication and 80th anniversary services were held in the beautiful new sanctuary.
In July of 2005, Paul Bennett, became the pastor of Pentecostal Assembly Church. He and his wife, Julie (Tandberg) Bennett served Pentecostal Assembly Church for 14 years.
The most recent construction project, the addition of an administrative wing, was completed in 2006.
Our current pastor, Ray Nicholls and his wife, Judi, were saved at Pentecostal Assembly Church in 1975. He was principal of New Hope Christian School from 1978 to 1991. In 1992, the Nicholls entered the mission field. Over the next 26 years, they were missionaries to the nations of Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine. They also served as Area Coordinators over 16 nations. They have been pastoring the people of Pentecostal Assembly Church since August, 2019.
We are very thankful for and blessed by the rich history of faith and personal sacrifice that is the legacy of Pentecostal Assembly Church. While we celebrate our incredible heritage, we also look forward - with great anticipation - to our future. PAC will persist in boldly proclaiming that Jesus is the Light of the World and in endeavoring to see lives changed with the unchanging Message, until that great and glorious day when we are caught up to meet our Lord in the skies!