Category Archives: Ministry

Why Credentials Are Meaningless

Not Everyone is a Professional

My wife takes x-rays. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists have certified and registered her every year since 1980. ARRT says

Certification and registration is the recognition of an individual who satisfies certain standards within a profession. Employers, state licensing agencies, and federal regulators look at the ARRT credential as an indication that a person has met a recognized national standard for medical imaging, interventional procedures, and radiation therapy professionals.

Her credentials do not guarantee that she is a “good” x-ray tech because that is measured by her behavior. We can ask her patients and co-workers if she is good. However, her credentials are necessary for her to be considered a professional in her field. Her good behavior does not negate her need to be credentialed.

I am an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. My credentials do not guarantee that I am a “good” pastor because that is measured by my behavior, by how I practice within my ministry. On the other hand, if I am a good pastor, it does not negate the necessity for me to carry credentials.

Everyone is a Minister

I have been told that papers and titles are meaningless in ministry. Perhaps this negative opinion is based on some positive principles found in the New Testament.

The Church is a priesthood of believers. It says, “…you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Every Believer is a minister. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been given the responsibility of ministry. “All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
The simple act of a financial offering is called ministry. “Meanwhile, through the performance of this ministry, they glorify God for the profession of your faith in the gospel of Christ and for your liberal sharing with them and with all others.” (Second Corinthians 9:13)

Here are some legal issues to consider: housing allowance1 and consecration of marriage.2

1. A church should be prudent about providing a housing allowance to employees that are not duly ordained, licensed, or commissioned ministers, even if that church calls that person “pastor”. The IRS is not likely to consider non-credentialed staff as eligible for a housing allowance (income that is excluded from taxable income). If the church is knowingly providing tax reductions to employees/contractors that are ineligible, this may be an issue that the IRS would consider worth investigating. Proper credentials would clarify much.

2. In Indiana, IC 31-11-6-1, indicates who is authorized to solemnize marriages. The legal code states that, in my case, I must be a member of the clergy of a religious organization. It does not say that I can merely be a verbally-designated pastor with authorized based upon my recognition by my local Christian fellowship. For example, when I was the pastor of an independent church located in Valparaiso, Indiana, the church was legally recognized as a church in the State of Indiana with a Constitution and By-Laws that made a provision for the church to choose and ordain their own ministers. Therefore, the church board and body ordained me for ministry within their body. In my current situation, in order to legally officiate at weddings, I would be required to be credentialed through the General Council of the Assemblies of God by the Indiana District Assemblies of God, the religious organization to which my local church belongs. If I were not credentialed appropriately, I would not solemnize marriages.

How Spontaneous Emotionalism Bestows the Gifts of the Spirit

I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking; rather be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:18,19

 Paul did not want people to speak in tongues in the church.

This is because he preferred that people would understand what was being said in the church. He wanted teaching in church so the hearers would grow and become mature Christians. Speaking in tongues does not help the hearers grow spiritually.

However, Paul spoke in tongues …apparently a lot.

So when and where did Paul speak in tongues a lot? Well, Paul says that praying in tongues is praying in the Spirit. Look at the Scripture, Paul prayed in tongues …a lot.

Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding.
First Corinthians 14:13-15

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray for me, that the power to speak may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:18-20

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

Let’s be like Paul and pray in the Spirit …a lot.

Paul asked people to speak in tongues when they did not need to be the center of attention.

Paul did not indicate that speaking in tongues was less important than some of the other gifts. He did say it was less informative than teaching.

Paul wanted believers to participate in church. He wanted them to be prompted by the Holy Spirit to share their spiritual gifts with everyone.  I feel confident that Paul would not have approved of the spontaneous emotionalism that is practiced in some modern churches.

The gifts of the Spirit are not generated by human emotion.

When I was at Zion Bible Institute, I remember one of the leaders of Tuesday chapel services saying, “We did not prepare anything, so that the Spirit can move.”  This was sometimes followed by students spinning in circles, making shrill bird noises or running violently around the perimeter of the chapel. Based upon this principle of the moving of the Holy Spirit being hindered by preparation, some students wrote a little chorus. “Why study when you can pray? Trust Jesus, you’ll get an A…”

The Tuesday chapel meetings provoked me to look deeper into the Scriptures for an understanding of the “moving of the Spirit” and the Pentecostal experience.


But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8

In this passage, the word for power is dunamis. This is where we get our modern word for dynamite. So the picture of the gifts of the Holy Spirit has been drawn to look like an explosion of a log jam. This is not accurate.

Dunamis is power, strength, might, ability and capability. It is the source of our modern word “dynamic” which indicates a force that results in effective action. The picture in my mind is of someone trudging uphill under the weight of a heavy load. This person will not make it without the strength, capability, force necessary to result in effective action. This is the working of the Holy Spirit that I see in the New Testament. As the burdens of life became unbearable for human strength, the Holy Spirit empowered believers to act effectively.

The power of the Spirit is not for emotional freedom. It is for people to live dynamically within an impossible cultural climate or under normally unbearable factors. The power of the Spirit creates overcomers on Monday through Saturday in homes and workplaces, wherever and whenever He is needed. It seems wasteful to only be filled with the Spirit once a week for an hour while the band is passionately belting out a sentimental song. Okay, that was harsh, but I hope my point is clear anyway.

I don’t need the power of the Holy Spirit so much in church when everyone is happy. I do appreciate that power when I am talking to one of my lost friends or when I am called to visit a terminally ill patient. Boom! Then I feel that supernatural power kick in.

The early Church was not as spontaneous as the modern Church.

Modern Pentecostal churches, in my experience, practice the gifts of the Spirit as spontaneous interruptions of the church meeting. Since the speakers are not prepared, the listeners receive emotion-based, whimsical outbursts that take the place of well-prepared exhortations based upon Scripture.

The pattern of the early Church is seen in the New Testament. Their meetings were not interrupted by emotional outbursts. Paul said to only allow a couple of interruptions in tongues. The Church heard a message of sound teaching. Then they prayed about it. They practiced it. They let the Holy Spirit empower them to live it.

Through the week, as they prayed in the Spirit and meditated on that message of sound teaching, a believer might sense that the Holy Spirit was giving him or her a revelation, a word of wisdom, a prophetic utterance, or an interpretation of tongues. This gift was presented to the church elders who acted as witnesses to confirm whether or not it was indeed from God and should be presented to the Church. They judged it by the word of God. If it was silly, self-exalting, or empty emotionalism, then the gift didn’t make it before the Church.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

…Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another that sits by, let the first keep silent. For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Paul to the Church at Corinth

…and when you think about the Holy Spirit working through you, don’t be surprised if you have an emotional response.

Dedicated servants who have faithfully served the Lord and our School.


Rev. Christine Gibson 1924-1955
Rev. Leonard Heroo 1960-1983
Rev. Mary Wilson 1983-1985
Rev. Benjamin Crandall 1985-2000
Rev. George Cope 2000-2005
Dr. Richard Lafferty 2006-Present (Interim)

Dean of Academics

Rev. Mary Wilson 1955-1981
Rev. Eleanor Brunetto 1981-1991
Rev. Patrick Gallagher 1991-present

Director of Admissions & Records

Miss Alice Chase 1924-1985
Rev. Patrick Gallagher 1985-1993
Rev. Jim Pierce 1993-1994
Rev. David Greeley 1994-1996
Rev. Steve Labocki 1996-1999
Mr. David Hodge 1999-2005
Ms. Helen Brouillette 2005-Present

Director of Finances (Treasurer)

Miss Alice Chace 1924-1985
Mr. Matthew Ropiecki 1985-2000
Rev. Terry Deffenbaugh 2000-2005
Rev. Shelby Pratt – 2005-Present

Dean of Students

Ms. Donna Jo Scruggs 1992-1995; 2000-present

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2005 photograph of Buddy and Sylvia Hill and Corbin

The Zion Story: Faith In Action

The following article was not written by me. I have re-published it so that it will be preserved and read by others.

Who but God would write a plot as wonderful as that of Zion’s?

From countless stories of supernatural provision, to extreme difficulties triumphed over, lives that gave all they had to see God’s work advance, miraculous demonstrations of power, graduates on every continent and literally the whole world impacted-all by a small school in Rhode Island.

It’s the saga of a 25-year-old gal from South America who simply wanted to honor the God she loved and served and who found herself involved in a vision and work that required every bit of faith and energy she had. Little did she know that her trip to America would turn out so differently than she had planned.

She was about to learn that “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible!”
Yet to see God’s vision come to reality would require a life of sacrifice.

Through an unfortunate set of circumstances, Christine Eckman, instead of traveling to California, would end up in a place called Faith Home, on the opposite coast she set out for, a place for retired servants of the Lord.

Here she would meet and marry Rev. Reuben Gibson whose anointed Bible teachings in the Parlor developed a hunger in the hearts of the hearers and they clamored for a school to be opened.

The weeks became years, during which time, from one building, the establishment grew to four buildings. A chapel was built on the grounds; then in 1923 a Tabernacle. The cup of suffering in the well-known mural that was painted in the Tabernacle, as well as in the Temple, was inspired by the loss of Sister Gibson’s husband.

In the fall of 1924, Sister Gibson felt to open a school called the “School of the Prophets,” even though her husband had died only months before. Sister Gibson taught classes on several subjects. The first year God worked supernaturally and often classes turned into mighty demonstrations of God’s power and revelation.

Kathleen Fischer was the school’s first applicant. Her daughter, Margaret graduated in the 1930’s. Geraldine Waterman, Zion’s first missionary, went to China to preach the Gospel.

From year to year improvements were made in the different buildings. Many times a former graduate or the Alumni would supply the funds to do so. In 1936 the name of the school was changed from School of the Prophets to Zion Bible College. Years before, God had called the place Zion and given precious promises in connection with that name through His Spirit. In that year the diplomas awarded at graduation time were from Zion Bible College instead of the School of the Prophets.

Sister Gibson put every talent into the ministry and by the late 1930’s enrollment had climbed to over 90.

Such notable personalities as Mary Campbell, who would touch students for 60 years; Leonard Heroo who grew up in the Children’s home and would become president of the Institute and pastor of Zion Gospel Temple; and Buddy Hill, whose radio ministry would promote the gospel from the Zion campus for decades, would graduate in the years that followed.

As the 40’s progressed and students poured into the school, facilities were again insufficient. God had a solution and in an unusual move the Goff property that included four buildings and adjoined Faith Home became Zion’s.

The Tabernacle was now too small and it only made sense to replace it with a beautiful Temple on the corner of Broadway in front of the school. Yet the commitment never to operate according to man’s wisdom but by the prophetic word would stop that plan. Instead on a back vacant lot it would be built and only a short time later would God’s reason be revealed. Just as seen in Sister Gibson’s vision, the state eventually widened Broadway and would have destroyed the Temple in the process if it had been built there.

Before the finishing of the interior, the Glory of the Lord came down and for days the Lord moved mightily upon His people. The revival of January 1952 will live in the minds of many forever. Young and old, ministers and deacons, sinners and saints, sought God and God moved by His Spirit in a mighty revival. There were healings and gifts and calls to salvation and deliverances, as God showered His blessings upon His people. The meals were often overlooked or forgotten, the hour on the clock held little importance – for God came down in the midst and His glory filled His temple. Zion Gospel Temple was dedicated on March 19, 1952.

The three years following the dedication of the Temple were glorious years for Zion and Sister Gibson. Then, suddenly, in the midst of the very busy month of May our beloved Mother Gibson was stricken ill. The seniors were preparing for graduation and she was getting ready to march on to her eternal reward.

The following six years would bring tremendous change asLeonard Heroo became pastor of Zion Gospel Temple and Mary Campbell became principal of the school; and everyone learned what Zion was like without its beloved founder.

To add to the challenge, the state would require the demolition or removal of four of Zion’s historic buildings to make way for a widened Broadway. Finally, one by one, the Crocker, Wilbert Rich and Children’s Home buildings were demolished, until only Faith Home remained. The entire school, and especially those who had known Zion so long and had lived in the Home, gathered on that day to watch with tear-stained faces as the historic landmark was destroyed. Then, old Faith Home was gone; yet fond memories of God’s presence and workings there shall ever be remembered.

The 60’s brought the election of Leonard Heroo as Zion’s second president-definitely a man ahead of his time.

The long awaited Gibson Administration Building was constructed and dedicated on January 3, 1966, Sister Gibson’s birthday.

Only five years later to the day another event would shake Zion. On the morning of January 3, 1971, just before all the students returned from break, a fire destroyed the girls’ dorm. Only 24 hours later and 56 lives would have been in jeopardy.

Dr. Heroo was prevailed upon to close the school but faith refused to listen to man’s wisdom. Friends and alumni came to the school’s aid once again providing for what was lost. In November 1972 a brand new Cleveland Hall would open with room for 54.

The new dorm was named Cleveland Hall, honoring the Temple’s founder, Rev. Alpheus A. Cleveland. He left the Methodist Church and founded a Holiness Mission, first called Faith Church, later Church of the First Born and then Zion Gospel Tabernacle.

The late 70’s and early 80’s saw the Alumni Association, under the diligent leadership of Edward Hill, raise one million dollars to build the beautiful new Learning Center. This facility housed a chapel, classrooms and a much larger library.

Huge transition and change would again rock Zion in the mid-eighties. Dr. Heroo, due to failing health, would retire as the president of the school and pastor of Zion Gospel Temple. Mary Campbell Wilson, not long after she was married, stepped in to lead the school briefly and then in 1985 Dr. N. Benjamin Crandall was elected to lead the school and Temple.

He had barely begun his presidency when the 108 acre Barrington College campus became available. This meant the sale of the dearly beloved East Providence campus situated on six acres.

For many it was very hard to watch as a developer purchased and then demolished the Tabernacle and Gracemore buildings.

Not many people know that Sister Gibson came to the Barrington campus and claimed the property for Zion at least 45 years before God miraculously enabled Zion to acquire it. The plans for the first major building on the campus were being drawn up as Christine Eckman was on the high seas, traveling to a place unknown, not knowing what God was planning to accomplish through her life and ministry.

In 1985, Brother Crandall gathered many of the Zion family around him by the fish pond and had a memorable picture taken. In this picture are some of the pillars of Zion who held up the hands of the leaders and marched on in faith day in and day out and did great exploits for God.

As the new millennium began, Dr. Crandall would release the reins of Zion to its fifth president, George Cope, a man whose grandfather was led to Christ by a Zionian some 60 years before.

Although it’s not possible to tell the story of Zion without describing all the physical changes, it’s more of a story of people who have given their lives in service to God and this great school. People like:

Marie King, Alice Chase, Pat Gallagher, Rosemary and Swan Messerlian, Ruth and Oliver Custer, Billy White, Ray Goodwin, George Hockhousen, Albert Spader, David Johnson, Ruth Andersen, Esther Rollins, Evert Dahlstrom, Jim Pierce, Nat Saginario, Ruth Christopher, Robert Lundstrom, Eleanor Brunnetto, David Wyns, Libby Gomes, Roberta Hockhousen.

The list could go on and on. These and so many more are the heroes of Zion.

And the result of their labors?

In the past five years alone students have come from 27 different states across America.
During that same time, men and women have come from 51 different countries around the world to study here.

Today Zion has over 3,000 alumni, most of whom are actively serving the Lord. Our school can boast of one of the highest percentages of graduates involved in full time ministry of any school in America – all for the glory of God and the increase of his kingdom.

May his will be done forever without end. Zion . . .the Joy of the Whole Earth!

The Foundation of Faith laid by our founder decades ago remains the cornerstone of Zion Bible College. Faith continues to speak life to millions around the world through decades of alumni who have trained in these hallowed halls. The future is as bright as the promises of God. The vision is yet for an appointed time, it will speak and will not lie!

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