It all began in October of 1945 as Wylie and Valerie Wolfe, James Walter Case, and Virgil Trimble decided that God wanted an Apostolic Church in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The Kroger grocery store was located at 201 Main Street, and there was an upstairs area that was available for rent. In light of the fact that the three men were all very busily employed, the task of securing the building and preparing it for the service of the Lord fell to Sis Wolfe. Sis Wolfe is therefore officially recognized as the founding pastor of the Apostolic Church of Poplar Bluff.
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The new church was located on the same street as two of Poplar Bluff’s most popular motion picture theaters. However, people began to say that “the best show on the block was taking place in the Apostolic Church over the Kroger Store”. The people sang, shouted, and were even accused of trying to jump out of the upstairs window. Clyde Moore brought as many as 39 people who lived in his area in a log truck. The church was growing!
Bro. and Sis. Wolfe who had been the leaders of the church during its first year were transferred to Paragould, Arkansas in 1946. Prior to the Wolfe’s leaving Poplar Bluff, Sis Wolfe contacted Rev. B.H. Hate who represented the Missouri District of the United Pentecostal Church to request they send a Pastor to lead the fledging congregation. Rev. and Mrs. Earl McClellan were contacted and elected Pastor of the Apostolic Church of Poplar Bluff.
The work of God continued! Numerous revival services were held which helped the church to grow during its formative years. Some of the evangelist who made a great impact on the young congregation were Rev. Church Gray, Rev. Carl and Sis. Ola Denny, Rev. Hershel Godair, The McCool twins, along with a host of others. One revival lasted for two months continuously. It was during this revival that 35 people received the Holy Ghost after one shouting service!
In 1947, plans were made for building a new building. A lot was purchased at the corner of Sanders and Relief Streets. Money was raised through donations. One of the daughters of Walter Case raised the most money from donations during a contest. The Commerce Bank of Poplar Bluff made a substantial donation. The Apostolic Pentecostal Church, at 13th and
Gravois Street, in St. Louis, and their pastor, Rev. Harry Branding, provided some financing. Finally, the church was able to build. Jack Jolley, of Fick Missouri, built the new facility.
In 1962, upon the departure of the McClellan’s, Rev. and Mrs. Lee Cook moved to Poplar Bluff to assume the pastorate of the Apostolic Church. Bro. Cook was to lead the church for the next sixteen years during which time many changes took place. The building was expanded and brick was added to the exterior, a new sign was purchased, and the church adopted the new name “First United Pentecostal Church”. The church was known for its thriving bus ministry and Sunday School Program. Through the leadership of Pastor Cook, the church also made significant contributions to the leadership of the Missouri District Sunday School department as well as Gateway College of Evangelism.
Bro. Cool handed over the rings of leadership to Rev. Jerry Curtis in 1979 as he felt the Lord
New Church Building - 1947
Remodeled Building - 1970s
calling him to work in Home Missions. Bro. Jerry and Sis. Brenda Curtis served the church for one year in which they enjoyed many great times of fellowship and togetherness as they prepared for the growth and change God had in store for them.
In August of 1980, upon Bro. Curtis’s resignation, Rev. W. C. Parkey, who had recently resigned as President of Gateway College of Evangelism (of which he had been the founding president), was elected Pastor. When Rev. W. C. Parkey came to meet the church, there were 27 people present. When he was unanimously elected pastor, he felt it was the perfect will of God for him to move his family to Poplar Bluff. By 1980, the church facilities were in need of upgrading, and it was decided that relocation would be the best solution for the church. The church began to make plans for their future and a way of evangelism and enthusiasm began to sweep across the congregation. Crowds for revival and special services grew to the point that the current facility could not accommodate them adequately and it became more difficult to seat everyone even during regular services. The time had come to make a move and the buildings sold. The church moved into a store front building on the corner of Main and Poplar streets and the Lord bless them with one of the greatest years in their history. In fact, during one revival service over 500 were in attendance!
Property was purchased on Highway 67 North , and in the spring of 1983, construction began on a new sanctuary. After seven months of building on November 4, 1983, as Rev. R. D. Whalen preached the dedication service. The name of the church was changed to Cornerstone Tabernacle, The First United Pentecostal Church of Poplar Bluff. Growth, progress and revival continued throughout the decades of the 80’s and 90’s as Pastor and Sis. W. C. Parkey, continued to lead the congregation, but as always time marches on and ushers in change.
Store Front Building
Inside Store Front Building
The new millennium for Cornerstone Tabernacle has truly been an era of growth and progress. The average Sunday attendance in 2002 was 126. As of June 2009 the average Sunday attendance stands at 276! There has been, not only growth numerically, but a growth in interest, in attitude and in participation.
In April of 2000, Rev. Bryan Parkey, the youngest son of Pastor and Sis. Parkey, returned to Poplar Bluff and was elected co-pastor along with his father. In 2002 Rev. W. C. Parkey retied as active pastor (assuming the title of Bishop) and handed the reigns of leadership to Pastor Rev. Bryan Parkey.
Many great things happened when Pastor Bryan Parkey assumed the pastorate. The existing facilities have been updated and renovated, the grounds have been expanded and improved to better accommodate the ever-growing congregation, and a first-rate ministry team of both paid staff and volunteers have been assembled. In July of 2009 construction began on a Family Life Center complex that stands as a tribute to the continued vision of both the Parkey family and Cornerstone Tabernacle. Since its completion in October of 2007 the “W. C. Parkey Family Life Center” has been a tremendous tool in the revival that God is giving to Cornerstone Tabernacle. A new state-of-the-art digital sign was also added to help all of Poplar Bluff to see what God is doing at Cornerstone Tabernacle.
Rev. W. C. Parkey & Family
Rev. Bryan & Sis. Lisa Parkey
In 2014 Rev. Bryan Parkey felt a call from God to pass the mantle from pastorate at Cornerstone Tabernacle. Feeling this call He began to pray for the perfect will of God to be done. In September of 2015 Rev. Bryan and Sis. Lisa Parkey resigned from pastorate of Cornerstone Tabernacle and passed the mantle to Rev. Stephen and Sis. Melody Burns. Both families obeying the voice of God and leading Cornerstone Tabernacle through this time of growth and revival!
Since Pastor Stephen and Sis Melody Burns have come, we have continued to see great things here at Cornerstone! People are hungry and searching for truth and the truth is setting them free.
We not only are thankful for the past history of the church, but we are excited and thrilled about the prospects of Cornerstone Tabernacle and its future. we look forward to a church climate that is geared to the gospel, that is Bible based, and people oriented. We want to be the church that preaches what the Bible teaches, and we want to have the compassion of Christ for the sick, the sinful and the suffering. it is our goal to proclaim the power of God as the answer for all the ills of this present world. Let all those who have been a part of the Apostolic Church, the First United Pentecostal church, and Cornerstone tabernacle, be proud of your past, but be excited about the future that God holds in His hands. It is a future that is filled with wonderful promises and blessings for us, if we believe.