Monday, May 2, 2011


L to R Me, Mom, Grandma Jones, Grandma Pearce (Grandma Jones' Mother)

My Story: Pentecostal

Acts 2:
          “ 1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Yes, I was born in and grew up in a Pentecostal Family. My maternal grandmother was the pastor of the local Pentecostal Church in the little saw-mill town of Lacoochee, Florida. Hearing people speak in tongues and seeing them dance ecstatically in the spirit was as common for me as drinking water from a glass. Praying for the sick that resulted in Divine Healing and miracles was not at all strange or different. I grew up thinking that was the way “church” was supposed to be. I have seen people “slain in the Spirit” in the church as far back as I can remember. Let me give you some background to my faith.

Dad had left home at 15 and had become a hobo on the freight trains, where he learned to smoke and drink and swear with his buddies. It was 1934-1937. When he and his friends would come back home after a long trip they would entertain in the dance hall and work awhile in the Cummers Saw Mill, where orange crates were made. He was making the fantastic sum of $9.00 per week for a full week’s work. It wasn’t long until he cut off the first joint of his index finger on the saw. He refused to go to a doctor but just stuck the joint of his finger on, wrapped it in a wrag, poured on the rubbing alchohol and let it heal back naturally. “Natural” in this case turned out to be a crooked “pointing finger”. While playing his guitar in the dance hall in the evenings, slipping a sip of whiskey from the bottle and getting himself generally drunk - the little Pentecostal church across the railroad tracks could be heard with characteristic singing, praying and shouting (in the old time way) for, you see, it was summer and the windows were left open for ventilation in the small wood-framed structure so typical of country churches of that day. As Daddy explained it to us, “While playing at the dance when we’d hear a shout break out we would run over to the church and peep in the windows to watch the show!” While peeping in the window, Dad saw the “most beautiful girl in the world” and was captivated by her beauty. He made up his mind that he wanted to get better acquainted and soon learned that this 16 year old young lady was the Pastor’s daughter.

Sister Jones was a very charismatic leader. She was charismatic before most of us ever knew what that word meant. She found out that Louis could play the guitar and invited him to play with the church band. I do not believe that was normal for Pentecostal churches in those days for they were also “Holiness” churches but this may give some insight into the wisdom of Pastor Jones. [“Holiness”, That will be a subject for a later blog] She eventually won the young man to a deep experience with Christ. During a Revival, while the house was full of fervent worshippers, Dad had “slipped a sip or two” before the meeting started. At one high point of leading the service, Sister Jones playing the fiddle, called out to the crowd, “Saints! I feel the Spirit in this place tonight!” Dad, by now feeling the effects of his “slippin’ and sippin’” shouted back, “ME TOOOOOO!” Grandma then called to the congregation, “Praise God, Church! The Spirit’s move is so powerful here that even these old sinners are feeling it!” I’m not positive that it was the same night – but during that or a similar service, the house was so crowded that there was no room to sit in the back of the church. So – after playing his guitar for the preliminaries – young Louis Brannen sat on the only available seat – the front row! After the sermon was finished he was invited to the altar to pray. He says, “The Devil said to me, ‘Just smack Sister Rosier in the face and tell her NO!’” Instead of obeying the Devil, he obeyed the Lord, “took two steps and fell into the altar” where he was gloriously converted.

Events moved swiftly. Louis was “Sanctified and Filled with the Holy Ghost” with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as mentioned in Acts 2:4. This Glossalalia phenomenon was for the common man. Louis became a changed man. He immediately stopped drinking. No more cursing. No more smoking. Just like that. It was permanent. I was 60 years of age when he died and I can honestly tell you that I never ever observed my Dad say or do anything that would make me doubt his experience with the Lord. Soon he became the clerk of the church and asked for the hand of Bonnie Jones in marriage. He was just 20 years old. Bonnie was 16 when they married. True to her oft repeated words, “I’ll NEVER marry a preacher, she married this saw-mill worker. However, it was only a few short weeks after they were married that Daddy announced to the congregation that he now felt “called” to preach. This was the beginning of 62 years together in full-time ministry before Dad passed from this life into the presence of his Savior.

Grandma Jones, Mom, Dad
The picture below was made about 1952, at a General Assembly of the Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri.  Mom and Dad were pastoring the church at Campaign, Tennessee about 12 miles out in the country from McMinnville, Tennessee.  Grandma still lived in central Florida.


Ginny said...

What a STORY, Fred!!! The finger thing, I don't know how it managed to stay on and why it didn't get infected. I guess God knew his future, and healed it! Phil's dad was a preacher, too. The preacher's kids often don't fare as well as the congregant's kids. Too much is expected of them. Love the pictures and this bit of your history!!

Melanie said...

What an amazing story of your dad's conversion!
I've spent all my life in Pentecostal churches too, either Church of God or Assemblies of God.
I really enjoyed looking at the pictures.
So, what did your mom say when your dad told her he felt called to preach?? :)

Dar said...

Praise God! Fred, this was a wonderful, heartfelt story of your Dad. I love how it ended, with him announcing his calling to "Preach" wonderful is that!
You are blessed from a blessed line of believers. One cannot ask for more than that.
Now, about that glad he was still able to pick and grin.

Cher' Shots said...

I loved the little "I'll never marry a preacher" quote. Oops! lol
Thanks for the comment left on my blog -
Now Fred, I'm SURE you've watered the seeds of many paths taken.
'love & hugs from afar'

George said...

Thanks for sharing this marvelous story with us. I haven't had much experience with Pentecostal churches, but it's obvious that God was very much at work in that church and in your Dad's life.

~mel said...

I love it when you share these kind of post :) The Lord certainly does perform His works in many ways. AND I have to say ~ were one cute little baby!!! :)

Fred Alton said...

@ Ginny - Thanks!

@ Melanie - Mom said, "OH NOOOOOO!" But then later she received her own "call to the pulpit" and became a licensed ordained minister in our church. ☺

@ Dar - Yes, Dar, it was the right pointing finger, the one that would help hold the guitar pick. Some folks used to laugh and say that when he preached he could point at every direction simultaneously! ☺

@ CherShots - Thanks! I have tried to plant and to water. In some cases I wanted to dig up and pull weeds and start with new seeds! ☺

@ George - Thank you George. You always see the positive, don't you!

@ Mel - Thanks for the comment about the baby. Now if I just had one of those yahoo blushing faces I would post it here. Ha. ☻

tab said...

I never tire of reading or hearing about my Gepa's conversion. I also love, love, love seeing my Daddy's baby pictures.

Keep the testimonies and pictures coming!

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton