The history of the Apostolic movement began on the day of Pentecost. The history of this church is a continuation of that same movement. Our history contains the stuff that good books are made of. It starts and ends with God in control. God handpicked Bishop Leroy Floyd Nelson much like he did the apostles and made him "Fisher of Men." He drew him out of the Methodist church into the beauty of holiness. God himself took a paper mill worker and made a preacher out of him, indeed a leader and pastor of God's flock in this part of the vineyard. It was all done according to scripture, by his Holy word, nothing added new and nothing taken away, the same old holy scriptures.
It is commonly known that one day a man of God was looking for another man of God, and Mother Geneva Peyton was stopped by that man and asked if he knew of a man of God in this area, and Mother Peyton immediately directed the man to the Bishop Leroy Nelson. That man was the late Bishop David L. Brewer of Moss Point, Mississippi. This was part of the vineyard.
God gave us that old time religion that we sing and shout about. He filled us with the same spirit that Paul and Silas had allowing them to sing their way out of captivity; the self same spirit that was poured out on the day of Pentecost.
After his conversion around 1951, the late Bishop Leroy F. Nelson began his ministry in the living room of their home on Cody Driskell Road. He and Mother Mary L. Nelson opened their doors to the community and began to preach and teach the Apostles' doctrine.....a doctrine conceived by the Holy Ghost and dedicated to the position that all men everywhere ought to be holy. Just as it is written in the scriptures, "Be ye Holy for I am holy....."
As the Holy Ghost began to flow the early membership began to grow...out of their living room into their dining room. After many years of struggle, ridicule, persecution, hardships, and worn or broken furniture, the church advanced into a small wood-frame building that is yet remembered by many of the saints and friends throughout this community.
The small white church was located in front of the current fellowship hall and had outdoor restroom facilities. It was built with the help of the late Bishop David L. Brewer and the saints of the Lighthouse Church of the Apostolic Faith of Moss Point, Mississippi. It was in this building that many of the church members were filled with the Holy Ghost. Baptisms were performed in a cold creek in Laurendine, Alabama a drive of several miles away.
Because of our faithfulness over a little thing, God blessed us with a larger building which had indoor restrooms, and baptizing pool. This building was built with strong determination of the saints and friends of Lighthouse of Grand Bay with contributions and support from Lighthouse of Moss Point. The original building was then moved to the south side of the new structure and became our first fellowship hall, where it stood until the hurricane of 1979 took it away. Elder Leroy Nelson was elevated to the office of Bishop and endeavored to obey the scripture that says "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." The journey began by fulfilling a vision of a ministry in Atmore, Alabama. The Atmore chapter of hour history is rich in miracles. Then Elder Floyd E. Nelson led the provision of substance and evidence for the vision.
On Sunday, October 10, 1986 at 3:30 p.m., Bishop Leroy Nelson saw what faith could do. He lived to see the 2nd Lighthouse Church in Atmore, Alabama officially open its doors to the community. God constructed and thoroughly furnished this miracle in 36 working days from the ground breaking ceremony. It could only be done under the fierce will, stamina and faith of its pastor Elder Floyd E. Nelson, and overwhelming help and contributions of the saints and friends of Lighthouse. They would not stop until it was completed.
On July 17, nine months later the Lord called Bishop Leroy Nelson to rest. In his “Last Days” he reminded Elder Floyd of God's relationship with Moses and Joshua and told him "As God was with me so shall he be with you." For fourteen years God was making a Joshua out of him a man full of the spirit of wisdom, ready to keep the fire burning. Upon Bishop Leroy's death, God elevated Elder Floyd to the office of bishop and pastor of both churches.
The third, but perhaps not the final chapter of this history began and continue in the city of Biloxi, Mississippi. We purchased and massively renovated a former United Novelty Shop building. The city of Biloxi has since named the building an historical site. On Sunday, December 17, 1989 we dedicated this as the 3rd Lighthouse church of Biloxi.
In 1993, we expanded the Lighthouse umbrella by establishing the Lighthouse Child Development Center.
On March 2, 1997, the 4th Lighthouse church in Mt. Vernon, Alabama was dedicated. This church was formerly a flower shop and God had plans for the Holy Ghost to also blossom there. Some say they are waiting on Jesus to return, at Lighthouse we plan on working until he returns, because the end is not yet.
In September 1997, God gave us this and surrounding communities. With God on our side we went into the hedges and highway, looking for a few good men; men who were leaders, whether chosen leaders or not. After days and weeks such canvassing and bidding, we set a date for our first annual Men's Day celebration, October 19, 1997. This meeting was at the strong suggestion of the late Brother Elmo Peyton who always felt that we needed a special day set aside to encourage the men. It was at this service that the declaration was made, that the men need to take back our communities from any and all who would subvert God's people to follow Satan's plan of destruction, rather than God's plan of salvation. David said it best, "Oh that men would praise the Lord."
In November 1997, Apostle Nelson announced plans for the construction of the Temple and posted an elevation of it on the bulletin board. The campaign to begin construction was set in motion. God has blessed this work in many ways. God kept the thieves at bay and did not allow the enemy to break in and steal. None of the workers suffered any injuries. God turned every stumbling block into a stepping-stone. He gave the saints and friends of Lighthouse willing minds, hearts, souls and bodies to get the work done. He gave us financial strength to purchase what we needed.
He moved on the conscience of people in high places to such a degree that all building inspections were passed with flying colors. It has been a blessed journey, from the ground breaking to the raising of the first steeple. Press on, press on my children, we've got a home on high. The Temple construction began in January '98 and was ready for the opening dedication on June 7, 1998, convocation '98.
The Lighthouse Apostolic Holiness family is going on to perfection edifying the things that accompany salvation. We will not be slothful, but diligent followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Is this the end or is this just a new beginning?
Well, this question was answered in June 1999; we established a strong fellowship with the Back-To-Pentecost church establishing the Lighthouse Back-To-Pentecost in Memphis, Tennessee. This fellowship continues to grow in the tradition of our roots back in 1951 from a small setting that is overflowing with the Holy Ghost and ready to expand to larger facilities in the next few years.
In March 2000, the 6th Lighthouse Church in Prichard, Alabama was established by initiating a massive renovation of an old appliance building in Prichard. The dedication service was held on
Sunday, May 21, 2000. From the outset this church had youth outreach in its vision, by purchasing a bus and establishing a computer learning and enrichment lab at the church.
In late 2001, God blessed us with the addition of the Lighthouse Memorial Garden, about 6 acres of land at the corners Tom Waller and Cody Driskell Roads. This cemetery has already seen significant site improvement since we took ownership. We widened the adjacent lake in 2004, and plan to continue to offer burial plots to those who wish to be interred at these gardens.
In August 2006, the second addition of the Lighthouse Child Development Center, The Lighthouse Academy of Excellence & Achievement was constructed to accommodate over 200 children, and strong enough to withstand a category five hurricane. The center makes development fun by allowing the children to learn using the Young Explorer computer system for early childhood development.
In January 2007, Apostle Nelson acknowledged the vision of a larger Temple. The plans for the New Lighthouse Temple were completed in April 2008. This facility will be able to seat approximately 3,000 people. We broke ground on April 27, 2008 for Phase I of the vision. Brothers, sisters and visitors are helping to raise this House of God.
Today, God has brought us to June 12, 2011 and the dedication of The New Lighthouse Apostolic Holiness Cathedral. This is a consecration and celebration of God’s blessings upon his people. It is a special occasion and marks a special moment in our lives, a historical event in this community. The sanctuary will seat approximately 4,000 in more than 26,000 square feet including offices, café, conference rooms, missionary and finance offices. With a lot of help from our partners, friends, family and most of all God, we know that we are chosen to keep that light burning in the lighthouse to show the way in a dark world. We thank each of you. Most of all we thank God for his revelation and mercy to do a good work. It is right for you to offer your praise to the only wise God.
God has given us the vision and it is up to us to embrace and pursue it. Do we stop, take caution or go, Lord just be pleased.