A Rich Heritage to Celebrate
It was in Sept of 1958 that the Rev M.E Collins, then President of Southwestern Bible Institute, attended a meeting of bible college presidents in Springfield Missouri. It was at this meeting that Gayle Lewis, at the time director of home missions, challenged bible colleges to establish new churches and to train ministerial students to help pioneer them.
Rev Collins returned home to Waxahachie Texas with a vision to reach his community by starting such a church. He began in March of 59 by holding prayer meetings at his home, seeking God’s direction in this endeavor. These meetings were attended by his wife, as well as Rev. and Mrs. Bob Skipper, E W Patterson, Lousie Driskoll, Pearl Ellis, Lillian McPherson, Otto Smith and several Southwestern students.
It was at these meetings, and after much prayer that this small group felt God wanted them to pioneer the new church in Grand Prairie named East Side Assembly of God the fledgling church began in Sept to hold Worship meetings and Sunday school in a rented duplex at 2320 Pine St GP, with Rev Skipper and his family living in the other half.
However, it wasn’t long before the church purchased 4 lots at the corner of Pine and 21st street and dedicated the land to the Lord on Nov 8th 1959.A tent was erected on the new property and services were held through the fall and summer months with what is reported to be outstanding Evangelistic preaching. Construction soon began and in 1960 the auditorium and first floor of a new building was dedicated and in 1964 the second floor was complete.
In March of 1964 Rev Collins resigned and Rev Skipper was elected pastor. By 1970 the church had grown and an educational building, with kitchen and fellowship hall was added, and named in honor of Rev M.E. Collins, and in 1979 the church’s name was changed to Abundant Life Assembly of God Church.5.8 acres of prime property was purchased on Carrier Parkway, just north of I-20 in 1983 and in 84 constructions began on the new building. It would include a sanctuary and classrooms, offices, fellowship hall, kitchen, as well as choir and music areas.
The new facilities were occupied and dedicated in 1985 and the former property sold. In March of 1985 the church began drive in services. The 30 minute service consisted of prayer, special music, singing and 15 minutes of inspirational message. Routinely attended by 10 to 25 cars, the Drive In church attracted national attention, including a spot on ABC’s Good Morning America in April of 1988. A new addition was added to the existing building in November of 1989. It included an enlargement of the fellowship area, six additional classrooms and a Christian education office.
Nov of 1996 saw the end of an era, for after nearly 40 years of faithful service, Rev Bob and Kathleen Skipper retired as pastors. Rev Michael and Diana Anderson were voted in as the new pastors on Jan 19th of 1997 and serving until January of 2001. It was during their tenure that a quarter acre of property was sold to Whataburger, allowing the church to pay off its note and become debt free.
Rev Randy and Susan Robertson were elected Senior Pastors in Feb of 2001 and served until January of 2004. While serving as pastors their efforts raised the money that would be used for significant remodels in the years to come. Shortly after in the summer of 2004, Rev Doug and Ginger Brodess were elected as Senior Pastors and served until June of 2005. They began remodeling projects in the foyer and sanctuary that continue to this day. In their first month or two at Abundant Life, they brought Pastor Doug and Brittanie Wyatt on as youth pastors who would serve for 6 years, and Pastor Joshua and Nancy Weiss who remain on staff today.
In June of 2005 Rev Jeff and Nancy Magruder came to Abundant Life as interim pastors. They announced their candidacy for Senior Pastor at Homecoming of 2005 and were elected the next month.The current facilities under went a major overhaul in 2007. The kitchen and restrooms where modernized, as well as the nursery, staff offices, foyer and the stage. Later that year new fenced playground with sport court and volleyball pit was added. Rev Magruder served bivocationally as Senior Pastor from January 2005 until January 2012 when he entered into an interim pastor role until April of 2012.
Rev Everette and Elke Pafford were elected Senior Pastors of Abundant Life in June 2012 and quickly began implementing a vision for 5-star service for attendees. Pastor Everette immediately united the staff with an all out community outreach in August of 2012 with the first annual Back To School Bash in which Abundant Life hosted its largest audience ever with nearly 500 people in attendance. The following year B2SB would break that record with roughly 700 members of the community served in one Sunday morning service. Pastor Pafford also worked with staff and members to begin hosting annual health fairs in which Abundant Life partnered with Parkland Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Carter Blood Care, and multiple other local health and wellness organizations to offer free medical services to the community.
Today, after more than 50 years, Abundant Life Assembly of God is dedicated to creating a church such as the founding men and women first envisioned. A congregation that is committed to training future leaders and pastors of the Lord’s church, as well as one that pledges to honor our elders, nurture our youth, and respect and accept those of all ethnicities. There have been many changes, both good times and hard, but what has always remained is our devotion to God and our attitude that at Abundant Life, you aren’t just a church member, you are our family.