In 1970 Presbyter Al Friend saw a need for apostolic churches in Warren County and set up a meeting just for that purpose. He and Springfield’s neighboring pastor, Jack Gibson, were interested in opening new churches. There were several licensed men interested in the project. During the meeting, Pastor Gibson presented a map of the county and began naming cities that did not have a United Pentecostal Church. At this point in the meeting, Elza Wilson, a faithful member of First Apostolic Church, Cincinnati, spoke up and said, “I will go to Lebanon, Ohio and build a church.” His wife Winnie said, “I thought my heart would stop when he said that we would start a church.” The First Apostolic Church had produced many preachers, pastors, and pastors’ wives. The church’s late pastor, F.E. Curts had trained men for that purpose.
The meeting continued with plans for Elza Wilson, the newly determined pastor, to preach a tent revival in September 1970. After the tent revival the Lebanon group sought a building to house Sunday school. The Edna Wills and Carlo Davidson families opened their homes for Sunday school and Sunday and Thursday evening services, respectively. Although the National Guard Armory was an option, it was thought to be unsuitable until John Kelly, from Pastor Buller’s church, called Pastor Wilson and said, “the National Guard Armory in Lebanon is available.” Pastor Wilson accepted the building without further question.
Lebanon Apostolic Church spent the next fourteen months worshipping in the armory. During that time the church purchased two acres of land on State Route 123 in Lebanon. Peanut brittle and other projects helped pay off the land purchase. Pastor Wilson and his wife, Winnie, put much of their own money and time paying off the land as well as the construction of the church building. She enjoyed saying, “this church is built on a peanut brittle patty.”
In 1972 they moved into the new church building. For six years Elza Wilson preached and established new converts. Many pastors say, “I would like to die preaching God’s Word.” On a Sunday morning in 1978, Pastor Elza Wilson went to the church early to open the building for Sunday morning services. As he worked around the platform before people arrived for church, he suffered a fatal heart attack and went home to be with the Lord.
After Wilson’s death, his son David became pastor, and in 1981 the church name was changed from Lebanon Apostolic Church to Lebanon Life Tabernacle Church. Educational facilities were enhanced, and the music program grew under the direction of the Pastor’s wife, Marlene. Church outreach with bus ministry was developed and blessed the church. David Wilson pastored until 1992 and was followed by David Banta, who remained until 2001.
Buren Bennett and his wife Gayle pastored the Lebanon church from 2001 until his death in April 2006. Strong apostolic teaching and evangelistic outreach characterized their ministry.
At Pastor Bennett’s death, Todd and Pennie Green were elected to pastor the church on June 6, 2006.
Pastor Todd Green has led the church forward with a focus on making disciples and reaching out to the community. With roots firmly in the Word and a passion for people the future of Life Tabernacle is bright.
Portions of this article reprinted from Out of the Heartland: A History of the Ohio District United Pentecostal Church by Evelyn Buller - available from the Pentecostal Publishing House -www.pentecostalpublishing.com