Arizona history

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(See the Ethnic Assemblies section for additional details of work among the American Indians.)

Mr. and Mrs. James P. Anderson, in fellowship with the assembly at the Gospel Auditorium in Oakland, CA, were commended to work among the Hualapai Indians of Arizona. They established their home in Valentine, a small village near the reservation, in October 1916.

In addition to their missionary efforts, the Andersons started the Kingman Gospel Chapel. Kingman, a considerably larger town than Valentine, is some 30 miles southwest of Valentine. Their first meetings were out in the Indian camps, but in 1919 Mr. Anderson was able to build a small chapel on the outskirts of Kingman, where they held the meetings for the Indians for a couple of years. They then purchased an old house at 417 Park Street in Kingman, and they rebuilt it for use as a Gospel Chapel. Non-Indians who were hungry for the real Gospel started coming to the meetings, and gradually it turned into a white work almost altogether. Mr. Anderson ministered the Word there once a week while able to do so. Many others worked at the Kingman Gospel Chapel; George Baxter and Harold Kesler both preached and worked there when not elsewhere preaching.

In 1929, it was necessary to erect a chapel for the Indians at Peach Springs, since the Hualapai had been told to get out of Kingman, where they were only squatters, and move up onto the Reservation. Peach Springs was the only town on the Hualapai Reservation. In 1937 the believers began Breaking Bread at the Peach Springs Assembly.

When James Anderson died in 1942, Mr. and Mrs. George Baxter helped with the work among the Hualapai and at the Kingman Gospel Chapel. In 1943, about 16 were in fellowship at the Gospel Chapel. The assembly at Peach Springs was all Haulapai except for Mrs. Anderson and her daughter, with 10 Indians in fellowship. Mrs. Baxter had an Indian women’s meeting on Wednesday afternoons at the Kingman Gospel Chapel. Several missionary women also spent some time working among Indians and Mexicans in connection with the Chapel.

In 1946, Tom Carroll ministered the Word at the Kingman Gospel Chapel for two weeks and helped in the Gospel at Valentine and Peach Springs. In 1947, A. LeRoy Livingston worked among the Hualapai and lived at Peach Springs. The U.S. had a good schooling program, so the Livingstons were able to reach them in English, albeit in a simple form. The Livingstons were conscientious to keep the assembly geared to the Indians, and just one white school teacher met with them to Remember the Lord.

In 1952, the assembly at Peach Springs remained but was small. During World War II and the Korean war, many Hualapai boys from Peach Springs went overseas and their chaplains wrote Mrs. Anderson commenting on their Christian testimony and knowledge of the Word. Faithful Indian converts included Rupert and Rachel Parker, both Sunday school teachers; Grant Tapiaga, a Hualapai preacher, and his Apache wife, Fanny; and the Tomanatas, a four-generation Christian family.

The Kingman Gospel Chapel and the Peach Springs Assembly have both disbanded, the Kingman assembly continuing until the late 1980s.

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The work at Winslow, 200 miles east of Valentine and 50 miles east of Flagstaff, was initiated principally by Carl Armerding and his daughter Minnie. They labored among the Indians at Winslow and vicinity for more than 25 years. Mr. Armerding built a chapel at Winslow in 1934, which had gospel meetings, Bible studies, and Sunday schools, attended largely by Indians of the Laguna, Hopi, and Navajo tribes. The work continues today as Immanuel Bible Chapel in Winslow.

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In 1951, Mr. and Mrs. George Baxter, who had been commended by the Midland Assembly in Detroit (later Bethany-Pembroke), started the Arizona Indian Mission of Flagstaff. The Eldon Miners came to help after several years. Later Mr. Joseph Paulick, commended from Norwood Gospel Chapel in Chicago, and Miss Betty Hollman, commended from New Haven Gospel Hall in Hamden, CT, came to help at the Arizona Indian Mission of Flagstaff.

Messrs. Baxter and Paulick erected the Third Avenue Gospel Chapel in Flagstaff. The workers and native believers met there regularly for the Breaking of Bread, preaching of the Word, Bible study and Sunday School.

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Immanuel Mission, an outreach to the Navajos, was established in 1924 in the extreme northeastern corner of Arizona in what is known as the Four Corners country. A school for the Navajo children was begun in the fall of 1948 by Miss Evelyn Varder. Many of the Navajo children were saved, and some Remembered the Lord on Sunday mornings with the staff and Christian Navajo neighbors. In 1971, Don and Nona Perrault cared for over thirty girls at the school, and Delbert and June Dyck looked after nearly the same number of boys in the large, two-winged dormitory building.

Navajo Immanuel Chapel began as a regularly meeting assembly in the early 1970s. The principal people involved in starting the assembly were Eugene and James Nataches, Navajo brothers. Leadership has been shared by these and Willy Howe, Wesley Begay, Donald Perrault, and Greg Staley, the latter two associated with Immanuel Mission. About 90 adults and children are attend Navajo Immanuel Chapel, which is now usually called Immanuel Navajo Chapel.

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The Tucson Bible Chapel began sometime in 1936, meeting first in rented space in DeMolay Hall. It started through the Gospel outreach of T.B. Gilbert with effective visitation, home Bible studies, and a radio program. The Gilberts had moved to Tucson for Mrs. Gilbert’s health, and when she and their only son died in 1937, Mr. Gilbert moved back to Chicago as a home base, returning each year to Tucson for lengthy visits. The initial 12 believers continued to meet as an assembly. Mr. Gilbert returned in 1945, married Lena Spessard, and spent most of his time strengthening the assembly, which had grown and needed their own building. In 1947, the chapel at 1802 East Grant Road was finished, and is the present location of the assembly.

The principal families in the establishment of the Tucson Bible Chapel were those of Lloyd C. Donaldson, Kermit C. Oestreich, and Clifford Livingston. Subsequent leaders have included Fred Murray, Earl Mowen, Hank Donald, Richard Bayless, Wesley Grimes, Homer Grob, and Alex Laos.

There have been two hive-offs from the assembly, one in about 1959 and another in about 1980. Both maintained fellowship with the Tucson Bible Chapel, but both were relatively short-lived. Tucson Bible Chapel has commended several to the Lord’s work at home and abroad.


  • Questionnaire Responses
  • Letters of Interest, August 1943, p. 23; March 1946, p. 21; December 1947 p. 26; December 1948, p. 10; May 1952, p. 19; August 1952, p. 8; September 1952, p. 4; February 1957, p. 11; February 1962, p. 11; March 1971, p. 4
  • Uplook, March 1994, p. 10