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In the early 1900’s, Fred Woerner came to Christ through the preaching of A.B.Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, at the NewYork Gospel Tabernacle. He later moved his family to Elberta, Alabama. In 1910 Fred and his wife, Emma, started a Sunday School on their front porch for their seventeen children and others in the area.

 A. B. Simpson, Founder of 
The Christian & Missionary Alliance

In 1912 Dr. R.A. Forrest, who was at the time Superintendent of the Southeastern District, came to Elberta. He named the group the Elberta Gospel Tabernacle. This was the first C&MA church in Alabama. The group grew for the next fourteen years and finally outgrew the front porch. They rented a one-room schoolhouse and met there for the next forty years.

Many of the Woerner children and their offspring remained in this small farming community and the Elberta Alliance Church became a family church. From this church came many missionaries, pastors, pastor’s wives and many others who are today in full-time Christian service.

The first C&MA church in the state of Tennessee came about in 1912 when a group of devout Christian ladies began meeting in one of their homes. It is rumored that Dr. A.B. Simpson sent two of these early organizers to Memphis

 from the New York Gospel Tabernacle with the express purpose of starting a work in Memphis. In any event, they continued to meet in homes. Their first public service was conducted on Sunday afternoons at the Y.W.C.A. They also held meetings in a tent on a vacant lot in town.

Dr. Forrest came to Memphis in 1921 for the purpose of organizing an official C&MA church. With the help of Dr. Forrest, they adopted a constitution and established the by-laws and the official charter was signed in October, 1921, and the organization was named the Gospel Tabernacle.

In 1928, Dr. Forrest met with Rev. Glenn V. Tingley in Texas and asked him to come and be the pastor of a church in Ensley, Alabama, which he did. In 1934, when the city of Birmingham was recovering from an influenza epidemic that virtually shut down all church services in the area, Rev. Tingley, who himself was recovering from a very bad case of the flu, felt the need to reach out to the city. Tingley went to Birmingham Broadcasting Company and asked for time to preach. He was given a thirty minute time spot on Sunday afternoon with the promise that as long as he paid each week he could stay on the air. This was the beginning of ”Radio Revival” that stayed on the air until the early 1980’s. He also began another ‘Radio Revival’ in Chattanooga that stayed on the air for fifty-six years through the preaching of Rev. T. Perry Brannon.

As a result of the broadcast, in one year’s time, a large Tabernacle had been built, a staff of outstanding ability assembled, and debts paid. The first anniversary celebration was held at the Municipal Auditorium which was packed with 6,000 friends. At that time Mr. Tingley reported the organization of The Birmingham Gospel Tabernacle with 234 members.

In 1934 Rev. Tingley spoke at Legion Field to over 10,000 people. It was reported that this was the largest religious meeting ever in the city. As a result of tent meetings held in various places around the outskirts of Birmingham and other cities, Mr. Tingley started thirteen ‘Gospel Tabernacles’.

For the next ninety-two years God worked throughout the Southern District through the prayers, sweat, and tears of many wonderfully dedicated Christian men and women as Christian and Missionary Alliance churches sprang up from the mountains of Tennessee to the white sand beaches of Florida; from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the steel mills and coal mining of north Alabama to the wire grass areas of south Alabama, and into the bayou country of Louisiana.

See Historical Timeline


As a result of coming to Christ through the preaching of Glenn Tingley, a drunkard, Jimmie Hale, was called to help those who were as he was before he became ‘a new creature in Christ Jesus.’ He started the Jimmie Hale Mission that is still meeting the needs of the addicted and homeless of Birmingham. Mr. Hale’s widow, Jessie Hale Downs, carried on his work after his death and is still active at the mission and at Jessie’s Place, a place for homeless women.

In the late 1920’s Rev. Vernon Hozey was responsible for the beginning of the Waterfront Mission in Pensacola, Florida. It is still serving the homeless there.

In 1977, Ralph Woerner left full-time ministry to answer the call of God to begin Gospel Publishing to send out ‘The Messenger’ to as many in the Birmingham area as possible. He carried on the work there until his retirement at which time his son-in-law, Rev. Ronald Mitchell, became president.

Max Prouty, a member at Westside Alliance Church in Birmingham, began the Worldwide Tract Ministry which he carried on until his death.

In 1984 as a result of the burdens given by God to Bill Nabors and Bob Bozeman, Poplar Point Camp was started. Many young hearts have been changed by the ministry of the camp. The camp is still serving the Alliance youth as well as other youth from other churches in the area.

In 1962 the Southeastern District was divided and the Southern District was formed. Six good and Godly men have served as Superintendents. The first was T. Grady Mangham, Sr. Then came T. Perry Brannon, I. William Nabors, Garfield Powell, A. Eugene Hall, Fred G. King and currently Philip H. Hagar. Each one was God’s man of the hour with their own unique way of leading.

The Southern District hosted the C&MA General Council in Birmingham, Alabama in 1978 and again in Nashville, Tennessee in 2002.

God still has great things ahead for the Southern District. We are “Living the Call Together.” Join with us as we follow Christ and obey his call to bring the Gospel to all people and all nations.

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