A move of the Holy Spirit descended on the Windsor-Detroit area in the early years of the 1920’s. Numbers of Christians crossed the river weekly to worship with fellow believers. Soon prayer meetings in private homes began to appear in Windsor. In August 1923, Brother Marshall and Brother William Courtney rented a hall on Ouellette Ave. to hold the first public Pentecostal meetings on this Canadian side of the Detroit River. Less than twenty attended this initial meeting; however, this series of meetings would provide the fertile ground for the upcoming spiritual harvest. In October 1923, Rev. Jim Lebroque was invited to hold evangelistic services, and in the following five months, scores were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. In December 1923, Rev. Clifford Nelson was asked to become pastor of the fledgling church. His pastorate was assisted by worshippers from Detroit area churches.
As the church grew, it moved first to a store on Glengarry Ave., then to the vacant United Church on Giles Blvd. in May 1924. The Lord continued to bless the church with growth, and in November 1925, Rev. Philpots became the pastor. Under his direction, the congregation rented the Baptist Church on the corner of Bruce Ave. and University Ave. (formerly London St.) in downtown Windsor. God’s blessing descended on the work, many souls were saved and baptized, and many healed.
Rev. Remington became pastor in 1928 and remained until May 1929 when Rev. James Swanson became pastor. During the next six years, the church experienced a healthy growth as the Lord richly blessed His people. When Rev. Swanson was elected General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in 1935, Rev. W. Draffin became pastor for a short period before passing away on August 22, 1936. At this time, Rev. Elmor Morrison, a missionary to China on furlough, was invited to replace him, and the Lord continued to bless with new converts and the church growing to new heights. Under Pastor Morrison’s direction, the congregation purchased the rented property in order to upgrade and enlarge the facilities. Improvements were made, a significant amount of the debt was paid off, and missions giving was expanded as the Holy Spirit worked among His people. In November 1938, Rev. Morrison returned to the mission field in China and Rev. Frank Jolley replaced him as pastor. For the following five years, more souls were added to the kingdom and the church grew steadily.
In April 1943, Rev. William Fitch was invited to become pastor of the growing church, and in 1948 it became evident that the present building would not be adequate for the needs of the congregation. Sod was turned and in May 1951, Bethel Pentecostal Church was opened and dedicated to the Lord. Under Pastor Fitch’s able leadership, the church experienced unprecedented growth and blessing. In spite of slowdown and recessions in the auto-oriented economy of Windsor, the church continued to grow and enlarge. A number of new ministries were begun and missions giving set new records. Through the thirty years of Pastor Fitch’s ministry, hundreds were reached for God, many young people entered the Lord’s work, healing revivals were held, and miracles performed. Pastor Fitch himself was struck down with a stroke, but as the congregation and Christians on both sides of the border interceded in prayer, he was miraculously delivered.
In 1973, Pastor Fitch stepped aside to accept new challenges in ministry and was succeeded by Rev. Victor Brown who had served with him as Associate Pastor since 1971. During Pastor Brown’s years at Bethel, many good things happened for the glory of God.
In April 1977, Rev. Jack Counsell accepted a call to assume the pulpit in Windsor. Under his direction, major renovations to the building were made, a number of properties surrounding the church were purchased, the support staff expanded, and the church name was changed to University Gospel Temple. Pastor Counsell was a strong preacher and lover of the Bible, reading it through every year. He initiated a television program on channel 62 in Detroit and a weekly radio broadcast on CKWW in Windsor called “Ask the Pastors.” The church emerged into one of the leading evangelical voices in southwestern Ontario. Growth continued rapidly with Sunday School attendance peaking at 1200, using twenty vehicles in the bus ministry. Lack of parking and a crowded church facility had forced the church into two Sunday morning services. Sunday School classes were held in every conceivable corner of the building with some being held off campus. Pastoral offices were scattered throughout the church, stifling administrative growth. The “old barn” could no longer accommodate all of the ministries throughout the week, and the pastor and board realized the need to build a new church facility that would meet the needs of the growing community of believers.
When Pastor Counsell accepted a call to St. Catherine’s in April 1985, Rev. George Carroll was elected as Senior Pastor. Pastor Carroll was a visionary, a man of faith, and a builder. Under his able leadership, the church continued to grow and new ministries were implemented, including a Spanish congregation, ministry to the deaf community and a Christian school, Temple Christian Academy, which opened in September 1985 in a vacant school on University Ave.
During 1986, Pastor Carroll, the board and congregation purchased property and embarked on a building program which entailed a $5.5 million complex at Central Ave. and the EC Row Expressway to house the church and school. Plans for the new facility included a 2000 seat sanctuary, an 11 classroom education facility and a full size gymnasium. The congregation prayerfully and enthusiastically entered into an intensive stewardship program with the theme, “Not Equal Giving, But Equal Sacrifice” and was challenged to give sacrificially for 156 weeks. On July 30, 1989, the final service and De-Consecration Ceremony was held at University Gospel Temple, and on August 6, 1989, the congregation celebrated the Grand Opening & Dedication of the new Parkwood Gospel Temple. During this time, the church also embarked on a project to build a seniors apartment complex on the property, and Parkwood Manor opened in 1989.
In July 1995, Pastor Carroll invited Rev. Mark Hazzard to join the staff as Associate Pastor, and when Pastor Carroll was appointed to a new position at our District Office, Pastor Hazzard was elected Senior Pastor. With a church debt of $3.5 million and a vision to see that debt paid in full, on Thanksgiving Sunday 1996, Pastor Hazzard launched the church into a ten-year debt retirement program. An important part of the program was the implementation of “90% Sunday.” Each Thanksgiving Sunday for ten years, the congregation was asked to give 90% of that week’s income with a goal of receiving $100,000 to put directly towards the church debt. Through years of sacrificial giving, and with the power and blessing of God, this vision was accomplished and the church mortgage was burned ahead of schedule on January 1, 2006. The church then embarked on several important building projects, including roof and parking lot repairs, renovations to the chapel and main lobby, including a new café, and the congregation voted to change the church name to Parkwood Gospel Church.
After over 22 years of pastoring Parkwood, Pastor Hazzard resigned in March 2018 to become the PAOC Regional Missions Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. In June 2018, Pastor Daniel Gray, who had served on staff under Pastor Hazzard for ten years, was elected as the new Lead Pastor. Pastor Gray’s heart is to lead a church of disciples who make disciples, and under his leadership we continue to move forward as a church whose mission is to “exist to bring glory to God by becoming disciples who make disciples of Jesus.”