To the editor:
Seventy-five years ago, a preacher named O.H. (Otis) Virgin began what is now called the Bell City Assembly of God Church. The revival that converted so many of this group was held in a barn-type building with a dirt floor.
For about seven years, the church rented the first floor of the Masonic Hall in Bell city. In April 1935, the heirs of the late William H. Bollinger donated property to the church's trustees and their successors, who were elected by the congregation. This is the property where the church now stands.
Now the Assembly of God headquarters in Springfield, Mo., has laid claim to the Bell City church property, including land, building, furniture, fixtures and bank account, even though the deed for the real estate remains as it was written in Stoddard County court records.
A lawsuit has been tried, and the decision is in the hands of a Stoddard County judge. The Springfield organization has not documented that the local congregation ever voted or consented to this action. The Springfield organization claims it was grandfathered into this situation. This is nonsense. The local people have paid for 100 percent of everything the Springfield organization is claiming.
The Bell City membership is only a remnant of what is was a few years ago, but we have a sincere, loving desire for the future of this church community. We ask for prayers in this situation. This is still our Lord's church, not the Assembly of God in Springfield.
JIM DeLAY, Bell City, Mo.