The famous words spoken by most folks are “Do you remember ‘when?’” As Pentecostals, we share a long history of remembrance with our Lord Jesus Christ. We claim our roots in the Book of Acts especially Chapters 1 & 2 and Joel 2:28-32.
Our conference history is rooted in the Holiness Movement with A. B. Crumpler (pictured) and B. H. Irwin. Our early days found the term “Sanctificationists” used for our experience and after Azusa Street; we became the “people from across the tracks” or “holy rollers.” It is important for each member of our denomination and conference to know “their roots!”
The Pentecostal Holiness Church birthed from two streams of the holiness movement. The Holiness Church of North Carolina led by Ambrose Blackmon Crumpler and the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church led by Benjamin Hardin Irwin. Wesleyan theology shaped these early leaders with a firebrand message of “Sanctification.” Crumpler swept through the eastern counties of North Carolina with this message. Irwin led revivals in the Midwest and eventually brought his message to the South. Irwin taught three baptisms of fire. He taught them as “dynamite, lyddite, and oxidite.”
The Magnolia meeting in May 1897 birthed the growth of the Holiness Church of North Carolina (NCHC) in eastern North Carolina. Crumpler was the leader of the Magnolia meeting. In the 1906, the General Convention met in Lumberton, North Carolina. During this meeting, G. B. Cashwell (pictured) sent a letter of apology to the Convention for his absence, but he traveled to Los Angeles, California with interest in the new revival on Azusa Street. Cashwell returned in December and began a meeting in Dunn on the last night of the year. He rented a tobacco large warehouse by the railroad tracks, and people filled it for each meeting.
The Fire-Baptized Holiness Church began reaching into the counties of eastern North Carolina with their radical message of sanctification. Both denominations crisscrossed throughout eastern North Carolina. In 1909, the Holiness Church of North Carolina held its Convention in Falcon. Two major actions of the Convention were changing the name to the Pentecostal Holiness Church and the establishment of a committee to merge in a union with the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church. G. F. Taylor proposed a three-member committee to write the stipulations for this union.
Finally, The Pentecostal Holiness Church and Fire-Baptized Holiness Church organized at the Octagon Tabernacle in Falcon, North Carolina on January 31, 1911. The church began to grow westward towards the mountains of North Carolina. All major cities from Fayetteville to Raleigh to Winston Salem to Hendersonville established Pentecostal Holiness Churches. J. H. King (pictured) had the idea of dividing the state into two conferences and led the discussion in activities leading up to the fifth annual session of the North Carolina Conference (NCC) held in Durham, NC on Nov. 23 and 24, 1915. The church had seventy churches and six missions in 1915. The Conference decided to form the Western North Carolina Conference upon recommendation and General Superintendent G. F. Taylor announced that the dividing line should be the Seaboard Air Line Railroad from Richmond to Hamlet.
The Western North Carolina Conference (WNCC) operated in the NCC until the meeting the next November in Spray, North Carolina. The first annual session of The Western North Carolina Convention of The Pentecostal Holiness Church met at Spray, N. C., and Tuesday, November 28, 1916, at 9 a. m. F. A. Dail was elected Superintendent-replacing A. G. Canada.
Our Conference has located headquarters in three locations over the years. We began with the Marion Tabernacle in 1919, in 1950 holding the first meeting on Market Street (pictured) in Greensboro, and moving to Browns Summit in 1990. God has always brought forth very capable leadership of the last century of our formation.
From 1916 to 2015, the Western North Carolina Conference has led the way in our denomination with innovations of retirement programs, insurance programs, and the Biblical Ministries Institute (BMI). The conference was renamed the Cornerstone Conference on June 16, 2000. Our conference began sending missionaries from the earliest days to China, South Africa, and India. As the mission fields expanded, so did the missionaries from the Cornerstone Conference. Our missionaries serve around the globe.
Many evangelists have led revivals throughout our Conference. Famous names of G. W. Stanley, A. C. Elliott, Viola Stanley Marley, Thelma Colton, Betty Baxter, Faye Penland, and W. H. Turner planted churches and carried revival fires from church to church.
Gifted leaders have served on the International level in Oklahoma City from our Conference. Jack Goodson, Doyle Marley, Bishop Tommy McGhee, Talmadge Gardner and others have provided strong leadership and vision.
God has truly blessed the Cornerstone Conference with “Power, Purity, and Passion” for our first100 years of ministry! To God Be The Glory!
Cornerstone Conference Superintendents
A.G. Canada 1915-1916
A. Dail 1916-1922
A. Stroud 1922-1943
A. Melton 1943-1945
T. Lindsey 1945-1948
W. Kelley 1948-1952
D. Yeatts 1952-1966
T. Hoyle 1966-1969
S. Whitfield 1969-1973
M. Triplette 1973-1982
D. Goodson 1982-1985
D. Fuquay 1985-1994
H. McGhee 1994-2012
G. Marley 2012-Present