Ignite congregation to celebrate the Spirit

Published 7:57 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Church observing its 70th anniversary


When J.D. “Dewey” Tabor came to Franklin in July 1949, he was accompanied by mission workers from the Church of God on 28th Street in Norfolk. They conducted a gospel tent revival that evidently not only woke the Holy Spirit in many who attended, but also inspired the foundation of Franklin Church of God on Aug. 19, 1949. Seventy years later, that anniversary will be observed starting this weekend by the contemporary congregation known for the past several years as Ignite Church Franklin.

Leading the members these days is Bill Holcomb, who lives next door with his wife, Julie, and their children, Abby and Liam.

The journey to becoming a pastor was, in his words, a long one. Although he was raised in a church in Norfolk, being in a ministry of any kind was farthest from his mind.

“I was going in the opposite direction, let alone being a pastor,” Holcomb said, adding that it was not until he got involved in a prayer group because he wanted to meet a young lady that a new direction opened.

“After some time, my heart changed,” said Holcomb, who acknowledged that his stubbornness meant the surrender was not an instantaneous one. Eventually, he gave in to the Lord and began serious study. Ultimately, undergraduate and graduate degrees were earned at Regent University. On-the-job training included filling in for church leaders.

A conversation with a pastor led to a meeting with an overseer of Virginia Churches of God. After some other interviews, it was decided to place Holcomb where he is now at Ignite. On arrival several years ago, he said, there were about 12 regular members on average, but that number has since increased to around 50 people.

“We are growing quite well,” said Holcomb.

The anniversary and “Code Red Revival” starts with services beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18. A barbecue lunch will follow the worship service. This anniversary continues with the revival that evening at 6 o’clock, and then at 7 p.m. from Aug. 19-22.

Bragging on God

Among the celebrants is one of the church’s founding members, 88-year-old Eva Dell Mason, who was a teenager at the time that Franklin Church of God was organized at 210 Bogart St., Franklin. She remembered the first pastor: “Brother Tabor, he was very good. He was on fire for God.”

The church eventually was built where it is now in the 1960s, and Mason lives only three doors down from Ignite, a move that she said was directed by God while seeking a new place for her family.

“I’ve always believed all my life to be faithful to God. I trust God.” she said recently. “I really love — really love — the church. I’m so glad I was faithful.”

Mason hasn’t been just someone who’s sat in the pews all these decades. In addition to her own work as a private duty nurse, she’s cooked and taught every class at the church. Name it, and Mason has likely done it.

While bragging is usually considered impolite, Mason’s not ashamed to say she does just that, telling people about how much God has done in her life both physically and spiritually.

“God has supplied my needs every time … every time,” said Mason, who urges people to “surrender their will to Him.”

To meet her, come by the church this weekend, which is located at 2219 Carrsville Highway, Franklin.

For more information about Ignite, visit the Facebook page, or come by for services.