In September 2016, Pastor Walter Ragland traveled from his home in Madison, Wisconsin to Appleton to officiate a friend’s wedding.
While there, he met other wedding guests who, he says, were “seeking a spiritual foundation and who expressed a need for Godly love and care.”
Shortly afterward, Pastor Ragland, along with his mentor spiritual leader, Bishop Eugene Johnson of Madison Pentecostal Assembly, met with a group of men and women in the Fox Valley region to discuss the possibility of planting a church in the area.
After much prayer, the decision was made to establish a new church in the region and plans were hatched to open Appleton Pentecostal Assembly (APA) as a mission of Madison Pentecostal Academy to serve the Fox Valley.
During the first seven months, APA rented Grace Lutheran Church off of Mason Street in Appleton, then held its first service in the church building it purchased at 1100 London Street in Menasha, Wisconsin. Weekly services include Bible study each Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. and an 11:00 a.m. Bible study followed by a 12:30 midday service each Sunday.
APA’s goal is to help build the community and people to love the Lord and to stand for the name of Jesus.
Pastor Ragland’s obedience to the church is unwavering. Currently, he and his wife, Tarsha, travel several times a week (and sometimes several times a day) from Madison to the Fox Valley to serve its steadily-growing faith community. Tarsha’s official title is Trustee; however, visitors will find her teaching, leading prayer or gracefully serving in a number of capacities.
While APA currently has a number of Black leaders, Pastor Ragland is quick to dispel the myth that APA is a “Black church”.
“APA focuses on changing the lives of everyone to become leaders in the spiritual uplifting of Jesus Christ,” and the Pastor says that “APA’s congregants come from a variety of racial and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as Christian experiences.”
APA is committed to ministering outside its church walls and has a number of community events it plans to host in the near future, including neighborhood barbeques and block parties throughout the community. APA will also have a presence at this year’s annual Juneteenth event in Appleton.
When asked what the future holds for APA, Pastor Ragland shared that his prayer is that APA becomes the premier place of worship for people from the Fox Valley community to Green Bay. His goal is for APA to become a one-stop shop for anyone seeking change.
“I am in awe about what God has done so far,” said Pastor Ragland, adding that “APA is at the right place at the right time. Be on the lookout. APA is here to stay.”
Learn more about APA on its Facebook page.
This story has been updated.