When the Rev. A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, came to Toledo on December 5, 1887, to conduct meetings in the Washington Street Congregational Church, a new church was born in the city of Toledo! From this brief 24-hour visit, and another visit a year later, the small group of believers began to meet and form the nucleus of the Toledo Gospel Tabernacle. They met in various locations, such as: 145 Cherry Street, 928 Lincoln Avenue, 450 Eleventh Street, and on Front Street in East Toledo. Around the turn of the century, a store-front meeting place was established at 1116 Adams Street. The Rev. Charles Young was the pastor. Under the Rev. Issac Hall Patterson, the Toledo Gospel Tabernacle was incorporated in accordance with the laws of the State of Ohio.
In 1916, a permanent building was erected on donated land on Tenth Street. That building currently houses the Toledo Repertoire Theater. Growing to 100-125 people, the congregation filled that little brick building within six years. Moved by great faith to purchase land on 22nd and Monroe Streets, they began construction on a much larger facility. In 1923, during the pastorate of the Rev. D. J. Davies, the church moved into its new facilities at 22nd and Monroe Streets.
In 1925, the Rev. Louis Henry Ziemer was called to be the Senior Pastor. During his 28 years of leadership, many people met Jesus Christ as their Savior. Dozens of young people were called into full-time Christian service. Groups such as the Fishers of Men Bible Class, and a group of young men known as the “Three L’s Class”, were actively involved in conducting outside meetings on the streets of Toledo. The Cherry Street Mission was begun through the vision and direction of men from our congregation. During World War II, approximately 75 young men and woman served in the military forces. In 1930, a live radio broadcast on station WSPD was begun. The outreach ministry, now taped, continues as the oldest, continuous Christian radio broadcast in the U.S. and the world! It is heard locally on two stations and nationally on several others.
After Pastor Ziemer’s death in 1953, and an interim pastorate by his son, Robert Ziemer, the Rev. William F. Bryan accepted the call to be the Senior Pastor in 1954. He faithfully and effectively led the congregation for 27 years. (Note: Pastor Ziemer and Pastor Bryan led the congregation for 55 years between them!) Under Pastor Bryan, the church continued to grow and became one of the leading Alliance churches in the nation in attendance. In the 1960s, the church underwent a major renovation, adding a full basement that included much-needed classrooms, air conditioning and a renovated sanctuary. In 1975, Toledo Christian School was begun in the basement of the church with a handful of students. Today, T.C.S. is non-denominational and offers instruction from kindergarten through grade 12 for nearly 1000 students, drawing from nearly 100 churches in the Toledo area! Through Pastor Bryan’s vision and leadership, the church voted to remain in its current downtown location and be easily-accessible to people from the greater Toledo area as well as to those living in the inner city. God has repeatedly confirmed the wisdom of this decision to this day!
Following Rev. Bryan’s resignation in 1981, Rev. Keith Sholl served as Interim Pastor and was subsequently called as Senior Pastor. He served in this capacity for five years.
After an interim pastorate by Dr. Robert Battles in 1986, the Rev. Edwin Henning accepted the call to become the Senior Pastor. Under his ministry, the church underwent another renovation that included: enlarging the foyer, shifting the main entrance and adding office space. Also the name of the church was changed to First Alliance, denoting our affiliation with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and our heritage as the first Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Toledo.
In January, 1992, the Rev. Thomas D. Fraser began his ministry as the Senior Pastor and ended it in the fall of 2005. During his ministry here, the church has added a second Sunday morning worship service, experienced significant growth, developed vital ministries of urban outreach (Toledo Urban Impact) and discipleship small groups, purchased a number of surrounding properties, and has completed another major renovation of the old Elmer’s Restaurant and Marleau Hardware Store into a beautiful 17,000 square foot Youth Center.
First Alliance Church is committed to bearing witness to the motto that is penned above the platform in the Worship Center: “For the Word of God and for the Testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9). This, however, is more than our motto! Over the years, more than 125 missionaries, pastors, pastors’ wives and other full-time Christian workers have been called to ministry and “sent” from this church! Many thousands of lives have been impacted for Christ by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and have been brought into the family of God through faith in Jesus!
In 2005, Associate Pastor Keith Sholl, was asked to serve in the role of Senior Pastor. He has served in that role up to the present time. During His ministry, the church experienced a tragic loss. In the early morning of June 25, 2009 the church’s sanctuary burned to the ground. The event caused much reflection but also an anticipation of what the Lord had prepared for the future. The theme of “A New Beginning” was embraced as the congregation came together and re-committed to ministry. We look forward to the ministry God is preparing us for - for the next step as we minister until He returns!
Today, we agree with John Wesley who said that “the world is my parish.” The need, challenge and opportunity to present Jesus Christ in Toledo and around the world is greater than ever before! While the heritage of the church’s past is rich and blessed of God, we are convinced that both the present and the future of First Alliance are as bright as the promises of God!