The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council (WVETNC) is the 23rd Episcopal District of the international Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), a Christian organization that is the oldest Apostolic Pentecostal organization in existence. The WVETNC is one of 13 districts in the eastern United States that was uniquely founded through direct involvement and leadership of longtime P.A.W. Presiding Bishop Samuel J. Grimes.
The P.A.W., began as an outgrowth of the great Azusa Street revival, with records showing loosely organized meetings with some of its founders as early as 1907. It was formalized shortly after 1915, then incorporated in Indiana in 1918. Today, the P.A.W. has more than 7,000 churches throughout the United States and in Canada, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, India, Nigeria, Egypt, Togo, Liberia, Australia, the South Pacific, South America, and several European nations. It is the second largest predominately African-American Pentecostal church organization in the world.
The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council, often referred to as District 23, was founded in 1932 and consists of churches throughout West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. The district currently includes churches as far north as Parkersburg and northwest as Huntington (both on the Ohio border), and as far south as Bluefield (on the Virginia border) in West Virginia. It extends as far south as Wytheville and southwest as Abingdon in Virginia (near the Tennessee border). The district also includes several churches as far southwest as Knoxville in Tennessee.
THE EARLY YEARS
The Apostolic Temple located in Gary, WV (site of U.S. Steel Corporation's primary coal producing operation in the United States) resigned its affiliation with the Emmanuel Tabernacle church organization in 1930. Emmanuel Tabernacle was under the leadership of Bishop M.R. Gregory.
LEADERSHIP IN TRANSITION
The council's episcopal structure cedes ecclesiastical polity to its Diocesan Bishop, who is selected by the P.A.W.'s international Board of Bishops. However, the district leadership routinely includes elected chairpersons for defined terms of service, to assist in the operation of the district.
The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council maintains an episcopal polity, in accordance with the parent body - The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. The council diocesan is the Chief Executive in business matters and Presiding Prelate in ecclesiastical affairs. His official title is "Bishop".