Plaster Rock: Founding traces back to 1928

Church's roots strong and deep

The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal/February 24, 2001

By Bob Klager

Plaster Rock -- Plaster Rock's First Apostolic Pentecostal Church roots can be traced back decades to an Irishman named William J. Rolston and the days of tent crusades and revival sermons preached from the backs of pickup trucks. Preserving Our Heritage, a church history compiled and published by the Plaster Rock organization, recounts the faith community's growth from soon after the turn of the century.

After Pastor Rolston and his wife arrived in Woodstock in the spring of 1928, the Ulster-born couple quickly forged a trail of revival up through Carleton and Victoria counties. It was a time when the fire of Pentecost burned so hot people would hobble through icy holes in the Tobique River to be baptized in the Spirit - and the bitter grip of a rural New Brunswick winter. The first tent services arrived in Tilley, a community just north of Perth-Andover, that same year. In July 1931, Pastor Rolston brought his first street services to the bustling little lumber village of Plaster Rock.

And, by 1932, a church building was erected from where he would guide a burgeoning ministry, touching small towns and settlements across the Tobique Valley. By the time the Irish preacher considered retirement in 1966, the McKillop name had forged a strong presence in the Pentecostal community. Cecil McKillop, then among a group of men developing home missions across Prince Edward Island, and his sons Jim and Dana were all Pentecostal ministers. In 1967, Pastor Rolston called upon Dana McKillop to be his assistant. He invited the young evangelist to preach in Tilley church where he would stay for nearly the next decade.

Soon after, Jim McKillop took the Plaster Rock charge. By 1976 he had opened the doors to the Apostolic Christian School that still swells with congregants' children today. Feeding on the inspiration of his brother's work, Dana McKillop in 1977 moved on to pastor the Middlesex church his father had preached in. There he established the Apostolic Christian Training School. That same year, the McKillops' Tilley church (operating under the United Pentecostal Church International banner) changed its name to the Tilley Pentecostal Church - a deed transfer stating the congregation "does not have to hold to the doctrines of the United Pentecostal Church."

In December 1982, Jim McKillop was killed in an automobile accident. His father took the Plaster Rock church on an emergency basis until Dana filled his brother's place two years later. Though the late 1980s brought expansion, through services held in a rented building in Hartland, by 1992, Pastor McKillop found himself at odds with the Plaster Rock congregation over where God was taking them. Dana McKillop resigned in August that year. "The Church was not unhappy with Brother McKillop but perhaps struggling to accept the dictates of the will of God," the church history recounts.However, soon God would move within the church, and congregants convinced Dana McKillop to take the pulpit once again. "If he was the pastor previously, now he was truly to become their 'Daddy'."

Hundreds of people attend the First Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Plaster Rock today. Dozens of children from elementary to high school-grade levels attend the church's school. From its earliest days, Plaster Rock's First Apostolic Pentecostal Church has been the subject of persecution, according to church history. Today, more than a third of the small village's residents call themselves members.

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