The story of our Church began in 1933 when God called Rev. Evan S. Williams into the ministry at the age of 41 – with a family of seven children. The Northwest Queens area was chosen because for many years street meetings were held here every Saturday during the summer months – and there was no neighborhood church. The church began in a storefront on 42nd Street on June 18, 1933. One year later they moved to a better location on Steinway Street. Then a lot was purchased – and with Pastor Williams’ building expertise, a church was built – The Gospel Tabernacle was incorporated in 1936. In the summers, Gospel Tent Meetings were held and street meetings continued on Steinway Street along with parades and picnics. The church grew under Pastor Williams’ leadership and many went into full time ministry.
The Transition – Pastor Johansson 1965 to Present
In 1965, after pastoring three churches in upstate New York, Robert Johansson received a call from the Lord to return to New York City and pastor the church his grandfather had begun. At age 74, Pastor Williams relinquished leadership and returned to missionary work in Haiti until his death one year later.
After ten years we began to grow, as a result, the church facilities were continually upgraded and enlarged through three Building Programs, concluding in 1980 with the construction of a Multi-purpose educational building.
Within a year this new addition was “packed out” – and still the church went on growing. Two Sunday morning services became necessary, and eventually the overflow crowds had to be accommodated via video in the gymnasium!
Suitable property in New York City is very hard to find and tremendously expensive to purchase. Many churches, faced with such a need, have opted to remove themselves to the suburbs. This trend has created something of a spiritual vacuum in urban areas, especially in New York City. So the leadership of Community Gospel decided we must remain in NYC.
In desperate need of new space the church began to pray for a larger facility. After seven years the Lord provided a privately owned Public School Building (PS 4) – 43,000 sq. ft. on 1 ¼ acres across the East River from Manhattan, in the heart of Queens Plaza, the crossroads of Queens. This impossible challenge was made possible by a series of miracles. Community Gospel traded its outgrown building plus 1 million dollars cash for the new property. Our theme, “Spreading the Light” in a dark city expresses the challenge we faced. Much renovation had to be done on the old school building. For two years the congregation banded together with Pastor Johansson, in an intense volunteer effort called “Operation Nehemiah,” rolling up their shirtsleeves to totally renovate this facility.
On March 5, 1989, the doors officially opened – and Community Gospel Church moved to its new location on Crescent Street. At that time the name was changed to Evangel Church, a cooperative Assembly of God Church open to all.
Again the Church soon was operating at maximum capacity with three Sunday morning services. The Pastor presented a visionary plan for a complete new facility, including a new sanctuary, offices, fellowship hall, staff apartments and gymnasium. Ground breaking took place on Easter, 1996 for this “impossible dream.” On June 6, 1999, after 16 years of multiple services, the dream became reality as 2000 people filled the new sanctuary for the dedication of this new facility.
Today, as one of the largest churches in Queens, with a diverse congregation from 82 nations, Evangel has grown physically and in community outreach. We now have a worship sanctuary for 1800, a gymnasium, church offices, and a highly regarded evangelical Christian school.
EVANGEL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
Evangel Christian School opened its doors in 1985 and now has over 550 students from Pre-Kindergarten through High School. The New York State Board of Regents has issued an “absolute charter” for Kindergarten through High School. It is one of the only evangelical Christian High Schools in the city.
Just as God appointed Solomon to build a Temple in Jerusalem, Evangel has been called to raise up a modern equivalent – “a city set on a hill that cannot be hid” for the souls in New York City. With the dedication of the new sanctuary Rev. Johansson launched the “Cornerstone Project” in order to raise funds for the completion of the entire facility.