BILOXI -- In the early 1950s, the seafood industry was booming on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and it was during those days that A.O. Holmes left his Little Rock, Ark., home and brought his family to start a mission church in Biloxi.
The first meetings of what is known as Pentecostals of the Gulf Coast were held under a tent near Caillavet Street and Bayview Avenue. Under the shade of an ancient oak tree, the fledgling church was born.
Holmes baptized new members by immersing them in the waters of the Mississippi Sound whether it was in the heat of the summer or the dead cold of winter.
Locations for the church changed several times until a simple wooden structure was built at 1316 Caillavet Street. At that time, 19 men were considered for the position of senior pastor but only one felt it his calling to remain at the church, the Rev. James H. Springer, who had already founded the First Pentecostal Church of Jacksonville, Fla., and the First Pentecostal Church of Keo, Ark.
Springer took the pulpit in September 1960 and initiated the building of a new 200-seat brick sanctuary in 1974 at the same Caillavet Street location.
The current church building on Popp's Ferry Road was erected in 1994 when the church had about 100 members.
The POGC recently broke ground on a new and much larger building next to their current sanctuary that will seat 2,100 people and has a footprint that is over 50,000 square feet.
The church expects to be in the new sanctuary within the next 18 months. Plans are to include a book store, café, recording studio and staff offices.
At present, POGC conducts services for the homeless in the community by going to where they are and holding services on the street.
Aqua Viva services are held at POGC on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. for the Spanish speaking community. Pastor Dan Mack brings the message.
The church has a large Jamaican fellowship once every quarter. A food pantry is open at POGC every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon.
Area youth are invited to join in the summer fun with the POGC WAVE youth group, where many activities are planned. Inquire through the church office.