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Friday, 24 May 2013

Garlon Pemberton, remembered


DIXIE CAMP MEETING - (from l to r) Modest Pemberton, Wayne Pemberton, M. D. "Mom" Beall, Garlon Pemberton
by Archibald Thackeray

Garlon Pemberton was one of the most vibrant and unforgettable people involved in the Latter Rain Movement of 1948. When the movement started, he and his brothers Wayne and Modest were among the earliest ministers in the U. S. to fully embrace it.

They sponsored the Dixie Camp Meeting in 1951 that did much to spread the blessing and teachings of the young LRM. According to Dennis McClendon in the July 1, 1951 edition of the Houston Post:

"During the meetings that closed June 17, more than 400 ministers were in attendance. Missionary leaders came from every continent of the globe. Countries represented by delegates included Liberia, India, Canada, China, Australia, Peru and England, the Rev. Mr. [Modest] Pemberton said. The average nightly attendance under the oversized tents exceeded 2,000 persons. There were representatives from every state in the Union - more than 30,000 in all [a cumulative attendance figure for the two-week camp meeting]. 'We had made big plans but the Lord made them even bigger,' the minister said."

McClendon also wrote the following about the Pembertons and their wives:

"Three brothers, natives of Cameron, Texas, are at the energetic core of the World Wide Revival 
Garlon & Modest
[Corporation]. The Reverend Modest S. Pemberton, who studied for several years to be a skin specialist, is assisted by an older brother, Wayne C. Pemberton, who had previously been in the oil leasing business.


"A younger brother, the Rev. Garlon L. Pemberton, completes the trio and holds the presidency of the World Wide Revival Corporation. He is a preacher of 12 years, who was once an amateur prize fighter and church-building contractor.

"The ministers are assisted by their wives in all phases of religious activity. Mrs. M. S. Pemberton directs musical programs, Mrs. W. C. Pemberton teaches Sunday school and Mrs. G. L. Pemberton plays the organ."

M. D. "Mom" Beall preached at the camp meeting, and the Pembertons gave this account in the August 1951 issue of the Latter Rain Evangel:

"Sister Beall of Bethesda Temple of Detroit was the principal speaker, speaking each evening at 7:45 P.M. Only God knows just what was accomplished in the meetings. The whole city of Houston was stirred, and people from all over the States, India, Australia, Africa, etc. were here for this glorious time of fellowship with God's people.....

"On Thursday the 14th of June, we saw something we had never seen in our Christian life before. Sister Beall had preached on 'A Lamb for an House,' and we saw approximately 400 men not counting the women and children, who were kneeling on the ground in the sawdust and shavings, weeping and pouring out their hearts to God. We are so sorry we did not have a picture made of this scene. People were healed, filled and delivered throughout the whole meeting. We shall never know until eternity just what was accomplished."

According to his funeral home obituary, during his 65-year ministry Garlon "started and pastored thirteen churches in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi."

Later in life he served as an associate pastor at Word of Faith Temple in New Orleans, Louisiana. That church was pastored by Charles E. GreenNew York Times best-selling author Peter Jenkins attended that church for awhile and one chapter of his  now out-of-print book The Road Unseen creates a representative 'snapshot' of the church and Garlon; here is just a part of that chapter:

"We pulled into the parking lot of the Word of Faith, our church. The building was built out of cinderblocks painted white and the sanctuary was eight-sided. We'd heard our pastor, Reverend Charles Green, say many times that God had told him to buy the five acres the church was on when it was nothing but a dirt road and a swamp. Now it was some of the most valuable real estate in the entire city.

"Word of Faith was located about a half mile off the interstate right next to a sprawling shopping center called Lake Forest Mall and the Methodist Hospital. The Sunday night crowd was always smaller than Sunday morning's but usually there were at least six hundred folks at this service. Although it was a thirty-five mile drive one way, we felt it was more than worth it. We never left a service in which we hadn't been inspired by God and His Word....

Garlon
"I opened the door for Barbara and Rebekah and also held it for Garlon Pemberton. Garlon, an associate pastor, had grown up tough in Texas. The man had a square build, and his muscles and voice were filled with power. Before becoming a preacher he'd been a boxer, and he was so full of energy he could have sold the excess to the power company. Garlon was loved by everyone and must have been in his early sixties - although no one ever thought about how old he was."

Garlon died at the age of 91 in July 2008, but his effervescent personality and blessed ministry are not forgotten (for instance, churches still sing his song, "Abraham's Blessings are Mine"). Tapes of his preaching can be purchased here.

[UPDATE October 6, 2014 - His wife Marie 'Honey' Pemberton died on October 3 and her memorial service will be held tomorrow, October 7. Charles Green will officiate the service. Her funeral home obituary can be read here and she can be seen below in a one-minute video that was recorded a few years ago.]
(from l to r) James Lee Beall with Garlon & Marie Pemberton (This photo is the property of Cyndy Green Crider.) 
Garlon and JLB in Lansing 1952Garlon and JLB in Lansing 1952 · Sat, Jun 28, 1952 – Page 9 · Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) · Newspapers.com
Charles Green and Garlon Pemberton 1981Charles Green and Garlon Pemberton 1981 · Fri, Mar 20, 1981 – Page 10 · The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana) · Newspapers.com

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