Church of the Apostolic Authority
(Formerly Alpha & Omega Church of Jesus Christ)
Narrative by Evangelist Melinda Elam
In 1979, Prophet McGhee came to Champaign, Illinois at the invite of Evangelist Inez Tillman. Shortly after, God began to deal with him to start a church because of the great need of the people in Central Illinois.
Being obedient to the Lord, the church began with two members, Prophet McGhee and Christopher Odom, with Evangelist Inez Tillman and family soon to follow. Evangelist Tillman’s daughter, Desiree Tillman, became the first organist. The Church was located at 212 West Hill street in central down town Champaign. This location saw many people come in and out that frequented the down town streets. Many souls came and united under this fellowship and many were baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. At this location, the church did not have a baptismal pool but received permission to baptize souls in Jesus’ name at the local United Pentecostal Church.
Those that came in the beginning that helped lay the foundation:
June and Kenneth Shelby and family
Mother Hale – from Jamaica
Shanice “Praise Joy”
Thomas Wintjen – Assistant Pastor
Bernice McClure Harvey and Family
Elder Wright and Elder Holloway
Mom and Pop Sweeney
Verna Mobley and Family
Melinda Elam and Family
Alean Smith and Family
Doris and Tommie Smith and Family
Brenda Turner and Family
Mother Mary Gibbs and Family
Minnie May Love
Mother Alean Patterson
Mother & Deacon Herman Pryor and Family
Christopher E. Odom
The musicians on Hill Street were organists Desiree Tillman, Clarence Williams, and Jimmie Pryor. Bass guitarist was Charles Wilson and lead guitarist was Everette Elam. Our drummers were Chris Logan, Vince Elam, and Helen White.
These individuals served as the foundation of our church. The church eventually moved from 212 West Hill Street to 905 North Fairview in Urbana and the church grew by leaps and bounds. Adding to the Mothers Board was, Mother Ruby Sanders, Mother Doris Williams, Mother Linda Maze, Mother Florence Logan, Mother Pryor, Mother Mary Gibbs, Mother Juanita Williams, and Shepherd Mother Alean Patterson. Deacon Ernest Lee and Nadine Lee were also instrumental as trustees. The choir stand could not hold the choir; the overflow would have to line the walls to sing. Our Pastor and choir were in great demand for engagements all over the state of Illinois. Verdie Finney became our first church secretary. Many people sought our Pastor out for prayer and counseling. We purchased a bus to keep up with the traveling demands that we called Big Red, on it was written Acts 2:38. In time we also purchased another bus and a van. Eventually, we joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Our Pastor was also blessed during our tenure on 905 West Fairview to meet and marry Sister Deena Davis in July 1989. From this union came three wonderful sons, Edward T. McGhee, Jr., Edwind T. McGhee and Edmond T. McGhee. In a short time, our pastor was elevated from District Elder to Suffragan Bishop and has held several prominent positions in the Illinois District Council. Suffragan Bishop McGhee is currently the IDC Director of the Young People’s Union.
Church of the Apostolic Authority’s First Officers:
Ladine (June) Shelby, first Usher Board President (and held this position for many years)
Inez Tillman, first Missionary President
Mother Hale, first Mother’s Board President
Desiree Tillman, first Directress
Charla Green, first Trustee
Deacon Herman Pryor, first Deacon
The choir was formed in 1980, and Charles Wilson was the President. Kenny Odom joined the first musicians as a flutist and saxophonist, along with Brother Scott Kramer and Brother Dale Kirksey. By 1998, the choir was officially named The Voices of Pentecost. One Sunday, Derrick White went to Pastor and asked that he pray for his hands that he might play the organ… Brother White has been playing ever since. After growing in the church, Joel Elam became the main drummer. Later, another son of the house, Adaire Thomas, was added as a drummer as well.
As the church continued to grow, we moved in 1989 on New Year’s Eve to our present location, 400 West Bradley Avenue in Champaign. Now, over 30 years later, CAA has many ministries and teams such as a Step Team, an Adult and Teen Choir, a Dance Team, an Administrative Team, a Worship Team, a Ministerial Alliance, a Campus Outreach Ministry, two sister Alpha and Omega churches, one in Bloomington and the other in Peoria, all pastored and founded by Suffragan Bishop Edward T. McGhee. The church also has an annual scholarship for graduating seniors named after Mother Charlene Henderson, Sister Helen White and Brother Lee Earnest Cummings, Jr. entitled White-Henderson-Cummings Scholarship.
Down through the years and through it all, the Lord has been good to us. Many of us can truly say that our church saying is true… “Come with us and we will do you good.”