Madison Pentecostal Assembly to Celebrate 40th Anniversary Ministering to the Whole Person

MPA

When Bishop Eugene Johnson moved to Madison in Fall 1983 to found Madison Pentecostal Assembly, he came with $200 in his pocket and a dream.

Part 2 of 2

By Jonathan Gramling

The Lord works in mysterious ways is a common refrain from people whose lives have taken shape for future tasks without them necessarily planning to do so. The life of Bishop Eugene Johnson, who founded Madison Pentecostal Assembly with his wife, Minister Carolyn, in 1983, seems to have followed that path. From arriving in Madison with $200 in his pocket to today with a 23,000 sq. ft. facility on Buckeye Road, MPA has truly flourished.

The foundation of the Madison Pentecostal Assembly has always been to reach out to those who were having the most difficulty in surviving not to speak of succeeding. When the church was founded, Johnson reached out to Darbo-Worthington, which back in the day was nicknamed “Little Africa.” Now with their own church building in South Madison, they began reaching out to the south side low-income communities.

“We did recruit in Sommerset and other low-income communities,” Johnson said. “We sought those who were abused by some of our own people. I’m talking about the Chicago element. Some people were in Section 8. Drug dealers were infesting those areas. We would come in and prop up people and help them resist the drug dealers. Even their children were being recruited for that criminal life. We supported the mothers to take a strong stand on the side of right and law to basically not support their children living with them or even their husbands who sold drugs. Sommerset

Circle, some of their members have been with us and are still strong supporters of the church right now.

It’s multi-generational. We reached out to them, told them to eventually get off welfare. They began to work and are now retiring from jobs with the school system and the Madison Metro bus system. We encouraged them to buy homes and own something. We encouraged their children to do well. There was a groundswell of support within our church after they saw what we were doing.”

The church soon outgrew its building on Nygard Street in the Town of Madison and they expanded the church.

“We added onto that facility to the point where we needed more capacity because our church was growing,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of energy. We were looking for land. One thing that happened on Nygard that really told me that we needed to move was one day, after service, an incident happened. We had three services: 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. with Sunday School between those services and a 5:30 p.m. service. At nighttime, some of the children would run around and play. The neighbors in a mobile home park that was adjacent to the church are the ones who told our kids to be quiet. Now I understand. They were trying to sleep. I just felt that here we go. Our children need a place to run and play. We need a bigger facility. I just didn’t want our children to be told to be quiet. They needed a place to run. And so we did seek a place to build our own facility, acquire some land on the edge of the city of Madison.”

First they looked to the south to Oregon.

“We attempted to purchase 72 acres of land in the Town of Oregon because we were going to expand,” Johnson said. “At the town hearing in the utility garage there, the whole community came out. There was myself and one other brother in our church. They saw us and told us, ‘We have guns in our trucks.’ I said, ‘That’s nice. That’s good. But that’s not going to stop us from pursuing purchasing these 72 acres where were are eventually going to build and grow.’”

Madison Pentecostal Assembly bought 15 acres of land just east of I-39/I-90, which they sold to Habitat for Humanity. And then they found their next church home.

“We eventually purchased the old Buckeye Evangelical Free Church on Buckeye Rd. where we have a 23,000 sq. ft. facility on about 3.5 acres with a ball gym, so our children can run and play,” Johnson emphasized.

And in order to provide for any future expansion of the church, MPA purchased 58 acres of rural land that the metropolitan area would eventually grow out to.

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While Madison Pentecostal Assembly’s immediate facility needs were met, it didn’t mean that its ministerial mission was complete. Through word of mouth, people from other communities learned about MPA. And as the saying goes, “If Mohammed can’t come to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed.”

“By then we had been from gang bangers and prisoners to business people and corporate people and are running other entities and so forth,” Johnson said. “We eventually established a church in Tomah, Wisconsin in 2014. We purchased a facility there and it is paid for now. Darren Price is the full-time pastor there. We purchased a school in Beloit, 23,000 sq. ft. on ten acres in 2015. Beloit is a different area, but we own that. In 2016, we purchased a property in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. That church is growing. It has close to 8,000 sq. ft. They are growing so fast that they are looking to purchase a larger facility. There is just a growth of people. I must mention that after Anchor Bank closed, we established a great business relationship with Monona State Bank, which is now Lake Ridge Bank. They have been very supportive in working with us. The bank is just a great institution. The people were kind. They understood our equity position. We had paid off our Buckeye Rd. church and then refinanced it to purchase some of the other facilities. We paid off our Buckeye Rd. facility in 10 years. It cost us over $1 million. We paid it off without fundraising or selling anything. We don’t sell chicken or don’t go out pegging. We paid it from our own resources. It’s not like we are rich people. The people just believe.”

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