History of the Central District
A Canadian minister named Albert Benjamin Simpson moved to the United States and after successful pastorates in Lousville, Kentucky, and New York City, formed the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887. This movement was not initially a denomination, but a group of societies or "branches" that committed to spread the good news of Jesus Christ around the world and stress the fullness of Jesus Christ in personal experience.
In 1909 the leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance first designated these societies or branches in Ohio and West Virginia as the Central District. A report in 1916/1917 reported that there were 25 organized branches (churches) and 8 unorganized branches. On May 6, 1918, the Central District took another growth step and became incorporated. This incorporation encompassed the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Southern Illinois, Southern Missouri, and Kentucky.
Under the direction of District Superintendent Rev. H. E. Nelson (1928-1941), the work of the Central District grew. This period of expansion translated into increased missionary giving, the opening of new churches, the retiring of the District’s heavy financial debts, and intensified efforts at expansion. The Central District did not escape the adverse affects of the Great depression in the 1930’s. However, many new missionaries were appointed and sent out to various countries across the globe. Numerical growth occurred in the United States and across the world and intensive prayer and significant sacrifice became trademarks of the movement.
In 1965, the General Council of the Christian and Missionary Alliance voted to change the boundaries of its districts. Rev. Neil E. Fye was elected the District Superintendent of this redefined district that included Eastern Ohio and West Virginia. A new heartbeat for expansion led to a series of consultations that laid the basis for church growth and new church planting. An important part of this expansion involved the organization and ministry of African-American churches. Following Rev. Fye, Rev. Chuck Holmes served as the District Superintendent.
The 1990’s witnessed the team of Rev. Howard D. Bowers, District Superintendent, and Dr. Gordon Meier, Director of Development, assuming the leadership of the district. Church growth increased dramatically and the number of churches totaled in the 70’s.
Dr. Meier then stepped into the role of superintendent from 1999 until 2008. He and his team led the district under the theme: A Revived Church... Planting and Growing Healthy, Great Commission Churches. In 2005 the district office moved into a new building in Wadsworth at 1231 High Street. During these years, the Central District 100 was initiated to see 100 new district people called and sent into full-time service. Also, OWV (Operation West Virginia) was started with the goal of planting Great Commission-minded churches in each of West Virginia's 55 counties.
In 2008, Jeff Miller assumed the role of District Superintendent. Along with Todd Sovine as Church Planting Director, Dan Scarrow as Leadership Development Director, and the rest of the team, he is leading the district toward the dream of "Every person and every pastor aggressively and intentionally advancing the Kingdom." To do this, the Central District is focusing on three priorities: Desperate dependence upon the Holy Spirit, missional living and godly leadership development.