The Kimberly Church of God has a heritage that is deeply rooted in the “holiness movement” that swept the Southeastern United States in the late 1800's. The history of the church is one that places it at the forefront of American Pentecostalism as a “pioneer Pentecostal Church ” and as the oldest continuing Pentecostal Church.
The people that made up this congregation found themselves in the center of the intersection of four major social dynamics – the Post Civil War Reconstruction of the Southeastern United States in the late 1800's; the beginning of the Industrial Revolution; the religious awakening created by the Holiness Movement; and, a hunger for a deeper relationship with God that would be fulfilled in the revival fires of the Holy Ghost. These four dynamics would collide in Kimberly, Alabama and give birth to the “ Church of God at Kimberly” in 1902
The story begins with a man named Martin Scott Haynes who was hired by the Methodist Church in the late 1800's to design and construct buildings for the Methodist Church's new college in Birmingham, Alabama – Birmingham-Southern College
. M.S. Haynes was born in Blount County and was educated in Kentucky at Asbury College
. He would receive Christ while working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Haynes had relocated to Birmingham, Alabama in the late 1800's to build a factory for Don Drennen for the production of surries, buggies and stage coaches. His craftsmanship and design capabilities caught the attention of the leadership of the Methodist Church and they hired Haynes to design and help build the Birmingham-Southern College
campus. Haynes' work was also noticed by the Catholic Church and they would hire Haynes to design and build St. Vincent Hospital
. It was during the construction of these facilities that Haynes would become familiar with the community of Kimberly because the coal mines from Kimberly would supply Haynes with the coal he needed to run his steam engines that were used in lifting material and supplies used in construction.
Another dynamic that played a vital role in the formation of the Kimberly Church would have it's origins in Topeka, Kansas . The Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas in 1900 was a Methodist affiliated college under the leadership of Charles Fox Parham. Many of the students of this school would experience the Baptism of the Holy Ghost during the years of 1901 and 1902. Some of these same students would find summer work as construction workers at the new Birmingham-Southern College
site where much of the construction project was under the direction of Martin Scott Haynes.
In the summer of 1902 Martin Haynes was invited to hear a young Methodist college student preach about the “Holy Ghost” and “Tongues of Fire” by his personal assistant named Joe. Joe had been listening to this construction worker that was employed by Haynes in the afternoons when the work day had ended.
One afternoon, Martin Haynes, his wife, his brother Efford and his brother's wife, Clyde Cotton Haynes heard this message about the Holy Ghost and all were baptized in the Spirit with the evidence in speaking in other tongues. It was after this Pentecostal experience that Martin Haynes answered the call to the ministry to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he would be joined in the ministry by his wife, his brothers Efford and Will, and by his sister-in-law Clyde Cotton Haynes. This entire family would become Pentecostal Pioneers that would preach the Gospel, evangelize, establish churches and become some of the early leaders in the Church of God.
In the late Summer to early Fall of 1902 Martin Haynes was led of the Holy Spirit to go to Kimberly, Alabama to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and “Tongues of Fire.” He was familiar with the Kimberly area and the people there due to his working relationship with the coal mining industry. One of the leaders in the town of Kimberly, William Martin Doss, had told Martin Haynes of the “deep hunger” that many of the people in Kimberly had for a closer walk with God and that they wanted to know more about the Holy Ghost experience. It was at the request of W.M. Doss that Martin Haynes would come to Kimberly and set up a tent for a “revival meeting” on Doss' property that was in front of his home. This is the very land that the Kimberly Church of God is built on today and has been functioning as a church since 1902.
The Christians in Kimberly were meeting in the Kimberly School House in the late 1890's through the early 1900's and the Church was known as the Kimberly Community Church. The congregation was under the ministry of “circuit riding preachers” each week and they had no true pastor. A Methodist minister would conduct services at the Kimberly Community Church on a given Sunday and would be followed by a Baptist minister on the next Sunday and a Presbyterian minister on the following Sunday. These circumstances created doctrinal confusion within the “schoolhouse congregation” but it also created within some a hunger to know more about God and what His Word really taught. It was in this “spiritual atmosphere” that Martin Haynes would preach the first message on the Holy Ghost Baptism in the first tent revival meeting in Kimberly , Alabama in 1902.
The revival meeting that week featured the Haynes family providing the music, singing and anointed preaching. During one of the services all of the people ran out from under the tent because they thought that someone had thrown fire on top of the tent. They would come to understand that this was miracle – the appearance of the Holy Ghost in the form of fire. The Glory of Lord had been shown among them and this group of believers would never be the same again. Later that week the people attending the tent revival met in the first formal Sunday service in home of W.M. Doss under the direction of Martin Scott Haynes. During that service many of the congregation received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence in speaking in other tongues. This new congregation would be born in the fires of Pentecost and would soon be known as the Church of God at Kimberly.
This new Pentecostal congregation would spend much time in prayer asking God what they should call themselves. Some suggested that the name Holiness Union would be appropriate while others suggested the name Kimberly Christian Union be used – but it would be Martin Haynes that would suggest that the congregation call themselves “The Church of God at Kimberly” as he referred to 2 Corinthians 2:1. The records of 1905 show that this church was operating under the name “The Church of God at Kimberly.”
Between the years of 1905 through 1910 Martin Haynes and the Church of God at Kimberly would come in contact with and experience the ministry of such men as:
G.B. Cashwell, M.M. Pinson, H.G. Rodgers, M.S. Lemons and A.J. Tomlinson.
Cashwell would conduct a revival at Louisburg [Fultondale, Alabama] at the request of Martin Haynes. It was at this revival that Pinson and Rodgers would first hear of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Pinson and Rodgers would follow Cashwell to Memphis, Tennessee to be a part of his Holy Ghost revival that he would conduct in the city and it would be there that they would receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Pinson and Rodgers would return to Alabama to begin their ministry of preaching and teaching about the Holy Spirit. One record shows that Rodgers served as a temporary pastor at Kimberly while Haynes went out to organize new churches in the area. Rodgers would not stay long in Kimberly believing that he should go throughout the region with Pinson preaching the Pentecostal message. They would start several churches in Alabama under the name “Church of God ” as they would borrow the name from the Church of God at Kimberly. Pinson and Rodgers would later on be credited with starting the denominations of the Church of God in Christ and the Assembly of God.
In 1907 Cashwell was invited by Haynes to preach in Louisburg [Fultondale – North Birmingham]. It was at this tent meeting that Church of God leaders, A.J. Tomlinson and M.S. Lemons, would attend and hear the Pentecostal message for themselves. It was also at this time that Martin Scott Haynes would form a lasting friendship with Tomlinson and Lemons which would lead to Martin Haynes becoming a member of the Church of God Denomination as well as the Church of God at Kimberly becoming one of the denominations first established congregations. By the year 1910 [January] records show that Haynes was a Bishop in the Church of God and that the Church of God at Kimberly was an organized church in the Church of God.
Some of the first records  of the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Church of God show that the Church of God at Kimberly was always represented at the General Assembly from that year to this present day. Martin Scott Haynes would serve the Denomination as a Bishop, Pastor, Evangelist, Church Planter, State Overseer, Board Member and a Member of the First Council of Twelve of the Church of God. Martin Haynes brother Efford would also serve as a Bishop, Pastor, Evangelist, Church Planter, State Overseer, Board Member. Efford Haynes wife, Clyde Cotton Haynes, would be known as the first female evangelist in the Church of God. Later on, many members of the Haynes family would be among the first employees of the Church of God Publishing Company.