“Without question prayer is the foundation on which everything rises and falls!” says Pastor David M. Hudson of Riverside Apostolic Church in Morgantown, West Virginia. “When I came to Morgantown 27 years ago I preached a 7-week series based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. This has been the catalyst for my ministry during this time in Morgantown. Everything we do is bathed in prayer.” There are at least five weekly prayer times, two more monthly, with a three-hour Prayer Blaze every quarter.
Priorities and Organization
Pastor Hudson believes a revival pastor needs to focus mainly on prayer, organization, oversight and follow through of casting the vision. Various departments at the church include Daughters of Zion, Prayer, Single Adults, Outreach, Care Ministry, Ladies Ministry, Bible Quizzing, Campus Ministry, Financial Peace University, Purpose Institute, Youth, Missions, Music, etc.
Leaders meet weekly with an “annual strategizing exhaustive meeting.” Forty percent of the church is involved in some form of ministry with an additional 10 percent directly involved in evangelism. Pastor Hudson uses messages from the pulpit and training to promote or encourage involvement.
“I personally strive for excellence,” says Pastor Hudson. “I am somewhat of a perfectionist particularly in my younger years. I expect people to do their best. I delegate. I give people a job, make sure they understand what is expected and then turn them loose. I DO NOT stand over them. I do expect accountability. If they do not do well I attempt to help them and see if they can improve.”
Growth ministries and methods that have worked best for increasing attendance are “our Prayer Ministry, our annual Messiah Drama, and one-on-one relationship building.” Pastor Hudson considers missions to be the focus of his ministry. His favorite subjects to preach on are “prayer and prophetic end-time messages.”
Riverside Apostolic Church History
“In 1931, Rev. W.T. Poling came to Riverside at the invitation of Rev. H.I. Goodin and was elected as pastor,” says Pastor Hudson. “At that time the church was simply known as the Mission.” He continues, “A few years later, Bro. Poling and the people were praying for the Lord’s direction concerning a new church. One evening as he walked along Monongahela Ave., he came to the corner of Monongahela and Ferry, and the Lord spoke to him saying, ‘This is the place!’ An investigation followed and the owner of the property was contacted. The ground was purchased, and work began on the new church. Rev. H.C. Weaver was in charge of the building program. Bro. Poling and the men of the church did most of the work.
“On Thanksgiving Day 1937, the Riverside Apostolic Church was dedicated. Bro. Goodin preached the dedicatory sermon. As in the past, God blessed the church with continued growth and something had to be done. The answer was a new addition to the building. Once again, the men and women rallied as the Lord blessed the work with Rev. Paul Walker in charge. With the addition completed, more space was provided for the expected increase in Riverside’s spiritual family.
“In December 1961, another chapter in the history of Riverside came to an end. Bro. Poling passed on to a better land leaving the torch in the hands of Rev. Hayward Saffle. Riverside’s heritage continued under his direction and as in the past God’s hand was on the church.
“With Rev. Saffle’s announcement of his retirement on December 31, 1974, another chapter came to a close and a new one began. Rev. E.S. Harper was elected pastor in 1975. In September 1977, 22 acres of land on the Dent’s Run Boulevard was purchased for $100,000. In January 1978, the men of the church went onto the property, with snow up to their knees, to begin clearing the land. In June 1978, construction began on the new Fellowship Hall; it was to be the temporary home of Riverside.
“As in the beginning the men worked on the building and the women cooked and provided food. Construction was completed in September 1979 as a combination Church/Fellowship Hall. The first service was held on Sunday morning, September 19, 1979 — Homecoming Day. With God’s blessing, the church experienced tremendous growth.
“On April 2, 1981, just 50 feet from the fellowship hall, the first block was laid for the new church building. Construction was completed in April 1983 with the first service held on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983.”
A New Pastor
On August 11, 1985 another chapter came to a close with the resignation of Bro. Harper. It was during the week of September 22, 1985, that Rev. David M. Hudson ministered to the congregation of Riverside preaching a message of hope. On October 2, 1985, the congregation felt led to elect Bro. Hudson as their new pastor. On November 22, 1985, he was officially installed as pastor of Riverside by Supt. Mills and Rev. C. M Becton.
The congregation has continued to grow spiritually as well as in number. During 27 years as pastor at Riverside, Bro. Hudson has led the church administration in seeing the indebtedness of the church mortgage paid in full, four years ahead of schedule. Major capital improvements have been completed under his direction, including the paving of the parking area, new roofs on the existing building, as well as a complete renovation of the interior of the Fellowship Hall and an up-to-date modern kitchen.
“Riverside’s growth has steadily continued as some 400 conversions during this time have further strengthened the foundation,” he says. “Numerous activities have added to the exciting ministries. Most notable has been the Messiah Drama that has been seen by over 10,000 people. There are presently some 25 ministries operating at Riverside. Currently we have about 400 souls in two services Sunday morning.” Also, Riverside has enlarged its ministries internationally as Pastor Hudson has visited and ministered in some 55 countries, taking mission teams for crusades and special meetings. “Many youth have been involved in overseas ministries.”
Pastor Hudson’s Call
Pastor Hudson was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. “I was raised in the church. I received the Holy Ghost at the age of nine in the local church during regular services. From a very early age I had always felt I would someday be involved in ministry. I always had a deep desire to be involved in ministry. When I was 17, I felt a specific call during a missions service at a neighboring church where Rev. J.C. Cole and Rev. Billy Cole were making a missions presentation prior to Billy Cole’s missionary days.
“The men who influenced my ministry the most are my father, Charles Hudson, my pastor, D.W. Durst, and Rev. S.G. Norris, founder of ABI in St. Paul, MN. Rev. Daniel Coleman under whom I served doing an internship beginning a home missions work and Rev. James Simison, Indiana District Superintendent, were also a great influence.”
Pastor Hudson began his ministry in Fayetteville, WV at the age of 23. “I preached my first sermon in my home church in Charleston, WV when I was 17 years old. My first message was titled ‘FAITH.’”
On October 2, 1985, Pastor Hudson took his current church. “I was traveling in India as part of an IYC Missions endeavor with 30 young people and one young person was from West Virginia. They told me the current pastor in Morgantown had resigned. After completing this missions endeavor and returning to Syracuse, IN where I was pastor, the local presbyter from West Virginia called to inform me of the vacancy of the church. Upon inquiring I was granted an opportunity to preach for the Morgantown church. I spent a week ministering, making inquiry, interviewing, and getting a feel for the church and city. During the week the Lord awakened me on a specific occasion and gave me a plan of action for the remainder of the year for the church and for the transition. This was prior to any indication I would have any opportunity to be pastor. My comment to my wife, Brenda, was simply, ‘. . . if the Lord opens this door I am ready and prepared to enter.’”
In closing, Pastor Hudson says, “The most important weapon that we have in our arsenal is prayer. If we do not use that, we are not effective. Sometimes there is very little that we can do to change things except take the matter to the Lord and let Him do what needs to be done. That’s why I feel that prayer is so vital. The second thing I feel that pastors need to do is to communicate to their people effective ways to reach the lost. The third thing is that pastors need to be involved in their communities. We need to try to connect with our communities. We isolate ourselves in the ‘ivory tower’ so to speak, but we need to get our boots on the ground and get involved in a community effort.”
By Christina Li