Kenneth Ray Carpenter recently celebrated 29 years as pastor of the First Apostolic Church in Maryville, Tennessee. Since becoming pastor in 1984, he has pursued the vision and dreams God placed in his heart to reach the community of Blount County. The original congregation of 27 has grown through the years with the help and support of a dedicated group of saints and family members.
Pastor Carpenter is passionate about God, family and church. He treasures being a husband, father, grandfather and pastor. In 1982, while preaching as an evangelist at FAC Maryville, he met the love of his life, Penny Bennett. In July 1984, one month after becoming pastor of FAC, he and Penny were married and she joined him in pastoring. Ministering alongside the Carpenters are five multi-talented people including son-in-law and daughter, Chad and Fallon Erickson; son-in-law and daughter, Zach and Lauren Hammond; and son, Nolan. The Carpenters are also very proud to be called Nona and Poppa by three very special grandchildren, Paris Lache’, Windsor Kate, and London KenLea.
Pastor Carpenter has been a minister with the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ (ALJC) for the past 33 years, and is well known throughout the organization. He is a well-respected conference and camp meeting speaker, and is well known for his leadership in missions giving. He has served as President of “Menistry” (National Men’s Ministry) since 2010, and was Presbyter of Section A of the Tri-State District for several years.
Pastor Carpenter was elected General Superintendent of the ALJC in 2013. His compelling burden and vision for the present in the ALJC is to see prayer networked throughout the organization. It is his heartfelt desire to see all churches, regardless of size, have the tools they need to propel them into a greater revival and reap a harvest of souls.
As a troubled 16-year-old teenager, Bro. Carpenter was enrolled at Apostolic Christian School in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it was there that Bishop Billy and Betty McCool and the First Apostolic Church of Knoxville took a chance on him. “February of that school year, I was baptized in Jesus name and received the gift of the Holy Ghost,” said Bro. Carpenter. “My ministry began shortly after that at the age of 17 when I preached my first sermon, and shortly thereafter began evangelizing throughout the United States.” Pastor Carpenter feels deeply indebted to the ministers and churches of the ALJC organization for investing in his life and ministry when he was a young evangelist. His parents, John and Ruby Carpenter, held Bishop Billy McCool in high esteem. On his father’s deathbed, he asked Bishop McCool to finish raising his two teenage sons. “I didn’t understand at the time the profound affect my father’s deathbed wish would have on my future,” said Pastor Carpenter. “Many times during my teenage years, Bishop McCool would correct my teenage behavior; however, the greatest lessons learned were through Bishop McCool’s lifestyle. He was a loving husband, father and pastor; but had the backbone of a crowbar. For years I witnessed firsthand the balanced life of this anointed man of God, and the traits of my pastor still influence my life today.”
Pastor Carpenter enjoys time with his wife, Penny, who is very active in his ministry. “We work as a team,” said Pastor Carpenter. “Sister Carpenter just ended a six-year term as the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ Women’s Esprit President. She declined nomination for re-election this past June at the General Conference, wanting to devote more time in Maryville. To her surprise and mine, I was elected General Superintendent of our organization; now she helps me in my new role, so I enjoy when we can find time for just the two of us.”
PRINCIPLES OF GROWTH AND REVIVAL
Known for its great music and dynamic preaching, First Apostolic Church of Maryville is a church striving to become a 21st Century Apostolic Church, and is endeavoring to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with love, mercy and compassion.
Pastor Carpenter strives to live in reality focused on revival, prayer, missions giving, consistency, taking a solid stand on holiness (inward and outward), and making every church service count whether it’s a mid-week service or Easter Sunday. “Many of our key people have been won through Home Bible Studies,” explained Pastor Carpenter. “My wife and I still teach Search for Truth and promote it as the way to build a church. We have a high retention of the families that we have won through HBS.”
The Carpenters are involved in outreach “21st century style” with the support of a state-of-the-art technical team. The church produces The Apostolic Connection, a weekly telecast that airs daily throughout East Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia. The church’s website hosts a webcast ministry where all services are live webcast and archived at www.FACtv.org. The church’s education outreach includes Apostolic Christian Academy and Preschool, founded by the Carpenters. The school is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
Event planning and team building are the primary focus of First Apostolic Church. “I meet weekly with our Associate Pastor Chad Erickson and administrative team, which oversees approximately 30 ministries, and our leadership staff evaluates each ministry through observation during the time of actual operation,” explained Pastor Carpenter. “Our administrative team also conducts leadership training sessions, supplemented by additional sessions throughout the year by outside professionals.”
THE MARYVILLE MIRACLE
Since 2008, First Apostolic Church has been on a journey they call “The Maryville Miracle.” Many financial blessings and miracles have taken place among the families of the church because of their debt-free approach to building an 80,000 square foot campus for the church, preschool and Christian school. (Their current campus is also debt-free.) “I have been compelled to follow this God-given direction to build debt-free and support missions, instead of sacrificing missions giving to pay interest on a bank loan,” said Pastor Carpenter. “Through the faithfulness and sacrifice of our local congregation and friends, FAC Maryville has been blessed to invest more than $6.5 million into this debt-free building project that is 75 percent complete.
“The one thing we decided at the very beginning of this project was our missions giving would be increased each year,” he added. At the same time that more than $6.5 million has been invested in the new campus, FAC has given over $1.5 million to missions.
At first, Pastor Carpenter had formed a plan to raise $1,000,000 to build a sanctuary connected to their existing church, but while in prayer, God spoke to his heart. “The Lord said, ‘My coming is soon. Begin to give to missions like never before and I will take care of the new building,’” said Bro. Carpenter. “I then instructed the congregation that if they could only give one offering after tithe, to give it to missions, even before giving to our own building project. Shortly thereafter, the miracle began to unfold and the following events took place: Our church significantly made missions giving a part of our weekly offering. Twenty acres of choice real estate became available, and the church unanimously voted to purchase the property, and we were able to pay for it in cash. After that, two additional road frontage acres were donated adjacent to the new property. Sixty souls were baptized and received the Holy Ghost within six weeks. To FAC, this was a confirmation from God on the decision to put missions first.”
CURRENT AND FUTURE FACILITIES
The current FAC Maryville debt-free campus is situated on five acres. Facilities located on the campus encompass approximately 28,000 square feet and include the main church building with sanctuary, fellowship hall, preschool/Sunday school classrooms, nursery and commercial kitchen; mobile building that houses additional preschool activities; and Apostolic Christian Academy that houses 10 classrooms, full-size gymnasium, office space and a small concession stand area.
The new FAC Maryville campus sits on approximately 22 acres (option to purchase 10 adjoining acres) with an 80,000 square foot facility located across the street from the largest high school in the county. All facilities will be housed under one roof and will include a 1,400-seat auditorium with expansion capability to 2,000; a 300-seat student sanctuary; a 150-seat children’s sanctuary; coffee shop/bookstore; preschool for 200 students; Apostolic Christian Academy for 420 students; a banquet hall that will seat 300; and full-size gymnasium.
THE VISION OF FIRST APOSTOLIC CHURCH
As First Apostolic Church looks into the future, part of their vision remains missions oriented. “Our goal is that at some time in the future FAC will give $1 million to global and home missions within a one-year period,” said Pastor Carpenter. “Another goal is to develop a church-wide network prayer ministry that would include a 24-hour call center reaching out globally.”
The FAC technical team is presently working on the capability to have all their internet webcast services closed captioned, so all countries and languages can understand the Apostolic message being preached in their own language. “It is our goal to assist our missionaries in foreign countries, not only financially, but also with tools to help spread the full gospel to the whole world,” said Pastor Carpenter.
The long-term vision and goals of FAC are to establish an Apostolic Bible college for the southern region of the United States, and to build an Apostolic senior retirement home on the property adjoining the new FAC campus.
By Gregg Stone