A. The Early Years
The Sanctuary began in the early 1940’s as a tent revival with Rev. O.E. Lamb and Rev. John T. Mouchett Sr. serving as the ministers in this meeting. As the meeting progressed and souls were born again, a small church building was erected. Rev. Lamb stayed on as pastor of the fledgling congregation.
The church continued to meet, and services were held in the Mississippi heat without the benefit of air conditioning. The windows were raised, and everyone in the surrounding neighborhood then became part of what was happening.
Rev. Obie Ramsey arrived in Pascagoula in 1948 with his wife, Dorothy, and his three children, Helen, Evelyn, and Jerry. A few years later, Bonnie, the youngest daughter, was born in the old hospital which is now a nursing home. There were very few members in attendance besides the Ramsey family in their first service at First Pentecostal Church of Pascagoula.
Pastor Ramsey was a hard working pastor that made many improvements during his tenure as pastor. He began with spiritual issues by asking the church to fast every Tuesday and every Sunday until after noon. Many adopted this practice, and there are written records of some continuing this practice for over 38 continuous years! Pastor Ramsey also began to add on to the small existing structure. The original part was turned into Sunday School rooms with the new addition serving as the auditorium. This structure exists to the present day and is still used for Sunday School classes and as a fellowship hall.
The impact made by Pastor and Mrs. Obie Ramsey and their family is immeasurable. The Ramseys left in the mid ‘50’s to begin a church plant in Florida. Ironically, Rev. Buford Miller, Bro. Ramsey’s brother-in-law, and the man that had preached the new building’s dedication service, was called to be the next pastor.
Rev. Buford Miller arrived in 1956 as pastor and continued as pastor for 26 years (minus 9 months when he did full time district work). He too was accompanied by his wife, Lucille, and four children, Peggy, Betty, Billy Ruth, and Kenneth.
Elders in the church tell us that “everyone” loved Bro. Miller! They recall that he treated everyone with equal respect regardless of position or station in life.
He too was a hard working pastor and engaged in a long list of accomplishments. Under his pastorate the house on the rear of the property was constructed as a parsonage for the pastor. He also oversaw the building of the current building that houses the sanctuary of The Sanctuary. During this time, there was a fire that severely damaged the older building. He spent many hours working with his own hands in the clean-up and restoration of that structure.
Pastor Miller led in tremendous spiritual growth as well. Many ministers and pastors went forth from under his ministry. Many of these ministers started other churches up and down the coast that are in existence until this day. While Bro. Miller pastored here, one particularly tremendous revival was held, and in that meeting more than 50 were born again of the water and the spirit. Under the leadership of Bro. Miller, a Christian school was founded and operated for several years.
Bro. Miller also served the Mississippi District in many offices including two different tenures as District Superintendent. At one point, he filled this office full time for 9 months (Dec. 1970 – June 1971), and Rev. Lonnie Marcus served as pastor for those 9 months.
Upon the sudden passing of Pastor Miller in the early ‘80’s, Rev. Curtis Spears was elected pastor. He was accompanied by his wife and two children. One of the things for which he was noted was the addition of the large prayer room that existed for years under the old balcony structure.
Pastor Spears was succeeded by Pastor Joe Dueitt, his wife, Alice Fay, and his daughter, Joy. They served the congregation for a few years with reconstruction after Hurricane Elena listed as one of their major accomplishments.
B. The Jerry Ramsey years (1988-2013)
Rev. Jerry Ramsey was the son of Rev. Obie Ramsey and had spent a portion of his childhood living in Pascagoula as his father pastored First Pentecostal Church. He arrived in Pascagoula again in 1988 as a seasoned church planter having planted a successful church in Deland, Florida. He had also spent 4 years as a missionary in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Pastor Ramsey was accompanied by his wife, Jeanne, and his two sons, Jason and Jonathan.
Pastor Ramsey was a man of deep dedication to spiritual disciplines. His prayer life, devotion to the Word of the Lord, commitment to holiness, and dedication to evangelism were maintained at levels of excellence that many only dream of achieving.
Under Bro. Ramsey’s pastorate many accomplishments were achieved. Many families were saved and solidified through the years. Many ministries were implemented; some with a limited life span, but many continue to operate to this day. The overwhelmingly defining feature would have to be the deep spiritual foundation that was built upon consistent prayer and fasting. The church continues to be known as a spiritual powerhouse where miraculous prayers are routinely answered.
Without any choice on his part, Pastor Ramsey’s ministry in Pascagoula was defined by two major hurricanes that did extensive damage to the church property. Hurricane Georges made landfall in 1998, and though it was weakening as it passed over Mississippi, it did tremendous damage to the church building. Major reconstruction was necessitated and was finished with a new foyer, sanctuary layout, new offices, and a new entry way.
In 2005, as Pastor Ramsey struggled with his father’s advanced Alzheimer’s disease and Sis. Jeanne Ramsey’s stage-four ovarian cancer, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and redefined his world forever. Rev. Obie Ramsey became ill during the evacuation and passed away two weeks later. Sis. Jeanne Ramsey was very weak and also passed five months later. With no wife, no father, no home, no church building, and the majority of his church scattered and relocated, Pastor Ramsey turned to his faith in God. God sent Hoyd Sanders, Pastor Ramsey’s brother-in-law to supervise reconstruction. Mike Bush, another brother-in-law, also came to supply on-site manpower. Many people and contractors were involved in reconstructing what is still a beautiful church facility. During late 2006, Pastor Ramsey met and married, Linda Edwards, and they together formed an incredible team that helped lead the church forward in rebuilding. During this time the church’s name was changed from First Pentecostal Church to The Sanctuary.
Pastor Ramsey’s years were defined by faithfulness during the most trying of circumstances. His sudden passing, in December of 2013, caught many by surprise, but God had used Bro. Ramsey to lay a strong foundation upon which the church will be built and continued until the rapture.
C. The Randy Pate years (2014 - present)
Our current pastor, Randy Pate, arrived full-time on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014. Though new residents of the area, they were not strangers to The Sanctuary. Pastor Pate’s wife, Jera, is the daughter of Pastor Jerry Ramsey, and thus the family had been frequent visitors and speakers at The Sanctuary for over 25 years. The Pates purchased the home directly behind the church, and they, along with their 20 year old son, Jared, and their 8 year old daughter, Randa, began their ministry here at The Sanctuary.
During this first year of the Pate’s ministry, extensive repairs and updates have been made to the electrical wiring, furnace duct work, office flooring, auditorium lighting, sound system, platform layout, parking lot, exterior paint, church bookkeeping, and much more. God has been very kind in supplying the needs of the church.
This is all in addition to incredible services, powerful prayer meetings, new friendships, and wonderful fellowship. The church has had numerous baptisms, conversions, and wonderful families added to its community. The church is even now facing the stark reality of necessary expansion and growth. Great dreams of growth, mission’s opportunities, multi-lingual ministries and more have entered the mindset of the people. God is fighting for us, leading us to things about which we can only dream, and providing the necessary resources to accomplish it all.
At this point in our history, we believe God has positioned us to minister to many more people than at any time in our history. While we celebrate our past, we believe the best is yet to come. As a prospective member, we are thrilled you are joining us for the journey ahead!