At 8 p.m. on Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, 1918, G. F. Taylor led in a prayer meeting focused on the opening of the Franklin Springs Institute on Wednesday, January 1, 1919 (later the school was named Emmanuel College). Taylor had been general superintendent of the IPHC from 1913-1917, and in 1918 was the general treasurer and editor of the denominational magazine.
Though classes began at 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day 1919, Taylor called for special prayer and services throughout that first week, “We want to pray until the blessings of God rest upon us mightily. We want to spend several days of humiliation before God” (Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, November 21, 28, 1918). There were two passages of Scripture the Holy Spirit gave Taylor in preparation for the opening of the school, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33), and “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
Having arrived in Franklin Springs on December 27, 1918, the energetic Taylor in the previous weeks had arranged for the opening of the Pentecostal Holiness Church Publishing House, the Franklin Springs Institute, and in February the Franklin Springs Pentecostal Holiness Church.
The movement toward Franklin Springs becoming a hub of the young IPHC began when Georgia Conference Superintendent G.O. Gaines and others bought the property in 1918 for the use of the denomination. Since at least 1914, Gaines had earnestly prayed that the Lord would make a way for the IPHC to gain the 87 acres of the Franklin Springs. After Gaines’ death in 1918, J.H. King wrote, “Some four years ago, or perhaps longer, he (Gaines) began to pray to God to give the P.H. Church the Franklin Springs property as a place to establish a school, camp ground, and other worthy enterprises for the benefit of the thousands of holiness people in Georgia and elsewhere. He stated to us in a confidential way that God had given him the positive assurance that it would be done. He lived to see the purchase” (Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, September 19, 1918).
In late spring 1918, news began to appear about the property and its possible usage in the pages of the Pentecostal Holiness Advocate. On May 2, 1918, these comments appeared in a letter that was published in the Advocate, “We need a holiness school in every conference. I hope to see the day when this is accomplished. Well, I am glad to say it has almost come to pass in Georgia. Only a short while, if present movements work, till a holiness school will be held at Franklin Springs to the delight of every well-wisher of God’s cause.” A few pages later General Superintendent J.H. King wrote, “We investigated the facts regarding the purchase of the Franklin Springs property near Royston, by the Georgia Conference Board, and as a result we concluded it was an act of wisdom indeed on the part of these dear brethren. It is one of the best opportunities for the Pentecostal Holiness Church between the two oceans.”
Because of its mineral waters, Franklin Springs, Georgia, had been a resort area through much of the 19th Century. Two hotels, as well as a skating rink, were on the 87 acres. In the early 20th Century plans were made to run a rail spur to the community as well as a local rail system that would run from Atlanta to upstate South Carolina.
The church moved quickly to promote “the Springs.” The first camp meeting was held August 1-12, 1918. Taylor made his first visit to the community and attended the first service of the camp meeting. At that time Taylor had no idea that his most significant ministry would occur in Franklin Springs.
By September 1918 a shift was occurring for Taylor in Falcon, North Carolina. This hamlet was the site of the 1911 merger between the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church and the Holiness Church of North Carolina, and home to the historic Falcon Camp Meeting. It was also the location of the Publishing House of the Pentecostal Holiness Church and the home of its editor, Rev. George F. Taylor. In a lengthy explanation of some of the challenges he faced in Falcon, Taylor wrote, “I know not where I shall go, neither am I concerned about that part of it; I have such an assurance that I am in the will of God for me, that I know God will provide a place for me” (Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, September 26, 1918).
In the 21, 28 November 1918 issue of the Advocate, Taylor announced the “place” God had for him, “On invitation to do so, the editor of the Advocate has decided to take the superintendency of this school. I can not say that I am taking this work because I feel especially called to it; but I am taking it because no other person seems available now.” By December 27, 1918, Taylor and his family had arrived in Franklin Springs.
And, as they say, the rest is history. In fact, one hundred years of history. That history continues and throughout 2019 Emmanuel College, LifeSprings Resources (Publishing House), and the Franklin Springs Pentecostal Holiness Church will express thanks to God for G.H. Taylor and the multitudes who have served Christ in that community and around the world.
–Dr. Doug Beacham