Brief History of the Church of Columbus
The Church of Columbus was founded by Rev. A.L. Sheppard, who was ordained in May 1948. Born Alice Lavern Riles on May 26th, 1926, Rev. Sheppard felt the call of God as a young child; however, she was uncertain of what the Lord wanted her to do for Him.
Rev. Sheppard started her ministry at a “prayer cottage” meeting in the late-1940s. While she was praying and enjoying the Lord, she felt led to plunge her hands into a coal burning stove and pulled out two handfuls of hot coals. However, when she walked over to throw the coals back into the stove, one of them slightly grazed Sis. Joyce Riles’ cheek and left a small scar. This evidence was convincing testimony of the miracle that had occurred that night. Rev. Sheppard went on to prophesy that, Sis. Joyce would receive the Holy Ghost during that same meeting and this came to pass. The incident also confirmed that she was called to preach.
1952, she was preaching to the men and women changing shifts at the Swift Spinning Mill in downtown Columbus. Afterward someone invited her to preach at a little church on 49th Street in Columbus. In January of 1953, she would become the pastor of that church and baptize many members of the congregation in Jesus name.
The ministry of this church was blessed with many miracles and healings. In 1973, the congregation relocated to 3614 Norris Road, where the men had built a new facility. Many souls were saved and lives changed by the miraculous, anointed ministry of Rev. Sheppard. After her retirement, she became affectionately known as “Mother Sheppard,” founder of The Church.
Her son, Rev. H.L. Sheppard accepted the pastorate in January 1986, leading our church into the 21st century. Through the powerful teaching and leadership of Pastor H. L. Sheppard, The Church of Columbus had grown from a Sunday morning attendance of sixty-one in 1985, to an average attendance of 400-450 by the mid-teens. After experiencing a military draw-down that relocated almost 150 members, then the COVID pandemic that saw another 100 held in sway by the virus, God is once again pouring revival out upon The Church of Columbus!
For seven years, from 1999-2006, the church held a Sunday afternoon evangelistic service on post at Fort Benning, under the direction of Rev. Deawn Richards. Fort Benning is one the world’s largest infantry training facilities. During that time, almost 2,800 soldiers were filled with the Holy Ghost and over 1,900 were baptized in Jesus Name! These young men and women were in basic training and were immediately sent to other military bases after only thirteen weeks. None of them were ever able to join the church. However, The Church of Columbus does not reach out to the lost for its own benefit. We are in the business of saving souls, because that is our Father’s Business.
We are a church on the move! In 2003, the church moved into its newly constructed 33,000 square feet facility on 15.5 acres at 2001 Double Churches Road. God is sending revival to the Columbus, Fort Benning, and Phenix City, area. Our goal is to reach each of the 300,000 souls in our community with the soul saving truth of Acts 2:38. The Church of Columbus is thankful for the spirit of love and faithfulness exemplified by our dear Mother Sheppard and her son, our Pastor, Rev. H.L. Sheppard.