The Rise & Fall of Intercession City
The Rise of Intercession City
After Bishop Osie England purchased Interocean City in 1934 with its buildings, infrastructure and 5,000 acres of land, she returned to Point Pleasant, West Virginia and left a small staff behind until her return. The following year In 1935 Osie England and others who accompanied her (including my father, Lawrence Weaver) returned to Interocean City. A contest was offered to give an appropriate name to Interocean City, the prize being a house lot worth about $200.00. The winner suggested "Intercession City" (from their incessant prayers) and the name was officially changed from Interocean City to Intercession City, known as the City of Prayer. A Post Office was established with Miss Cox as Postmaster and Miss Rudd as Mail Carrier. The mail was picked up each day at Kissimmee. All monies from these jobs were put into the general fund. In 1939 a monthly paper named "The Defender of the Faith" was published by Mr. Maddy. The Publishing House (Intercession City Publishing House for the W. Va. Training School) was one of the largest and most complete of any Gospel Publishing House. Each month, the great 16-page Gospel Magazine, "The Defender of the Faith", was distributed to over 32,000 persons in the United States and many foreign countries.
During the fall of 1939 Dr. A.J. Smith and his family arrived to start a Bible College. It was called Intercession City Bible College (ICBC) and started in October 1939. During the winter of 1942-1943, Miss Osie England started the 100 Day Revival Meetings. The first meetings were only one (1) service a day at 7 pm. The 100 Day Revival Meetings started on December 1st and went every day thru March 15th. In the latter years the 100 Day meetings were three (3) services a day and started in the first week of January with well-known evangelists preaching. Many gifted preachers from various denominations and singers came from all parts of the country. One notable minister was Dr. Henry Clay Morrison, president of Asbury College for many years and instrumental in founding Asbury Theological Seminary. This great Methodist Evangelist was regarded to be the greatest pulpit orator on the American Continent. He was editor of the widely read Pentecostal Herald. Dr. Morrison and his wife visited Intercession City quite often and even preached in the 100 Day Revival Camp Meetings held each Winter.
Many people came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. It was said that you could hear them praying and shouting on the streets of Intercession City at 3 am in the morning. Intercession City was growing with restaurants, trailer park, general store, service stations, etc. The Book of Osie states: "...the town of Interocean, which was merely a wide place in the road covered with dilapidated buildings, has become, as it were, the religious capitol of Florida known as Intercession City, the Miracle City. A man who was traveling towards this point asked a porter on the train if he knew where Intercession City was. The porter replied, 'Yes, Lawd, it is the 'growinest' town in this country.'" And yes, during her glory days Intercession City was indeed outpacing her twin city, Kissimmee.
Intercession City, "The City of Prayer" and "The Golden Rule Town", became one of the most beautiful and peaceful towns in the United States. There was no need for jails or law enforcement to keep the peace. No beer, alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling were allowed in town. It was His City (God's Colony). The following is an account given of Intercession City by Pastor James Kreider who pastored the Wesleyan Church in Intercession City:
In the mid-940s, ''100-Day Camp Meetings'' came to the community. Revival services were held during the winter. ''My mother visited her parents during one of the camp meetings. Evangelists took turns preaching for 10 days, for 100 days. Each guest who came helped with the repairs and work around the school,'' Kreider said. Businesses began to come to Intercession City in the early 1940s, but when newcomers arrived, they soon learned they had to abide by some very strict rules. No beer, alcohol or cigarettes were allowed in town, and women were not allowed to wear shorts or slacks. In addition, each person who bought property in the community signed an agreement that he would not operate or consent to the operation of a business that sold alcoholic beverages or tobacco, or was open on Sunday. There would be no gambling devices such as pool tables, playing cards, slot machines, punchboards or raffling outfits on any of the premises. Dog owners were not allowed to let their dogs run at large. No landholder could build a church building, clubhouse or place of amusement without petitioning and getting written consent of three-fourths of the population. Within the boundary of the 5,000-acre tract, there could be no paid amusements, such as talking pictures, circuses or vaudeville, unless they had been approved as having educational or religious value. Anyone who violated the restrictions after he had received three notices had to cede title to his property, which automatically reverted to the school.
Twenty-four-hour prayer seven days a week went forth from three different locations in Intercession City (Two Cabins and the Music Emporium), not to mention the church which was called the "Large House of Prayer." It was said that the altar rails were stained with the tears of the intercessors crying out for a world of lost souls. Intercession City was indeed a city of intercessors and the only city in the United States and perhaps the world named after intercessory prayer and intercessors. You could walk down any of the streets of this city known as The City of Prayer and hear prayers coming from the windows of most every home. During the night season you could hear shouts from the streets as late as 3 am in the mornings. Today God is calling the intercessors back to His City from all over the State of Florida to pray and intercede the perfect Will of the Father not only for the City but for the nation and the world. Many of these prayer warriors were called "Ropeholders" because they held up in prayer, night and day, those who were sent out to the mission field. It is the belief of this group that "holding the ropes" by mean of intercessory prayer is an important part of missionary work. "We of the group intend to be 'Ropeholder Missionaries' until we hear the command, 'Go ye.'" And "Go ye" they did. They went by the dozens by ships with their meager belongings: To East Africa, to South Africa, to Cuba, to Egypt, to Ethiopia, to Haiti, to India, to New Guinea and many other places around the world. Some were martyred. On the home front missionaries were sent to the American Indians. The 24/7 Intercessory Prayer from the prayer cabins in Intercession City was taking a toll on the Kingdom of Darkness. A worldwide revival was about to take place. Excerpt from "The Book of Osie" or "The Life of Bishop Osie England." Page 53 (2nd and 4th paragraph).
History teaches that every great revival or religious reform has come about by extraordinary agony and burden-bearing. Miss Osie has likely shed more tears over incorrigible students, prodigal boys and girls and un-regenerated sinners than any other Christian woman since the days of the wailing women of Jerusalem or the time of the weeping prophet who wished that his head were rivers and his eyes fountains of water that he might weep day and night for those who were perishing without salvation. The type of crying and weeping in which Miss England so often engages is not for self-pity for sentimental reasons, but the type of weeping that Jesus did as He approached Jerusalem and the tomb of Lazarus. When the reader can show the writer more burden-bearers who prevail in tears for lost souls, then he can show you a revival of worldwide proportion for which our generation has so often hoped and prayed.
I believe the prayers of Miss Osie and her Intercessors for a "revival of worldwide proportion" which they so often hoped and prayed for as mentioned above was cut short and should have continued. However, 70 years later after my return to Intercession City, those prayers and tears have been stored in Heaven and the bowl is about to be tipped over with Holy Fire. The cloud of witnesses is cheering us on. Let the Fire burn in Intercession City again and spread like wildfire throughout Florida, the United States and the uttermost parts of the world. Millions more to be reached now than then. Some Things Said About Intercession City:
The Fall of Intercession City
This is the sad part of the history of Osie England and Intercession City. What happened to Intercession City? How could this once prosperous flourishing city of intercessory prayer become one of the poorest communities in Florida? How could my father who experienced so much of God’s presence in the City of Prayer turn to palm-readers and witchcraft. I shall never forget my father’s words the last time I saw him when I was about five years old. He held me in his lap and said: “Son, do not ever drink or smoke.” I attribute his words and being raised in a Christian home to my becoming a “Nazarite” – Never touching alcohol or tobacco, living a clean life, being a man of integrity, remaining a virgin until married, and always striving to do that which is right. Not that this made me righteous – I am only righteous through the shed blood of Jesus and the forgiveness of my sins. But, this allowed God to use me in ways I would never have dreamed of. During the latter years of my father’s life he found his way back to the cross, and I know that someday I will see my father in Heaven. But the damage was done, and God’s hedge was removed. He lost his marriage, his children and the abundant life that is found only in Christ and not in the occult.
I will tell you what happened to Intercession City. It happened to Jerusalem when the people were taken into captivity by the Babylonians and Jerusalem became desolate and a heap of ruins. Osie England’s ministry at Intercession City was pulling down the strongholds of the devil. Intercession City was crying out for worldwide revival and sending missionaries all over the world. The kingdom of darkness was suffering much harm and the devil decided to move against this city. His methods have not changed, and he uses his age-old evil tactics. When my dad returned to Intercession City after the war things were much different. Many of the people he knew had moved away and things were not the same after the war. Let this be a lesson not to ever remove yourself from other Christians and become isolated. He had no transportation except a scooter. He worked constantly (mostly out of town) and did not have time to assemble himself with the believers. When he was not working out of town he was trying to build the log cabin. Like a piece of hot charcoal when you remove it from the pile and isolate it, the fire goes out. Then the enemy will entice you to take a substitute. My dad began to entertain the occult and sought out palm readers and sorcery. He got into voodoo and other forms of witchcraft until it destroyed his family. When he lived in California he lived with a lady that was a palm reader. About the same time that demons were working on my father, seeds of discord were planted in Intercession City among Osie England’s Christian workers and associates. Teachers wanted more pay that Osie was not able to give them. There was jealousy and trials over petty doctrines and externals, such as the wearing of jewelry. The people became self-righteous. Because of the discord, Osie England felt pressured to leave Intercession City in 1947, and made preparation to move her ministry to Sanford, Florida. After the school year ended in 1948, it was the beginning of the exodus to Sanford, FL. Intercession City would never be the same after that. When Miss. Osie departed Intercession City, the Holy Spirit left with her. The Glory of God departed and as the way of Jerusalem during the captivity so went Intercession City. Instead of the best city to live in the State of Florida, it became the poorest just like Jerusalem had become after the destruction of the city and their captivity in Babylon. Intercession City became a byword like Jerusalem had become and the poorest of the poor reside there. During one of our prayer calls, praying over Intercession City, the Lord revealed that witches surrounded Intercession City with their chants and curses. Now we know as with Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24 that the enemy cannot touch you with curses as long as you walk in righteousness. But you can bring a curse upon yourself if you sin and turn away from God. Satan enticed the people of Intercession City to become self-righteous and conduct trials on one another over petty doctrines, dress, wearing of jewelry, etc. Instead of being content with their wages they complained and rose up against Osie England. They took on a religious spirit as with the Pharisees during Jesus day. It was said by one of our intercessor friends that religion crawled in bed with Jezebel and produced Ichabod – “The glory of God departed from Intercession City.”
There were two men of prominence in Intercession that rose up against Osie England. The most prominent and vocal of the two was a powerful evangelist, Rev. C. L. Wireman, known as “Bulldog Charlie.” Bulldog Charlie Wireman (Born 1890) was a converted Kentucky mountain outlaw said to be the “baddest” man in Kentucky during the early 1900s. Bulldog Charlie from his early teenage years was a confirmed drunkard and always carried a .45 caliber revolver with many notches in the handle denoting the number of men he had killed. He also carried a double action, improved Smith & Wesson in his pocket. The people of the town were afraid of him and avoided him. He would kill you at the drop of a hat. Bulldog Charlie was having an evil influence over the youth of the town. He was destroying homes and the lives of young people who in their twisted way of thinking looked up to Bull Dog Charlie as some sort of a hero and wanted to be like him. A traveling evangelist came into town with a conviction to reach the youth. A saintly woman shared with the evangelist about Bulldog Charlie and the plight of the youth. They entered into a covenant of prayer along with others in the town to fast and pray until God either saves this young wicked man or move him out of town. When Bulldog Charlie heard that the evangelist was coming into town he vowed not to kill the preacher but would beat him and run him out of town. When the Methodist minister visited the town never having met Bulldog Charlie in person, he grabs his hand and says, “I am holding a revival in the Methodist Church. I don’t believe I have noticed you in the revival. Won’t you come and be with us?” He was caught off guard that a minister would walk up to him and invite him to a church service and found himself walking to the house of God. Bulldog Charlie was gloriously saved and transformed when the Evangelist gave the altar call. The fastings and prayers of the town had worked, and the man with the most notches on his gun became a new creation accepting the call of God on his life as an Evangelist. Bulldog Charlie was determined to serve God with as much fervor and zeal in winning the lost as he did in the world serving the devil and leading young people down the pathway of sin and destruction.
Bulldog Charlie held many tent revival services throughout Kentucky, Ohio and other places. It was perhaps in southern Ohio where he met Osie England during her camp meetings in the early part of the twentieth century. Bulldog Charlie moved to Intercession City and helped with the evangelism of the local area of Intercession City, Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Orlando and elsewhere and became known as the Dean of Evangelism with his church organization. The division that occurred between Bulldog Charlie and Osie England was a difference in doctrine over when a person received the Holy Spirit. Bishop Osie England believed one received the Hold Spirit when they were born again or saved. Evangelist Bulldog Charlie believed one did not receive the Holy Spirit until they received the “Second Blessing” called “Sanitification.” Bulldog Charlie split the church and took many of Osie’s members to form the Wesleyan Methodist Church just two blocks down the street. This was very hurtful to Osie because she had a heart for everyone and always sought unity in the body of Christ. After Osie England left for Sanford, Florida during 1947-1948 school year the surviving members of H.C. Morrison Church, which was an independent church under Osie England’s Household of Faith, voted to come under the Pilgrim Holiness Church denomination and was renamed Pilgrim Holiness. Later Bulldog Charlie repented for splitting the church and apologized to its members. It is not known whether or not Bulldog Charlie apologized directly to Osie England but the damage was done and the enemy succeeded is bringing division into the community. Later there was a second division. In 1968 the Wesleyan Methodist and Pilgrim Holiness denominations agreed to merge. When it came time for the Wesleyan Holiness Church (formed by Bulldog Charlie) in Intercession City to merge with the Pilgrim Holiness Church (formed by Osie England) in Intercession City, the current pastor at that time refused to merge and took his members to another location in Intercession City to form a separate church now known as the Lighthouse Baptist Church. Later the pastor felt he also was wrong in what he had done and expressed regret over his actions. He rebelled against the Wesleyan Methodist Church and they disciplined him by removing his license.
The other man of prominence who came against Osie England was Dr. Aaron Jacob (A. J). Smith (1887-1960). He was the first president of Intercession City Bible College during the period before Osie England’s departure (1942-1946) and later returned to serve as President under the new name of the College (Southern Wesleyan Bible College) from 1950 to 1952. Dr. A.J. Smith was also the President of Central Florida Bible School and College (now John Wesley College) and the first American to lead an organized expedition (Oriental Archeology Expedition) in search of Noah’s Ark. Smith published a booklet about the expedition entitled On the Mountains of Ararat in Quest of Noah’s Ark. Dr. Smith also is the author of several other books. According to the story given me by the late historian T. J. Lavigne, there was a division over teacher’s pay and Dr. A.J. Smith led the charge. Osie England was not able to give them the raises sought and there was bad feelings between the College and Osie England’s organization. One has stated that after World War II there was a period of inflation which prompted the need for higher wages. Whether or not there was justification over wage increase, there was absolutely no justification for division. The late historian also shared with me that Osie England was put on ecclesiastical trial over differences in doctrine and that A. J. Smith was a part of this. Ironically, according to T.J. Lavigne, Mr. A. J. Smith was later put on ecclesiastical trial himself in regard to some of his writings.
If there is a lesson to learn in all of this is that we must never become divided. One of the most destructive tools Satan has in his toolbox is to cause division, in the family, in the Church, on the job, and in the government. While in Point Pleasant, West Virginia where Osie England first started her ministry we ran across an article in Osie England’s Defender of the Faith publication titled “Let Us Have Unity” published in 1923:
There is a certain town in the state of Ohio that has a population of 1,000. This same little town had four churches representing four different denominations. The people were greatly burdened in supporting or rather trying to support them. Some of their ministers were compelled to take up outside work to help earn a living. One of the pastors at one time suggested a union church, but the time was not yet ripe for that, and so nothing was done until the time came that all of the churches were without a preacher, except one. It was then that the people decided that they had too many churches for so small a town, so some of the trustees and leading members got together and considered a plan for uniting them.
The plan seemed a sensible one, and, strange to say, in the face of so much division these days, the majority of the people agreed to it and they were united into one. Now they have succeeded in making ONE large prosperous church grow where FOUR small non-prosperous ones grew before. They have chosen for their motto: “In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In diversities, charity; In all things! Christ first.”
No, none of these were holiness churches, it is true, but is not the ideal a good one for holiness folks to consider? Why so many denominations, so many divisions when there is only one Lord and one FAITH? (Eph. 4:5;. Why so many branches and only one VINE? (St. Jno. 15:5.) Why so many by-paths when there is only one WAY? Jesus said, “I am the way.” (St. Jno. 14:6.) Why so much difficulty in finding the way when God has given us such a perfect Guide Book, and it has been so plainly marked but by those who have gone before? Why worry about how we shall dress or talk or conduct ourselves to best please our Master when full directions are given us in the Word? Truly it is a “lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path” if we will but open our eyes and read. (See Ps. 119:105; 1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:1-4; Ps. 34:13;2 Pet. 3:11; also 1 Jno. 2:6, as examples of these simple directions.) Let us, therefore, hold to the things that make for unity, pass by those that tend toward division, stick to the old paths and if we must be contentious, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.
Today many of the houses in Intercession City lie in ruin after “70 years of Captivity.” This was once the most beautiful and prosperous city in Florida until its fall in1947, when Osie England was pressured to leave due to division, strife, and in-fighting. God has breathed on this city and the dead bones are coming alive (Ezekiel 37).