Life Church is a brand new chapter in an incredible story. Our story began in 1989 at a conference in Louisiana. At this conference, Pastor Larry Gandy and his wife Judy were trying to find the will of God for their lives when they were approached by a man with prophetic gifts. This minister prayed over them before leaning over and saying, “Very soon you will be going west of here to pastor.” Within 2 weeks the Gandy’s were elected pastor of First United Pentecostal Church of Tyler! At that time the voting members consisted of 8 eligible voters! Since that time we’ve seen God do extraordinary things!
As God began to bless the ministry of Pastor Gandy, the church began to reap the benefits of his incredible leadership! First UPC of Tyler began to grow and suddenly our little church was running out of room! Pastor Gandy was a visionary and although he was thankful for the present facilities, he began to envision the growing congregation moving to the South Tyler area. This vision would become reality in May 1999 as First UPC Tyler relocated to our current building on Barbee Drive with a little over 50 members. Since that transition this church has continued its success story in spite of various challenges along the way. There were many make or break moments in the ministry of Pastor Gandy and as it is with any great man of God, God stood with Pastor Gandy. His resilience in the face of adversity and his obedience to God’s will ignited another wave of revival in Tyler.
To accommodate the new growth, both spiritually and numerically, First UPC underwent a minor identity change by becoming First Church Tyler in 2007. It was during this time that Joshua McElhaney and his talented, lovely wife Karena joined the Gandy’s on staff at First Church. Karena assumed the position of lead worship minister in 2008. In 2012, Joshua McElhaney was voted in as Assistant Pastor with a unanimous vote. This couple continued to play a vital role in leadership, assisting the Gandy’s in all areas of ministry while perpetuating vision and growth across all departments for many years.
In January 2017, once again change was upon us. After much conversations, Pastor Gandy decided it was time to hand the mantle of leadership over to Joshua McElhaney while he would transition into the role of Bishop. The vote again was unanimous!
Pastor McElhaney has continued the vision that Larry Gandy established 27 years ago. With the guidance of Bishop Gandy, Pastor McElhaney looks to build on that foundation and to continue to reach the city of Tyler with the Gospel message!
In recent years we’ve experienced even more radical growth in spite of various challenges that looked to destroy us. Today we recognize an average attendance upwards of 110-120 on Sunday mornings! We have grown so much that we reached a point where change was inevitable. Not a change of what we believe, nor a change of doctrine; simply a change in recognizing that we aren’t that small church across town any longer!
So we set out on an adventure, an adventure to create a brand that would identify us to our community while telling a story of who we really are as a church. We tossed around several ideas until ultimately deciding on Life Church!
To us Life Church speaks loudly! We believe that the apex of the Christian experience is Jesus’ promise in John 10:10, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Our goal is to guide every believer that enters our sanctuary into a unique and sincere encounter with Jesus Christ, and to help people Discover Life for themselves!
We believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can ultimately change your life in ways you never thought possible! Visit the Testimonials section on our homepage to see real examples of real testimonies from people right here at Life Church!
We’d love for you to join us and let our story become your story!