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Living Waters founder to give sermon on his 100th birthday

The Rev. David Levandusky, current pastor, and the Rev. Ralph Jelley, the founder of  Living Waters Assembley of God Church in Greenfield, in a photo taken in earlier years.

The Rev. David Levandusky, current pastor, and the Rev. Ralph Jelley, the founder of Living Waters Assembley of God Church in Greenfield, in a photo taken in earlier years.

GREENFIELD — On Sunday at 10 a.m., Living Waters Assembly of God Church’s past and present will converge.

Parishioners will take their seats to hear from the founder of the church, who just happens to be turning 100 years old that day.

The Rev. David Levandusky, 64, the church’s current pastor, will lead the morning service, but will step aside for the Rev. Ralph Jelley, who will preach the sermon, during which, Jelley said from his home in Maine this week, he will talk about the “power and authority of the believer.”

“I just spoke about that,” said Levandusky. “It will be interesting to now hear the perspective of a 100-year-old.”

Born in Rockingham, Vt., in 1913, Jelley came to Greenfield in the mid 1950s, when his parents were ministering under a tent near where Foster’s Super Market is today.

He had graduated from Zion Bible School in 1948, so he was ready to take over for his parents, he said.

Jelley moved the small congregation, which consisted mostly of Russian immigrants, into a small building on Deerfield Street and called it Glad Tidings Tabernacle.

“We outgrew that building and I started looking for where we could build,” said Jelley, who then pastored at Pine Acres Assembly of God Church on Davis Street for 16 years, before accepting another pastorate at the First Assembly of God Church in East Hartford, Conn.

Jelley said he and some of the members of Glad Tidings built Pine Acres, which stands today as Living Waters on the Davis Street extension.

He said when they first moved in, they called it Pine Acres, because pine trees grew all around the building.

Levandusky said it wasn’t until after Jelley left that the name of the church was changed to Living Waters.

“But technically, he was the founder of Living Waters, because the church stayed the same,” said Levandusky.

When Jelley retired several decades ago, he moved to New York and did some ministering now and then.

He returned with his wife, who was also a licensed preacher, to Greenfield 26 years ago, when he was 74, and kept active by preaching once a month with Levandusky at Living Waters. His wife, Dorothy, played piano for the churches he served, including Living Waters, and worked with the children of the churches.

Levandusky said Jelley served communion on the second Sunday night of every month and preached on Sunday mornings when Levandusky was away. That was up until last year, when he moved to Maine.

Jelley also helped develop a daily radio show that still runs today. Living Waters “Lighting the Pioneer Valley,” can be found on WLPV 107.9 FM in Greenfield from midnight to noon every day.

Jelley created “Way of Life,” which still runs Fridays from 5 to 6 p.m., because the centenarian continues to record it from his bedroom recording studio in his son’s house in Maine.

“He sends it to us via email each week,” said Levandusky.

Jelley decided to move to Maine last December, when he was having a difficult time caring for his ailing 98-year-old wife, who died March 3.

Jelley said he is looking forward to returning on Sunday to the enthusiastic, kind congregation he started so many years ago.

Levandusky said Living Waters has more than 100 members, but about 80 attend services each week. He’s hoping to see everyone on Sunday.

“I can’t wait to hear Rev. Jelley preach on Sunday,” said Levandusky. “I love the enthusiasm and vitality he puts into his preaching.”

“I am really looking forward to a 100-year-old Pentecostal preacher enthusiastically preaching the word of God to the younger generation,” said Levandusky.

Services will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday at 450 Davis St., and a luncheon in Jelley’s honor will be served immediately after.

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