MIRACLE VALLEY comprised of six miles of property along both sides of State Highway 92. Two miles on the north side of the highway and four miles on the south side. The four miles on the south side of Hwy 92 belonged to the A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc., and was granted tax exemption status whereas the property located on the north side of Hwy 92 was owned by The Independent Development Company, Inc. and was "for profit."
The entire property on both sides of the highway was known as Miracle Valley. However, when historians record events regarding Miracle Valley today, they confuse the facts and do not separate the north property (for profit) from the south property (non-profit). In this writing, we distinguish the occurrences on each side of the highway.
Miracle Valley is located on Arizona State Route 92, three miles west of Palominas. Miracle Valley encompasses both north and south properties along Rt. 92. Miracle Valley subdivision is located on the north side of the highway whereas Miracle Valley Bible College is located on the south side of Rt. 92.
Miracle Valley Bible College & Seminary (located on a remaining nearly 80 acres of property on the south side of the highway) is now owned by the Melvin Harter Ministries, Inc., a non-profit religious organization registered with the State of Arizona. Rev. Melvin Harter, President of the MHM Inc. is a Pentecostal minister from Ohio.
MHM wants to run child care center and an assisted living home, along with the Bible College. Dr. Harter believes that the training of clergymen for the 21st Century, and in particular students preparing for pastoral work, involves exposure to community needs such as childcare and elderly care.
Miracle Valley has been home to religious evangelicals since 1958, when an evangelist by the name of Rev. A. A. Allen bought an additional 1,280 acres after a local rancher donated an initial 1,280 acres to the A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. These four sections (640 acres each) are located south of E. Hwy 92. These 2,560 acres of land (consisting of approximately 4 miles of highway frontage) located on the south side of Hwy 92 comprised of Allen Ministry Office Building, Miracle Valley Bible College, dairy barn and a vast ranch that was utilized to raise food stuffs for students of the Bible College as well as provide employment.
Rev. A. A. Allen, along with other gentlemen, created a new incorporation that was "For Profit" and known as "The Independent Development Company, Inc." This new "For Profit" incorporation purchased two sections of land (1280 acres) on the north side of Hwy 92. A planned sub-division was mapped and plotted out. There is a full record of this in Cochise County Court House records. The newly formed Independent Development Company sold lots and homes to those individuals who wished to relocate to Miracle Valley and reside in what was basically a religious community.
In addition, the Independent Development Company provided a commercial district along the main highway, comprising of a gas station, laundromat, family restaurant, and etc. The Independent Development Company put restrictions on the newly formed sub-division. Property restrictions included "no alcoholic beverages" and "no smoking" permitted among the residents. The street running parallel with Hwy 92 on the north side was named "Miracle Way." Today, the street's name is "East Ghost Riders Lane."
The majority of the land comprising the four-mile frontage on the south side of Hwy 92 has remained as a non-profit religious organization consisting of a church and Bible college. The A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. was later renamed Don Stewart Evangelistic Association in the 1970s. The new leadership sold nearly all of the four miles of property located on the south side of the highway, leaving a fraction of just under 80 acres consisting of the church and Bible College proper. DSEA relocated its offices to Phoenix.
In 1976, Miracle Valley Bible College was renamed "Southern Arizona Bible College" and operated by the Hispanic Assemblies of God, later known as the Central Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God. SABC continued in existence through 1995, when at such time the campus and church property was listed "For Sale."
Limited college classes, religious conferences and seminars, were continued by CLAD until 1999 when at such time the Melvin Harter Ministries obtained the property and re-established Miracle Valley Bible College & Seminary as well as the Miracle Valley Church. Dr. Harter immediately re-opened his Bible College and the local church. The Miracle Valley Church is associated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church with international offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
A black Christian church group from Chicago arrived in the Miracle Valley area in the early 1980s. Its leadership, a Rev. Mrs. Thomas and her church group proposed to purchase the Bible College campus located on the south side of the highway. However, for legal implications, SABC (operated by CLAD) were unable to sell the church and college campus. This resulted in Mrs. Thomas acquiring several properties in the Miracle Valley Subdivision, as well as the Valley View Restaurant, all located on the north side of the highway.
During their stay, church members said they were harassed by sheriff's deputies and by local white residents of the rural area who did not like having urban black parishioners nearby. On October 23, 1982 a conflict resulted in a deadly shooting between local authorities and members of The Christ Healing Center Church. Three church members were killed by the local authorities, including the son of Mrs. Thomas, the church's leader. In addition, it is reported that two church members and five Cochise County deputies were injured. The shootout brought Gov. Bruce Babbitt and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the area to try and bring peace.
(The following has been adapted from the November 28, 2001 edition of the Tucson Citizen [Paul L. Allen - "No relationship to the A. A. Allen Family"] )
The Tucson Citizen Newspapers gives the following report -
Corrections are made in BLUE by Dr. Harter
1958: Fire and brimstone, faith-healing evangelist Asa Alonzo Allen acquired 2,400 2,560 acres in an open valley south east of Sierra Vista on State Route 92 East and dubbed it Miracle Valley. He had been successful with tent-show revivals around the country where there were undeniable miracles. He sponsored twice-yearly revivals at Miracle Valley Mid-Winter Camp Meeting & Summer Camp Meeting that attracted as many as 3,000 participants. Crowds reached as high as 5,000 people. Allen had a massive church (Some say it seated 4000, however, it really looks like seating capacity to be 2500 and Bible college complex built on the property everything constructed at Miracle Valley was build by common people whom the Lord sent, there were no construction firms involved. All the brick was made on the property. Cabinets and other wood items were all made at the Wood Shop building by "God-called carpenters." Later the Wood Shop building was turned into the College's current Administration building: 15 block buildings in all, including one office structure to accommodate 175 225 employees who produced and distributed his books, tapes, lesson plans, prayer cloths and radio programs on 70 radio stations, and handled his 300,000 member mailing list. The church received 55 million pieces of mail annually. The college had 100 students. Annual income was estimated at nearly $2.5 million.
1970: On June 16, June 11 Allen, 59, died in a room at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. Death was from acute alcoholism, an autopsy found. Autopsy does not state this fact. Allen's associates tried to continue the ministry, but it failed, mired in court proceedings involving claims of misused funds.
Mid-1970's: The property was acquired by another religious group, Hispanic Assemblies of God and sporadic attempts were made to begin another religious operation. Periodic seminars, church services and encampments were held on the land. Southern Arizona Bible College operated from 1976-1995.
1978: The first of a number of members of the Chicago-based Healing Center and Church, founded in 1962 by the Rev. Frances Thomas, began arriving on the land Mrs. Thomas had attended MVBC under Allen. She wanted to do as Allen did, and that was to bring kids to Arizona and train them in the ways of God. However, she was unable to purchase Miracle Valley Bible College because the Assemblies of God could not sell it at the time. Thereford, Mrs.Thomas obtained property in the sub-division. She obtained "Valley View Restaurant" and turned it into her church. She purchased several homes in the area. MRS. THOMAS WAS NOT ON THE BIBLE COLLEGE PROPERTY NOR DID ANYTHING THAT HAD OCCURRED BETWEEN HER, HER CHURCH AND THE COCHISE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT EVER OCCUR ON THE BIBLE COLLEGE PROPERTY. News reporters want to sell newspapers so they SENSATIONALIZE (this is a nice word for "outright lie") so they can make more profits. She was one of the estimated 10,000 ministers ordained by Allen. From the start there was mistrust and dislike between the tough, urban Chicago transplants and set-in-their-ways, rural Cochise County residents.
Late 1980: A series of racial slurs, burglaries and vandalism - each side blaming the other - prompted church members to establish an armed security force to patrol the property.
1981: The deaths of four children, whom state officials said might have survived, had the fundamentalist church members not refused to administer medication, prompted authorities to try unsuccessfully to place other children there under state supervision. Church members refused.
Mid-1981: Cochise County deputies were met with physical resistance as they tried to serve church members with traffic warrants. Then Sheriff Jimmy Judd conferred with Gov. Bruce Babbitt and the head of the state Department of Public Safety. Increased patrols by law officers were established.
September 1981: A dynamite bomb exploded in a van driven by church members, killing one and injuring two others. Other bombs were found in the van, leading to speculation the church members might have been headed to Sierra Vista to free two other church members arrested the same day.
May 1982: Gov. Babbitt intervened to arrange the surrender of 14 church members wanted on traffic warrants.
June 1982: Church members filed a $75 million suit, claiming civil rights violations by eight county officials.
October 1982: Church members wielding bats and clubs fought off deputies trying to serve traffic warrants. Three dozen law officers returned the next day to try again, and more violence broke out. Two church members - including Thomas' eldest son - were killed, and two were injured. Five deputies were hurt. Nineteen church members were indicted in shooting-related incidents. Many church members returned to Chicago.
May 1983: Church members vowed they would not return to Miracle Valley.
February 1984: County officials dropped all charges against church members. Later, a $500,000 out-of-court settlement was announced in the church members' $75 million lawsuit against the county.
November 1987: A church member paralyzed from a bullet wound in the shootout dies, apparently of complications from that wound. (End of Article)
Miracle Valley Bible College was purchased by Melvin Harter Ministries, Inc, Dr. Melvin Harter, President, in August 1999. Since that time, limited classes have been underway, concurrent with renovation of the buildings, in preparations for full class schedules.
The conflict between Church members from Chicago and the local authorities was located in what is known as the Miracle Valley Subdivision located on the north side of Highway 92. There never any conflict on the Bible College campus located on the south side of the highway.
However, when there is any mention of Miracle Valley, there are those who purposely attempt to mix the two properties, implying that gun fights and controversy occurred on the Miracle Valley Bible College campus. This effort is only done for two reasons, (1) financial gain, and (2) disruption of the current restoration of Miracle Valley Bible College today.
Appreciation is given to Doug Snyder of the PALOMINAS AREA HISTORY - SOME HISTORY OF MIRACLE VALLEY