Nathaniel Andrew Urshan was born August 29, 1920, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Andrew David and Mildred Hammergren Urshan. Brother Urshan lived in Chicago through most of his childhood and teen years. The family then moved to New York, where his father became pastor of the Apostolic Christian Church on 92nd Street in Manhattan.
After graduating from high school, Brother Urshan enrolled in Columbia University as a pre-med student. He attended the university for two and one-half years, desiring to be a surgeon and save people’s lives.
In the fall of 1938, the university student met the love of his life, Jean Habig. Jean and her accordion accompanied the R. G. Hoekstras in revival services at the 92nd Street church. This was a meeting destined to have far-reaching effects.
After being stricken with tuberculosis and then being miraculously healed, Brother Urshan realized that God had called him to preach and not to fulfill his own ambition to become a surgeon. Immediately he began to preach revivals.
Brother and Sister Urshan were married on October 1, 1941. They made a great evangelistic team, preaching and singing the gospel. They conducted revivals in their early evangelistic days in Ohio, Idaho, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois, and West Virginia. The Urshans were blessed with four children – Sharon, Annette, Nathaniel Paul, and Andrew. Both sons became ministers, and both daughters became wives of ministers.
In February 1943, Brother Urshan became associate pastor to C. C. Kirby in Royal Oaks, Michigan, a position he held for two and one-half years. While serving under Pastor Kirby, the Urshans still held revival services in several parts of the nation. After leaving Royal Oaks, they returned to the evangelistic field for a short time.
Later, Brother Urshan became assistant pastor to R. G. Hoekstra at Calvary Tabernacle, Indianapolis, Indiana. This was Sister Urshan’s hometown and church.
The Urshans left Indianapolis in 1947 to pastor Apostolic Christian Church, 92nd Street, Manhattan, New York. His father had pastored this church.
In July 1949, Nathaniel A. Urshan became pastor of Calvary Tabernacle, Indianapolis, Indiana. He pastored there thirty years, enjoying one of the legendary revivals in Pentecostal history. The congregation grew from approximately 200 to 1400 during his pastorate. As pastor, he positively influenced the community through his involvement in the International YMCA, the Heart Fund Campaign, the Cancer Society, and the Indianapolis Ministerial Association. In addition, he served on various senatorial committees. His moral stature has been an influence on the various governmental committees on which he has served from the city level up through the national level. Government contacts such as these have resulted in Brother Urshan’s being instrumental in opening doors to mission fields, including Ethiopia, where explosive revival has occurred for some years.
While pastoring, Brother and Sister Urshan preached many camp meetings across the country. Their songs such as “Somebody Touched Me” and “We have a Wonderful Guest at Our House”, with her playing the accordion and his playing the bass fiddle, were a constant source of inspiration everywhere they traveled. In addition, they were often called upon to preach anniversaries, dedications, and other special services at home and abroad.
During the years at Calvary Tabernacle, the Urshans had a fifteen-minute radio program called Hymns of Faith, which was aired five nights a week. The church also operated Calvary Christian School, one of the first Christian schools in the UPCI. The school is still in operation.
In the late 1940s, the Urshans, the Fred Kinzies, and the Norman Paslays formed the Gospel Melodies Record Company and made their own records. The company sold thousands of records in the following years.
Brother Urshan served on the Board of Education of the United Pentecostal Church International for a number of years and Indiana District Board as the presbyter of Section Five for twenty-seven years.
Some of Brother Urshan’s greatest accomplishments have been his impact on the lives of people. Over 100 ministers and ministers’ wives are active in the work of God because of his pastoral touch.
In 1960 Brother Urshan became the Harvestime Radio speaker, a position he held for seventeen and one-half years. For the following twenty-four years, he has shared the Harvestime pulpit with other speakers.
While pastoring Calvary Tabernacle, Brother Urshan served the United Pentecostal Church International as assistant general superintendent from 1971 to 1978.
Honorary doctorate degrees were conferred upon Brother Urshan from Apostolic Bible Institute, Gateway College of Evangelism, and Christian Life College.
The 1977, the General Conference of the United Pentecostal Church International elected Brother Urshan as general superintendent, and he assumed that position January 1, 1978.
The following twenty-four years resulted in worldwide growth of the UPCI under his capable and visionary leadership. His travels as general superintendent took the Urshans around the world as they ministered in conferences, camp meetings, and many special services. Brother Urshan has served over sixty-one years as a minister of the gospel.
The United Pentecostal Church International realized some major accomplishments during Brother Urshan’s superintendency. The following list gives tribute to his outstanding leadership:
- Addition of third floor to World Evangelism Center
- Acquisition of properties adjoining World Evangelism Center
- Release of the “Siberian Seven”
- Chaplaincy Program initiated
- World Network of Prayer established
- Registration of UPC in Russia, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Jordan, and Bethlehem, West Bank
- Publication of Spanish literature
- Youth on Missions begun
- UPC Historical Center established
- North American Youth Congress initiated
- Junior Bible Quizzing instituted
- Multicultural Ministries begun
- Endorsement of Lighthouse Ranch for Boys
- Endorsement of Spirit of Freedom Ministries
- Global Council begun
- Daughters of Zion initiated
- World Evangelism Center’s Information Technology Department established
- Spanish and French Harvestime broadcasts begun
- Men’s Ministry introduced
- Urshan Graduate School of Theology established
The Rev. Nathaniel Andrew Urshan when home to be the Lord on Friday, March 11, 2005, leaving behind a proud legacy in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.