Historical Archives | Pentecostal History 4


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Organizational Development

The Oneness Movement

Although the theological doctrine of " One God" manifestly revealed  as, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, has been taught since the inception of Christianity, (30 A.D.) the Church of Jesus Christ (apostolic)  beginning on the day of Pentecost  had to endure many hardships, trials, and persecutions  throughout the centuries. While at first, the persecutions were physical, they were initiated as the result of the religious shift from Judaism to Christianity.

Beginning from within the Jewish community and the Sanhedrin court, the persecution soon mounted into an all out attack from the Roman government as well. Then, after Constantine became Emperor of Rome, his attraction to Christianity would eventually turn into a religious war against some of the traditional doctrinal positions of the early church that were taught by Jesus himself and the apostles.  Namely, the validity of water baptism in Jesus' name during the Nicene Council in 325 A.D., as Constantine I conferred the new baptismal formula of the titles, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" upon the Christian movement.

Then, in 381 A.D. the Council of Constantinople, completely outlawed any form of religious practice other than those formulated and adopted   by the emerging religious regime of Roman Christianity. It was at the Council of Constantinople that Emperor "Theodious I" introduced the newly formulated doctrine of the " Trinity", and by pure force of the State, made the "Trinity" the only recognized doctrine allowed to be practiced by Christians. Thus, any other theological practices such as "Oneness", (Modalism, Sabellianism, or Arianism) were considered an act of "treason" and were punishable by severe persecution, imprisonment, and even death.

This caused the "Church of Jesus Christ"  (apostolic) to seek liberty of worship in un-orthodox methods. Apostolic Christians were literally forced to go "underground" to practice their Oneness beliefs, baptism in Jesus' name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. For centuries, they had truly become a secret society. History bears out that the world has never gone without a witness to these "Apostolic" truths and practices. Some stalwart believers refused to seclude themselves, choosing to take the highroad, by practicing "Apostolicism" in the open. Untold throngs of Apostolic Christians, suffered, and were put death by the "Roman Papacy" especially during the Inquisition Periods. Over the centuries, the "Apostolic" message became somewhat less realized, especially during the "Protestant Reformation" as the "Reformers" without fear or favor began developing methodologies of religious freedom in their quest to break free from the Church of England and its Catholic practices.  

 Although the Pentecostal experience became a valid force for "Denominational Christianity" to recon with in 1901, (due to the "Great" Spiritual Outpouring of the Holy Ghost at "Stones Folley" in Topeka, Kansas, and the spreading of its impact)  - it was not until 1913, that the Oneness of God in Christ again became realized on a global scale, and along with it, the doctrine of water baptism in Jesus' name again became an imposing doctrine, just as it was during the early days of the apostles.

The late Frank J. Ewart wrote: "At the great world-wide camp meeting held in Arroyo Seco, California in 1913, there were hundreds of preachers present from all over the nation and Canada." One day a preacher spoke from the passage in Jeremiah 31:22. The very suggestion of God's doing a new thing struck fire in the minds and hearts of the saints, and from then on to the end of the camp, one could hear expressions of hope that God would soon do a new thing for His people. The new thing was exhibited to those who had ears and eyes to perceive it.

The occasion was a baptismal service in the pool near the big tent. Brother Scott had selected Evangelist R.E. McAlister to preach on the subject of water baptism...He concluded his sermon abruptly by saying, "The apostles invariably baptized their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ; that the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism." In this camp meeting there was a man by the name of John G. Scheppe, who spent an entire night in prayer. During the night, God revealed to him the scriptural knowledge of  baptism in the "Name" of  Jesus, and the manifestation of the Mighty God in Christ Jesus revealed.

 

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The Original Apostolic Faith Movement

1901 ~ Present

Although the original Apostolic Faith Movement as established by Rev. Charles F. Parham in 1901, has never officially been recognized as an organized body due to Parham's rejection of organizational structure, it was the first Pentecostal coalition of ministers and churches to maintain a common faith based theology, holding to tenets of faith centered around the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the biblical evidence of speaking in other tongues as the initial sign of Spirit baptism.

 

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The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World

1906 ~ Present

Shortly after the Azusa Revival began in 1906 in Los Angeles, it took no time for the formation of a ministerial alliance to develop. From within the confines of the old Azusa Mission the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was established  during the year 1906. At the beginning it was a lose-leaf fellowship of ministerial endeavor, giving Apostolic ministers a sense of unity in belonging to something where common ideas were shared among the constituency of the movement. The PAW was Trinitarian in its theology during its early history, and remained Trinity until the conversion of Elder G.T. Haywood to the Oneness view in 1915. The PAW was largely interracial at the beginning, and remained that way until 1924, when during the 9th annual convention of the organization held in Chicago, the majority of the white brethren left the fellowship due to problems resulting from racial issues. Some of the problems were blamed on the Jim Crow laws of the South, which restricted the freedom of blacks to travel and enjoy the luxury of their white counterparts. This basically restricted the conventions from being a success in the South, because the black ministers didn't want to travel, and then be faced with the restrictions that confronted them due to their race. 

Then, there were some of the white ministers in the South that didn't want a black man's signature on their credentials for fear that it would hinder their progress. During these pressing times Elder G.T. Haywood was the General Secretary of the PAW and his signature appeared on every ministers credentials that was associated with the PAW. While the race card was a weak excuse for creating such a division, nevertheless it worked, thus leaving the PAW in a vulnerable state of condition. During the Chicago Convention in 1924, the PAW was left with many decisions to make after the departure of the white ministers. The PAW re-organized during this meeting, adopting an Episcopal form of church government. General Secretary G.T. Haywood was then elected to serve as the first presiding bishop of the PAW, a position he held until his untimely death in 1931.       

In 1915, Brother Glenn Cook came to Indianapolis, Indiana with a message for Elder Haywood concerning baptism in Jesus' name. At first Haywood refused to espouse the message, but one day while riding on a street car in Indianapolis, the voice of God spoke to him saying, "Bro. Haywood, walk in the light while you have it, lest a greater darkness come upon you." He swiftly departed the street-car and had Bro. Cook re-baptize him in Jesus' name. 456 of the members of Christ Temple followed his example, making it an overnight sensation, and thus becoming the largest Oneness church in the country. The PAW soon followed G.T. Haywood in his new theological position, accepting the Oneness of God, thus making it the first recognized Oneness organization in North America.

 

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Arroyo Seco, California 

The First Worldwide Pentecostal Camp Meeting

~1913~

In April, 1913, at a "worldwide" Pentecostal camp meeting being conducted at Arroyo Seco, near Los Angeles, a new "revelation " (not an uncommon thing in those days) received considerable emphasis. The main speaker at the camp meeting was Mrs. Mary Woodworth-Etter, but the speaker who unwittingly triggered the eruption was R.E. McAlister. At a baptismal service held near the main camp meeting tent, Brother McAlister casually observed that "the apostles invariably baptized their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ," and that the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism." When they heard this, "a shudder swept the preachers on the platform," one preacher even stepping over to whisper to Brother McAlister to refrain from emphasizing that doctrine or it would "associate the camp with a Dr. Sykes who so baptized. "

Reaction to this announcement was varied. One earnest preacher in particular, though, was deeply moved by the significance of the "name of Jesus." John G. Scheppe spent much of the night in prayer. In the early light of morning he "was given a glimpse of the power of the name of Jesus." He jumped to his feet, ran through the camp grounds, startling early risers, and awakening those still asleep. Scheepe shouted his "new revelation" of the power in the name of Jesus. His enthusiasm caused many to spend the day searching their Bibles regarding "the name of Jesus."

The enthusiasm created at Arroyo Seco gained such momentum that is soon affected many Pentecostal churches up and down the West Coast. At Long beach a large company of people were re-baptized in the new formula being advocated., "in the name of Jesus only." This rebaptism with the new formula was felt to be the gateway to new blessing. Attention was focused on the use of "THE NAME" invoked by the apostles in the book of Acts in connection with the performance of miracles, exorcism of evil spirits, and, particularly, water baptism. This emphasis led rapidly to the virtual denial of the Trinity, a type of Modal Monarchianism being espoused. Following the identification of the Holy Spirit with Jesus, the next step was the declaration of some that unless one had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, accompanied by speaking with tongues, he was not truly saved.

This species of "Pentecostal Unitarianism " gained great strength chiefly through its promulgation by Frank J. Ewart, prominent West Coast Pentecostal leader who was present at the Arroyo Seco camp meeting. Ewart, originally from Australia, lately from Canada, and most recently from Portland, Oregon, had developed a reputation as a fearless Baptist preacher. In 1908 he accepted the Pentecostal message in Portland. His outspoken preaching of Pentecost led to his expulsion from the Baptist communion. Ewart joined William H. Durham in Los Angeles, serving as his assistant in the important mission at Seventh and Los Angeles Streets. When Pastor Durham died, Ewart fell heir to the pastorate, and by the time of the "Jesus Only" issue he was recognized as one of the leading Pentecostals in the West. 

(More to come)

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The Assemblies of God

1914 ~ Present

By 1914, the Pentecostals had been driven outside the framework of traditional, organized American Christianity. They were rejected by the Holiness Movement, as well as the Fundamentalists, to say nothing of the scorn with which they were viewed by the larger church world. Outside the Holiness-Pentecostal bodies in the Southland the bulk of the early Pentecostals were independent people, with but the loosest affiliations, if any were entertained at all. Advocates of organization found strong opposition from many who had undergone the painful experience of being ostracized from traditional denominations. However, it became increasingly apparent to growing numbers in the amorphous Pentecostal world that glaring needs were pressing for some kind of structured relationship, if the revival was to be preserved from disintegration.

While the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was slowly progressing, its influence had not yet penetrated much past the northern states. An early practical need arose that Howard A. Goss resolved by securing ordination in 1907 from Bishop Mason of the black Church of God in Christ. That body, having been legally incorporated, was eligible for reduced clergy fares on the Southern railroads. To poverty-ridden Pentecostal preachers this was no small boon.

Serving the Southeast were the Holiness denominations which had maintained their exiting structures, simply tacking on the Pentecostal doctrine as an additional feature. The largest of these bodies were the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Church of God in Christ, all of Methodist origin and Episcopal in polity. However, spreading rapidly over the nation were independent congregations without formal cohesion, other than loose associations of some regional groups, such as Parham's Apostolic Faith Movement.

Parham was adamantly opposed to formal organization, although he may be credited with the first steps toward the organization of the Pentecostal Movement. In 1905 he was sponsoring conventions, the first inter-church associations of the new movement. By 1906, he was issuing credentials to new ministers, titling himself " The Founder and Projector of the Apostolic Faith Movement."He furnished the name by which the early Pentecostal Movement was widely known, the Apostolic Faith.

The December 20, 1913, issue of the Word and Witness carried the formal call for a "General Convention of the Pentecostal Saints and Churches of God in Christ." It was signed by M.M. Pinson, A.P. Collins, H.A. Goss, and D.C.O. Opperman. In the months that followed, the call was repeated twice, in February and in March. The final call appeared in the March 20, 1914, issue of the Word and Witness. In spite of opposition, those who stood steady were prepared to go ahead.

In the meantime, while press and pulpit were heated with earnest argumentation pro and con, preparations were quietly going forward in Hot Springs. H.A. Goss, pastor in Hot Springs, secured a six-months lease on the Grand Opera House, an abandoned theater building located in the heart of the little resort community. Goss moved his mission congregation into the building during the winter, then left the church in the hands of faithful helpers while he journeyed northward on an extended evangelistic tour that took him as far as Milwaukee.

They came from many parts of the nation, and from several foreign countries. Twenty states from coast to coast, but predominantly the Midwest, were represented by the 300-plus persons registered as ministers and missionaries. Many of the great names in the early history of the Pentecostal Movement were present at the Hot Springs meeting. F.F. Bosworth, A.B. Cox, J. Crouch, R.E. Erdman, Cyrus B. Fockler, J. Roswell Flower, H.A. Goss, S.A. Jamieson, John G. Lake, B.F. Lawrence, T.K. Leonard, Jacob Miller, D.C.O. Opperman, M.M. Pinson, Fred Pitcher, E.N. Richey, and John Sinclair were there. Those present who would serve the fellowship sooner or later as Chairman (later the term was changed to Superintendent) were E.N. Bell, A.P. Collins, J.W. Welch, W.T. Gaston, and R.M. Riggs. The convention opened on Thursday, April 2, 1914.

An important decision arrived at during the first General Council was to incorporate under the name "The General Council of the Assemblies of God." No attempt was made to formalize a precise doctrinal statement. The Preamble outlined the general principles of common belief, basing the entire fellowship on the Bible as "the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice." It was not until doctrinal issues over the Godhead and baptism in Jesus' Name, threatened to rend the unity of the fellowship that a sharply defined statement of faith was hammered out. Breadth and tolerance governed the opening session. On April 12, 1914, the first General Council session came to an end, having transacted the incorporation of a new fellowship. Out of diversity and independence, from all quarters of the land, and even beyond, those of like precious faith agreed together to join in a "voluntary, cooperative fellowship."   

 

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The New Issue

In its second year of existence, the Assemblies of God was threatened with almost complete disaster. Even before the Hot Springs meeting, a doctrinal issue had erupted on the West Coast, (Arroyo Seco) which within a brief time was to sweep across the country, nearly carrying away the Assemblies of God with it.

 

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Prominent Pentecostal Leaders Re-baptized In Jesus' Name

Many prominent leaders in the early Pentecostal movement were baptized in Jesus' name, including: A.H. Argue, Frank Bartleman, E.N. Bell, William Booth-Clibborn, Glenn A. Cook, A.G. Garr, Frank J. Ewart, Howard, A. Goss, L.C. Hall, G.T. Haywood, B.F. Lawrence, Harry Van Loon, R.E. McAlister, Aimee Semple McPherson, D.C.O. Opperman, H.G. Rogers, and many more.

Some would later abandon the conviction of their re-baptism, due to pressure from their Trinitarian colleagues, such as E.N. Bell and Aimee McPherson, and return to the Trinitarian position.

 

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General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies

1917 ~ 1918

Two months after they were forced out of the Assemblies of God, the Oneness ministers took steps to form a new organization. A large group of ministers met in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on December 28, 1916. No business was transacted, however, until 2:30 p.m. on January 2, 1917. Another business meeting was held on January 3. D.C.O. Opperman was elected Chairman; David Lee Floyd, Secretary; and Howard A. Goss, Treasurer. The term of office was one year. It was then moved that the new organization be known as The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies. The first and only published ministerial list of the General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies contained 154 names.

At the time of the formation of the (GAAA), Daniel C.O. Opperman had been publishing The Blessed Truth in Eureka Springs for approximately two years. The (GAAA) voted to make this periodical its official organ, and for Opperman to continue to serve as editor. Soon after the formation of the (GAAA), its ministers encountered a serious problem. America had entered the First World War on April 6, 1917. Since the organization had been in existence for such a short time, it could not get its young ministers exempt from military service. Another near essentiality in those days was the special clergy rate granted ministers by the railroads. Few ministers had automobiles, so most of them traveled by train. Apparently, the Clergy Bureau refused to recognize the newly formed organization, and this worked a hardship on its ministers.

For these two reasons, the organization was destined to be short-lived. Perhaps it set a record at lasting for the shortest length of time of any organization, since it continued only until the end of the year. It had no conferences other than the one in which it was organized. The plight of the young preachers was desperate; something had to be done for their protection. This led to the first Oneness merger. In 1919 the members of the defunct (GAAA) joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, which had embraced the oneness view in 1915 after G.T. Haywood's conversion and rebaptism in Jesus' name in that same year.

 

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The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ

of the Apostolic Faith Inc. (1919 ~ present)

The history of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a grand and glorious one. A chronicle that can take its position in the annuals of history. To speak of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ as an organization is to speak of its illustrious and dynamic founder, the late apostle, Bishop Robert C. Lawson, D.D., L.L.D. We can safely say that God made choice of this dedicated man to work his divinely inspired plan for this great organization. For it was by his herculean effort and prolific preaching and the mastery of the inspired scripture that Bishop Lawson with tenacity and determination hewed from the villages, cities, towns and hamlets the dynamic organization known as the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith Inc.

It was in the year of 1914 when Bro. Lawson accepted the word of God, was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost. He was saved under the ministry of the late Bishop G.T. Haywood, who pastored the Apostolic Faith Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was also under the mentorship of Haywood that young Lawson received his ministerial training. He served Elder Haywood well, but as time went on, he gravitated toward differing viewpoints than his pastor, of which eventually led to a separation between the two.

 Lawson realized that he held some personal convictions that Haywood did not hold, and this difference led to the formation of his very own organization. His two primary issues were, women preachers and the remarriage question. Lawson felt that it was unscriptural for women to preach, usurping authority over the man. He also felt very strongly about divorced people getting remarried. He felt that there was no Bible-right to remarry under any circumstances, thus eliminating the innocent party theory. Elder Haywood did not hold to either of these views. Thus, Lawson pulled away from his mentor and launched into his very own ministry.

Having established churches in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Antonio, Texas, preaching everywhere the apostolic doctrine, he was eventually led to the mid-west, where he pastored a church in Columbus, Ohio. It was is Columbus, Ohio that he married the late Miss Carrie Fields of Leavenworth, Kansas.  The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ had its inception in the year 1919. After moving to New York, he was invited to a prayer meeting which was in progress in a basement in the 40th Street area in New York City. So energetic was his service to the Lord that his fame spread abroad and reached the ears of Mr. and Mrs. James Burleigh and Mr. and Mrs. Edward Anderson. These two blessed couples opened their homes to Elder Lawson and their home today is affectionately thought of as the "Cradle of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ". 

Under the thriving ministry of Apostle Lawson, many preacher, missionaries, and teachers were sent into the field establishing numerous works. To the far flung isles of the sea, to the continent of Africa and to the Caribbean these Christian heralds went carrying the Apostolic message. As the work grew the quarters on 133rd Street were found to be inadequate for so rapidly an increasing congregation. Bishop Lawson found the present site on 124th Street and 7th Avenue, and in August 1945, the congregation relocated at this site. This building is known as the "Mother Church" of the Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The years following were outstanding in rapid growth and spiritual progress. The Church of Christ Bible Institute flourished, the R.C. Lawson Institute in Southern Pine, North Carolina already established, continued to grow. Through the arduous labor of Bishop Lawson in various parts of Liberia, West Africa, British West Indies, England and the isles of the sea. So vast was the work until more workers had to be sent to Superintend the vast harvest of souls.

Every organization must suffer the pangs of growth and the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ was no exception. In the year 1957 there was  a major schism within the ranks of the organization. This occasioned Bishop Lawson's calling together the now famous Summit meeting which was the rallying and turning point of the organization. It was the closing session that Bishop Lawson preached a soul stirring message recounting the work that he had done and hurled the challenge to all who would receive it, " ADD THOU TO IT". The challenge was accepted. From that moment on the organization began to grow to new greatness.

The clarion call for this illustrious leader came on Sunday July 2, 1961, and Bishop Lawson a prince of preachers, the Bible Answer man, God's shinning star departed this life. Bishop Maurice H. Hunter was elected to succeed Bishop Lawson. Today the organization has thrived under the very fine leadership of Bishop W. L. Bonner who succeeded the late Bishop Hunter.

 

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The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance

A large constituency of white ministers met in October, 1924 during the ninth annual convention of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, and took steps to form a new all white organization. A special conference was to be held later to set up the organization. According to T.C. Davis, the first editor of the Apostolic Herald (the new organization's official voice), the work of organizing was not completed until a second meeting, held in St. Louis. This was the first General Assembly of the movement, and it began November 3, 1925.  In the 1924 Chicago meeting, the ministers had voted to call the new organization the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, only to find out that W.H. Whittington had already incorporated and chartered another group under that name. The General Board then passed a resolution changing the name to the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance. When the (PMA) was organized in February, 1925, L.C. Hall became its first Chairman, and Howard A. Goss its first General Secretary.    

 

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Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ

1925 ~ 1928

In October, 1925 (8 months after the formation of the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance) fifty ministers assembled to form, Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ. In October, 1927, Emmanuels' Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ moved toward combining 400 ministers. The name Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ was retained for the group.  In October, 1928, the consolidating was complete. It was then voted in favor of retaining, "Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ " as the official name. 

 

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The Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ

1925 ~

When the white ministers withdrew from the interracial Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1924, they established three Oneness organizations within the space of one year. The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance was founded in February, 1925. In October of that same year, Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ was started. The third organization, known as the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, was begun in St. Louis by W.H. Whittington and Ben Pemberton, at about the same time as the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance.

 

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The Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Jesus Christ

~Hispanic~

(1930 ~ present)

The Apostolic Assembly had its humble beginnings in the year 1912. In 1916 the pastorate and ministry elected Francisco Llorente as its president. With the establishment of official church leadership providing vision and direction, membership in the organization grew steadily. As a result, on the 15th of March 1930, the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Jesus Christ became incorporated under the laws of the State of California.

Today, the Apostolic Assembly consists of approximately 700 churches with a membership of approximately 106,000 throughout the United States. The churches are supervised by 26 bishops who represent districts located throughout 45 of the 50 states of the Union. There is a heavy membership concentration in California, Arizona and Texas. Currently, the Apostolic Assembly holds General Conferences every four years to elect its board of directors as well as supervision bishops.

The Apostolic Assembly also has an extensive Foreign Missions influence in approximately 18 countries worldwide. In North America it has a number of churches in Mexico as well as in the Caribbean countries of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In Central America they have sent missionaries to the countries of Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Recently in South America the organization has experienced explosive growth in the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. They have not limited their missionary influence to North and South America, but have made great efforts to establish churches in Spain and Italy as well.

Throughout the humble beginnings of the Apostolic Assembly, the tenacious yet caring leaders ministered primarily to the spiritual needs of a growing number of Spanish speaking peoples who flooded into this country looking for a better life for their families. Since then, they have made great strides in not only providing ministry to this Missionary generation and its subsequent generations, but they have broken the cultural barrier and have provided bilingual ministry to subsequent Boomer and Buster generations as well. They are confident that the Apostolic Assembly will continue to grow, in both financial strength and in membership in the years to come. Because the moral fabric of our society continues to weaken, the church stands willing to face the challenges of meeting the spiritual needs of hurting people around the world. 

 

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Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ

(1931 ~ present)

It was decided that the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World would meet to work out a merger of their respective groups, and consequently, their efforts in the work of the Lord.

In November of 1931 in the city of St. Louis, a conference was convened for this purpose. The merger was adopted, and they took part of each of their names to appropriately name the new organization. This new name was The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, commonly known as the P.A. of J.C.

The leadership was composed of a Board of Presbyters who, in turn, would elect one from their body to preside at each General Conference. J.A. Frush was the Editor; Karl F. Smith (African American) was Secretary.

This merger did not work as planned, because almost from the start, hindrances arose to hamper the proposed idea. The organization forged ahead, gaining strength and ground, but the same type of difficulties encountered in the old Pentecostal Assemblies of the World were again run into.

Bishop Grimes, (a prominent black leader), did not accept the idea of the merger, so he left the conference and renewed the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World charter before its expiration. This caused quite a bit of unrest, and several decided to go along with him.

Then it was perceived that the same distasteful experiences as before, concerning the races, was to be gone through. Due to segregation in the South, a General Conference could not be held below the Mason-Dixon line with all in attendance, and the re-enactment was on.

It was decided, though, that a conference would be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1937. This proved to be the undoing of relationships with the arrangement worked out in 1931 at St. Louis. Only the white ministers were able to attend, and only legislation of a  minor order was to be passed upon, and that to be sanctioned the next year in a conference held again in the North, with all members present.

This could not work out harmoniously. Some felt that they were being discriminated against, even though this was not the spirit of the happenings at all. Nevertheless, the P.A. of J.C. lost several, with most of the black brethren going back to the old Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.

The next convention in 1938 was held in Columbus, Ohio, with O.F. Fauss presiding. It was decided that the organization would return to the governmental General Chairman again. W.T. Witherspoon was selected to be the General Chairman and the Secretary-Treasurer's position was filled by Stanley R. Hanby. This proved to be very strengthening and workable, and the P.A. of J.C. "moved ahead in a progressive manner." 

In the year 1945, the P.A. of J.C. and the Pentecostal Churches Inc (P.C.I.) merged together forming what is now called  the United Pentecostal Church (U.P.C.I.). According to Dr. Bernie L. Wade, in August 1946, a group of brethren became dissatisfied with the U.P.C.I., and revived the original charter of the P.A. of J.C. and reorganized the group.  There were a number of reasons for the dissatisfaction but the late Bishop M.E. Golder believed that the primary issues were related to the treatment of the United Pentecostal Church of black ministers.

In the spring of 1948 the Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ met with the brethren of the P.A. of J.C. and proposed a merger. In August, 1948 the merger became complete. At that time a proposal was issued to the new secretary, J. Frank Wilson, to make an amendment that both charters be dropped. This action was never taken and both charters lay idle until the reviving of the charter came about forming the Assemblies of Jesus Christ.

The old charter of the P.A. of J.C. again lay idle until the year of 1955. Then a group of ministers led by Bishop Carl Angle (Nashville, TN), Bishop Ray Cornell (Cleveland, OH) Bishop C.B. Gillespie (Fairmont, WV) went to the State of Ohio and took out a charter known as the P.A. of J.C, Inc. The P.A. of J.C. Inc. is still chartered in the state of Ohio.

 

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United Pentecostal Church International

(1945 ~ present)

When the Assemblies of God adopted the doctrine of the Trinity at its Fourth General Council in October 1916, the Oneness Pentecostals were forced to withdraw from the organization. Two months later, in late December and early January, Oneness ministers met in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and on January 2, 1917, they formed a Oneness Pentecostal organization, called The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies (GAAA).

In late 1917 or early 1918 The GAAA merged with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and then held its first meeting in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, later in the same year. This interracial organization, which adopted of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, was the only Oneness Pentecostal organization until late 1924, when a separation occurred mainly along racial lines. During 1925 three new organizations were formed: The Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance, and Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ.

This organizational division among Oneness people was not desired, however, and in 1927 the first step was taken toward bringing them back together. Meetings in a joint convention in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ merged under the name The Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. This merger, which united about 400 ministers, was consummated at the next General Convention held in Port Arthur, Texas, in October 1928.

In 1931, a unity conference with representatives from four Oneness organizations met in Columbus, Ohio, in an attempt to bring all Oneness people together. Unfortunately, this attempt was only partially successful. The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance ministers voted to merge with The Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, but the terms of the proposed merger was not accepted by the ministers in The Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. However, a merger between The Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was consummated in November 1931. The merger adopted the name of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ.

In 1932 The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance changed its name to The Pentecostal Church, Incorporated, reflecting its organizational structure. But no further attempt was made for a merger with The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ until 1936, when The Pentecostal Church, Incorporated ministers voted to work toward an amalgamation of the two bodies. Once again no agreement could be found.

The desire to be united remained alive and growing, and eight years later, in 1944, the first step was taken that led to the successful merger in 1945 of these two Oneness Pentecostal organizations to form the United Pentecostal Church International. The merger of these two Oneness Pentecostal bodies brought together 1,838 ministers and about 900 churches. These numbers have continued to rise year by year. 

The United Pentecostal Church International is located in Hazelwood, Missouri, (St. Louis suburb) and is governed by an Executive Board. Namely: General Superintendent, (2) Assistant General Superintendents, General Secretary, Foreign Missions and Home Missions Departments, including General Presbyters. The organization holds an annual summer Conference, and its official organ is The Pentecostal Herald.

 

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Assemblies Of the Lord Jesus Christ

(1952 ~ present)

The Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ is a continuation of the great revival that began on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem, A.D. 30, and is founded upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone.

Various groups throughout the country went by different names trying and striving to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Finally in the month of March, 1952, three groups known as the Assemblies of the Church of Jesus Christ, Jesus Only Apostolic Church of God, and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, formulated a merger adopting the name Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is Apostolic in Doctrine and Teachings, and the Bible as their guide book.

Since the merger in 1952, the ALJC has been a prominent leader in the Oneness movement. They are steadily growing as they continue to hold forth the doctrine of God. The ALJC teaches water baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the biblical evidence of speaking with other tongues. Their church government consists of a General Superintendent, three Regional Superintendents, a General Secretary, and 26 District Superintendents. The official organ of the ALJC is the Apostolic Witness. 

(More to come on the history of the ALJC)

 

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The Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith

(1957 ~ present)

The Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith (PCAF) was formed by the late, Bishop Samuel Nathan Hancock of Detroit, Michigan. When Bishop G.T. Haywood died in 1931, it left a gaping hole in the PAW. Afterward, the Bishop Board voted to leave the Presiding Bishop position open for one year. Bishop Hancock felt that due to his personal relationship with Bishop Haywood (a spiritual son, and former assistant to bishop Haywood) that he should have been considered to succeed him as Presiding Prelate of the PAW.

As time passed, Bishop Hancock was never elected to serve the PAW as its Presiding Prelate. This undoubtedly created some distance between Bishop Hancock and his loyalty to the organization. In 1957, some issues of concern arose within the organization that caused Bishop Hancock to step back and reconsider his position in the PAW, including his own bishopric. In 1957, he took steps to organize a new fellowship of Apostolic ministers. During the initial formation of the organization at Bethlehem Temple in Detroit, Bishop Hancock chose the name, Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith for the name of his new adventure. (more to come)

 

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Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ World-Wide Inc.

1957 ~ present

Bible Way was born out of a National Pentecostal Ministerial Conference held September 25-29, 1957 at the Bible Way Church 1100 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

This Conference was led by Dr's. Smallwood E. Williams, John S. Beane, McKinley Williams, Winfield Showell, James I. Clarke, Elder Joseph Moore and others, some of which were former officers of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. This conference was convened to consider some mal-administrative practices which were found to be out of line with the New Testament collective leadership as practiced by the Apostles, and the authoritarianism which could no longer be tolerated.

From this Conference, Dr. S.E. Williams was consecrated as Bishop and Presiding Bishop of the newly formed organization and four outstanding Pastors were consecrated to the Bishopric, namely, Dr. John S. Bean of Petersburg, VA, Dr. McKinley Williams of Philadelphia, PA, Dr. Winfield A. Showell, Baltimore, MD, and Elder Joseph Moore of Brooklyn, NY. Bishop John S. Holly of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was the officiant at the ceremonies. 

The authenticity and orthodoxy of the Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ World-Wide can be attested as to its validity historically, experimentally and doctrinally.  Historically, its spiritual roots go back to the 1st century 30 A.D. in the upper room at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church.

Bishop Smallwood Williams was revere by this august body as one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. He was a modern day Apostle without equal. He  was a preacher and an orator of the first magnitude. He was a man before his time, at the vanguard and on the cutting edge of the civil rights movement of the sixties and seventies. He was known as a bridge builder and a role model for men of all ages in Christian ministry. During the 34 years of his presidership he almost single-handedly put Bible Way World-Wide on the map of all Christendom. This brief paragraph cannot contain all of the wonderful works done by this mighty man of God. However, it must be stated that each of the first five Bishops mentioned in this history made their unique contributions to the success of the Bible Way Churches World-Wide.

 

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Apostolic Ministers Fellowship

1968 ~ Present

In August of 1968, a group of approximately 72 ministers, namely associated with the United Pentecostal Church International, met in Baker, Louisiana for the first "General Council of Elders" of the newly formed Apostolic Ministers Fellowship (AMF). The AMF was formed due to a growing unrest among the majority of  its constituency (while still in the UPCI) concerning the autonomy of pastors over their individual congregations. Elder M.E. Burr is the person of interest in the initial formation of the AMF. It seemed that he had experienced personal disagreements with the Texas, District Board, and in particular with District Superintendent, V.A. Guidroz. This unrest led to a gathering of support from several ministers around the country who were sympathetic toward his position.

A special meeting was held in July 1968, at C.W. Shew's church in Fort Worth, Texas, prior to the August, Conference in Baker. Many of the supporting minister's were present to show their favor toward the cause of self autonomy. C.W. Shew, Verbal Bean, R.C. Cavaness, Jimmy Davis, A.L. O'Brien, Carl Ballestero, and C.R. Free were among the list of some of the ministers who gave life to the AMF. When the movement was first started, it was intended to be a fellowship only! No eminent plans were made at the outset to form a distinct and separate organization. It was intended to be kept strictly as a fellowship of apostolic ministers, with hopes of maintaining a lifeline to the UPCI. However, when this attempt failed, the fellowship would eventually evolve over 16 years until it became a fully developed organization. This turning point took place in August, 1984 during the 16th Annual General Conference at Cincinnati, Ohio.

During this Conference, a congressional vote determined the new direction of the AMF. The revised Constitution and By-Laws stated that along with this new direction would come a new name as well. The Apostolic Ministers Fellowship, would now be called the Apostolic Churches International (ACI) taking on a global presence. One of the next steps taken was to sub-divide the organization into 9 separate districts (Central, Gulf Coast, Indiana, Louisiana, Midwestern, Northeastern, Southeastern, Texas, and Western) with a district elder appointed over each division. This eventually caused some in the organization to withdraw their membership, as they objected to this new approach of operation, which, for some, too closely resembled what they initially were opposed to in the first place. It had the appearance of the old system written all over it. Though not the exact same, some seemed uncertain where this new approach was going to lead.

When another group showed possible interest in forming under the name "Apostolic Ministers Fellowship", the ACI quickly reorganized with intentions of retaining the rights to its old name (AMF)! They reaffirmed this intention by adopting the name Apostolic Ministers Fellowship as a " doing business as" (DBA) agreement, thus, maintaining the name Apostolic Churches International as the corporate name, but using "Apostolic Ministers Fellowship" under the auspices of the ACI.

The Apostolic Ministers Fellowship has maintained throughout its existence a strict conservative view of holiness. Also, the AMF has maintained a very pro-active missionary program, supporting missionaries in various countries, including, Brazil, the Philippians, China, and others. The general chairman is elected by the lot system, and serves two year terms. There is no set number of terms for which they can serve.

The AMF operates under the leadership of a "General Council of Elders". Namely, the General Chairman, Assistant Chairman, and Secretary & Treasurer, including (12) Elders. It has no Bible Colleges, and does not favor women ministers. The AMF has one "General Conference" per year, generally held in August,  with various other conferences throughout the year such as, Local Church and Pastoral Anniversaries, Camp meetings, and Youth Camps.  It maintains a Missions Department, and a Missions Board. The Official Organ of the AMF is the " Apostolic Standard". This publication was started by the late Rev. Murray E. Burr, and has been distributed since the formation of the AMF in 1968.  

 

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