1914 Assemblies of God
I. Group Profile
- Name: Assemblies of God
- Founder: Eudorus N. Bell
-- Eudorus N. Bell was born in
Lake Butler, Florida (Brugess & McGee, 53) on June 27, 1866, and
died on June 15, 1923. In 1903, Bell graduated from the University
of Chicago and became a pastor in Texas with the Southern Baptist
Convention. In 1907, he became the pastor of a small Pentecostal
church in Malvern, Arkansas (Melton, 34). Bell was instrumental in
calling together the first General Assembly meeting of Pentecostal
leaders. The Assemblies of God evovled from this meeting (Blumhofer,
- Date of Birth: June 27, 1866 - June 15, 1923
- Birth Place: Hot Springs, Arkansas
- Year Founded: 1914
- Sacred or Revered Texts: Holy
Bible - specifically Acts 2
- Size of Group:
The Assemblies of God are one of the world's largest and fastest
growing Protestant Pentecostal denominations. They currently claim
over 2.3 million members in the United States and over 30 million
worldwide. There are roughly 11,100 established churches in the
United States and approximately 117,000 churches worldwide in 120
nations. Church ministers and leaders are educated in over 325 Bible
Colleges across the world.
The Assemblies of God maintains an aggressive foreign missions
program. Currently, over 1,500 missionaries are spread throughout
120 different countries (Assemblies of God, 1989, 14). Gospel House
Publishing, the Assemblies of God printing company, prints 24 tons
of church literature and curriculums daily (Assemblies of God, 1989,
15). A radio broadcast entitled Revivaltime is the official
radio production of the Assemblies of God. This radio program is
broadcasted over 600 times per week. They claim this coverage allows
the gospel to reach nearly the entire English-speaking world
(Assemblies of God, 1989, 13).
Revival swept through the United States during the late 1800s and
early 1900s. One important manifestation of this revival was the birth
of the Pentecostal
movement. The Assemblies of God, the largest of the Pentecostal
traditions, traces its origins to a gathering in Hot Springs, Arkansas
called by Eudorus N. Bell. The assembly, entitled "A Convention
of Pentecostal Saints and Churches of Christ" (Melton, 375) was
called for the purpose of "(1) doctrinal unity; (2) chartering
churches under a common name for legal purposes; (3) the need for a
Bible Training School; (4) conservation of the work; (5) foreign
mission interests" (Assemblies of God. 1989, 4).
The rise of the Pentecostal movement is largely based on the
teachings of a man named Charles Parham. He is credited with being the
founder of the first Pentecostal Church - the Apostolic Faith Church
(Melton, 1991, 352). His early teachings involved two main criteria:
(1) the understanding that holiness was the second work of Grace (Blumhofer,
23); This involved entire sancitification (Lippy & Williams,
1264). (2) Parham taught and practiced divine healing (Blumhofer, 23);
this act of divine healing was grounded in his faith ( Lippy &
Parham opened a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. He modeled his
Bible School after "The Holy Ghost and Us" Bible School
founded by Frank Sandford. Parham's students paid no board or tuition
to attend this school. Here students assembled to study and to learn
about the Word of God. His school emphasized one divine text, the Holy
Bible, and one divine teacher, the Holy Spirit. The experience of
Spirit Baptism was considered to be a key component of one's faith (Blumhofer,
24 - 25).
During the Christmas recess of 1900, Parham asked his students to
search the Bible and discover the biblical evidence for the act of
Baptism in the Holy Spirit. His students found the evidence for Spirit
Baptism in Chapter 2 of the book of Acts. Baptism in the Holy Spirit
was expressed and accompanied with speaking in tongues (Melton, 1991,
352). With this belief, a distinct Pentecostal Movement was created.
From this belief the Assemblies of God eventually emerged. For the
next several years, Parham lead religious revivals spreading this
"Apostolic Faith" (Blumhofer, 26 - 27).
This revival of the Pentecostal mission first spread to Missouri,
Texas, and then on to California. Pentecostal believers across the
world were drawn together for the first time at the Azusa Street
Mission in Los Angeles (Assemblies of God, 1989, 5) in 1906. William
J. Seymour, an African American holiness minister, was delivering the
messages. Here, the west coast of the United States heard speaking in
tongues for the first time (Melton, 1996, 81). The Pentecostal message
had succeeded in spreading across the nation and beyond. As the fires
of revival continued to spread exclusive Pentecostal congregations
began to form.
During the revival, the Holy Spirit came on to large numbers of
these eager Christians. They responded with an outpouring of
spontaneous worship and a driving desire to spread the love and grace
of Christ found in the Gospels. The coming of the Holy Spirit came to
be known as the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." The act of
speaking in tongues accompanied the baptism. This ritual is rooted in
the text of the New Testament Book of Acts. Speaking in tongues
involves speaking in a language believed to be divinely inspired by
God. It usually is not understood by others. Also, according to Acts,
the Holy Spirit was revealed to Jesus on the Christian holy day called
Pentecost. Hence, the name Pentecostals (Assemblies of God, 1989, 4).
Between 1910 and 1913, a preacher by the name of Eudorus Bell began
to have his voice heard. In the south, Bell and his colleagues had
been promoting the Pentecostal faith in a newspaper publication called
"Apostolic Faith." A man by the name of H. G. Rogers was
heading another independent Pentecostal movement in the southeastern
part of the country. Bell eventually merged his group with that of
Rogers. The two formed a loosely knit organization called "The
Church of God in Christ and In Unity with the Apostolic Faith
Movement." By 1913, 352 independent groups were associated with
this religious movement. They shortened their name to "Church of
God in Christ" (Blumhofer, 35 -36).
By the year 1914, the need for an organized assembly had arisen.
The revival continued to have growing needs. Bible literature,
missionaries, specialized funds, and the need for formal ministers
were some of those needs. Eudorus N. Bell was instrumental in calling
this meeting/assembly into existence. Bell invited Pentecostal
"Saints" from everywhere to attend (Blumhofer, 36). During
this year, approximately 300 preachers and laymen, from 20 states and
foreign countries, came together to discuss these needs. This
discussion, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on April 2 - 12, 1914 (Melton,
1996, 375) became the first "General Council." The
cooperative fellowship which evolved from this meeting was called The
General Council of the Assemblies of God ( Assemblies of God. 1989.
5). By the end of 1914, Assemblies of God's list of independent
followers had grown to include 531 organizations. At this time, the
movement had an initial membership of approximately 6,000 members. By
1926, membership had jumped to 41,000. The Assemblies of God continued
to report positive membership growth with 300,000 members in 1950 and
approximately 500,000 in 1960 (Queen, Prothero, & Shattuck, 1996,
|III. Organizational Structure
The General Council
is the legislative body which rules over the Assemblies of God. It is
composed of every ordained minister within the Assemblies of God
churches. Also, one delegate representing each church has a position on
the council (Assemblies of God, 1989, 7). The General Council has
ordered business meetings every two years. On August 5th - 10th, 1997,
they convened for the 47th
General Council in Indianapolis, Indiana.
One of the essential features of the Assemblies of God organizational
structure is local church autonomy. Each congregation of the Assemblies
of God is considered a self-governing "assembly." The General
Council is not directly involved in running the local congregations.
Every congregation has the right to select its own pastor and elect its
own officers. The church also has the power to discipline its members
and sanction the pastor. In administering discipline, the church must
follow its by-laws and the words of the Holy Scripture. The church is
also responsible for its property holdings and its business transactions
(Assmblies of God, 1989, 8).
Beyond the individual congregations, the fellowship of the Assemblies
of God is divided into 57 districts which are headed by a District
Council. Each district has the power to ordain ministers, establish new
churches, and provide monetary aid or other resources for the
congregations in their district (Assemblies of God, 1989, 7).
The international headquarters of the Assemblies of God is separated
into seven divisions. Each of the divisions govern a different aspect of
the church's fellowship. The seven divisions are: Division of Christian
Education, Division of Church Ministries, Division of Communications,
Division of Foreign Missions, Division of Home Missions, Division of
Publication, and other Departments (Assemblies of God, 1989, 9 - 15).
IV. Beliefs of the Group
The Assemblies of God are Pentecostal. With their faith comes several
distinctly Pentecostal beliefs and worship practices. The most
distinct Pentecostal worship practice is "glossolalia," or
"speaking in tongues." To those outside of the Pentecostal
tradition glossolalia may seem to be unintelligable gibberish. To
believers, speaking in tongues is a sign of anointing and is
understood as a gift of the Holy Ghost. It is a sign of a "second
baptism" and means the Holy Ghost dwells in the heart and soul of
Pentecostal believers worship in several spontaneous ways including
rythmic hymns, energetic "Amens", and prayers. Another
distinct practice of the Pentecostal faith includes
"healing." The power to heal is a gift from the Holy Ghost.
Assemblies of God often hold healing services (Melton, 1996, 79-80).
The Assemblies of God believe several basic
tenets of faith. Specifically, they believe in the Holy Bible, the
official word of God. They believe Christ was born a man and was
sacrificed on the cross. This, the son of God, was sent to provide
believers with a new life. Each individual has sinned and is in need
of God's forgiveness. Jesus Christ, the son of God, through his death
and resurrection offers this forgivness to any who believe.
About the Bible... Scripture
Search - 2 Timothy 3:15-17 The New and Old Testaments of the Bible
are the divinely inspired, unquestionable truths delivered by God. The
Bible is looked to as the ultimate example of how to model one's life
and one's faith (Assemblies of God, 1989, 17).
The Godhead... This is a belief in three distinct persons:
Father (God), Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. They believe in the
unified existence of these three persons into one body. The existence
of God is accepted. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe.
God is revealed in the writings of the Bible. He existed before
creation and will continue to exist infinitely. Jesus Christ was the
human manifestation of God the Father. He was born of the virgin Mary.
He lived a sinless life and died by being crucified for the sins of
the world. The third day after his death, he was resurrected from the
dead and exalted to heaven with God. The Holy Spirit is the essence of
God which moves among the people. It touches the lives of believers
here on Earth. God's power is incorporated into one's self. It leads
to a better understating of God's love and renewed energy to spread
About the Church... Scripture
Search - Eph. 1:22-23 The church is understood to be the Body of
Christ here on Earth. It is charged with the mission to spread the
word of God to all the nations. It is a place where believers come to
worship their God (Assemblies of God, 1989, 20).
About the Future... Scripture
Search - 1 Thess. 4:13-18 Some date in the near future will bring
the "Second Coming of Jesus Christ." The first coming was
experienced when Jesus was born in human form to the virgin Mary. In
the event called the "Rapture of the Church" current and
past Christians will be taken to live with Christ forever (Assemblies
of God, 1989, 21).
The Assemblies of God practice two official ordinances. The first
ordinance is "Holy Communion." This is the representation of
Christ's Last Supper here on Earth prior to his death on the cross.
"Bread and Wine" are presented as symbolic representations
of the "Body and Blood" shed by Christ for the sins of the
world. Believers are invited to take part in this service. The second
ordinance is "Water Baptism." This takes place by complete
immersion in a pool of water. This serves as a public showing of a
believer's acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Assemblies
of God, 1989, 20).
The information on this page was taken from the Religious Movements
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