1914 Assemblies of God

I. Group Profile

  1. Name: Assemblies of God
  2. 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, 35).
  3. Date of Birth: June 27, 1866 - June 15, 1923
  4. Birth Place: Hot Springs, Arkansas
  5. Year Founded: 1914
  6. Sacred or Revered Texts: Holy Bible - specifically Acts 2
  7. 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).

II. History

    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 & Williams, 1264).

    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, 43).

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 the believer.

    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 the Gospel.

    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).

SOURCE: Religious Movements
The information on this page was taken from the Religious Movements website & edited.  For the complete information click on the link above to Religious Movements.  We felt that this information is of such great importance that we made the decision to copy an edited format rather than chance losing it as a results of a broken link or a change of URL.

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