Assemblies of God

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Assemblies of God
World Assemblies of God Fellowship logo.jpg
Classification Protestant
Theology Pentecostal
Governance Cooperative body of over 140 self-governing Assemblies of God national fellowships meeting every 3 years in General Assembly. General Assembly elects an executive council to carry out the work of the WAGF. [1]
Leader George Wood (2017-2020) [2]
RegionWorldwide
Origin1914 (WAGF formally established 1988)
Congregations370,844 [3]
Members69,992,330 [3]
Official website http://worldagfellowship.org

The Assemblies of God (AG), officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 autonomous but loosely associated national groupings of churches which together form the world's largest Pentecostal denomination. [4] With over 397,000 ministers [3] and outstations in over 256 countries and territories serving approximately 69.1 million adherents [3] worldwide, it is the fourth largest international Christian group of denominations and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. [5] [6]

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Christian denomination identifiable Christian body with common name, structure, and doctrine

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Contents

As an international fellowship, the member denominations are entirely independent and autonomous; however, they are united by shared beliefs and history. The Assemblies originated from the Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th century. This revival led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in the United States in 1914. Through foreign missionary work and establishing relationships with other Pentecostal churches, the Assemblies of God expanded into a worldwide movement. It was not until 1988, however, that the world fellowship was formed. As a Pentecostal fellowship, the Assemblies of God believes in the Pentecostal distinctive of baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Azusa Street Revival Historic Pentecostal revival meeting

The Azusa Street Revival was a historic revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, worship services and speaking in tongues. The participants were criticized by some secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.

Assemblies of God USA Pentecostal Christian denomination in the USA

The Assemblies of God USA (AG), officially the General Council of the Assemblies of God, is a Pentecostal Christian denomination in the United States founded in 1914 during a meeting of Pentecostal ministers at Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is the U.S. branch of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, the world's largest Pentecostal body. With a constituency of over 3 million, the Assemblies of God was the ninth largest Christian denomination and the second largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States in 2011.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

The Assemblies of God should not be confused with the Assemblies of God International Fellowship, the International Assemblies of God Fellowship, and the Independent Assemblies of God International, all of which are Pentecostal denominations.

The Assemblies of God International Fellowship is a Pentecostal denomination rooted in the revival among the Scandinavian Baptists in the Midwest. Strongly against church organization, the Scandinavian Pentecostal Assemblies remained independent and later developed into incorporated denominations, such as the AGIF and the Fellowship of the Christian Assemblies.

The International Assemblies of God Fellowship is an independent, cooperative fellowship of ministers, ministries and churches of Trinitarian Baptistic Pentecostals. Their membership is worldwide, and all churches are independent and autonomous of the fellowship. Dr. Phillip Murray is the President.

National fellowships

The World Assemblies of God Fellowship is structured as a loose alliance of independent national and regional Pentecostal denominations. For the particular beliefs, history and polity of individual national fellowships, refer to the links in the following list: [7]

Beliefs

The doctrinal position of the Assemblies of God is framed in a classical Pentecostal and an evangelical context. The AG is Trinitarian and holds the Bible as divinely inspired and the infallible authoritative rule of faith and conduct. Baptism by immersion is practiced as an ordinance instituted by Christ for those who have been saved. Baptism is understood as an outward sign of an inward change, the change from being dead to sin to being alive in Christ. As an ordinance, Communion is also practiced. The AG believe that the elements that are partaken are symbols expressing the sharing the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth; a memorial of His suffering and death; and a prophecy of His second coming. The Assemblies of God also places a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of the Great Commission and believes that this is the calling of the church. [8]

As classical Pentecostals, the Assemblies of God believes all Christians are entitled to and should seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The AG teaches that this experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of salvation. The baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers the believer for Christian life and service. The initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues "as the Spirit gives utterance". It also believes in the present-day use of other spiritual gifts and in divine healing. [8]

While the World AG Fellowship has a statement of faith which outlines the basic beliefs which unify the various branches of the movement, each national AG denomination formulates its own doctrinal statements. The Assemblies of God USA, for example, adheres to the Statement of Fundamental Truths.

History

An AG church in Fiji, conveniently located to serve passengers entering the country via Nadi Airport E9210-Nadi-airport-church.jpg
An AG church in Fiji, conveniently located to serve passengers entering the country via Nadi Airport

Origins

The Assemblies of God has its roots in the Pentecostal Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th century. Established churches generally did not welcome the Pentecostal aspects of the revival, and participants in the new movement soon found themselves forced outside existing religious bodies. These people sought out their own places of worship and founded hundreds of distinctly Pentecostal congregations. By 1914 many ministers and laymen alike began to realize just how far-reaching the spread of the revival and of Pentecostalism had become. Concerned leaders felt the desire to protect and preserve the results of the revival by uniting through cooperative fellowship.

In April 1914, after splitting from the Church of God in Christ, about 300 preachers and laymen were invited[ by whom? ] from 20 states and several foreign countries for a general council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, United States. A remaining fellowship emerged from the meeting and was incorporated under the name General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America. In time, self-governing and self-supporting general councils broke off from the original fellowship or formed independently in several nations throughout the world, originating either from indigenous Pentecostal movements or as a direct result of the indigenous missions strategy of the General Council. [9] In 1919 Pentecostals in Canada united to form the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, which formally affiliated with the Assemblies of God USA the next year. The Assemblies of God in Great Britain formed in 1924 and would have an early influence on the Assemblies of God in Australia, now known as Australian Christian Churches. The Australian Assemblies of God formed in 1937 through a merger of the Pentecostal Church of Australia and the Assemblies of God Queensland. The Queensland AG had formed in 1929; though, it was never formally affiliated with the AG in America. The Assemblies of God of South Africa, founded in 1925, like the AG Queensland was also not initially aligned with the US fellowship.

Prior to 1967 the Assemblies of God, along with the majority of other Pentecostal denominations, officially opposed Christian participation in war and considered itself a peace church. [10] The US Assemblies of God continues to give full doctrinal support to members who are led by religious conscience to pacifism.

International fellowship

In 1988, the various Assemblies of God national fellowships united to form the World Pentecostal Assemblies of God Fellowship at the initiative of Dr. J. Philip Hogan, then executive director of the Division of Foreign Missions of the Assemblies of God in the United States. The initial purpose was to coordinate evangelism, but soon developed into a more permanent organism of inter-relation.

Dr. Hogan was elected the first chairman of the Fellowship and served until 1992 when Rev. David Yonggi Cho was elected chairman. In 1993, the name of the Fellowship was changed to the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. [11] In 2000, Thomas E. Trask was elected to succeed Cho. [12] At the 2008 World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the United States, was elected chairman. [13] At the 2011 World AG Congress in Chennai, India, D. Mohan, General Superintendent of the All India Assemblies of God, was elected vice chairman.

Structure

Samoan Assemblies of God church in the village of Lotopa, Samoa Worship Assemblies of God Samoa.jpg
Samoan Assemblies of God church in the village of Lotopa, Samoa

The World Fellowship unites Assemblies of God national councils from around the world together for cooperation. Each national council is fully self-governing and independent and involvement with the World Fellowship does not limit this independence. The work of the World Fellowship is carried out by the Executive Council. Executive Council members represent different regions of the world and serve three-year terms. Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America each have four representatives while Europe has three and the Middle East and Southern Asia each have one. They are elected by the General Assembly. Each World Fellowship member is entitled to send one or more delegates to the General Assembly with one vote. The General Assembly also elects the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary of the World Fellowship. [1] The World Assemblies of God Relief Agency (WAGRA) directs its humanitarian work. [14] At the national and lower levels, the Assemblies of God are generally structured around a form of presbyterian polity, combining the independence of the local church with oversight by district and national councils. [4]

The Assemblies of God has missions programs that are designed to establish self-propagating, self-supporting, and self-governing national church bodies in every country. As of late 2006, the Assemblies of God World Missions Research Office reported constituencies in 212 countries and territories, with over 5,000 adherents added per day. [15] As of 2005, the fellowship operated 859 Bible schools, 1,131 extension programs and 39 seminaries outside the United States. [16]

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Charismatic Christianity is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles as an everyday part of a believer's life. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or Renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement and Neo-charismatic movement. According to the Pew Research Center, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 584 million or a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians in 2011.

Oneness Pentecostalism is a movement within the Christian family of churches known as Pentecostalism. It derives its distinctive name from its teaching on the Godhead, which is popularly referred to as the "Oneness doctrine," a form of Modalistic Monarchianism. This doctrine states that there is one God, a singular divine Spirit, who manifests himself in many ways, including as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This stands in sharp contrast to the doctrine of three distinct and eternal persons posited by Trinitarian theology. Oneness believers baptize in the name of Jesus Christ, rather than using the Trinitarian formula.

The Statement of Fundamental Truths is a confession of faith outlining the 16 essential doctrines adhered to by the Assemblies of God USA. These doctrines are heavily based on other evangelical confessions of faith but differ by being clearly Pentecostal. Of the 16 articles, four are considered core beliefs "due to the key role they play in reaching the lost and building the believer and the church". They are the doctrines concerning salvation, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, divine healing, and the Second Coming of Christ. The Statement of Fundamental Truths has undergone several permutations since its original adoption in 1916 despite common claims that it has remained largely unchanged.

The Church of God, Mountain Assembly (CGMA) is a holiness Pentecostal Christian body formed in 1907, with roots in the late 19th-century American holiness movement and early 20th-century Pentecostal revival. The denomination maintains headquarters in Jellico, Tennessee and is a member of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America.

The Independent Assemblies of God International(IAOGI) is a pentecostal Christian association with roots in a revival in 1890 decade among the Scandinavian Baptist and Pietist communities in the United States. Independent Assemblies of God International is a member of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America. International offices are located in Laguna Hills, California.

Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) is a Pentecostal Christian denomination and the largest evangelical church in Canada. It reports 239,267 adherents and 1,076 member congregations throughout Canada. Its headquarters is located in Mississauga, Ontario.

David Johannes du Plessis was a South African-born Pentecostal minister. He is considered one of the main founders of the charismatic movement, in which the Pentecostal experience of baptism with the Holy Spirit spread to non-Pentecostal churches worldwide.

The Indian Pentecostal Church of God (IPC) is the largest Pentecostal denomination in India.

Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa

The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (AFM) is a classical Pentecostal Christian denomination in South Africa. With 1.2 million adherents, it is South Africa's largest Pentecostal church and the fifth largest religious grouping in South Africa representing 7.6 percent of the population. Dr. Isak Burger has led the AFM as president since 1996 when the white and black branches of the church were united. It is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission International, a fellowship of 23 AFM national churches. It is also a member of the South African Council of Churches.

The United Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches is the largest Pentecostal and evangelical Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It was created on February 16, 2002, when the Brotherhood of Pentecostal Churches and the Full Gospel Churches of the Netherlands merged. The VPE is the Dutch branch of the Assemblies of God. In 2008, it had 22,000 members in 160 churches.

Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand Incorporated

The New Zealand Samoan Assemblies of God (SA/G) or (SAOG), officially The General Council of the Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand Inc. are a group of Pentecostal congregations predominantly made up of Samoan people. It was established in New Zealand in the early 1960s by a group of Holiness/Pentecostals from Samoa bringing the message of Pentecostalism to their Samoan people living in New Zealand. Certain pioneers such as the late Reverend Makisua Fatialofa with his wife Evangelist Mauosamoa, the late Reverend Dr. Samani Pulepule with the late First Lady Sapapalii, along with the late Reverend Fereti Ama with his wife Lady Leausuone, were the foundation members of the first ethnically fellowship to align itself with the Assemblies of God in New Zealand (A/GNZ). It was this Samoan fellowship that contributed to the growth of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand making it the Nations fastest growing church. By 2005 there were 89 SA/G congregations throughout New Zealand and in that same year some members in the Samoan fellowship felt the need to be a self-governing body and formed its own constitution which split the SA/GNZ national body in two. In late November 2005, 45 churches left the A/GNZ umbrella and formed a break-away group, while 40 churches remained under the A/GNZ movement, although this was the end result both Samoan fellowships still work alongside one another.

Finished Work

The Finished Work is a doctrine that locates sanctification at the time of conversion, afterward the converted Christian progressively grows in grace. This is contrary to the doctrine of entire sanctification that locates complete sanctification in a definite "second work" of grace which is a necessary prerequisite to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The term finished work arises from the aphorism "It's a Finished Work at Calvary", referring to both salvation and sanctification. Though the term is used within Pentecostal Christianity, it is not exclusively a Pentecostal doctrine.

William Howard Durham (1873–1912) was an early Pentecostal preacher and theologian, best known for advocating the Finished Work doctrine.

Pentecostalism in Australia

Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. It emerged from 19th century precursors between 1870 and 1910, taking denominational form from c. 1927. From the early 1930s, pentecostal denominations multiplied, and there are now several dozen, the largest of which relate to one another through conferences and organizations such as the Australian Pentecostal Ministers Fellowship. The Australian Christian Churches, formerly known as the Australian Assemblies of God, is the oldest and longest lasting Pentecostal organization in Australia. The AOG/ACC is also the largest Pentecostal organization in Australia with over 300,000 members in 2018. Until 2018, Hillsong Church was one of 10 megachurches in Australia associated with the ACC that have at least 2,000 members weekly. According to the church, over 100,000 people attend services each week at the church or one of its 80 affiliated churches located worldwide.

Pentecostalism began spreading in South Africa after William J. Seymour, of the Azusa Street mission, sent missionaries to convert and organize missions. By the 1990s, approximately 10% of the population of South Africa was Pentecostal. The largest denominations were the Apostolic Faith Mission, Assemblies of God, and the Full Gospel Church of God. Another 30% of the population was made up of mostly black Zionist and Apostolic churches, which comprise a majority of South Africa's African Instituted Churches(AICs). In a 2006 survey, 1 in 10 urban South Africans said they were Pentecostal, and 2 in 10 said they were charismatic. In total, renewalists comprised one-third of the South African urban population. Half of all protestants surveyed said that they were Pentecostal or charismatic, and one-third of all South African AIC members said they were charismatic.

The doctrines and practices of modern Pentecostalism placed a high priority on international evangelization. The movement spread to Africa soon after the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles.

References

  1. 1 2 World Assemblies of God Constitution and Bylaws
  2. Executive Council Directory (2017 – 2020). Accessed May 22, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Assemblies of God World Missions Vital Stats, 2016 https://agwm.com/assets/agwmvitalstats.pdf
  4. 1 2 "Assemblies of God". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Ed F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 22 June 2011.
  5. List of World Religious Bodies http://www.adherents.com/adh_rb.html
  6. Barrett, David. World Christian Encyclopedia. Oxford University Press: London, 2001. Table 1-5, pages 16–18
  7. For the best directory of WAGF members, see WAGF Participating Members. The Assemblies of God USA lists some "fraternal organizations" Archived 2010-10-25 at the Wayback Machine who do not have pages on the WAGF website. Accessed October 20, 2010.
  8. 1 2 World Assemblies of God Statement of Faith
  9. General Council of the Assemblies of God (USA) – Our History (2006) AG.org Archived February 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. Jay Beaman, Pentecostal Pacifism: The Origin, Development, and Rejection of Pacific Belief Among the Pentecostals (Hillsboro, KS: Mennonite Brethren Historical Society, 1989)
  11. "History of WAGF and its Leadership". David Cho Evangelistic Mission Journal: 9. September 2000.
  12. "WAGF Executive Committee Meeting and 6th General Assembly". David Cho Evangelistic Mission Journal: 11. September 2008.
  13. Assemblies of God USA. "General Superintendent's Office". Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  14. WAGF Relief and Development
  15. Assemblies of God World Missions Research Office – AGWM Current Facts and Highlights (2007)
  16. Assemblies of God World Missions Research Office – AGWM Current Facts and Highlights (2005)