The General Council of the Assemblies of God (USA),
one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States,
was organized in 1914 by a broad coalition of ministers who desired
to work together to fulfill common objectives, such as sending missionaries
and providing fellowship and accountability. Formed in the midst
of the emerging worldwide Pentecostal revival, the Assemblies of
God quickly took root in other countries and formed indigenous national
organizations. The Assemblies of God (USA) is a constituent member
of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship – one of the largest
Pentecostal fellowships in the world.
Throughout the latter half of the 19th century in the United States,
Protestants from various backgrounds began to ask themselves why
their churches did not seem to exhibit the same vibrant, faith-filled
life as those in the New Testament. Many of these believers joined
evangelical or Holiness churches, engaged in ardent prayer and personal
sacrifice, and earnestly sought God. It was in this context that
people began experiencing biblical spiritual gifts.
Pentecostals pioneers were hungry for authentic
Christianity, and they looked to previous spiritual outpourings,
such as the First Great Awakening (1730s-40s) and Second Great Awakening
(1800s-30s), for inspiration and instruction. They identified themselves
in the tradition of reformers and revivalists such as Martin Luther,
John Wesley, and Dwight L. Moody.
One of the focal points of the emerging Pentecostal movement was
known as the Azusa Street revival (1906-09). It was an unlikely
location for an event that would change the face of Christianity.
In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly-formed congregation
meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa
Street in Los Angeles, California. Critics attacked the congregation
because its mild-mannered African-American Holiness preacher, William
J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of
biblical spiritual gifts. The revival soon became a local sensation,
then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from
around the world.
Seymour had been a student of Charles Parham, who
provided the doctrinal framework for the young Pentecostal movement.
Parham’s identification in scripture of speaking in tongues
as the “Bible evidence” (later called the “initial
evidence”) of Spirit baptism became a defining mark of the
emerging Pentecostal movement. After students at his Bethel Bible
School in Topeka, Kansas, began speaking in tongues at a prayer
meeting on January 1, 1901, Parham, through his Apostolic Faith
Movement, had some success in promoting the restoration of the gift
of tongues. While the Apostolic Faith Movement was largely confined
to the south central United States, the revival at Azusa Street
catapulted Pentecostalism before a worldwide audience.
As the revival rapidly spread, many Pentecostals recognized the
need for greater organization and accountability. The founding fathers
and mothers of the Assemblies of God met in Hot Springs, Arkansas
on April 2-12, 1914 to promote unity and doctrinal stability, establish
legal standing, coordinate the mission enterprise, and establish
a ministerial training school. These founders constituted the first
General Council and elected two officers: Eudorus N. Bell as chairman
(title later changed to general superintendent) and J. Roswell Flower
as secretary, as well as the first executive presbytery.
The approximately 300 delegates to the first General Council represented
a variety of independent churches and networks of churches, including
the “Association of Christian Assemblies” in Indiana
and the “Church of God in Christ and in Unity with the Apostolic
Faith Movement” from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas.
Almost immediately, leaders were faced with a doctrinal
dispute – whether to abandon traditional Trinitarian theology
in favor of a modal monarchian view of the godhead (also called
the “New Issue” or Oneness theology). In 1916 the General
Council approved a Statement of Fundamental Truths, which affirmed
From the beginning, evangelism and missions have
been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God and have resulted
in a continuing growth at home and abroad. In 2007, the Assemblies
of God claimed a constituency in the United States of 2,836,174
adherents; 12,311 churches; and 33,622 ministers. The General Council
supported 2,691 foreign missionaries and associates working with
the broader World Assemblies of God Fellowship, whose adherents
numbered more than 57 million.
The aggressive missions programs of the church
are designed to establish self-supporting and self-propagating national
church bodies in every country. Ministers and leaders are trained
in 1,891 foreign Bible schools. The Assemblies of God has 19 endorsed
Bible colleges, universities, and a seminary in the United States.
The National Office of the Assemblies of God is
located in Springfield, Missouri. The National Office includes an
administration building, the Gospel Publishing House, and the International
Distribution Center. The Gospel Publishing House, the printing arm
of the church, turns out more than 12 tons of gospel literature