Church Of God

Church Of God


I. ORIGIN

Most of the Pentecostal churches which bear the name "Church of God" can be
traced to a holiness revival in the mountains of northwest Georgia and eastern
Tennessee. In 1884, R.G. Spurling, a Baptist minister in Monroe County,
Tennessee, began to search the Scriptures for answers to the problems of
modernism, formality, and spiritual dryness. An initial meeting of concerned
people was held on August 19, 1886, at the Barney Creek Meeting House to
organize a new movement that would preach primitive church holiness and provide
for reform and revival of the churches. Christian Union was the name accepted
by the first eight members enrolled that day. Spurling died within a few months
and was succeeded in leadership by his son, R.G. Spurling, Jr. After ten years
of little growth, three laymen influenced by the Spurlings' work claimed a deep
religious experience similar to that written about by John Wesley, the founder
of Methodism, and as a result began to preach sanctification. The three laymen
began to hold services at Camp Creek, in Cherokee County, North Carolina, among
a group of unaffiliated Baptists, Spurling and the Christian Union moved their
services to Camp Creek and united with the group in North Carolina. During this
revival that followed this merger, spontaneous speaking in tongues occurred.
After searching the Scriptures, the group recognized the phenomena as a Biblical
occurrence and as a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

II. BASIC THEOLOGY AND BELIEF

The Church believes in an experiential understanding of justification by faith,
sanctification as a second work of grace, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit
evidenced by speaking in tongues. It also believes in the restoration of both
ministerial and spiritual gifts to the Church. They are believing Christians,
who use the Holy Bible as the basis of their teachings. They do practice
"footwashing" at least annually, and they do encourage mid-week services,
usually held Wednesday evening.

III. GOVERNANCE

The Government of the Church of God in centralized. Authority is vested in the
general assembly, which meets every two years and is chaired by the general
overseer. A supreme council operated between general assemblies, and a general
executive committee oversees the boards and agencies. State overseers have
charge over the churches in their areas and appoint the pastors. Tithing is a
central feature of finances. The height of centralization came in 1914 when the
annual elections of the general overseer were discontinued and Tomlinson became
overseer for life.

IV. ORDER OF WORSHIP

The order of worship is much like the Pentecostal Church, but more orderly.
They still practice speaking in tongues, singing praises, lots of prayer, and
preaching the gospel message.

REFERENCES

Conn, Charles W. "Church of God Distinctives." Encyclopedia Americana. 1995
ed.

Hughes, Ray H. "Church of God." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Vers. 7.0.
Computer Software. Grolier Inc., 1995. CD-ROM.