Who are the Assemblies of God?
The Assemblies of God is a religious body in the United States, organized in a constitutional convention at Hot Springs, Ark., April 2-12, 1914. It is one of the largest of the Protestant groups commonly designated "Pentecostal." In the mid-1960's there were nearly 8,500 churches (assemblies ) with an enrolled membership of about 556,000 and nearly 9,000 Sunday schools with a total enrollment of over 1,000,000.
The organization is based on a combination of Congregational and Presbyterian principles. The local congregations are autonomous in the choice of pastors and in the management of local affairs. The sovereignty of the local congregation was guaranteed in the preamble to the constitution which was adopted at the first General Council in 1914. At that time, the Bible was recognized as the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. Later (1916) a statement of truth was adopted as a standard of fundamental doctrine essential to a full-gospel ministry.
Doctrinally the denomination is Arminian, following basically the Methodist pattern. Emphasis is laid on the new birth, divine healing, the baptism in the Holy Spirit accompanied by the sign of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4), and the premillennial return of Christ. It is held that the pattern set forth in the Acts of the Apostles is the norm for Christian experience and growth. The denomination is intensely evangelistic and missionary in spirit and practice. Mission stations are found on every continent and in over 70 different countries.
The form of organization is democratic. All ordained ministers and one lay delegate from each affiliated, cooperative congregation constitute a general council, which meets biennially. The officers of the General Council are the general superintendent, four assistant general superintendents, the general secretary, the general treasurer, and the foreign missions secretary. These, together with four others, constitute an executive presbytery. To them is committed the management of the various departments of the denomination, including home and foreign missions, youth, publications, education, and benevolences. The executive presbytery is supplemented by a general presbytery composed of three representatives from each of the district councils and two from each of eight foreign-language branches. These branches include churches using European languages, and others using Latin American languages. There are 45 church districts, whose boundaries mainly follow state lines. They are organized similarly to the g neral council and meet annually. The foreign-language branches function under the supervision of the Home Missions Department.
The Assemblies of God puts out a weekly newspaper, the Pentecostal Evangel, and maintains a publishing house for religious literature. The denomination administers Bethany Bible College, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Eastern Bible Institute, Green Lane, Pa.; Evangel College, Springfield, Mo.; Northwestern Bible College, Kirkland, Wash.; and South-Eastern Bible College, Lakeland, Fla. The denomination belongs to the National Association of Evangelicals and to the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America.