Monday, 2 April 2018

Eudorus N. Bell calling for an Assembly of God

A conference opened at the Grand Opera House in Hot Springs, Arkansas on this day, April 2nd, 1914. It was an unusual and somewhat informal meeting, a gathering of 300 eager delegates, all of whom believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They had been called together by ex-Southern Baptist minister Eudorus N. Bell, publisher of Word and Witness.

Not many Americans then believed in tongues speaking or other visible manifestations of the Spirit, such as healing, visions, and everyday miracles.

The gathering was in line with an early 20th century movement that  brought "modern Pentecostalism" to explode at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, spreading rapidly through the student body. Soon there were profound stirrings at California's Azusa Street Mission and from there across America. In these early years, zeal sometimes outstripped propriety. Some groups were invaded by psychics. Individuals slipped into serious moral errors, trusting inner guidance rather than the words of scripture. Many renounced study altogether, relying on the Holy Spirit for impromptu guidance. Scattered observers realized Pentecostals needed to coordinate efforts if they were to propagate their faith with as much effect as their zeal craved.

AOGlogo.pngAfter three days of prayer and devotion, they proceeded to business, an agenda which included five main issues: to set basic doctrine, conserve the gains of the movement, set standards for mission work, charter the churches to be legal, and to consider creating a Bible school. They quickly agreed on a preamble "to disapprove of all unscriptural methods, doctrines and conduct, and approve of all scriptural truth and conduct..."
They elected an executive committee. Intended at first merely to organize annual conferences, the committee rapidly metamorphosed into the governing body of a new denomination. The Assemblies of God was born.

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 that1914 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 denomination in the United States in 2011.