Fundamentalists and Evangelical Churches
Fundamentalists and Evangelical Churches
HR 60, Box 11, Fence Lake, NM 87315
The Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps is an evangelical communal ministry founded in 1982 by Jim Green and his wife Deborah Green as the Free Love Ministry. They saw the group as an end-time army brought together to fight sin, especially what they saw as major evils running rampant in society—pornography, homosexuality, rock music, and so on. Inspired in part by the Salvation Army, they developed a disciplined military lifestyle, and members wore uniforms and assumed ranks in the corps. The group maintains that it looks to God for its support.
The progress of the corps was blocked in 1987 when a former member sued, claiming that the group brainwashed had her. The leaders of the corps ignored the lawsuit and did not appear when the case came up in court. As a result, the former member received a million-dollar default judgment, which led to the loss of the corps’California property.
Currently, the group lives communally as an ekklesia under the theocratic government of God. They hold all things in common, including finances and meals. They honor God’s standards for marriage and sexual purity. They are nonviolent. They have a worldwide literature ministry with affiliates in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, India, the Philippines, Mexico, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Affiliates are also located in England and various European countries.
The corps teaches a militant, fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. Words of the Spirit audio broadcasts and Battle Cry Sounding video messages are available online via the group’s web site.
2008 figures were not reported.
Battle Cry Sounding. • Tribal Call. • Bread for the Nations. • Our Sustaining Bread.
Aggressive Christianity. www.aggressivechristianity.net.
“Onward Christian Soldiers.” Herald and News (Klamath Falls, OR) (November 12, 1989).
365 Straub Rd. E, Mansfield, OH 44903-8434
The Alliance for Renewal Churches is an association of conservative evangelical churches founded in the 1990s. The alliance and its member congregations have affirmed their adoption of the central statements of orthodox Christians as found in the ancient creeds, which as reflections of the clear teaching of scripture provide the benchmark for orthodoxy. They also have adopted a set of “Common Concerns” that identify special additional truths that the churches affirm. These emphases include, but are not necessarily limited to, the priority of grace as God’s saving power, the authority of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and the Oneness of the Church. The churches also affirm that “the chief end of men and women is communion with God, and the chief expression of that communion is worship.” That being said, the church promotes a dual thrust in evangelism and concern for the social order.
Among the founders of the alliance is Ned Berube, pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and president of the alliance since 2000. Berube was born in Connecticut in 1948 and attended Fairfield University, where he received a B.A. degree in English Literature in 1970. He attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and later became part of the Daystar Ministries. In 1981 Berube and his wife Susan moved to Spooner, Wisconsin, where he founded the Cornerstone Church. In 1987 he moved to the Twin Cities and became pastor of Antioch Christian Ministries. In 1992 he founded the Christ Community Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is currently (2008) the pastor. Christ Community Church joined the Alliance for Renewal Churches. The alliance includes churches across the midwestern and northeastern parts of the United States.
The Alliance for Renewal Churches, as an association, fosters its program of Christian renewal through its advocacy of worship in the context of a biblical faith and lifestyle and its promotion of unity among all Christians. Its offers leadership training conferences, nurtures church-planting activities, and provides a spectrum of supportive services to member churches and foreign missions. Missionary activity is currently supported in Peru and Brazil.
The Alliance’s Ministry and Missions Council functions as a local church eldership guiding the ministry of the alliance. The president of the council is responsible for the general oversight of the alliance and its network of pastoral care. The Assembly of Senior Pastors meets once a year for consultation to foster outreach.
Not reported. In 2008 there were 13 U.S. congregations in the alliance, plus one in Brazil and one in Gryfow, Poland.
Leadership Letter (Monthly newsletter for members, available on the alliance’s web site.)
Alliance for Renewal Churches. www.arcchurch.org.
PO Box 226925, Dallas, TX 75222-6925
The Alliance of Christian Churches emerged in 1985 as a ministry for evangelical Christians who sought a means of ministering “outside the box.” One goal of the ministry was an inclusive coalition. In 1987 people associated with the Alliance gathered for what was termed the ADVance Conference; the conference became an annual event, growing each year and becoming the catalyst for a more formally organized congregational fellowship. In October 1996 a constitution was developed, and 27 congregations were formally chartered with the Alliance of Christian Churches. The churches have accepted a statement of core Protestant beliefs centered upon belief in the Trinity and affirmation of the Bible as the infallible Word of God.
The Alliance of Christian Churches views itself as a Christ-centered, biblically focused, and evangelical fellowship. It has developed a spectrum of outreach programs that include the fall conference, church support, education, evangelism, and local and global missions. Each spring regional retreats are held by the various affiliated congregations and parachurch ministries.
Not reported. In 2008 there were 26 affiliated congregations and parachurch ministries.
Alliance of Christian Churches. www.allianceofchristianchurches.org/.
Dr. Greg Dixon, Pastor Emeritus, Indianapolis Baptist Temple, Box 11, Indianapolis, IN 46206
The American Coalition of Unregistered Churches (ACUC) was founded in 1983 as a fellowship of fundamentalist Christian congregations (many Baptist in faith) that exist as unincorporated entities and have organized to resist government pressures that appear to encroach upon their religious liberties and attempt to reshape their ministries. The association grew out of a meeting of pastors from some 25 states who gathered in Chicago on August 8 and 9, 1983, to discuss what they saw as attacks on church ministries. Among the major concerns was the government’s attempt to force schools attached to churches to be licensed and conform to state educational regulations. Most in attendance felt that this was due in part to the government’s acceptance of a humanist position in place of a biblical perspective.
The meeting passed a set of resolutions that rejected government attempts to license church ministries, regulate churches, or impose taxation. One resolution specifically rejected state jurisdiction to inspect church property with respect to health, fire prevention, or safety. They also passed a resolution rejecting any use of force in defending their ministries.
Following the meeting, Dr. Greg Dixon, then senior pastor of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and head of the Indiana Moral Majority, resigned his leadership in the Moral Majority to become chairman of the new association. Dr. Everett Sileven, pastor of the Faith Baptist Church in Louisville, Nebraska, was elected cochairman. Sileven had become well known for his ongoing fight over his arrest and the seizure and padlocking of his church-sponsored school.
The association had no doctrinal statement, but most of its member congregations were conservative fundamentalist churches. It did not think of itself as a denomination, but as an association assisting independent churches. In 1993 Dixon found himself in jail for refusing to respond to a subpoena to produce his church’s financial records. In 2008 he said that the ACUC does not exist as a formal organization, but when engaging the media or in defense of churches under attack he uses the title “National Chairman of the ACUC.” Dixon considers his publication, The Trumpet, to be the voice of the ACUC in the United States and abroad.
An active fellowship originating out of the ACUC is the Unregistered Baptist Fellowship (UBF). The UBF is a fellowship of Baptist pastors, evangelists, laymen, and missionaries. It meets annually at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple in October and also schedules regional meetings. Approximately 100 churches participate. There are no officers or formal organizational documents. The host pastor is the moderator of the meeting while it is in session; when the meeting is over, the fellowship no longer exists.
In 2008 Dixon was pastor emeritus of the Indianapolis Baptist Church and the international director of the Biblical Law Center (BLC), which helps churches organize and reorganize to take advantage of their First Amendment guarantees. The BLC is a ministry of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple. Dixon also participates in the Liberty Works Radio Network. Dixon’s son, Greg A. Dixon, has succeeded him as senior pastor of the Indianapolis Baptist Church.
Not reported for 2008.
Unregistered Baptist Fellowship. www.unregisteredbaptistfellowship.com.
PO Box 47312, Indianapolis, IN 46247-0312
The American Evangelical Christian Churches (AECC) was founded by Dr. G. Hyatt in 1944 as an interdoctrinal ecclesiastical body. It has tried to remain open to both Calvinist and Arminian theological trends, with the Calvinists believing in predestination and the Arminians insisting that people can exercise free will and choose to follow the gospel. Each church member must accept the seven articles of faith that are seen as the “essentials”: the Bible as the written Word of God; the virgin birth; the deity of Jesus, the Christ; salvation through the atonement; the guidance of our life through prayer; the return of the savior; and the eternal reign of Christ. All other points are optional.
The AECC states: “our mission is to create a body of believers where we as individuals can realize God in our lives and model, teach, call forth, and celebrate the integrity of the spirit, mind, and body in all that we do.”
The polity is congregational, and the American Evangelical Christian Churches seems to function primarily to offer orthodox evangelical ministers a chance to preach without the “restrictions of man-made doctrines imposed by so many religious bodies today.” The American Evangelical Christian University specializes in home-study courses. There are five regional offices in the United States and one in Canada. Headquarters were moved from Chicago to Pineland, Florida, in the 1970s. In 1992 the headquarters moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2008 Dr. Charles Wasielewski Sr. served as chairman of the board of directors.
In 2008 the AECC reported 65 full-time pastor members, 91 other ministers, 20 retired ministers, one missionary in the Philippines, and one missionary in Bolivia. The AECC sponsors missionaries in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Congo, England, Ghana, Haiti, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Puerto Rico.
American Evangelical Christian University, Indianapolis, Indiana.
American Evangelical Christian Churches. www.aeccministries.com/.
Directory. Pineland, FL: American Evangelical Christian Churches, 1988.
9524 W Camelback Rd., Glendale, AZ 85305-3104
The Antioch Network is a fellowship of evangelical churches that dates to 1987. It “serves a growing fellowship of local churches who are interacting with challenges of sending church planting teams to unreached gospels.” On March 16, 1987, people from seven very diverse congregations met in Austin, Texas. In spite of divergent historical and theological backgrounds, all were affected by the desire to reach groups of people who for various reasons never heard Christianity preached to them. Each of the churches represented in the meeting had expressed a wish to send a team of missionaries to one of the unreached peoples. As the Antioch Network was founded and grew, it saw as its overarching ministry the empowerment of local congregations to reach the nations of the world. Among those who emerged as the articulate voices of the network’s concerns were Ted Haggard (b. 1956), Gregg Parris, Bob Roberts, George Miley, and Lincoln Murdoch.
George Miley was the primary founding father of the Antioch Network. Miley and his wife Hanna were overseas missionaries with Operation Mobilization.
While firmly based in an orthodox Evangelical faith, the primary work of the network has been the creation of congregations who are involved with cooperative ministries reaching around the world, with their organization modeled on that of an extended family. The network also holds that every believer is called to be a minister utilizing his or her individual gifts and talents. It encourages all to exercise the gifts that God has given them. Most Christians will be involved in a “sending” ministry, others in a “going” ministry. Missionaries are also encouraged to operate in teams sent by local churches.
The network is loosely organized. Member churches gather annually. The network offers resources, advice, and its accumulated experience to congregations interested in becoming involved in reaching out to the world. Network teams are working in the following countries: France, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Germany, nations of the Middle East, Senegal, India, Mexico, Taiwan, China, and Turkey. Specific information cannot be given about locations and assignments due to security concerns.
In 2008 Dr. Mark Snelling was the president of Antioch Network. He joined in 2003, having previously served as church services director for Interdev, a missions organization. Randy Shreckengest, who joined the network in 2001, was director of operations in 2008, overseeing daily administrative functions.
2008 figures not reported.
Antioch Network. www.antiochnetwork.org.
Acts 2:38 Church, 7911 N 40th St., Tampa, FL 33604
The history of the Apostolic Messianic Fellowship can be traced to 1972 and the beginning of the personal ministerial career of Cohen Gary Reckert Sr. Reckert is an Apostolic Pentecostal educator and missionary of Jewish heritage. He founded the Acts 2:38 Church (a reference to the belief in baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ, rather than the more common Trinitarian formula) and the Apostolic Theological Bible College. He also launched missionary efforts abroad, with a focus on the Philippines. The Apostolic Messianic movement coalesced in 1995, and Reckert formally organized the Jesus Messieh Fellowship International in the Philippines in 2005.
The Fellowship follows the Apostolic “Jesus only” theology of the United Pentecostal Church International, with an additional emphasis on Messianic Judaism. It affirms that God’s original covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is fulfilled in the Messianic Judaism of “Jesus Messieh.” That covenant was fulfilled by a small number of Jews who accepted Jesus, and those who rejected Jesus canceled the covenant unto themselves. As a result, Reckert encourages evangelism and missionary work within the Jewish community. The Fellowship supports Israel but opposes its actions against Messianic Jews. At the same time, the Fellowship is opposed to what it considers the false teachings of Trinitarian Christianity. It also stands against the Sacred Name movement and attempts to find a Hebrew equivalent of Jesus (such as Yahshua).
Apostolic Theological Bible College, Tampa, Florida.
Apostolic Messianic Fellowship. acts238church.com/.
Holt, Michael. Origin of Apostolic Messianic Movement. Tampa, FL: Apostolic Theological Bible College, 2003.
c/o Rev. Joseph D. Matossian, Minister of the Union, 616 N Glendale, Ste. 23, Glendale, CA 91206-2407
During the nineteenth century, Protestant missionaries, primarily those with a Presbyterian background, established work in Armenia and began to draw members from the older national church of the Armenians. During the early twentieth century, as Armenians began to migrate to North America, many Protestants were among them. They established independent ethnic churches, many of which eventually joined either the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Others have remained independent, being more theologically conservative than the large liberal Protestant denominations.
In 1960 the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA) was created as an ecclesiastical fellowship of Armenian Christians in the United States and Canada. It includes both the majority of congregations and those congregations that are formally attached to other denominations, and it serves as the denominational home for the independent congregations. In the United States there are churches in Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Utah. In Canada congregations are located in Toronto, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; and Cambridge, Ontario. There is one church in São Paulo, Brazil.
In 2008 Rev. Joseph D. Matossian served as the union’s minister, and the moderator was Rev. Ron Tovmossian.
More than 25 congregations were reported in 2008.
Canada Armenian Press. • Forum.
Armenian Evangelical Union of North America. www.aeuna.org/.
209 Pine Knoll Dr., Ste. B, Greenville, SC 29609
The Associated Gospel Churches (AGC) was begun by about 25 congregations of the Methodist Protestant Church that refused to enter the merger in 1939 that led to the formation of the Methodist Church, now the United Methodist Church. The congregations against merger initially adopted the name American Bible Fellowship. Their leader was Dr. W. O. H. Garman (1899–1983), a former minister of the United Presbyterian Church and later president of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. Garman led the Associated Gospel Churches into the fundamentalist family. He was president of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC), though the AGC is not at present affiliated with the ACCC. Garman served as president of AGC from 1942 to 1981. The current president is Dr. Billy Baugham.
The AGC sponsors chaplains, and in 1960 the U.S. Department of Defense approved it to sponsor chaplains for the Armed Forces. This was significant because each chaplain had to have ecclesiastical endorsement to be received into the military for active duty. AGC was the first association to guarantee Fundamentalists a role in the military chaplain ministry. The AGC offers chaplaincy programs for those in the army, navy, air force, and civil air patrol, as well as for those working in federal and state prisons, veterans affairs, hospitals, fire departments, and other industrial and institutional areas.
Doctrinally, the AGC accepts the fundamental dispensationalist theology (though there is no article on human depravity) and believes in the maintenance of good works. Baptism is by immersion. Separation from apostasy is adamantly affirmed. Polity is congregational, with the central headquarters serving as a service agency for chaplains, missionaries, pastors, and schools.
Member churches are located in more than 20 states, and overseas work is supported in numerous countries, including Italy, Spain, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and South America.
In 2008 the AGC reported it had about 165 affiliated chaplains. It works in association with approximately 1,250 churches.
The AGC Reporter.
Associated Gospel Churches. agcweb.us/Home_Page.html.
Barrett, Charles M. “A Guide to the Papers of W. O. H. Garman.” www.bju.edu/library/collections/fund_file/garman.html.
National Office, 1500 Kerns Rd., Burlington, ON, Canada L7P 3A7
The Associated Gospel Churches (AGC) (not to be confused with several U.S. groups with the same name) traces its history to the mid-nineteenth century and to the growth in liberal theological thinking in the major Canadian denominations. In the face of the rising torrent of liberal teachings, some churches and pastors arose to uphold the final authority of the Scriptures in all matters of faith and conduct. In the first two decades of the twentieth century their actions resulted in an evangelical movement under the authority of the inspired Word of God and a defense of the belief that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” They became part of the movement to stay true to the traditional fundamentals of the faith, and were labeled “fundamentalists.” Foundational to their movement, along with a belief in the inspiration and literal interpretation of Scripture, was a commitment to the virgin birth of Christ, salvation by Christ’s shed blood, Christ’s bodily resurrection, and His Second Coming as the blessed and “imminent” hope of the church.
The movement had its beginnings in the 1890s. A strong evangelistic thrust in the Toronto-Hamilton area of Ontario resulted in the formation of several independent churches that joined together as the Christian Workers’ Churches of Canada. By 1922 they desired a more structured union for fellowship and doctrinal stability. Dr. P. W. Philpott (1866–1957) of the Gospel Tabernacle in Hamilton and Rev. H. E. Irwin of the Missionary Tabernacle in Toronto took the lead in forming the union of like-minded churches. In 1925 its name was changed to Associated Gospel Churches. It subsequently spread across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
Very early on, the AGC participated in the Bible Conference movement; for 17 years it sponsored the Oakland Bible Conference held on the shores of Burlington Bay, Ontario. It was succeeded by Fair Havens Bible Conference, still one of the best known conferences among evangelical Christians in North America.
Fair Havens Ministries works in association with AGC. It offers family camp, Bible conferences, youth camp, outdoor Christian education, and a retreat center. Recently, AGC partnered with the Canadian Youth Network to establish a mentoring program to develop younger leaders.
The Western Region of the AGC was founded in 1940 under the leadership of Rev. A. N. Lambshead. In the years immediately after World War II the AGC spread eastward, establishing English-speaking churches in Quebec, then in the Maritime Provinces (1962), and finally in the French-speaking areas of Quebec (1969). In the wake of this growth, in 1989 the AGC restructured itself into a fully regionalized format.
Rev. Bud Penner has served as president of AGC since 2002. Dr. Bill Fietje joined as the Canada East superintendent in 2003. Rev. James B. Houston has been the Canada West superintendent since 2002.
In 2008 AGC represented more than 140 churches, congregations, and ministries in Canada.
Associated Gospel Churches. www.agcofcanada.com.
Fair Havens Ministries. www.fairhavens.org.
Redinger, Lauren. A Tree Well Planted: The Official History of the Christian Workers’ Church of Canada and the Associated Gospel Churches, 1892–1993. Burlington, ON: Associated Gospel Churches, 1995.
1045 Swift St., Kansas City, MO 64116-4127
The Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) is a coalition of local rescue missions operating in urban areas across the United States. These rescue missions function as local congregations and engage in ministry to the homeless and others in need of their services (especially those involved in drug use). The local centers provide a range of services, from daily hot meals to classes on reintegrating into society, to daily worship opportunities.
AGRM was founded in 1913 as the International Union of Gospel Missions, but traces its history to 1872 and the founding of the first rescue mission in New York by former convict Jerry McAuley (1839–1884). The Union came about as additional missions were founded, many by people helped by the original New York center, and the leaders of these missions and some of their prominent supporters developed a vision for an expanding work. The Union adopted its present name in 2000. It deals with the particular issues common to rescue missions, assists in members’interface with the larger Christian community and the government, and encourages the founding and nurtures the development of new missions.
The AGRM has adopted a brief consensus statement of faith, which espouses positions representative of conservative Protestant Christianity. It emphasizes the Bible as the Word of God, the Trinity, salvation in Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, and the one church made up of all believers.
The affairs of the AGRM are managed by a board of trustees. The board organizes an annual meeting of members each spring, during which the direction of the organization is set. The board employs an executive director as the AGRM’s chief administrative officer. In 1992 the AGRM joined with city mission leaders from around the world to create the City Mission World Association, now headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
As of 2008, the AGRM oversees 172 rescue missions scattered across the United States and 5 in Canada. The AGRM claims that more than 16,000 people have successfully passed through their programs and moved on to a more stable life in society.
Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. www.iugm.org.
Bonner, Arthur. Jerry McAuley and His Mission. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1967.
Busch, Frederick. Rescue Missions: Stories. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007.
Vanderberg-Rohlfing, Juliana. I Never Asked for the Easy Way. Kansas City, MO: City Union Mission Pub., 1999.
2815 Sage Rd., Houston, TX 77056
Berachah Church, an independent, fundamentalist church, was founded in 1935 as a nondenominational local church. Berachah is the Hebrew word for “blessing”(2 Chron. 20:26). The church’s purpose is stated in Article II of its constitution: “to present isagogical, categorical, and exegetical Bible teaching, standing unequivocally for the fundamentals of the faith as contained in the Holy Scriptures; and through the teaching of the Word in this church, the sending out of missionaries, and the ordaining of pastor-teachers, present the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ both at home and abroad.” The mission of Berachah Church is to evangelize the unbeliever and teach the believer to fulfill God’s plan, will, and purpose for his life.
C. W. Colgan, an oil company executive who transferred to Houston from Philadelphia in the early 1930s, founded Berachah Church to teach fundamental Christian doctrine. When he was transferred back to Philadelphia in 1936, the independent Dallas Theological Seminary recommended J. Ellwood Evans, who served as full-time pastor from 1936 to 1940. The church constructed a small auditorium at 171 Heights Boulevard and remained there until 1948. Richard Seume, also a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, was pastor from 1941 until 1946. He was followed by William F. Burcaw. In 1948 the congregation moved to 502 Lamar Street, near downtown Houston.
Robert B. Thieme Jr. (b. 1918), an ordained minister with the Conservative Baptist Association, was recommended by Dallas Theological Seminary to become pastor of Berachah Church in 1950. He continued as pastor until 2003. Thieme’s academic background included degrees from the University of Arizona (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Dallas Theological Seminary (summa cum laude). His graduate studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps. Thieme returned to Dallas Theological Seminary in 1946 to resume preparation for the ministry. His extensive training in Greek, Hebrew, theology, history, and textual criticism became the foundation for his demanding professional life of studying and teaching the Word of God. As a student he became the interim pastor of Reinhardt Bible Church, Dallas, Texas. He was ordained on July 15, 1948, by the First Baptist Church of Tucson, Arizona. Upon graduating with a master of theology degree in May 1949, he continued to pastor at Reinhardt until April 1950.
Thieme brought the fundamental dispensational theology taught at Dallas Theological Seminary to a congregation that already had accepted that theological perspective. The 18-article statement of beliefs of Berachah Church agrees with the 21-one articles of the doctrinal statement of the seminary. Since 1969 Thieme had been the target of theological controversy because of his doctrinal positions on certain issues. This disagreement with his exegesis created disharmony within the larger independent fundamentalist movement toward Thieme, Berachah Church, and Thieme’s extended congregation around the United States.
The prime point of controversy concerned Thieme’s position on the nature and effects of Christ’s death. Thieme taught that Christ’s spiritual death marked the completion of his bearing our sins on the cross. Christ’s spiritual death, that is, his separation from God while being judged for our sins, was substitutionary, and hence efficacious for the salvation of humanity. The Lord’s physical death, while essential for his resurrection, ascension, and session, was not the means of salvation, but occurred only after his substitutionary work was tetelestai, or “finished” (John 19:30). This position led Thieme to further assert that the phrase “blood of Christ” is a representative analogy for the work of Christ for salvation.
Thieme also took a biblical position in favor of Christian participation in the military. He denounced anti-Semitism as condemned by God and incompatible with biblical Christianity.
Thieme taught from the original languages of Scripture in light of the historical context in which the Bible was written. His ministry was noteworthy for its development of an innovative system of vocabulary, illustrations, and biblical categories designed to communicate the truths of God’s Word. The unique focus of his ministry concentrated on the procedures for living the Christian way of life.
Thieme’s development for the concept of the role of the pastoral minister is reflected in the constitution of Berachah Church. He taught that the leadership of the local congregation was vested in the pastor “whose absolute authority is derived from Scripture,” with an advisory board of deacons to administer church business.
Thieme recorded more than 11,000 hours of Bible classes covering much of the Bible verse by verse. Berachah Church has responded to demands to publish and distribute Thieme’s Bible teaching by establishing R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries. This nonprofit organization is a grace ministry designed to extend and distribute biblical teaching in the form of books, tracts, sermon transcripts, tapes, and Bible conferences. All are available at no charge. The ministry also provides information on classes that meet regularly throughout the country where his lectures can be heard on audiotape, videotape, or by live telephone transmission. A radio series that includes more than 300 half-hour lessons on general biblical subjects is broadcast on stations in various areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
As a result of the response to his teaching, congregations and groups of Christians have formed across the United States. Each congregation, like Berachah Church, is independent.
Pastor Robert B. Thieme III has been pastor of Berachah Church since 2004, following his father who served 53 years. Thieme III has had a career in the U.S. Army, and he attended Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he received a masters degree in divinity and theology. He also serves as president of the R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries.
In 2002 Berachah Church reported approximately 2,303 members in the United States and Canada. Berachah Church maintains missions in the United States, England, the Philippines, Ukraine, Thailand, Brazil, South Korea, and Costa Rica.
Berachah Church. www.berachah.org.
King, George William. “Robert Bunger Thieme, Jr.’s Theory and Practice of Preaching.” Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, Urbana, 1974.
Thieme, R. B. Anti-Semitism. Houston, TX: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1979.
———. Blood of Christ. Houston, TX: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1979.
———. Freedom Through Military Victory. Houston, TX: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1973.
———. The Integrity of God. Houston, TX: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1979.
Thieme, R. B., Jr. The Divine Outline of History: Dispensationalism and the Church. Ed. Wayne F. Hill. Houston, TX: R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 1989.
Walker, Robert G. The False Teachings of R. B. Thieme, Jr. Collingswood, NJ: Bible for Today, 1972.
Wall, Joe Layton. Bob Thieme’s Teaching on Christian Living. Houston, TX: Church Multiplication, 1978.
Box 1264, Kearney, NE 68848
The Berean Fundamental Churches Council, also known as the Berean Church Fellowship or the Berean Fundamental Church, was formed in 1947 by Dr. Ivan E. Olsen, a graduate of Denver Bible Institute. Olsen had moved to North Platte, Nebraska, to do independent work following graduation. In towns nearby, people began to contact Olsen asking him to initiate Bible study programs. Groups were soon meeting in several communities, and in 1947 the Berean Fundamental Churches Council was founded.
The council is fundamentalist in theology and evangelical in program, and non-Pentecostal. It is governed by a church council composed of the pastor and one lay delegate from each church. In California in 2008 there were five churches; in Colorado, eight; in Kansas, two; in Manitoba, Canada, one; in Minnesota, one; in Nebraska, 35; in Wyoming, three; in South Dakota, two; and in Oregon, one. Due to the small size of the council, the churches have not developed their own denominational structures, but have developed their programs by utilizing the services of various faith missions, fundamentalist-conservative seminaries and Bible schools, and church school literature.
The purpose of the council is: to preach Jesus Christ; to support Bible ministries and missions; to promote positive relationships among Christians; and to obey the Great Commandment, which is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
In 2008 the council reported 58 churches in the United States and 1 church in Canada.
Berean Church Fellowship. www.bereanchurchfellowship.org.
6060 N 7th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85013-1498
The Bethany Bible Church, a single congregation, was begun in the 1950s by members of some Baptist and Presbyterian churches who felt that these churches had deviated from their traditional theological stance. The members called Dr. John Mitchell, a graduate of the conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, to be their minister. As the church grew, ministers from a variety of evangelical seminaries joined the staff. Meanwhile, other graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary, with the assistance of Bethany, founded similar churches in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Although each church is entirely independent, these churches have an informal fellowship based upon the unity of their doctrinal perspective. There are no formal organizational ties between the several congregations.
Bethany’s doctrine is dispensational and evangelical. There is a strong belief in the verbally inspired and inerrant Bible, and both individual and corporate Bible study is stressed. Most preaching and teaching is derived from the New American Standard Bible, with periodical use of the New International Version. Baptism by immersion is practiced, and the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is held monthly. Missions are supported through independent faith missionary agencies. The Bethany Bible Church, through its Global Outreach ministry, supports two missionaries in Africa; six in Asia; 11 in Europe; two in Latin America; and 19 in North America.
In 2008 Rev. Dave Gudgel was pastor and Rev. Brad Pellish served as outreach minister. Bethany Bible Church has a sanctuary service that provides a traditional worship service with older hymns. There is a choir, praise team, and an orchestra. The chapel service is a contemporary worship service that uses music, dance, drama, and media. Iglesio Biblica Bethany offers a contemporary worship service in Spanish.
In 2008 Bethany had seven ministers and an estimated 1,500 members. There are several thousand members in other independent congregations in Arizona.
Window on Bethany. • The Bethany Bridge. (Newsletter available on church’s web site.)
Bethany Bible Church. www.bethanybiblechurch.org.
Dallas Theological Seminary. www.dts.edu.
502 W Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Paul Lindstrom (1939–2002), a graduate of Trinity Seminary of Deerfield, Illinois, founded the Church of Christian Liberty in 1965 with the combined purposes of preaching salvation, contending for the faith, and defending God-given liberties. Since that time, both the pastor and the church have been involved in controversy. Lindstrom identified himself with several right-wing political causes that can be grouped under the heading “anticommunist.” He received an award from the Republic of China, and the Anti-Communist League of America gave him a statue of John Birch. He has featured in his pulpit conservative leaders such as Dr. Charles S. Poling, Richard Wurmbrand, and George Bundy. Pastor Lindstrom’s activism in forming the “Remember the Pueblo Committee” brought national headlines. (The Pueblo was an American ship seized by North Korea in January 1968.) Lindstrom formed the committee in the summer of 1968, and by 1971 another committee had developed out of it, the Douglas MacArthur Brigade, formed to seek the release of prisoners of war in Vietnam. In 1972 Lindstrom established the Christian Defense League to take up the defense of persecuted Christians behind the Iron Curtain.
Doctrinally, the Church of Christian Liberty is Reformed Fundamentalist. It has adopted a seven-article statement of faith, to which are added the following four articles on the “Responsibilities of the United States of America”:
(1) We believe that we have been endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (2) We believe in a Constitutional Republic as set up by our founding fathers and the responsibilities inherent in such upon its citizens. (3) We believe that individual responsibility and a free economy is the best way to achieve the highest standard of living among all men. (4) We believe in combating Socialism, godless Communism, and all forms of collectivistic tyranny alien to our way of life.
The Church of Christian Liberty’s 12-acre campus includes the church; CLASS, a home-based school ministry; and the Christian Liberty Academy, a K–12 day school in which 900 children are currently enrolled. Pastor Calvin Lindstrom has succeeded his father, Dr. Paul Lindstrom, as current pastor, and is supported by Elders Dr. Phil Bennett and Phil Roos. There are also four deacons.
The Christian Educator.
Church of Christian Liberty. www.christianliberty.com.
Lindstrom, Paul. Armageddon: The Middle East Muddle. Mt. Prospect, IL: Christian Liberty Forum, 1967.
c/o United Community Church, 333 E Colorado St., Glendale, CA 91205
Community Churches of America is the corporate expression of the various ministries headed by Dr. William Steuart McBirnie, a conservative evangelical minister. Canadian-born McBirnie, a graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, began his ministerial career with the Southern Baptist Convention. During the 1950s, he served Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, but in 1959 he broke with the convention and moved to California. After a period at First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, McBirnie founded in the 1960s the independent United Community Church in Glendale, California. The church was located in Rose Chapel on Kenwood Avenue. As the church grew, additional properties were purchased and other buildings were constructed. The church is currently housed in a 1,300-seat amphitheater, with additional space in the Rose Chapel.
McBirnie built the small church into a large congregation and from it launched the many associated ministries that lifted him into prominence in both the United States and Canada. In 1961 he launched the Voice of Americanism (VOA), a daily radio program standing against communism, socialism, and religious and racial prejudice. Through VOA, McBirnie attacked many of what he considered Marxist-oriented organizations functioning in America and dealt with a variety of social problems from marijuana to pornography and sex education in the public schools. In 1969 he founded the California Graduate School of Theology. In the mid 1970s, McBirnie founded World Emergency Relief, through which funds were channeled to a number of relief efforts overseas. In 1977 the growth of the congregation led to the building of a new sanctuary for worship.
The ministries were further expanded through Frontline Missions, which sent literature to the “frontlines” where Christians faced Communist aggression, such as Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Forest Springs, a mountain retreat in the Angeles forest near Los Angeles, was used for retreats and training seminars for both adults and youth. Students Against Violence in Education (S.A.V.E.) was a youth organization sponsored by VOA.
The Churches hold to a staunch conservative Protestant faith based on the authority of the Bible. McBirnie has become most known for his application of Christian thought to social questions, especially communism and socialism. He has authored more than 150 booklets, several of which, such as What It Means to Accept Christ and Should Christians Fight Communism?, have been frequently reprinted and distributed worldwide. McBirnie is currently retired.
The various national and international ministries operate under the aegis of the Community Churches of America. The United Community Church in Glendale is a single congregation affiliated with the ministries. United Community Church is an interdenominational, New Testament church and is not affiliated with any denomination. Rev. Stephen Boalt is the praise and worship leader, Rev. Jerry Moses serves as interim pastor, and Rev. Norman Newman is the church administrator.
California Graduate School of Theology, La Habra, California.
United Community Church, Glendale, CA: www.seemysites.com.
McBirnie, William S. An Awareness of Consequences. Glendale, CA: Voice of Americanism, n.d. 16 pp.
———. Should a Follower of Christ Be a Capitalist or a Socialist? Glendale, CA: Author, n.d. 18 pp.
———. The Truth about the New Sex Education in the Schools. Glendale, CA: Author, . 39 pp.
PO Box 10833, Midwest City, OK 73140
Deaf Ministries Worldwide Fellowship, founded in the 1989 by Gary Barrett and his wife, Rhonda Barrett, is the outgrowth of the ministry to the deaf that began with the opening of the Shalom Lighthouse Conference and Cove Retreat Center in Sulfur, Oklahoma, which now serves as the headquarters of the organization. The fellowship was created to recognize and ordain ministers who have experienced a special call to minister to people with hearing impairments. The fellowship faced a crisis in 1996 when a fire destroyed the retreat center, but it has since been rebuilt.
The fellowship recognizes the variety of problems that have arisen in ministries to the deaf connected to larger denominations made up primarily of people who have their hearing capacities, including a lack of understanding of the deaf world. There is also a confusing difference in British and American sign language. Within the fellowship, the need of a third-party interpreter between the hearing and non-hearing has been eliminated. The fellowship affirms the calling of hearing people into a deaf ministry, and will endorse and ordain anyone otherwise qualified, regardless of their color, race, nationality, or hearing ability.
Most states recognize the fellowship’s ministers to perform marriages and other pastoral functions. Most hospitals and prisons recognize the ministers to minister under the supervision of chaplains and other staff.
In 2008 Gary Barrett, who is deaf, served as the president of the fellowship. After graduating from Bible college, Barrett pastored at several deaf churches. He preaches and teaches at deaf churches, camps, revivals, and conferences. His wife, Rhonda, was the office manager in 2008. She ministers at the women’s retreats and meetings. John Gehm served on the board of directors and was a member of the evangelistic team. He is deaf.
The fellowship has adopted a brief statement of faith similar to that of the National Association of Evangelicals that clearly places them in the larger evangelical community but does not address issues that divide (e.g., the inerrancy of the Bible, Pentecostal gifts, premillennialism). It also has a strong code of ethics to which it expects it ministers to adhere.
The fellowship sponsors a special ministry to gays and lesbians.
The Evangelism Training Center is a training ministry for the Deaf Ministries Worldwide Fellowship that welcomes deaf people from all denominations. It trains men and women to become missionaries, pastors, teachers, and lay teachers. It offers one-semester and one-year programs, as well as a two-year certificate program in Bible Foundations and a three-year certificate in Deaf Culture Ministries is also offered. All classes are taught by qualified teachers using American sign language.
The Shalom Lighthouse Cove Retreat Center provides housing for visiting pastors and their spouses, offering rest and restoration.
2008 figures not reported.
Evangelism Training Center, Sulfur, Oklahoma.
Deaf Ministries Worldwide Fellowship. www.brightok.net/~dmw/ministries.html.
PO Box 9, 205 W Broadway, Bradley, IL 60915
Evangelical Church Alliance International (ECA) is an interdenominational organization of ministers who have united to promote evangelical Christianity throughout the world. The ECA’s members include pastors, teachers, parachurch leaders, church executives, missionaries, evangelists, speakers, youth ministers, professors, military chaplains, and fire, industrial, hospice, police, and prison chaplains. What is known as the Evangelical Church Alliance International began in 1887 as the World’s Faith Missionary Association. In October 1931 the name Fundamental Ministerial Association was chosen to reflect the organization’s basis of unity. On July 21, 1958, during its annual convention, the name was changed to the Evangelical Church Alliance International.
The ECA is conservative Protestant and strictly holds to its tenets of faith, but at the same time it attempts to reach beyond doctrinal differences to experience Christian unity. The ECA provides ministerial credentials for individuals who otherwise qualify, and associate memberships for churches and nonprofit organizations. The alliance offers a correspondence curriculum through the Bible Extension Institute, which works in cooperation with Global University in Springfield, Missouri, to provide course materials. The ECA also provides military, prison, and hospital chaplain endorsement. The ECA holds an annual international convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, there are regional conventions throughout the United States and an annual Canadian convention.
In 2008 Dr. George L. Miller served ECA as chairman of the board of directors, and Dr. Samuel S. Goebel was president and CEO.
In 2008 there were about 2,300 worldwide credentialed ministers in the ECA. These include missionaries, pastors, teachers, and well as military, hospital, prison, police, and fire chaplains.
The Evangel. (Quarterly newsletter available online.)
Evangelical Church Alliance International. www.ecainternational.org.
100 Charity Ln., Huntingdon, TN 38344
The Evangelistic Messengers’ Association (EMA) is a fellowship of independent evangelical pastors/ministers founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1933 by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Willis and Revs. Sales Malcomb Smith, Erobert Askins, and O. L. Ford. The association was designed to avoid the limitations of most denominations and maintain its existence through bonds of love and fellowship. Ministers who would become a part of the association would believe that “In essentials we must have unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things, charity.” A brief statement of belief drawing heavily on the Apostles’ Creed was adopted. As word of the association spread, membership applications began to arrive from across the United States and several foreign lands.
Today, the association licenses unordained Christian workers and pastors and provides credentials of affiliation for local churches. Ministers pay an annual fee to maintain their credentials. As the association expanded, educational facilities were established. The More than Conquerors School of Theology offers both on-campus classes and correspondence courses (utilizing videos of class lectures). Although ministers from many countries hold EMA credentials, missionary work is focused particularly on Africa, Romania, and the Ukraine. Work in the Ukraine began in 1993 after Rev. J. David Ford, the president of EMA, visited the city of Uzhgorod and realized its central location for ministry in the five countries whose borders were all less than 50 miles away.
EMA has ministers and ministries in 44 foreign countries, including Australia, the Bahamas, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Israel, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad, Ukraine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
More than Conquerors School of Theology, Portage, Indiana.
More than Winner School of Theology, Uzhgorod, Ukraine.
Operation Breakthrough Newsbreak. • EMA World Changer. • EMA NewsBreak. • Operation Breakthrough Messenger.
Evangelistic Messengers’Association. www.emai.org.
More than Conquerors School of Theology. www.morethanconquerors.org.
Barrett, David B. World Christian Encyclopedia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
c/o Bethel Christian Fellowship Church, 5405 W 1st Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226
The Evangelistic Missionary Fellowship is a fundamentalist Protestant church founded in 1926 as the Radio Prayer League. It began with the efforts of Rev. S. H. Patterson, who wanted to initiate a ministry on the then relatively new media of radio. He started a church in Denver, and through the years other like-minded congregations were started around the United States. Patterson served as president of the fellowship until 1964, when he was succeeded by Rev. Gordon K. Peterson. Subsequent fellowship presidents have been Norman K. Peterson (1982), Ronald T. Scheimo (1987), and Cleon Laughlin (1993), the current (2008) head of the organization. The league took its present name in 1971.
The fellowship is administered by a board of directors elected to the annual convention, consisting of all ministers and two delegates from each local church. In 2008 Leon Laughlin was the president of the board, and Bryan Peterson was the vice president. The fellowship also has a mission board, ordination board, and a goals and growth committee. The fellowship has four affiliated congregations in Colorado: Bethel Christian Fellowship, Limon Full Gospel Church, New Covenant Fellowship, and Trinity New Life Center. There are six congregations in Kansas: Brewster Community Church, Goodland Calvary Gospel Church, Smith Center Calvary Gospel Church, Norton Crossroads Church, Oakley Community Church, and Levant Community Church. There are two churches in Minnesota, in Mankato and Goodland, and three churches in Wisconsin.
The fellowship affirms the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, the Trinity, Christ as Savior, the depravity of humanity, and the reality of Satan. It also believes in supporting the government, but in times of war seeks noncombatant status for all members and ministers.
Churches are organized into districts, each headed by a district superintendent. All property is held in trust for the benefit and purposes of the fellowship as a whole. Local churches call their pastors, but must elect a pastor affiliated with the fellowship. Missionary congregations are found in Iran, Turkey, Guinea Bissau, Mexico, and New Guinea. There is an extensive ministry in Alaska that includes both a radio and a television station.
Dayspring Outreach Ministries in Joplin, Missouri, works in affiliation with the fellowship in ministering to people in Mexico and Latin America.
In 1997 the fellowship reported 3,000 members in 25 congregations served by 80 ministers in the United States, and an additional 15 congregations served by 10 ministers in other countries.
Evangelistic Missionary Fellowship. www.emfellowship.us.
Barrett, David B. World Christian Encyclopedia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
12189 W 64th Ave., Arvada, CO 80004
Faith Bible Chapel began in Denver, Colorado, in the mid-1960s as a small Bible study group led by Robert Hooley. As the group grew, meetings were moved to a local church building. In 1969 what had become a worshipping community moved into facilities of its own in Denver. Growth was spectacular, and by 1977 some 800 people were in regular attendance. Two years later it moved into new facilities with a sanctuary seating 1,100.
A major new ministry began in 1992 with the founding of a parochial school, Faith Christian Academy, with both elementary and high school classes. Simultaneously, new congregations began to emerge around the state. In 1996 the site for a new campus was purchased and the original congregation began to meet in two facilities 4 miles apart.
In 2001 a new worship center was built to accommodate 2,700 members. Rev. George Morrison was the senior paster of Faith Bible Chapel in 2008. He was ordained in 1975 and served as an associate pastor at Faith Bible Chapel until 1984, when he assumed the responsibility of senior pastor. The church has two campuses that host two traditional Sunday morning services, a Spanish-speaking Sunday service, a traditional Wednesday night service, and Gen-X services. Five other sister churches have been planted in Colorado. The church organization includes Faith Christian Academy, which enrolls more than 1,100 students; the Faith Bible Institute of Biblical Studies, which offers a certificate in biblical foundation; and the Sunshine Center, a day care center and preschool.
Faith Chapel is an Evangelical church that accepts the authority of the Bible, the Trinity, and salvation by faith in Jesus. It has developed a special concern for Jewish people and affirms that “God has not rejected Israel. Therefore, for the sake of God, we offer friendship and support to the Jewish people throughout the world.” The church also has a focus on world missions and supports a spectrum of short-term missions in different countries. The chapel supports more than 40 ministries in the United States and around the world.
In 2008 the chapel reported 4,500 members. Besides the original church in Arvada, there are five other congregations in Colorado with 22 clergy.
Faith Bible Chapel International. www.fbci.org.
c/oBishop Dr. Christopher D. Curry, Senior Minister, 801 4th Ave. N, Birmingham, AL 35204
The Fellowship of Christ International is a small conservative Christian denomination founded in 2003 by P. Bradley Carey and Michael A. Coleman. Carey had been ordained in the Independent Baptist Churches of America in 1985. Though Baptists are generally not an episcopal group, a lineage of apostolic succession had been passed to Dr. S. G. Eastman, who became the presiding bishop of the Independent Baptist Churches of America, by John M. Stanley, of the Orthodox Church of the East. Eastman consecrated Carey in 2003. Coleman also serves as a bishop in the Fellowship.
The Fellowship of Christ International affirms the inerrancy of the Bible, the Trinity, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and Christ as the sole instrument of human salvation. It practices baptism by immersion. The fellowship is opposed to modern ecumenism and rejects participation in organizations such as the World Council of Churches.
Bishop Curry is assisted in leadership by a Council of Bishops currently consisting of 12 members, including one for Canada and one for Nigeria. This council ordains ministers, and currently it licensed ministers serve in 16 states scattered across the United States.
Not reported. In 2008 the Fellowship reported seven congregations.
Cornerstone Bible Seminary, Birmingham, Alabama.
Institute for Christian Works College and Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina.
Fellowship of Christ International. www.christinternational.org/.
Carey, P. Bradley. The Darkness in the Light. Columbia, SC: Institute for Christian Works Press, 1998.
———. The Quickening Begins. Columbia, SC: Institute for Christian Works Press, 1999.
Saunders, Charles E., Jr. The Making of a Minister. Pittsburgh, PA: Dorrance, n.d.
39 The Point, Market Harborough, LE16 7QU United Kingdom
The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) was established to promote the welfare of the undenominational Bible churches and “to give expression to their essential oneness in the fundamental doctrines of historic evangelical Christianity. It is committed to defending the truth set out in its Doctrinal Basis and to promoting a united testimony to the world.”
The FIEC was formed in 1949 by independent fundamentalist ministers, including Dr. L. P. McClenny of Wheaton College Church in Illinois. The group is fundamentalist and premillennial, and professes a belief in angels and Satan. Members hold to separation from evil in all forms. Government is congregational. There is an annual meeting that elects officers.
The FIEC links a church with others in one of the 11 designated regions located through the United Kingdom. There is a closer fellowship with smaller groups of local churches. A “visitor” is appointed who offers support between the churches. There are more than 50 of these groups. A council of 34 members, elected by the churches, serves to oversee the fellowship’s activities. Twenty-two of the members are chosen on a regional basis, and 11 members are selected through national elections in the churches. The council meets three times per year. The president, a senior pastor who serves for a three-year term, chairs the meetings. In 2008 the president was Rev. Rupert Bentley-Taylor, and Rev. Richard Underwood was general secretary.
The fellowship reported 500 affiliated churches in 2008, with nearly 22,000 members.
Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. www.fiec.org.uk/.
8306 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 2021, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Great Among the Nations, a small, conservative, Evangelical Christian church, was founded in Santee, California, in 1984 by Benjamin Altschul. Altschul, a Danish Jew born during World War II, converted to Christianity as a young man and migrated to the United States in 1972. He began teaching Bible classes in Los Angeles and San Diego in the early 1980s, and eventually a group attracted to his teaching formed an independent ministry.
The small group emphasized Bible study and generally met in members’homes. Altschul felt a calling into televangelism and began to create a set of videotapes as part of an evangelism ministry. The group had approximately 30 members when in the late 1980s it was attacked as a cult and became the subject of a series of deprogrammings, the majority of which were carried out by Clint Daniels. The pressure of the deprogrammings led the group to move from Santee to Carlsbad, and then in March 1989 to Coronado, California.
The last deprogramming, which occurred in 1989, led to a highly publicized trial in which the plaintiff, Ginger Brown, accused Daniels and her parents of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and battery. The trial resulted in a hung jury, and the judge dismissed the case. Since that time the ministry has continued its work while assuming a low profile.
Great Among the Nations offers pastor panel discussions, lay-leader training programs, family counseling, Bible and prophecy conferences, and Bible topic seminars. Through its aviation ministry, the church provides air transportation for ministers, pastors, and educators.
Great Among the Nations. gatn.org/our_history.php.
PO Box 29154, Columbus, OH 43229
The Great Commission Association of Churches grew out of a 1970 meeting of about 30 university students who were associated with a Plymouth Brethren assembly at Southern Colorado University. That meeting was highlighted by a call to live up to the commission to take the message of the Christian Gospel to the world, and to plant and build churches that were devoted to Jesus Christ. Many in attendance took the task of praying for people who had never heard the Gospel. The founders were Jim McCotter, Herschel Martindale, and Dennis Clark. Their effort led to the formation of several campus evangelical mission-oriented fellowships that grew to include more than 30 groups by the end of the 1970s. In the 1980s several of the fellowship pastors saw the need to have a more formal national association of churches. In 1983 the Great Commission International was founded by McCotter and Clark to provide services such as conferences, fundraising, and publishing for the association. During the 1980s churches in the Great Commission International were planted in U.S. communities. The commission changed its name in 1989 to Great Commission Association of Churches; its shortened form, Great Commission Churches (GCC), is used in public communications to promote the historical vision of the movement. Each local church is autonomous and develops its own local ministry, but also voluntarily unites with the association for fellowship, accountability, continuing education, and leadership development.
The Great Commission Churches reported more than 5,000 members in 1986. In 1987 the new national leadership team (Dennis Clark, John Hopler, and Rick Whitney) focused on the ministry of prayer and teaching the Word of God in churches and in other regions. At this time Daylights, a daily devotional, was published. In 1987 and 1988 more leaders oversaw the national and regional ministry, and newchurches were planted in U.S. communities rather than on college campuses.
In 2007 Great Commission Churches joined the National Association of Evangelicals. In 2008 the church’s executive committee was led by Dave Bovenmyer, Hopler, and Whitney.
The GCC established the Great Commission Ministries (GCM) as its missionary. It is assigned the tasks of planning new churches, holding national and regional conferences, overseeing the National Prayer Ministry, and promoting short-term mission projects and the Summer Leadership Training Program for college and high school students. Because of its own origins among college students, GCM developed a special ministry to college and university students.
The GCC has developed an Asia ministry, begun in 1987. There are churches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, and the Philippines. The Europe ministry began in 1991 and has churches in Germany, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. The Canada ministry was created in 1975, and the Latin America ministry began in 1976 with churches in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The GCC is affiliated with churches in 20 countries.
The GCC has a statement of faith that affirms the authority of the Bible, which is infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts; the triune God; salvation in Jesus Christ; and the unity of the church.
In 2002 there were more than 100 affiliated churches and church-based ministries located in the United States and in Asia (six countries), Latin America (six countries), and Europe (five countries). In 2008 the GCC reported more than 43,000 members.
Great Commission Association of Churches. www.gccweb.org.
6025 Moravia Park Dr., Baltimore, MD 21206
The Greater Grace World Outreach, formerly known as Bible Speaks, can be traced to 1964 and the organization of a 15-member group at a Baptist church in Wiscasset, Maine, by Carl H. Stevens Jr. (1929–2008). Under Stevens, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, the group grew quickly and soon built its own church near Wiscasset. Stevens began a radio broadcast over a station in Portland, Maine. There were more than 1,000 members when in 1971 the group relocated to South Berwick, Maine. While there, a Bible school was started. The group moved to South Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1976. By this time, the missionary-minded organization had developed congregations in various locations in the eastern United States and begun missionary work overseas in Europe, Kenya, and Nicaragua.
During the 1970s the group came under attack from critics who claimed that it was brainwashing its members, but it continued to prosper until a 1987 court ruling forced it into bankruptcy. From 1983 to 1985 Elizabeth Dovydenas, the daughter of a wealthy retail store owner, had given the church more than $6 million. In 1985 Dovydenas went through a deprogramming process and afterwards turned against the church and sued to regain her money. The court ordered the sale of the church property in Massachusetts in order to meet the judgment. At that time, Stevens and many of the church members relocated to suburban Baltimore, Maryland. A short time afterward in 1987, the name of the group was changed to its present name. Even though the lost property included the church’s radio broadcasting equipment, Stevens soon resumed his daily Christian radio talk program, Grace Hour, on stations in Maryland and surrounding states. In 2008 Grace Hour was hosted by Pastor John Love, who discusses Bible questions and other relevant issues.
Greater Grace World Outreach is a Bible-centered ministry that helps individuals and families to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. The ministry preaches the Gospel and believes in the cardinal doctrines of the faith. Stevens believed he was called to a ministry, and his members considered him especially anointed by God to direct that ministry. Stevens died on June 3, 2008.
Thomas Schaller was named presiding elder and overseeing pastor in 2005. Steven S. Scibelli was serving as vice chairman and elder in 2008.
The outreach maintains a strong missionary emphasis, and missionaries are supported in a number of countries. There are 850 full-time workers overseas, 77 U.S. missionaries, 71 international missionaries, and 702 nationals. Africa has more than 220 affiliated churches. Europe has more than three dozen affiliated churches and missionary outreach programs.
The outreach trains men and women in the ministry of the Gospel through the Maryland Bible College and Seminary. These ministers have established churches, Bible colleges, grammar schools, and orphanages.
In 2008 Greater Grace World Outreach reported nearly 2,000 members, with 463 Greater Grace churches in 70 countries.
Maryland Bible College and Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland.
Wings of Glory.
Greater Grace World Outreach. www.ggwo.org/.
Maryland Bible College and Seminary. www.mbcs.edu/.
Fisher, Marc. “Controversial Cult Moves Pastor, Dog, Stock, Flock to Maryland Suburb.” Los Angeles Times (October 3, 1987).
Freebairn, William. “The Bible Speaks Alive in Baltimore.” Republican (Springfield, MA) (September 17, 1989).
3520 Fairlanes, Grandville, MI 49468-0810
IFCA International, formerly known as the Independent Fundamental Churches of America, is one of the oldest and largest of the fundamentalist church groups. It is an association of independent churches, pastors, Christian workers, and laymen whose purpose is to strengthen local churches toward biblical maturity, leading to reproduction. The group aspires to build healthy churches that work together. IFCA International dates to 1922 when Dr. R. Lee Kirkland, pastor of Lake Okoboji Community Tabernacle in Arnold’s Park, Iowa, organized the American Conference of Undenominated Churches. Kirkland had previously participated in the Conference of Union, Federated, and Community Churches, but he opposed its modernism. In 1930 a number of Congregational Churches joined with the American Conference of Undenominated Churches to form the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA). At the organizational meeting at the Cicero Bible Church in Cicero, Illinois, O. B. Bottorff was elected president of the IFCA. For a time, the IFCA was a member of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC), but he left in 1953 in a dispute over differences in personalities and policies.
Doctrine of the IFCA International follows five fundamentals closely: the beliefs in the inspiration of the Bible; the depravity of man; redemption through Christ’s blood; the true church as a body composed of all believers; and the coming of Jesus to establish his reign. The IFCA International is dispensationalist, but it rejects the ultra-dispensational views of Ethelbert W. Bullinger regarding the sacraments and soul-sleep, the belief that the soul exists in an unconscious state from death to the resurrection of the body. Whereas Bullinger said the church should not practice water baptism or the Lord’s Supper, the IFCA International practices both as ordinances. The total depravity of man and the eternal security of the believer (once the believer becomes a child of God, that status is secure forever) are emphasized. The IFCA International believes that ecumenism, ecumenical evangelism, neo-orthodoxy, and neo-evangelicalism are contrary to faith. It believes strongly in separatism from religious apostasy. In 1970 an addition to the statement of faith was made affirming the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the theory of dispensationalism as divinely ordered stewardships by which God treats man according to his purpose.
Polity is congregational; independent churches organize for fellowship and mutual helpfulness. The IFCA International meets in convention annually. Each church can send two or more male delegates.
A twelve-man executive committee plus the president are active between annual conventions. The national executive director and the editor of The Voice magazine are ex-officio members of the executive committee. Missions are conducted through the missionary agencies approved and affiliated with the IFCA International. In 2008 the executive director was Dr. Les Lofquist.
The IFCA International has 3 member Bible colleges, 14 home mission agencies, and 9 active church planting agencies. There are 8 foreign mission agencies ministering outside the United States.
In 2008 the IFCA International reported nearly 1,000 associated churches in the United States, and the same number in countries outside the United States. There are more than 1,200 individual members who are pastors, missionaries, college and seminary professors, chaplains, and other vocational Christian workers.
IFCA International. www.ifca.org/.
Henry, James O. For Such a Time as This. Westchester, IL: Independent Fundamental Churches of America, 1983.
Martin, Dorothy. The Story of Billy McCarrell. Chicago: Moody Press, 1983.
This We Believe. Wheaton, IL: Independent Fundamental Churches of America, 1970.
Current address could not be obtained for this edition.
During the early twentieth century as the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy reached its peak, many independent fundamentalist Bible churches were founded, as congregations withdrew from the older denominational bodies and isolated groups formed new congregations. While many of these congregations affiliated with one of the fundamentalist associations, others have remained independent and have affiliated informally over the years with various congregations, publishing houses, missionary enterprises, and schools as deemed expedient. Among the most popular schools have been the Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) and the Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Texas).
During the 1970s the number of independent Bible churches increased and leadership from the more prominent fundamentalist colleges and seminaries added impetus to the movement to plant independent fundamentalist congregations throughout the United States. Among those taking the lead in this new impulse was Church Multiplication, Inc., formed in 1977 by people associated with Dallas Theological Seminary. Church Multiplication grew directly out of the New Church Development Committee of the Spring Branch Community Church in Houston, Texas. Its purpose has been to enhance church growth and assist in the formation of new Independent Bible churches. Operating in the Southwest, it has a primary focus on Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Independent Bible churches are fundamentalist in theology and believe in the infallibility of the Bible and the deity of Christ (exemplified in his virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, literal resurrection from the dead, and premillennial second advent). They basically accept the dispensational approach to Scripture as outlined in the Scofield Reference Bible. Most distinctively, such churches are congregationally unaffiliated to any denomination or congregational association.
Unknown. The directory published by Church Multiplication, Inc., in 1983 lists 248 congregations in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.
c/o Community Bible Chapel, 507 Willard Ave., Spur, TX 79370-2347
Independent Christian Churches International (ICCI) was founded in 1984 by Dr. Donald Hicks, pastor of the Metroplex Bible Chapel of Dallas, Texas, and other conservative evangelical ministers who recognized that “faithfulness to the commands of God toward a true ministry” would “put them in a bitter conflict with the established church world.” The Independent Christian Churches International provides a place for ministers and churches that wish to be separate from the world, yet have the necessary legal standing in the American system. Hicks serves as ICCI’s president and presiding bishop. He is currently pastor of Community Bible Chapel in Spur, Texas.
The churches’doctrinal statement sets forth the affirmations of fundamentalist Protestantism, but allows considerable freedom on most issues. The statement affirms the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, the Trinity, redemption in Jesus Christ, salvation evidenced by a life of righteousness, baptism by immersion, the Lord’s Supper, divine healing, the resurrection, the millennium, and punishment in hell for the wicked. The church is congregationally organized and is opposed to denominational labels.
In 2008 Dr. Hicks reported that 42 congregations nationwide were affiliated with the ICCI. There are approximately 275 ICCI ministers worldwide.
None at the current time. There has never been any affiliation with the Christian Bible Training Center in Mesquite.
Community Bible Chapel. www.communitybiblechapelofspur.org/.
Current address could not be obtained for this edition.
Independent Churches Affiliated is a fellowship of four Bible-believing independent churches: the Independent Baptist Church, the Independent Methodist Church, the Independent Bible Church, and the Independent Presbyterian Church. All member churches also hold a membership in the American Council of Christian Churches.
Founded in 1953, Independent Churches Affiliated seeks to promote the historic Christian faith. It is supportive of such colleges and universities as Clearwater Christian College, Maranatha Bible College, Bob Jones University, Northland Bible College, and Foundations Bible College.
In 2002 Independent Churches Affiliated reported approximately 22,000 members.
Piepkorn, Arthur C. Profiles in Belief: The Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada. Vol. IV. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Independent Fundamentalist Bible Churches was formed in 1965 by a group of leaders active in the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC). Among the founders were Dr. Marion H. Reynolds, the first president, the Rev. W. E. Standridge, the Rev. Henry Campbell, and the Rev. Kenneth L. Barth. Reverend Reynolds, formerly of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA), was president of the ACCC, an organization from which the IFCA withdrew. Doctrine in the new church is, as the name implies, fundamentalist and Bible-oriented. It differs from the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (now the IFCA International) only on its stand on the necessity of purity of doctrine in the church and on the separation of the church from all “apostasy and scripturally-forbidden alliances” (cooperation with unbelievers). Government is completely congregational (i.e., churches are independent), and the Independent Fundamentalist Bible Churches is composed of those congregations that accept its doctrinal statement.
Not reported. In 1967 there were 11 churches and 1,700 members.
PO Box 6787, Asheville, NC 28816
The International Christian Community Churches (ICCC) was founded in 2002 by a group of ministers and members of several Protestant congregations that sought to overcome limitations on local church authority and barriers to inclusion of all people, without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status. Discussions led to the establishment of a new fellowship of congregations. Initially, five congregations affiliated with the new organization.
The ICCC is a Trinitarian Protestant church that affirms the Bible as the Word of God, and salvation in Jesus Christ by grace through faith. It affirms the priesthood of all believers, all humans as made in god’s image, and the necessity of love for each other. It administers three sacraments—baptism, Holy Communion, and ordination to the ministry. All persons have access to the ministry without consideration of their age, gender identification, race, physical challenges, economic status, health status, or nationality.
The ICCC consists of local churches that send representatives annually to a general convocation at which the ICCC governing board and officers are elected. The presiding minister is the highest office in the church. The local churches govern their own lives and call their pastors.
In 2008 the ICCC reported nine affiliated churches in the U.S. South and one in the state of Washington.
Emmaus Institute for Pastoral Studies.
International Christian Community Church. www.intlccc.org/.
1630 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
The Moody Church is named for the famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899). In 1858 Moody began a Sunday school in an old Chicago saloon building. The school later moved to Illinois Street; that initial group formally became the Illinois Street Church in 1864, and J. H. Harwood served as the first pastor. The unordained Moody served as deacon. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a temporary structure was used until a new tabernacle was built on Chicago Avenue in 1873 to 1874. The church assumed its present name in 1901 to honor Moody, who had died in 1899. In about 1915 construction was begun on the present church building, which was dedicated in 1925. It has been the pulpit for some of the leading fundamentalist/evangelical voices in the land, including Charles A. Blanchard (1848–1925), R. A. Torrey (1856–1928), A. C. Dixon (1854–1925), Paul Rader (1879–1938), Harry A. Ironside (1876–1951), Alan Redpath (1907– 1989), George Sweeting (b. 1924), Warren Wiersbe (b. 1929), and Erwin W. Lutzer (b.1941).
Doctrinally, the church basically follows dispensationalism, which Moody learned from the Plymouth Brethren. Members are asked to give their assent to an eight-article doctrinal statement that includes belief in the depravity of man, the eternal security of the believer, and the premillennial return of Christ. The members also accept the responsibility to win others to Christ. Approximately 100 church members serve as missionaries on five continents. Polity is congregational.
The church’s vision is “to be known in Chicago as a caring, culturally diverse community that seeks to transform lives through a clear witness for Christ, quality ministries, and the lifestyle of each believer.”
The church sponsors the weekly Songs in the Night radio show, begun in 1943 and heard over about 400 stations of the Moody Broadcasting Network, the Bible Broadcasting Network, and Trans World Radio. The 30-minute radio show is broadcast on Sunday evenings and includes music and meditation. Other radio broadcasts include The Moody Church Hour (a weekly program broadcast on Sunday mornings as a worship service) and Running to Win (a daily 15-minute instructional program).
In 2008 the senior pastor of the church was Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, who had served in that capacity since 1980. He was born near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He has authored more than 20 books and is known as an international conference speaker. Dr. Hutz Hertzberg joined the staff in January 2006 as executive pastor. He received a doctorate in divinity from the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Associated with Moody Church, but completely separate in operation, are the Moody Bible Institute and the Moody Monthly, the prominent fundamentalist periodical.
In 2008 the church reported 2,000 members and supported a ministerial staff of 15.
Inside Moody. Send orders to 1609 N La Salle St., Chicago, IL 60614. • Moody Church News. • Vision. • Women’s Ink. • Student Revolution. Newsletters, transcripts, sermon series booklets, and Bible reading plans are available as free downloads from the church’s web site.
Moody Church. www.moodychurch.org.
502 Anita St. #21, Chula Vista, CA 91911
The Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus was founded in the Philippines in 1922 by Teofilo D. Ora (r.1922–1959), who became its first bishop. Ora believed that the founding of the church in the Philippines was the fulfillment several biblical prophecies concerning Christ’s “other sheep.” He believed that the church would be established in the Far East, in a nation composed of many islands whose people spoke a variety of languages (Is. 24:15, 28:11, and 43:5–7). In 1935 the name Church of God in Christ Jesus (taken from 1 Thes. 2:14) was revealed to Sister Mercedez Verde, a deaconess from the province of Bulacan (about 50 miles north of Manila). Bishop Ora was succeeded as leader by Bp. Salvador Payawal (1969–1989) and Bp. Gamaliel T. Payawal (1989–2003).
The church is a conservative evangelical Protestant church that affirms belief in the inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, salvation in Jesus Christ, and the empowering of the church by the Holy Spirit. Members observe the ordinances of baptism, holy communion, and foot washing. Church worship services are held on Saturday rather than Sunday.
Since 1965 church members have moved from the Philippines to California and formally organized. Members are scattered around the state of California.
Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus. mostholychurchofgod.com/.
3865 N High St., Columbus, OH 43214-3797
The Ohio Bible Fellowship was formed in 1968 by 13 former members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) The Ohio Bible Fellowship rejected the IFCA’s failure “to see the dangers inherent in mediating positions,” and claimed the IFCA had “wavered under the pressure of the prevailing cooperative spirit of the age.” Doctrinally, there is little difference between the fellowship and the IFCA. The pre-1970 IFCA statement of faith was adopted, and to it was added a statement on baptism, professing belief in immersion as the proper mode of baptism, although baptism is not seen as essential for salvation.
The Ohio Bible Mission aids new churches, and its mission is to establish a Bible church in every Ohio county. At least three fellowship conferences are held each year. A campground is being developed near Chesterville, Ohio. The Peniel Bible Camp is a summer camp program.
In 2008 the fellowship’s president was Rev. Donald L. Gallion, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Willard, Ohio. The vice president was Rev. David Layton, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Rockford, Ohio.
Local churches affiliated with the fellowship include: Tri-County Baptist Church, Madison, Ohio; Middlefield Baptist Church, Middlefield, Ohio; Bucyrus Baptist Church, Bucyrus, Ohio; Troy Chapel Community Church, Delaware, Ohio; Westerville Bible Church, Westerville, Ohio; Calvary Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio; Greencastle Bible Church, Carroll, Ohio, and Fayette Bible Church, Washington Court House, Ohio.
Not reported for 2008.
The Ohio Fellowship Visitor. Published by Ohio Bible Fellowship 10 times a year. Available without charge from obfvisitor.wordpress.com.
Ohio Bible Fellowship. www.obf.net.
c/o Pr. Rick Chuman, Los Angeles Holiness Church, 3660 S Gramercy Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90018
The Oriental Missionary Society Holiness Church of North America began in 1920 among several Japanese American Christian ministerial students in Los Angeles. In that year, six seminarians—Henry T. Sakuma (1900–1992), George Yahiro (1894–1963), Paul Okamoto, Aya Okuda, Toshio Hirano (1897–1975), Hatsu Yano, and Hanako Yoneyama—formed a prayer fellowship with the goal of evangelizing Japanese Americans. In 1921 they formed the Los Angeles Holiness Church. Sadaichi Kuzuhara (1886–1988) became the pastor of the group and was revered for his promotion of the cause of Japanese American ethnic churches and his solid biblical teaching. The work spread to Japanese communities throughout California, the neighboring states, and Hawaii. In 1934 the Oriental Missionary Conference of North America was formed to oversee the work of the several congregations. Though completely disrupted by the internment of Japanese during World War II, the conference (church) reconstituted itself at the end of the war. After the war, Kuzuhara moved to Chicago to found the Lakeside Japanese Christian Church.
Beliefs of the church are summarized in a four-point statement. The church affirms the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the authority of the Bible, salvation of humans through Christ, and the church as consisting of all who have been regenerated through faith in Christ. There are two sacraments, baptism and Holy Communion.
The church is directed by an annual conference. A 10-person executive committee implements the decisions of the annual conference. Besides the Los Angeles Holiness Church in California, there are 16 parishes: Freemont Asian Christian Church, Freemont, California; Honolulu Christian Church, Hawaii; Japanese Christian Community Church of Tucson, Arizona; Japanese Christian Church of Walnut Creek, California; Mililani Christian Church, Hawaii; North County Japanese Christian Church, Encinitas, California; Orange County Christian Church, Cypress, California; San Diego Japanese Christian Church, California; San Fernando Valley Holiness Church, Pacoima, California; San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church, California; Santa Clara Valley Japanese Christian Church, Campbell, California; South Bay Japanese Christian Fellowship, Torrance, California; West Covina Christian Church, California; West Los Angeles Holiness Church, California; West Oahu Christian Church, Hawaii; and Whittier Community Church, Whittier, California.
Because of its name, the church is continually associated with the Oriental Missionary Society, a Holiness missionary organization founded in the early twentieth century. There has been a fraternal relationship between the church and the society, but there is no official connection. The church also has a fraternal connection with the OMS Holiness Church of Japan, from which it has drawn several of its ministers.
OMS Holiness Church of North America. www.omsholiness.org/; www.kuzuharalibrary.com.
374 Sheppard Ave. E, Toronto, ON, Canada M2N 3B6
The Peoples Church is an independent evangelical work founded by Dr. Oswald J. Smith (1889–1986) in 1928 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It stands predominantly for the conversion of souls, the edification of believers, and worldwide evangelism, emphasizing especially the four great essentials: salvation, the deeper life, foreign missions, and the return of Jesus Christ. It has been noteworthy among Evangelical Christians for its efforts, by every means, to get its message to the “Christless” masses, both at home and abroad, in the shortest possible time.
Smith was one of 10 children born to a railway telegrapher in Odessa, Ontario. Raised in the village of Embro, near London, Ontario, he was a sickly child suffering from bouts of prolonged, undiagnosed illness. At age 16, while attending an evangelistic meeting in Toronto’s Massey Hall under the ministry of R.A. Torrey, he committed himself to Christ and dedicated his life to the single purpose of preaching the gospel to those who had never heard of Jesus Christ. At 18 he enrolled in night classes at Toronto Bible College, and at the end of the term he applied for a mission posting. He was turned down because the church assumed that the 6-foot tall, 119-pound youth would never pass the physical examination. He went to work for the Upper Canada Bible Society selling Bibles door to door in Ontario’s Muskoka district, some 90 miles north of Toronto. There he had his first opportunity to preach, in a small Methodist church at Severn, and while there he purchased a notebook to keep a “Record of Sermons Preached.” That book grew to contain more than 12,000 entries.
The Bible Society next asked him to go to western Canada, and at age 19, under the auspices of the Shantymen’s Christian Association, he began a trek through the forests taking Bibles to Indian villages and lumber camps. During the summers he traveled the Kentucky mountains by horseback and muleback preaching the gospel. His experience led to his penning the words and music to “Into the Heart of Jesus, Deeper and Deeper I Go.”
Smith graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) in Chicago, but found upon his return to Toronto that once again his church would not send him as a missionary. They declared that “with your poor health you could never stand the rigors of a foreign field.” After the Presbyterian Church of Canada turned him down for the fourth time, Smith vowed, “If I cannot go, I will burn out my life sending others.”
In 1915, aged 25, Smith was ordained and appointed associate pastor of the fashionable Dale Presbyterian Church in Toronto. There he met and married the deaconess, Daisy Billings. His burning passion for missions caused him difficulties when, convinced that mission was the task of the whole church, he lifted the missionary program of the church out of the hands of the women’s missionary society. He was asked to leave the church. He moved to British Columbia but after six months returned to Toronto, where he turned to writing. As a result of an article he wrote for the Toronto Globe and Mail concerning the political unrest and famine in Armenia, readers gave more than a quarter of a million dollars for Armenian relief. Still wanting to preach, Smith began to hold services in a rented YMCA auditorium, and in 1921 the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church asked him to merge his fledgling YMCA work with its struggling Parkdale congregation.
Within 18 months the congregation moved to Christie Street Tabernacle to accommodate the 2,500 who attended services. In 1928 Smith launched his own independent work under the name Gospel Tabernacle, but when it was found that the name had already been incorporated and could not be used officially, the elders of the church unanimously decided to change the name to The Peoples Church, under which name it was officially incorporated in 1933.
Services were initially held in Massey Hall, but in 1930 moved to St. James Square Church on Gerrard Street East. Every night for the first week Smith preached on missions. In July 1934 the congregation moved to the 1,500-seat Methodist Church at 100 Bloor Street East. The publisher of the Globe and Mail gave $20,000 toward the purchase of the building, and Smith sold the elegant pipe organ for $40,000. The two amounts almost met the purchase price of $65,000. So large were the crowds that the church soon had to stop advertising.
Smith became famous for his concept of giving to missions based on the “Faith Promise.” The high point of the church year was the month-long Missionary Convention, when Smith challenged young and old to carry the gospel to those “in the back rows” still in heathen darkness. The grand finale of the Missionary Convention was the closing Sunday, when Smith announced the total of the Faith Promise. Each year it increased. In 1936 the Missionary Medical Institute (now the Missionary Health Institute) was founded to provide prospective missionaries with a year’s training in tropical diseases, and in 1943 the Russian Bible Institute, offering a three-year Bible course, was established.
By 1952 the church was partially supporting 296 missionaries with a missions budget at $258,000. Seventy percent of every dollar given to the church went to missions, and the remaining 30 percent to maintain the home base. In 1962 the congregation of the Peoples Church moved from its downtown location on Bloor Street to newer, larger facilities on East Sheppard Avenue.
Smith died on January 25, 1986 at age 96, having ministered in Toronto since 1915. He was the author of 35 books that were published in 128 languages and sold more than six million copies. As a poet and hymnwriter he wrote more than 1,200 hymns, poems, and gospel songs, including “Then Jesus Came,” “God Understands,”“The Glory of His Presence,”“The Song of the Soul Set Free,”“Saved,” and “Joy in Serving Jesus.” As a missionary statesman he led his church in a missionary program that helped support more than 500 missionaries and nationals worldwide. Since the church was founded, the church has raised more than $40 million for global missions. As an editor, Dr. Smith published a magazine for more than 50 years, and wrote many tracts and pamphlets. As a radio and television preacher, he was heard in Toronto and other cities since 1930 over some 42 stations.
In 1952 the board of managers invited Paul B. Smith, Smith’s younger son, to join the staff as assistant pastor, thus freeing Smith to minister across Canada and in other countries. In 1959 Paul Smith became the senior pastor of the Peoples Church, and continued the ministry initiated by his father. He authored several books and traveled widely. During his tenure, the Peoples Christian School (junior kindergarten through grade 6) was opened (1971), and the Peoples Academy (grade 7 through OAC) was established (1975). Paul Smith died in 1995.
Dr. John D. Hull succeeded Smith as senior pastor of the Peoples Church in 1994. He had previously founded a growing church in Marietta, Georgia, in a pattern similar to that of the Peoples Church. In September 2001 Charles W. Price was installed as senior pastor. Prior to his appointment, Price was principal at the internationally known Capernwray Bible Institute in England. He attended the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Tyndale University in Toronto. Price hosts a weekly one-hour television program, Living Truth, in Canada. The broadcast is available in the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan.
In 2008 Jim Chang headed the Pastoral Peoples Care Ministry, and Timothy Starr led the Adult Fellowship Ministry.
In 2008 the church ministered to about 3,500 members and adherents.
Peoples Christian Academy, Toronto, Ontario.
The Peoples Magazine. • Peoples Progress.
The Peoples Church. www.thepeopleschurch.ca.
Peoples Christian Academy. www.thepeopleschristianacademy.ca.
Hall, Douglas. Not Made for Defeat. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1969.
Neely, Lois. Fire in His Bones. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1982.
Smith, Oswald J. The Clouds Are Lifting. London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1936.
———. Man’s Future Destiny. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1940.
———. The Story of My Life. London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1962.
Smith, Paul B. The Senders. Burlington, ON: G. R. Welch Company, 1979.
PO Box 1034, Brentwood, TN 37024
The history of Remnant Fellowship International can be traced to 1986, when founder Gwen Shamblin, an instructor in dietetics at the University of Memphis, began a faith-based weight-loss program, the Weigh Down Workshops. The workshops, which advocated eating regular foods in smaller quantities and using prayer to combat hunger and overeating, were immensely successful, and in the 1990s they spawned similar programs in the larger evangelical community. Through the decade, Shamblin began to apply the same principles from the Weigh Down programs to other subjects—marital problems, drug addition, smoking, and so on. Participants reported strengthened marriages and freedom from addictive substances.
In 1999 Shamblin withdrew from the congregation of the Churches of Christ she had been attending and founded Remnant Fellowship as a new Christian denomination. Membership was and continues to be drawn largely from those who have responded positively to the Weigh Down Workshops. The Fellowship became the official sponsor of the Weigh Down Workshop Outreach, and a Remnant Publishing Division was founded as its publications arm. Weigh Down Workshop Productions produces the biblical materials for the church’s members and is considered the church’s evangelistic arm.
Very soon after its founding, the Remnant Fellowship began to distinguish itself from the larger evangelical community by its disavowal of the doctrine of the Trinity, the affirmation of which is one of the defining traits of the contemporary evangelical community. The Fellowship teaches that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but not God. It traces the belief in the Trinity to the Council of Nicea in 324 c.e., and essentially supports Arius’s position, which was rejected at the council and officially condemned. Apart from this belief, and the necessary modifications of other doctrines directly related to it, the Fellowship upholds the beliefs of its parent body on such matters as, for example, the necessity of water baptism by immersion.
The Remnant Fellowship members see themselves as separating from the counterfeit church that follows a false doctrine, false piety, and false leadership. They understand that the saved are those who hear the Word of God, and then put it into practice through obedience.
Not reported. In 2008 the Fellowship reported 130 fellowships in 130 cities scattered throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and the Bahamas.
Remnant Fellowship. www.remnantfellowship.org/.
The Weigh Down Workshop. www.weighdown.com/.
Shamblin, Gwen. Exodus: Out of Egypt: The Weigh Down Workshop. Continuing the Journey. Brentwood, TN: Weigh Down Workshop, 1992.
———. Rise Above: God Can Set You Free from Your Weight Problems Forever. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2000.
———. Weigh Down Diet. New York: Galilee Trade, 2002.
Box 3063, Boca Raton, FL 33431
Rex Humbard (1919–2007), the famous television evangelist, came from a radio preacher’s family: The Humbard family had broadcast over the Mutual Network for more than 30 years. At age 15, Rex became the master of ceremonies. He was ordained by his father. In 1952 the Humbard family stayed for five weeks in Akron, Ohio, and Rex decided to remain there. Having been impressed with television’s power to communicate, he decided to build a congregation, televise its services, and expand the coverage around the world. With brother-in-law Wayne Jones he created Calvary Temple and built a stable congregation. Calvary Temple was superseded by the nondenominational Cathedral of Tomorrow founded in 1958 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a suburb outside Akron. The cathedral, built at a cost of $3.5 million, was a 5,400-seat, marble and glass renovated theater, and it stood at the center of a large complex that included a retirement home, television station, library, and youth park. The ministry expanded and included a Mackinaw, Michigan, campus used for religious education and a 23-story Akron office tower.
The center of the cathedral’s activity became the Sunday worship service, which was first televised in 1953 and by 1971 reached more than 335 television stations. The service was a mixture of preaching and music. Humbard’s wife, Maude Aimee, a gospel singer, performed with a choir. The service was seen in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia, and Latin America.
A unique practice of the cathedral was its unusual televised communion service: One week before the broadcast communion, the television audience was invited to participate and was given instructions on preparing the elements in their homes. Approximately 2,000 families from the Akron area worshiped at the cathedral.
Doctrinally, Humbard was evangelical and conservative, but he refused to be pinned down on a specific creed. He opposed the cathedral’s pushing any “sectarian” ideas. During Humbard’s tenure as pastor the cathedral was operated by a six-person board of trustees that included Humbard and his wife. Humbard’s salary was paid not by the cathedral, but by the television outreach ministry. There were 11 ministers on the staff. As the Humbard ministry grew, the cathedral issued a monthly magazine, The Answer. Humbard kept a busy schedule of traveling, preaching, and writing. By the end of the 1970s the cathedral services were broadcast on more than 600 television stations in the United States and Canada, and more than 2,000 television stations around the world, in 97 different languages, and on 700 radio stations, and 293 foreign stations on every continent. In 1976 a special Christmas program became the first religious program carried worldwide by satellite.
In the 1970s the ministry suffered from internal disputes and financial problems. Federal and state regulators complained that millions of dollars in notes violated securities laws. By 1982 the congregation had dwindled, and in 1983 Humbard resigned as pastor of the Cathedral of Tomorrow and was succeeded by Wayne Jones. He separated the Rex Humbard Ministry from the church in Boca Raton, though he continued at the church as pastor emeritus. Humbard gave up on-air preaching in the 1990s. In 1994 he sold the Cathedral of Tomorrow to fellow televangelist Rev. Ernest Angley.
Humbard retired with his wife to Lantana, Florida. He appeared occasionally on television to discuss Christianity. He died on September 21, 2007, in Florida, following hospitalization for congestive heart failure.
Rex Humbard Family Ministry.
Humbard Family Ministry. www.rexhumbard.com.
Humbard, A. E. My Life Story. Akron, OH: Cathedral of Tomorrow, 1945.
Humbard, Rex. The Ten Commandments Plus 1. Akron, OH: Cathedral of Tomorrow, n.d.
———. Where Are the Dead? Akron, OH: Rex Humbard World Outreach Ministry, 1977.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The River of Life Ranch and Ministry of Truth was founded in 1978 by Ed Mitchell, a Christian layman who had been working as a manager of a supermarket. He gathered his first members in Thousand Oaks, California, but the original group disintegrated following the death of a member from insulin deficiency. Mitchell had preached a doctrine of divine healing that precluded the use of doctors. The core of followers purchased property in Apple Valley, California, and created a commune, the River of Life. Then in 1980 and 1981, Mitchell with the assistance of commune members Jody Scharf and Dori Webster wrote several books that were widely distributed in Christian bookstores, The Mystery of Babylon Revealed (1980), The Truth (1980), and The 1981 Tribulation Report. These books, written from an Evangelical Christian and pentecostal perspective, detailed a belief in the fast approaching dis-integration of the social system and the end of the present order of things.
The idyllic life of the community was disrupted in 1980 when one of the members, Linda Marshall, was deprogrammed and began to complain of physical child abuse within the group. Then on February 21, 1981, deprogrammers hired by Skip Webster, the producer of the popular television series Fantasy Island, entered the commune and kidnapped Webster’s son Dennis Webster (aged 36) and two grandchildren, Todd (aged 9) and Benjamin (aged 9 months). The elder Webster had become concerned after hearing Marshall’s testimony. The police stopped the kidnappers and released Webster and his two children. Members of the commune admitted to using corporal punishment, but said that they did not beat their children.
In the wake of the controversy, membership in the group dwindled from 50 to around 20. Also, spokespersons for the Christian Research Institute, an Evangelical anticult group, began to contact Christian bookstores to ask them to remove the River of Life books from their shelves. That action severely cut into the cash flow of the group, which moved to sell its property. Since then the group has assumed a low profile and its present status is unknown.
Mitchell, Ed, and Jody Scharff. The Mystery of Babylon Revealed. Palm Springs, CA: Victory Press, 1980.
———. The Truth. Palm Springs, CA: Victory Press, 1980.
Mitchell, Ed, and Dori Webster. The 1981 Tribulation Report. 2 vols. Palm Springs, CA: Victory Press, 1981.
PO Box 369, Glennallen, AK 99588
SEND International of Alaska began as Central Alaskan Missions, founded in 1936 by the former Methodist Vincent J. Joy (1914–1966) as an independent faith mission. Missionary efforts began among the residents of the isolated Copper Valley in south-central Alaska via airplane. The airborne effort slowly gave way to a more conventional movement on the ground as roads were built through the area. A medical program led to the founding of a hospital in 1956 and an educational arm, Alaska Bible College, in 1966. The mission was Fundamentalist in faith and affirmed a belief in the Trinity, the verbal inspiration of the Bible, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and Christ’s imminent premillennial return. Members were exhorted to separate themselves from anything that would dishonor God, bring discredit to his cause, or weaken their testimony.
After Joy’s death in 1966, members of the mission felt a leadership gap and in 1971 merged with SEND International (then called the Far Eastern Gospel Crusade). In addition to its hospital and educational works, the group operates two Christian radio stations serving Alaska’s heartland and southern panhandle. It also offers an 11-week summer missionary program.
In 2008 the mission reported 28 missionaries, working largely in communities of indigenous peoples in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and northern British Columbia.
Alaska Bible College, Glennallen, Alaska.
SEND International of Alaska. www.send.org/alaska/.
Piepkorn, Arthur C. Profiles in Belief: The Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada. Vol. 4. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1979.