History

This movement is not historically related to the several Church of God bodies rooted in the holiness revival of Tennessee and the Carolinas in the late nineteenth century. Although it shares their holiness commitment, it does not emphasize the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues generally associated with Pentecostal churches.

Our teachings and beliefs…
Deeply influenced by Wesleyan theology and Pietism, the church’s generally accepted teachings include the divine inspiration of Scripture; forgiveness of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of the believer; the experience of holiness; the personal return of Christ, unconnected with any millennial reign; the kingdom of God as established here and now; the resurrection of the dead; a final judgment in which there will be reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.

Within the church, baptism by immersion is viewed as a witness to the new believer’s regeneration in Christ and inclusion in the family of God. The Lord’s Supper reminds participants of the grace experienced in the life of the believer. Foot washing is practiced in acknowledgement and acceptance of the servant ministry of all Christians to each other and to the world. These symbolic acts are understood to be affirmative reminders of what God has done in Christ. None of these practices, termed ordinances, are considered mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship.

There is no formal membership. Individuals are assumed to be members on the basis of personal conversion and conduct that supports that conversion experience. This is consistent with the church’s understanding of how Christian unity is to be achieved—a unity based on spiritual experience rather than creedal agreement. [top]

Church governance
The Church of God is congregational in its government. Each local congregation is autonomous. Ministers meet in voluntary state, regional and national assemblies, and other associations. In North America, the General Assembly, composed primarily of ministers but also including lay congregational delegates, meets in connection with the movement’s annual North American Convention held in Anderson, Indiana.

In 1996 and 1997 the General Assembly initiated a restructuring of the work of the national ministries of the Church of God within the U.S. The result was the formation of Church of God Ministries; Inc. Priorities for the work of this organization are identified by representatives selected from the grassroots church. [top]

Go Ye Into All the World…
In 1891 the movement’s first missionary was sent to Mexico. Since those early days, the Church of God has continued to grow into a multi-national community of faith. At present, the largest concentrations of U.S. churches are in the Midwest, along the Pacific Coast, and in western Pennsylvania. Average weekend attendance in the congregations of the United States and Canada totals approximately 235,000. There are approximately 2,300 congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Worldwide, the movement has work in 90 countries representing approximately 7,340 churches and over 750,000 believers. [top]

…and the islands of the Sea
Records show that the Rev. Noah S. Duncan disembarked in Barbados three times between the years 1906-09. He had, in 1906, established a mission in Trinidad and soon after that had occasion to stop here on his way back to the United States. During this stopover he distributed literature to the people, who showed great interest.

The work here was started by a Barbadian, Bro. Philip Scantlebury, who for some years lived in America. He returned to Barbados in 1912 in order to visit his mother who was ill. While here, he gathered together a small group in Mile-and-a-Quarter, where his parents lived, and started open-air services under a tamarind tree. The group increased and Bro. Scantlebury rented a small building where he continued the services. [top]

Beginnings: Mile & A Quarter
In the meantime, two (2) missionaries, the Revs. J. Frank Shaw and George A. Coplin, who had left America and gone over to Trinidad, decided to visit Barbados and see about further establishing the work here. They left Trinidad and arrived in Barbados on March 17, 1912. Bro. Scantlebury met them and took them over to Mile-and-a-Quarter. That same night they started a revival that lasted for two (2) to three (3) weeks. Bros. Shaw and Coplin rented a house near the Scantleburys and settled down to life in Barbados. Two months later, however, Bro. Coplin was recalled to Trinidad and Bro. Shaw was left in sole charge of the work.

Bro. Shaw had very little previous experience, so he was rather timid about having a church, whose membership had now reached 40, in his care. He started prayer meetings, and these were held every morning at different homes in the village. In addition, a singing class was organised, with great pleasure and encouragement derived there from. Further encouragement came Bro. Shaw’s way as Miss Maude Smith who had left America for the West Indies along with Bros. Shaw and Coplin but had to remained in Trinidad now came over to Barbados to help him in the work.

In 1913, the group moved from Mile-and-a-Quarter to the Reef in Bridgetown, where a tent was erected and services started. It was at this time that Bro. and Sis. Blewitt from the United States arrived on a visit. He was later to play an important part in the purchase of a property as a home for the missionaries. Services at the Reef continued for four (4) weeks. It is heartening to note that at this time Bro. Shaw really saw what it meant to pray; “Lord give us this day our daily bread.” Many mornings he awoke with nothing to eat in the house, but God always answered his prayers and people came to him bringing gifts of cassava, eggs, potatoes, chickens and many other things. [top]

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