The General Council of the Assemblies of God (USA), one of the largest Pentecostal denominations
in the United States, was organized in 1914 by a broad coalition of ministers who desired to work
together to fulfill common objectives, such as sending missionaries and providing fellowship and
accountability. Formed in the midst of the emerging worldwide Pentecostal revival, the Assemblies of
God quickly took root in other countries and formed indigenous national organizations.
The Assemblies of God (USA) is a constituent member of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship –
one of the largest Pentecostal fellowships in the world.
Throughout the latter half of the 19th century in the United States, Protestants from various
backgrounds began to ask themselves why their churches did not seem to exhibit the same vibrant,
faith-filled life as those in the New Testament. Many of these believers joined evangelical or Holiness
churches, engaged in ardent prayer and personal sacrifice, and earnestly sought God. It was in this
context that people began experiencing biblical spiritual gifts.
Pentecostals pioneers were hungry for authentic Christianity, and they looked to previous spiritual
outpourings, such as the First Great Awakening (1730s-40s) and Second Great Awakening
(1800s-30s), for inspiration and instruction. They identified themselves in the tradition of reformers
and revivalists such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Dwight L. Moody.
The Pentecostal Revival
One of the focal points of the emerging Pentecostal movement was known as the Azusa Street
revival (1906-09). It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In
the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly-formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down
Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California. Critics attacked the
congregation because its mild-mannered African-American Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour,
preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The revival soon became a
local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.
Seymour had been a student of Charles Parham, who provided the doctrinal framework for the
young Pentecostal movement. Parham’s identification in scripture of speaking in tongues as the “Bible
evidence” (later called the “initial evidence”) of Spirit baptism became a defining mark of the emerging
Pentecostal movement. After students at his Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, began speaking in
tongues at a prayer meeting on January 1, 1901, Parham, through his Apostolic Faith Movement, had
some success in promoting the restoration of the gift of tongues. While the Apostolic Faith Movement
was largely confined to the south central United States, the revival at Azusa Street catapulted
Pentecostalism before a worldwide audience.
Formation of the Assemblies of God
As the revival rapidly spread, many Pentecostals recognized the need for greater organization and
accountability. The founding fathers and mothers of the Assemblies of God met in Hot Springs,
Arkansas on April 2-12, 1914 to promote unity and doctrinal stability, establish legal standing,
coordinate the mission enterprise, and establish a ministerial training school. These founders
constituted the first General Council and elected two officers: Eudorus N. Bell as chairman (title later
changed to general superintendent) and J. Roswell Flower as secretary, as well as the first executive
The approximately 300 delegates to the first General Council represented a variety of independent
churches and networks of churches, including the “Association of Christian Assemblies” in Indiana and
the “Church of God in Christ and in Unity with the Apostolic Faith Movement” from Alabama, Arkansas,
Mississippi, and Texas. Almost immediately, leaders were faced with a doctrinal dispute – whether to
abandon traditional Trinitarian theology in favor of a modal monarchian view of the godhead (also
called the “New Issue” or Oneness theology). In 1916 the General Council approved a Statement of
Fundamental Truths, which affirmed Trinitarian orthodoxy. From the beginning, evangelism and
missions have been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God and have resulted in a continuing
growth at home and abroad. In 2007, the Assemblies of God claimed a constituency in the United
States of 2,836,174 adherents; 12,311 churches; and 33,622 ministers. The General Council supported
2,691 foreign missionaries and associates working with the broader World Assemblies of God
Fellowship, whose adherents numbered more than 57 million. The aggressive missions programs of
the church are designed to establish self-supporting and self-propagating national church bodies in
every country. Ministers and leaders are trained in 1,891 foreign Bible schools. The Assemblies of God
has 19 endorsed Bible colleges, universities, and a seminary in the United States.
The National Office of the Assemblies of God is located in Springfield, Missouri. The National Office
includes an administration building, the Gospel Publishing House, and the International Distribution
Center. The Gospel Publishing House, the printing arm of the church, turns out more than 12 tons of
gospel literature each day.