Other Oneness Organizations
By Fred J. Foster
In this chapter we shall devote our thoughts to those formative years from the events of the last chapter to the formation of the United Pentecostal Church. Many happenings are in evidence to bring about such a merger of strength over those twenty years of time. It must be remembered that this is an area of Oneness history that nothing whatsoever has been written about. As a historian, I have pursued various sources to dig up the events that are recorded here, and I must admit it has not been an easy task. Several who could have gone into more detail have already passed on to their reward, but others have willingly helped, and I am most grateful.
THE PENTECOSTAL MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE
A. D. Gurley wrote, “The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance began its formation in October, 1924 in the city of Chicago, at the invitation of Pastor A. D. Urshan. It was actually considered at this time to begin an organization called the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
“From this meeting, Whittington began the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in St. Louis, and the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance was founded in Jackson, Tennessee. However, it was 1925, when it was actually organized and named. There were two General Conferences in 1925, the first one was held in Jackson, Tennessee in the month of February. The second one was in St. Louis, Missouri in October.” (1)
McClain states that, “It was not intended to be a general church organization but an alliance of ministers, merely to care for all the needs of the ministry, and that every local church with its pastor was to be a sovereign government of its own.” (2)
To head this new alliance of ministers, the prominent evangelist L. C. Hall was chosen as General Chairman. To fill the Secretary-Treasurer office, Howard A. Goss was selected. Later he was to be asked to step up to the chairmanship.
This loosely-organized alliance of ministers was to continue for several years, with continual growth and blessing, until a stronger incorporation was formed in 1932.
THE EMANUEL’S CHURCH IN JESUS CHRIST
There was quite a lot of dissatisfaction, though, with the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance in some quarters. It was thought by many to be too loosely organized, and also too open for people who did not believe in the Oneness message and the truth of baptism in the name of Jesus.
Many, wanting to take a much stronger stand on this giant issue of the day, decided to bring together another church group that would strongly adhere to this idea.
In a Tri-State Conference, representing Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, held at Houston, Texas in October of 1925, plans were laid to do so. From this beginning the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ came into being. The Chairman was W. H. Lyon, and the Secretary was G. C. Stroud. O. F. Fauss was a third member of the board of organization. A. D. Urshan was in this convention, and encouraged its conception. Urshan was a very popular speaker of that era and had a great amount of influence.
A SIGNIFICANT HAPPENING
An event that changed the course of many churches in Louisiana and Texas for almost twenty years took place in 1927, when a difference of opinion arose among the brethren of the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ. Several of the ministers and churches in Louisiana and Texas decided to leave the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ and take membership with the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance. Certainly the P.M.A. was happy to have this sudden windfall. Their representation in these two states became, overnight, quite large. This tells the story of the two divergent groups in these areas through the next two decades.
Gradually across the nation the two groups were planting churches. Sometimes in the same cities there would be churches representing both organizations; this becoming more prominent later, when the two were known as the Pentecostal Church, Incorporated and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ.APOSTOLIC CHURCHES OF JESUS CHRIST
About the same time the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance and the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ was being thought about, another endeavor in organization was being considered. After the Chicago meeting, W. H. Whittington and Ben Pemberton became convinced of the need, and “incorporated a small work in the city of St. Louis in 1925, and chartered it under the name of Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ.” (3)
THE BEGINNING OF CONSOLIDATION
Sincere, honest and Spirit-led men are peaceful men. They endeavor to keep peace in the overall polity, even when minor differences arise. If they can find a peaceful solution, they will pursue that end. This is not to say that principles will be forsaken and convictions will be rudely thrown aside, but to the contrary.
Basically, most Oneness people have believed in repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus and the receiving of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues, along with a consistent life of holiness. These have been the cardinal truths which have rallied these people together from the beginning. From this time on, we shall gradually see a coming together of the people of this distinct Biblical truth.
In 1927, the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ met in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to see if there were possibilities for a merger of the two groups. Things worked out very well, and the next year, in October of 1928, in Port Arthur, Texas, at a General Convention, the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ came to the conclusion that it would be best if they were to walk together from that conference on. These churches continued to use the name Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ until 1932, when another merger was enacted.
Chosen as Chairman was O. F. Fauss, and the Secretary’s position was filled by W. H. Whittington. E. D. Browning was chosen as Treasurer.
THE SECOND MERGER OF ONENESS CHURCHES
In the years of 1924, 1925, and 1926, when the machinery was being set up for the formation of the new organizations, the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance, the Emanuel’s Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, not all the white ministers of the North went along with any of these groups, preferring to stay with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.
Friendships, knit by the like experience of the New Birth and previous fellowship, still existed strongly between the various members of all the organizations, and many preached revivals and special meetings in the other groups. All this would naturally, lead, from time to time, to contemplations about getting back together.
THE PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLIES OF JESUS CHRIST
It was decided that the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World would meet to work out a merger of their groups and, consequently, their efforts in the work of the Lord. In November of 1931 in the city of St. Louis, a conference was convened for this purpose. The merger was adopted, and they took a part of each of their names to appropriately name the new organization. This new name was The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, commonly known as the P.A. of J.C. The leadership was composed of a Board of Presbyters who, in turn, would elect one from their body to preside at each General Conference. J. A. Frush was the Editor; a black man, Karl Smith, was Secretary.
This merger did not work as planned, because almost from the start, hindrances arose to hamper the proposed idea. The organization forged ahead, gaining strength and ground, but the same type of difficulties encountered in the old Pentecostal Assemblies of the World were again run into.
Bishop Grimes, a prominent black leader, did not accept the idea of the merger, so he left the conference and renewed the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World charter before its expiration. This caused quite a bit of unrest, and several decided to go along with him.
Then it was perceived that the same distasteful experience as before, concerning the races, was to be gone through. Due to segregation in the South, a General Conference could not be held below the Mason-Dixon line with all in attendance, and the re-enactment was on.
It was decided, though, that a conference would be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1937. This proved to be the undoing of relationships with the arrangement worked out in 1931 at St. Louis. Only the white ministers were able to attend, and only legislation of a minor order was to be passed upon, and that to be sanctioned the next year in a conference held again in the North, with all members present.
This could not work out harmoniously. Some felt that they were being discriminated against, even though this was not the spirit of the happenings at all. Nevertheless, the P.A. of J.C. lost several, with most of the black brethren going back to the old Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.
The next convention in 1938 was held in Columbus, Ohio, with O. F. Fauss presiding. It was decided that the organization would return to the governmental General Chairman again. W. T. Witherspoon was selected to be the General Chairman and the Secretary-Treasurer’s position was filled by Stanley R. Hanby. This proved to be very strengthening and workable, and the P.A. of J.C. “moved ahead in a progressive manner,” (4) until its merger with the P.C.I., to form the new vitalized United Pentecostal Church.
THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INCORPORATED
The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance, which, since 1925, was a loosely organized association of ministers, felt in 1932 that a change would help them propagate the gospel. It was generally felt that a stronger organizational setup would further their ends to a greater degree for future growth.
In Little Rock, Arkansas, at the General Convention, legislation was enacted to organize more fully, and also to “include the local churches as an integral part of the organization.” (5) The name was changed to Pentecostal Church, Incorporated and was commonly called the P.C.I. B. H. Hite was selected to fill the position of General Chairman in the new organization. W. E. Kidson, who was serving as the Secretary-Treasurer of the P.M.A., was also re-elected to that of office.
The Pentecostal Church Incorporated was certainly progressive minded, and moved along strongly. Although perhaps not conscious of the fact, it was (as was the P.A. of J.C.) moving forward, with every step, toward the most progressive leap of all, when it would unite together with the P.A. of J.C., and become the United Pentecostal Church.
1 Gurley, “Letter to Author,” May 21, 1963.
2 McClain, “Notes”
3 Gurley, “Letter to Author,” May 21, 1963
4 Gurley, “Letter to Author,” May 21, 1963
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM 20th CENTURY PENTECOSTALS AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1980, PAGES 131-138. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.