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ELT and EP photo in Hot Springs
Holding a historic picture from the 1914 gathering in Hot Springs, current members of the Assemblies of God Executive Leadership Team and some Executive Presbyters pose in the same place as the original photo.

Approximately 300 people gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on April 10-11, 2014, to celebrate the centennial of the Assemblies of God. Echoes of the statements from the founding general council, where another 300 ministers gathered in the same place exactly 100 years earlier, could be heard throughout the two-day event.

The centennial celebration, sponsored by the AGTrust, featured seven speakers and a night of gospel music and worship. The celebration concluded with a pilgrimage to the site of the former Grand Opera House, where the first general council was held, to re-create the iconic photograph of the founders of the Assemblies of God.

One hundred years ago, Hot Springs had a reputation as a wild town, known for its alcohol, prostitution, gangs and drugs. When the founders of the Assemblies of God met at the Hot Springs Grand Opera House for the first general council, they had to pass by the saloon at the front of the building in order to attend the meetings in the auditorium. The centennial celebration was held in a more sanctified setting — the spacious First Assembly of God, Hot Springs, Arkansas, pastored by Larry Burton.

The centennial celebration drew people from across the United States. Jean and Magalie Rebecca, a husband and wife who pastor Haitian Assembly of God, Dorchester, Massachusetts, were excited to be able to participate: "We grew up in the Assemblies of God in Haiti. The Assemblies of God is a worldwide family, and we wanted to represent Haitians in Hot Springs."

Attendees also included descendants of some of the participants in the first general council, held April 2-12, 1914. Bonnie Olsen, the granddaughter of founding Assemblies of God minister Oliver P. Brann, felt right at home. She commented, "I experienced faith-filled services and the power of God this week. I wish I could experience this every day!"

General Superintendent George O. Wood opened the celebration on Thursday by recounting the five reasons for the formation of the Assemblies of God as enumerated in the century-old "Call to Hot Springs." Each speaker continued in this vein, expounding on why the founding principles of the Assemblies of God remain compelling today. Greg Mundis, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions, shared about the heritage of missionaries who suffered, sometimes unto death, to bring the gospel around the world. Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison preached on the bedrock importance of the Word of God.

Hot Springs prayer
Many men and women came forward for healing during the centennial service held at First Assembly of God in Hot Springs.

True to Pentecostal form, the afternoon service included an extended time at the altar. Hundreds of voices were raised in fervent prayer, and people flooded the altars and aisles in the church. Following a time of prayer for specific areas of ministry, Garrison asked those present in need of healing to come forward for prayer. Vocal spiritual gifts were manifested, and several people later testified of physical healings.

Wilfredo de Jesús, pastor of New Life Covenant Church, Chicago, Illinois, encouraged those who are carrying on the Pentecostal legacy to fight complacency in their spiritual lives. "It is essential to build a bridge," he asserted, "so that the younger generation can learn about the power of the Holy Spirit from the older generation." He illustrated this principle with the biblical example of Elijah, the older prophet, who discipled Elisha, the younger prophet. De Jesús pointedly observed, "Elijah and Elisha were from different generations, but they walked together."

Thursday evening, gospel musicians Johnny Minick and Russ Taff led participants in three hours of rousing worship. The music included songs from each decade of the last 100 years. About 40 people - including Wood and Garrison — even participated in a Jericho March, which is a spirited procession around the church in a single file during the worship service. The practice originated in Kentucky Presbyterian camp meetings during the Second Great Awakening and had been adopted by some early Pentecostals.

On Friday morning, three younger ministers spoke — Rod Loy (First Assembly, North Little Rock, Arkansas), Rob Ketterling (River Valley Church, Apple Valley, Minnesota) and Aaron Cole (Life Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin). They described how Assemblies of God founding ideals are being carried out today and also envisioned the future of the Fellowship.

Following the Footsteps of the AG Founding Members
Attendees of the centennial event make their way up to where the iconic "photo of 300" of the original founders of the Assemblies of God was taken in 1914. Once there, a new centennial photo was taken in the exact same place, re-creating the century-old photo.

The celebration culminated in a pilgrimage to the site where the Hot Springs Grand Opera House once stood. The 300 attendees viewed the new historic marker in honor of the Assemblies of God centennial, which was placed in the sidewalk near Mountain Valley Spring Company, located at 150 Central Avenue. They proceeded to climb the winding trail behind the site of the former Grand Opera House until they reached a small clearing where the iconic photograph from the first general council had been taken.

J. Don George, an Assemblies of God senior statesman and founding pastor of Calvary Church, Irving, Texas, called the centennial event in Hot Springs "a historic occasion that will be long remembered." He noted that the event was relatively small in comparison to the larger centennial celebration slated to be held in Springfield, Missouri, on August 5-10, 2014, in conjunction with the World Assemblies of God Congress. "As a movement we are called to generational, gender, cultural and racial diversity," George stated. When thousands of visitors from across the United States and the world descend on Springfield in August, this diversity will be on full display.

Commemorative Plaque
A historic marker, indicating the historic location of the site of the founding convention of the Assemblies of God, was placed in the sidewalk on Central Avenue in Hot Springs.

The men and women who met in Hot Springs 100 years ago laid a foundation for a cooperative Fellowship that would help Pentecostals to more effectively evangelize the world. One hundred years later, the Assemblies of God has more than 3.1 million adherents in the United States and more than 66 million worldwide.

The centennial gathering offered both a celebration of the past century and a vision for the future. According to George O. Wood, the Assemblies of God, throughout its history, "has been marked by purpose and passion." He explained, "Our purpose is embedded in our doctrine, mission, values and strategies. Our passion comes from the work of the Holy Spirit who continues to empower us to do the greatest work of evangelism the world has ever seen." Wood predicted, "The future for the Assemblies of God is truly as bright as the promises of God."

 

 


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Christmas Project 5 - inspiring efforts meet needs

Fri, 21 Dec 2012 - 9:56 AM CST

Christmas project logo

Several weeks ago, AG Churches, ministries and schools were asked to share what they were doing this Christmas season to help the needy in their communities as part of the fifth annual Christmas Project conducted by AG News. The inspirational responses ranged from the practical to the creative, and are featured below.

"I enjoy this time of year and hearing about the compassion being invested in communities in the name of Christ," says Dan Van Veen, AG News editor. "Some ministries have done some incredible things and touched hundreds and hundreds of lives, but even if a ministry only has the ability to help one family, or just one person, to that family or person, that ministry has become Christ's hand extended and He has been glorified."

Van Veen also salutes the Michigan District Council, churches and ministries for their unprecedented participation in this year's Christmas Project. More than half of the responses received were from the Michigan District.

The staff at AG News would like to wish all AG News readers a wonderful Christmas, a joyous New Year and offer the encouragement to continue to live lives filled with Christ's love and compassion. AG News will return on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

--AG News staff

 

Strasburg Assembly of God, Strasburg, Virginia - is sending Christmas card with a message of salvation as well as stockings to our troops in Afghanistan.

Clute First Assembly of God, Clute, Texas, and Brazoria County Dream Center - is encouraging everyone to spend less on themselves and give the extra to help those in need. The church is also partnering with Brazoria County Dream Center to help provide food and gifts to at risk families in its area.

Calvary Assembly of God, Elkhart, Indiana - for the second year, Calvary served a sit-down Thanksgiving meal to approximately 200 people in our community. The church's desire is to provide a Thanksgiving meal plus a dinner experience for the entire family.

New Destiny Community Church, Stanley, North Carolina - teamed up with other churches to hold a holiday dinner and Christmas program for 200 men at a local prison.        

Eastside Assembly of God in Tucson, Arizona - is partnering with White River (Arizona) Assembly of God to provide toys to the children of the Apache Indian Reservation. Church members are providing new toys, with age appropriate labels, for the reservation children.

The City Limits Assembly of God, Allentown, Pennsylvania - gave away more than 1,000 live Christmas trees in a December event, which also offered live Christmas music, free hot dogs and hot chocolate.

Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri - delivered grocery bags filled with all the menu items for a Thanksgiving meal to more than 250 needy families and presented more than 1,300 Christmas gifts to the children of nearby elementary schools - schools located in a low-income portion of the city.

Evangel University, Springfield, Missouri - raised more than $2,600 and collected more than 1,800 pounds of food through its annual Christmas concert, benefiting the Salvation Army. Student athletes and faculty also volunteered as bell ringers for the local Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas - the women's basketball team provided gifts for the children of the White Mountain Apache tribe in Whiteriver, Arizona; the men's and women's basketball team rang bells for the local Salvation Army; and the school is encouraging staff and faculty to give to the local United Way.

Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri - students shared Christmas with the community by going out to different locations and singing Christmas carols.

Shekinah Temple Assembly of God, Waterford, Michigan - the church has obtained an "urgent needs list" from a local faith-based pregnancy center and many in the congregation have purchased items or donated funds for the needs on the list.

The Flint Dream Center, Flint, Michigan - will continue to pass out clothes such as new jeans, new coats and hats as well as $25 gift cards for the kids.

Central Assembly of God in Muskegon, Michigan - is reaching out to supply 42 families with Christmas dinner and presents for their children. The church will also provide gifts for 30 Teen Challenge children as well as widows and their children in the church who have need.

Christian Trinity Church, Eastpointe, Michigan - is hosting the Macomb County Homeless Warming Center the week of Christmas for around 80 guests to enjoy seven nights of warmth. Around 1,120 home-cooked meals will be served. Money donations have provided gifts of personal items, bus passes and gift cards to McDonalds.

Eaglevision Ministries/International Dream Center of Lansing, Michigan - is again distributing more than 1,000 toys and other items to ex-offenders and others for their children's Christmas experience.

Troy Assembly of God, Troy, Michigan - is reaching out to eight needy families with children both in the church and community with Walmart gift certificates to help purchase Christmas gifts.

First Assembly of God, Saline, Michigan - is participating in Baskets of Blessings, a compassion outreach ministry that collects food in baskets for those in need during the holiday season. Along with a Bible, the church delivers the food to families with whom they also have prayer with before leaving.

Northville Christian Assembly, Northville, Michigan - purchased more than 160 gifts for five needy families with 25 children and helped to feed the homeless.

Grass Lake Assembly of God, Grass Lake, Michigan - held a food drive to stock the local food pantry, and partnered with the Grass Lake Ministerial Association Angel Tree project to provide food, utility credits and Christmas gifts to local families in need.

Oasis Community Church Assembly of God, Ithaca, Michigan - sent 70 Christmas Shoe Boxes to Samaritan Purse Project; chose eight families within its community to have a Christmas dinner, games and inflatables for the (25) kids and gave gifts to the families. Also has a tree set up that's now filled with mittens, scarves, hats and gloves to take to a local agency to distribute and provided 25 fruit baskets to the elderly in need.     

Lake City Assembly of God, Lake City, Michigan - is handing out 40 bags of candy to its immediate neighborhood, inviting their neighbors to Christmas services.

Rochester Assembly of God, Rochester, Michigan - gave 130 bags of groceries to bless several families in the area and the Lighthouse in Pontiac for their Thanksgiving Food Drive. Collected toys to bless Courage Church in Detroit with their Holiday Outreach to the children of Detroit. Organized a Giving Tree to bless three families from the area.  Gave $1,000 each to Power Kid's Co. and Salvation Army over and above monthly giving for their Christmas Projects. And the church's children raised money to purchase Christmas presents for their adopted child from Compassion International.

Beaver Lake Community Church, Lachine, Michigan - "Pickin' For People"  (Bluegrass/Country/Gospel musicians who donate their time, travel and talent), a ministry of the church, is raising money for the church's food pantry as well as several other pantries and food distribution services throughout Northeast Michigan. The musicians are also performing at several nursing homes.

The Gateway Church, Spring Lake, Michigan - is hosting a Personal Care Product Giveaway to provide families in need with one month's supply of personal care items that include shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toilet paper, cleaning products and more. More than 5,000 items will be given away.

Dearborn Heights First Assembly of God, Dearborn Heights, Michigan - its "Bread of Life Food Bank" ministry, which feeds over 200 families weekly, is having a toy drive to give as many gifts to the children of these families as there are donations.

Auburn Hills Christian Center, Auburn Hills, Michigan - has given $1,000 to a ministry that gives baby showers for women in shelters; has sent a $50 Christmas gift sent to each missionary supported by AHCC; delivered a hot meal, jeans, thermal undergarments and socks to residents of a homeless shelter; received a Christmas benevolence offering for those in the church struggling financially during the Christmas season; held a winter coat drive to benefit those in the community; and is receiving a love offering to bless Hurricane Sandy victims at Christmas.

Authors: AG News

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