The Assemblies of God denomination traces its roots back to a religious revival that started during the late 1800’s and continued through the early 1900’s. The revival was characterized by a widespread experience of spiritual manifestations such as speaking in tongues and supernatural healing, giving birth to the Pentecostal movement.
Charles Parham is a prominent figure in the history of the Assemblies of God and the Pentecostal movement. His teachings greatly influenced the doctrines of the Assemblies of God. He is the founder of the first Pentecostal church – the Apostolic Faith Church. He started a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where students came to learn about the Word of God. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was emphasized here as a key factor in one’s walk of faith.
During the Christmas holiday of 1900, Parham asked his students to study the Bible to discover the biblical evidence for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. At a prayer meeting on January 1, 1901, they concluded that the Holy Spirit Baptism is expressed and evidenced by speaking in tongues. From this experience the Assemblies of God denomination can trace its belief that speaking in tongues is the biblical evidence for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The revival quickly spread to Missouri and Texas, and eventually to California and beyond. Pentecostal believers from around the world gathered at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles for a three year (1906–1909) revival meeting.
Another important meeting in the denomination’s history was a gathering in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914, called by a preacher named Eudorus N. Bell. As a result of the spreading revival and the formation of many Pentecostal congregations, Bell recognized the need for an organized assembly. Three hundred Pentecostal ministers and laymen gathered to discuss the growing need for doctrinal unity and other common goals. As a result the General Council of the Assemblies of God was formed, uniting the assemblies in ministry and legal identity, yet preserving each congregation as a self-governing and self-supporting entity. This structural model remains intact today.
In 1916 a Statement of Fundamental Truths was approved and adopted by the General Council. This position on the essential doctrines of the Assemblies of God denomination remains virtually unchanged to this day.
The Assemblies of God ministries have focused and continue to concentrate on evangelism, missions and church planting. From its founding attendance of 300, the denomination has grown to more than 2.6 million members in the United States and over 48 million overseas. The national headquarters for the Assemblies of God is located in Springfield, Missouri.