There are many men throughout history who have been recognized as reformers; John Wesley, Martin Luther, men who stepped out in faith and shared the vision or revelation that they had learned. Each time that this happened, it brought on changes in the religious scene. In this article, we are confining our scope to the history of our congregation beginning in the early 1900's. God has authored many works which will dovetail into His ultimate plan. For our part, we are justly proud to be part of those who recognized the "Restoration of Israel" message so many years before it became popular.
In Proverbs 29 it states:
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
This scripture can certainly be applied in a positive way to the reformers of the twentieth century, whose vision illuminated our path. In giving honor to these men, we can be thankful that their obedience to the leading of the Lord's spirit has enabled us to help usher in the Messianic age.
As an established congregation in today's Messianic movement, we are thankful for the reformers that have given us opportunity to assist in preparing for the "Law to go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem".
It may be impossible to recount the full effect that these reformers have had on the world, or to measure the impact that they have had on nominal religion today, but through their efforts, they have brought our congregation to greater light and truth in Messiah.
Charles F. Parham
Born June 4, 1873 in Iowa, Charles F. Parham began his ministry at the age of 19. He had been healed miraculously of the rheumatoid arthritis that had crippled him severely. The vow he made to the Lord before he was healed was to give his life to the ministry and to preach wherever the Lord sent him.
His life of dedication to the Lord was filled with prayer and study. Through long hours of devoted prayer and intense study, the scriptures opened up to him, and the simplicity of living for God became the focus of his ministry. He taught a return to the fundamental teachings of the scriptures and the cleansing of men's hearts. His ministry began in Kansas, where he held neighborhood revivals focusing on a personal salvation experience, or "praying through, until you felt the burden of sin roll away". He spent five years in an evangelical ministry, calling people to turn their hearts toward God.
In the early months of 1900, his vision began to increase, focusing on Apostolic order and the return of the gifts of the Spirit. In a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, he began to teach about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Miraculous signs and wonders followed this teaching, with healings, deliverance, and the great outpouring of the Ruach ha Kodesh, known now as the 'Pentecostal' movement.
He is credited by Kansas City historians with the salvation of over two million people during the early 1900's. He is also recognized as beginning a full gospel ministry, and as a visionary, planting seeds toward the love of Israel and the Jewish people. He made his long awaited trip to Israel (then Palestine) in 1927, two years before his death. His vision of 'loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind', was united with our forefathers of old in the 'Shema', and brought the move of restoration one step closer to the return of Messiah.
William J. Sowders
Beginning his ministry at the turn of the century, William J. Sowders was a close follower of the teachings of Charles F. Parham. He devoted his life to prayer and study, bringing about a clearer vision of the plan of salvation, and the part Israel has in it. He prophesied the restoration of Israel long before the natural state of Israel came into being in 1948. He taught that a people from the nations would bind themselves with Israel and stand with them as their Messiah was revealed. He spoke on the doctrines of baptism, eternal judgement, laying on of hands, and living an overcoming life. Barring no race, color, or creed from the church, he prophesied accurately many of the changes that have come to pass in our day.
Building his ministry in the south and midwest, he developed such notable sites as the Gospel Kingdom Campground in Shephardsville, Kentucky, congregations in Illinois, with the Elko and Olmsted campgrounds, and a large congregation in Louisville, Kentucky.
He ministered until his death in November, 1952. He was honored as one of the last of the reformers during his lifetime. He spoke of a millenium of peace that would follow the return of the Messiah, when Israel would live in their own land in tranquility. Within the framework of his teachings, he raised such prominent leaders as EIder R. E. Dawkins who continued to build on this foundation.
Reynolds E. Dawkins
Born in Leslie, Arkansas, Reynolds E. Dawkins began his ministry at the age of 19, under the teachings of William Sowders. After William Sowders' death in 1952, he prayed earnestly for guidance to lead the people forward. He faithfully continued to minister this message until 1958, when, in a Seattle hotel room, William Sowders came to him in a vision saying, "My son, it's time for you to help start the work in Palestine".
The message of the "Restoration of Israel" was the fire that ignited a world wide ministry. The inspiration of the Ruach ha Kodesh brought revival to thousands all over the world, as this message spread to the four corners of the earth. Preaching this message for seven years, he helped establish over twenty five churches in Jamaica, Nigeria, China and Israel. He was a pioneer in beginning annual pilgrimages to the 'holy land'. He spoke of Jew and Gentile being made into one body, and prophesied of a Jewish revival to come.
In the spring of 1961, Elder R.E. Dawkins prayed over four men to continue to build the work in the Northwest. One of the men was Roger A. Ludington, who was commissioned to pastor a work in Yakima, Washington. The sudden death of EIder Dawkins in 1965 was a blow to all who loved him and believed in this vision. Yet from his labors, there remains those who nurture the seeds that he planted, as the move of Restoration continues.
This message of Restoration that was longed for by Charles Parham, prophesied by William Sowders, started by R. E. Dawkins, is now continuing to flourish under the guidance of Roger A. Ludington. It is our wish to honor all of the reformers who have brought this move to what it is today, by sharing the vision that has inspired us for nearly a century. May our vision continue to brighten as we travel this path together.
More information concerning - Charles F. Parham
Quotes from this page..
In 1905, Charles Parham came to Houston to preach the full Gospel message and to open a Bible college. One of his students, William Joseph Seymour, later accepted a call to minister in Los Angeles, where the little mission on Azusa Street radiated the message around the world. Now at the end of the century, this movement numbers more than 400 million Spirit-filled believers, nearly one-quarter of all Christians worldwide. It is the fastest growing Gospel outreach in Christendom.
Assembly of God version:
3. Parham was a member of the Freemasons, although according to Sarah, he withdrew when he started his “Full Gospel” healing ministry. 11 However, on his return journey from Jerusalem (1928) he brought a gavel and presented it to the Baxter Springs Masonic Lodge.12 The Lodge was either Baxter Lodge No. 71 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, or Baxter Chapter No. 78, Royal Arch Masons.13
5. Parham was arrested for “sexual indiscretions” with boys, although charges were dropped, some suggest because no one would testify. 15
More information concerning - William J. Sowders
from A History of William Sowders' Ministry - By Philip Williams - Charlotte, N.C.
The Apostolic Faith of Charles Parham
“In 1901 Parham conducted a Holy Ghost revival in Kansas and Missouri. The elder Brother William Pennock, associated with Brother Sowders, received the baptism in Parham's first revival.”
“In accordance with the custom of his day, Parham was much prejudiced against blacks, but in Houston he allowed William Seymour to listen in on his school where he was teaching the doctrine of tongues baptism.”
“It was probably these two sisters who conducted the revival near Vienna, Illinois in 1909 at such place and time that Bob Shelton received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. He then hurried to Olmstead, Illinois to his brother's house. Before he reached the porch, he shouted to Bye Shelton, "I have just received the baptism taught in Acts 2:4, with the evidence of speaking in tongues!" So in their home on the banks of the Ohio, River they started a new mission. Soon these brothers and their wives were joined by Frank Knight and Brother Aubrey and their wives. Brother Aubrey had a gospel boat. This was the beginning of "that little church", which was so precious to Brother Sowders.”
“Because so many of the Pentecostals were forced out of the established churches, there was much freedom. They had to have church in their homes. They had no platforms, no special seats, no routine order of service to follow. All the people could and were expected to participate in the services.”
“Sister Mary Snyder remembers when Brother Sowders pulled his boat into Louisville. She was then a little girl, standing beside her mother. She thought Brother Sowders was just like Jesus, preaching from the boat.”
“The order at that little church would be the order which Brother Sowders would preach as the order of the restored church. As the Pentecostals started to introduce formalites, to organize, and to quench the Spirit out of their churches, Brother Sowders would resist all the new formalities, eventually separating himself from the other Pentecostals. This is the truth, which a deep study of William Sowders is proving more and more. So in order to understand Brother Sowder's message, it is important to understand what they had back there in that little church. This doesn't mean that the movement didn't advance, but part of the advance was recognizing how Babylon creeps into new movements which try to perfect with the flesh what was begun in the Spirit. One thing they did was to challenge one another. Their worship was not controlled by a pastor. In fact, in that church they didn't even have a pastor.”
From William Sowders own words:
The assembly I was raised in was a home where we worshipped, with about 20 saints. And we would go in there with no pastor. A pastor that doesn't get in God's way is a dandy. Brother Knight was there and Brother Shelton. No one was head over it as a pastor. We saw some wonderful things happen in the meetings. God revealed things right there. When the light of heaven is shining you can't hide. If you had a quarrel with your wife someone would say, "You did so and so ... and so...." it was rich. I'll tell you we were so anxious to come to church and see the manifestations of God. There was no preacher to say "Alright we are going to start the meeting; or, "Now, we will have testimony service." We started testifying when we came in.
But later things changed.
I was reared in that little assembly in Illinois. For two years I remained there after I was called to preach the gospel and received the Holy Ghost. But in a short time after I left there was an unsaved man promised to build a church house for them. He went around soliciting money, and helped build the church. I went down there and did some work on the platform, and built a Bible stand. I told them myself, "God has always been in this little assembly, and there's no richer little assembly." And I was right about that. But I said, "From now on you are going to see a vast change in the worship in this place. This little assembly isn't going to be blessed anymore like it was."
The first thing they had to do was have a pastor. They got a church, and a platform, and a Bible stand, and a chair for the preacher; but they didn't have a preacher. They said, "We have to have a preacher, and they got a preacher. The first thing you know they were as dead as any formal church in the world.
Brother Sowders never cared to be in a separate class from the people.
Anything I despise is for someone to say" Meet Rev. Sowders." If there is a name I despise for them to call me it is "Rev." Another thing that I despise is that I "preach". I "preach”? -- I "preach”? -- I never did preach!
I guess my question here regarding William Sowders own words as quoted in Philip Williams book, would be this:
If the Gospel Assembly and related churches want to follow William Sowders example, then why have they gone so far from what he taught? Or is it that William Sowders actually changed his views later on in life?
More information concerning - R.E. DAWKINS
Dawkins v. Dawkins relates to the divorce case between the minister and his wife. The third case also relates to this situation and has some interesting quotes.
Justice Jackson in his concurring opinion in the case of
Dawkins v. Dawkins, 328 P.2d 346 (Kan. 1958), wrote, "Reynolds Dawkins was conducting the Gospel Tabernacle as a
commercial enterprise for his own monetary advancement." He
went on to say, "No church law or secular law would uphold a minister of
the gospel in so 'milking' his followers, however untutored they may be, [as]
has been found."
Justice Fatzer was much harsher on Rev. Dawkins in his dissenting opinion. He wrote, "Dawkins ran the church himself. He was its undisputed leader and dictated the policies and activities." "Neither time nor space will permit detailing the great amount of evidence which reflected Dawkins' domination of the members of his church." "There was evidence that Dawkins procured group life insurance for the members of his church and stated he should be named as beneficiary; that when one member wanted to name her mother as beneficiary, she was advised that if Dawkins or the Tabernacle or a member of his church was not made the beneficiary the policy would be worthless . . . that members of the church were not to leave on trips or vacations unless they told him of their plans and made their tithes in advance, and if they disobeyed him in any regard he would say 'judgment was going to fall on them, and they would die a horrible death,' which statement, and others of similar import, would be made from the pulpit 'so that usually they (the members) knew who he was a talking about'; that if Dawkins did not like what some were doing with respect to buying a new automobile or a new home a distance away from the church, he would castigate them from the pulpit, and that he told members of the congregation to sell their jewelry and mortgage their property and give the money to the church."
"There was evidence that as many as five collections would be taken in one service and that in addition to their contribution in church, members placed money in Dawkins' hand as he stood outside the church after service, amounting to $100 at times, sometimes $50 and sometimes $25." "Services were held three nights a week and on Sunday, so there were at least four occasions when offerings were taken during each week. In addition, there were extra or special offerings to which the members contributed, such as Dawkins' trip to Europe, and to build a home for Mrs. Dawkins as hereafter detailed."
"Dawkins' testimony proved to be untruthful, and to say the least, the trial court was justified in refusing to give it credence. Equally important is the fact that the trustees were frequently by-passed by Dawkins after their selection. They were, as a matter of fact, ignored by him when he saw fit to use them. In my judgment he should not be allowed to hide behind a board which he selected and cominated, and which the trial court found to be a 'straw board created by Reverend Dawkins to meet a legal necessity, to-wit: the requirements of the R.F.C. (a loan company).
In Dawkins v. Dawkins, 328 P.2d 355 (Kan. 1958) (a
separate court decision), the court upheld the lower court's ruling awarding
custody of their children to Mrs. Dawkins. Good for the court! Oh, and by the
way, her grounds for divorce was "extreme cruelty."
Justice Jackson also wrote the Court's opinion in Simpson v. Mullineaux, 360 P.2d 893 (Kan. 1961). Justice Jackson begins by giving a history of the church.
"The Gospel Assembly Church here concerned is one of the churches of a type of religious society or denomination which was founded in 1911 by a man known as the Reverend W. M. Sowders. This church was started by the present minister, the Reverend Mr. Mullineaux, when he came to Wichita in 1941. The evidence shows that the Reverend Mr. Sowders was the leader of the denomination until his death in 1951 or 1952; that thereafter, a man referred to as a Reverend Mr. Jolly attempted to take the place of Sowders, but that throughout the country, many of the Gospel Assembly ministers objected to the Jolly teachings and refused to follow him. It would appear that certain schisms were created in many of the churches."
"A similar dispute among the members of the Gospel Assembly Church in Kansas City was the foundation of the case of Dawkins v. Dawkins, 328 P.2d 346; and the companion case of Dawkins v. Dawkins, 328 P.2d 355. Another similarity exists between the case at bar and the Dawkins cases. It would appear that both in the case of minister Dawkins and minister Mullineaux, the Reverend Mr. Jolly was able to persuade Mrs. Dawkins and Mrs. Mullineaux to lead the dissenting group in each church against their own husbands, a fact which caused a divorce in each instance."
"But this court cannot attempt to decide which church faction was following the doctrines laid down by Sowders, the founder of the church. It may be mentioned that the defendants did introduce a large number of ministers from other cities who testified that they had broken with Jolly, as had minister Mullineaux. there appears to be no ecclesiastical system in the Gospel Assembly churches to determine the true doctrine. The evidence shows that each minister and congregation actually govern their own church."
"The trial court spent two weeks hearing this case, and nothing is to be gained by anyone in carrying on this dispute to further extent. Nothing said in this opinion is to be understood as an endorsement of the policies of the Gospel Assembly Churches, either in their theological beliefs or in the manner of carrying on business affairs. However, under the constitution of this nation and this state, these people, many of them lacking in a formal education, have the unfettered right to go to the church of their choice, or to leave such church, as the plaintiffs have done."
I have been unable to determine if there are more court cases out there involving GAC churches or not. Unfortunately, the fact that the organization has used so many names renders it difficult to determine whether or not some cases involve the churches in connection with Sowders, Jolly, or Goodwin.
Justice Owsley wrote the
opinion of the court in this case (506 P.2d 1135, 1973). On March 23, 1964, the
trustees of the Gospel Tabernacle Body of Christ Church transferred the deed,
without the authorization of the congregation, to Peace Publishers (of which
Mr. Dawkins had been president prior to his death). The deed was not discovered
or recorded until after Reverend Dawkins death.
Quote the court case:
"On March 23, 1964, the deed which plaintiff seeks to have set aside was executed by trustees of plaintiff church, as grantors, to Peace Publishers & Company, as grantee. There was no resolution by the trustees, and no authorization from the congregation preceding the conveyance. The Reverend Dawkins was one of three trustees of the grantor church and the other two trustees signed the deed at his request. Transferred by this deed was title to the church, the parsonage and other real property."
The Reverend Dawkins died in November, 1965, and his successor as president of Peace Publishers found the deed among his papers at the corporate headquarters in Arizona. On June 21, 1968, the deed was recorded."
"Transfer of the church property to Peace Publishers became generally known among the congregation and it was discussed and viewed with disfavor at a congregational meeting on January 19, 1969. At a subsequent meeting on January 23, 1969, Carl Hendon and Dorsey Gray resigned as trustees of the church. The congregation then elected five new trustees and they subsequently filed this action. The record does not disclose whether the Reverend McKnight resigned as a trustee."
The court continues:
"The trial court found from the evidence that the defendant corporation was formed in 1962 by the Reverend Dawkins and others as a financial arm of the plaintiff church and some ten or more others like it located in several states; that control of the property of this church was vested in the council of elders of Peace Publishers; and that according to the tenents of the church, religious and property matters of all kinds were to be determined by and governed by that body."
"A careful reading of the articles of incorporation of defendant corporation fails to disclose any religious principle, dogma or tenet to support the argument that this corporation became the parent organization of plaintiff church with superior eccesiastical and property control. Our knowledge of the religious beliefs of plaintiff church and defendant corporation must rely upon evidence of the teachings and preachings of the Reverend Dawkins. The Reverend Harry Richard Tate, president of Peace Publishers, and Madeline Thomas and Helen Sims, longtime members of the congregation, testified that the Reverend Dawkins espoused a doctrine known as 'apostolic order' which is the antithesis of democratic control by the congregation. 'Apostolic order,' by their description, was accepted by the congregation and vested full authority in the minister, the Reverend Dawkins, as a spiritual descendant of the Apostles of Christ."
"Apostolic succession, according to recognized ecclesiastical writings, means that the mission and sacred power to teach, rule and sanctify, which Christ conferred on His apostles, is considered perpetuated in the bishops of those churches having an episcopal hierarchy. The mere proclaiming by the Reverend Dawkins of himself as the religious superior of the congregation may suffice to establish that fact in spiritual matters in his church, but it does not effect legal superiority in secular matters. There must be clear and convincing evidence of congregational acknowledgment of and acquiescence in the concept of legal superiority and authority over church business and property matters."
"The record discloses since the organization of the church in the early thirties the Reverend Dawkins had exercised complete control of the funds and properties of the church. The church had no elected trustees or other officials until 1952 when Carl Hendon, Dorsey Gray, and the Reverend Dawkins were elected trustees to comply with requirements of a government-lending agency. Thereafter, numerous legal papers were executed by the trustees at the request of the Reverend Dawkins for and on behalf of the congregation without their knowledge or approval. The record is clear that Reverend Dawkins dominated the financial affairs of the church during his lifetime. Defendants argue from the fact the local congregation had accepted his preaching of 'apostolic order' and authoritarian control over both spiritual and financial matters to the extent he could deed away the property of the church to defendant. We cannot accept this argument. In Dawkins v. Dawkins, supra, we located title to this unincorporated church society's property in the trustees despite evidence of total domination by the Reverend Dawkins over both the spiritual and financial affairs."
"Assuming the deed was made to trustees of the plaintiff church to promote and perpetuate the preaching and teachings of Reverend Dawkins, absent a showing of congregational approval we would have a difficulty concluding that an organization not in existence at the time of conveyance could later declare its superior ecclesiastical control over the property deeded in trust to the local congregation."
"The position of the court taken in each of these cases is in accord with our conclusion in Dawkins v. Dawkins, supra. A deed executed in favor of a trustee or trustees of an unincorporated church society creates a fiduciary relationship between said trustees and the congregation of the church, and the trustees hold said property for the benefit of the congregation. Any conveyance made by said trustees in violation of the fiduciary relationship and contrary to the purposes for which the trust was created is void. The conclusion is in harmony with K.S.A. 58-2405, which provides:
'Every sale, conveyance or other act of a trustee in contravention of a trust shall be void.'
The trustees hold title only; not the authority to transfer the property. Any conveyance of church property must be executed by the trustees, but must be accompanied or preceded by a showing of congregational authority to make such a conveyance. There was no such showing of congregational approval in this case. The trustees violated their duty in attempting to transfer title; therefore, the transfer is void."
Quotes from this page..
“Unable to successfully have a child, Roger’s mother Katherine (Katz) prayed a prayer similar to the one Hannah prayed for Samuel the prophet. Katherine prayed that if she could have a son, she would give him back to the L-rd. The result of that prayer was a little boy named Roger Ludington, and true to this promise, he was raised to serve the L-rd.” (Notice the Jewish practice of never spelling out the entire word as in L-rd or G-d.) (My insertion)
“Later that summer while attending a meeting in Joplin, Missouri, Roger's fulfilling call to the ministry came. He and his mother were asleep in their motel room, when an angel visited and turned on the light. Having this later confirmed as his calling to the ministry, the Joplin meeting served to establish more than just his calling but his direction as well, as Reverend R.E. Dawkins shared his recent 1959 revelation regarding Israel's restoration.”
“Following several months of studies and services in a rented building, he was ordained by Reverend R.E. Dawkins (who was an apostle and president of B'nai Shalom) and several other ministers of the organization to pastor over the Yakima work in 1961.”
“Roger made his first trip to Africa in 1963 to help spread this message of salvation, restoration and Zionism abroad to the nations.”
“Rarely missing a general gathering, from Kansas City, St. Louis, Phoenix, Minnesota, Los Angeles and other host cities, he traveled throughout the country in support of this restoration movement.”
“She (his mother) was looked to by all as a mother of Zion, holding a never-ending well of G-d's love and direction for many to draw from. It was this life-giving source that often brought refreshment and strength to the ministry of Roger Ludington. They were living the reality of a dream as Roger, Katherine and others pursued their heart's desire, standing together, praising the G-d of Israel in Jerusalem.”
“The year 1980 served to be yet another milestone in our wilderness journey. To support our new direction, our building name was changed from "Gospel of Peace Tabernacle" to "Beth Ha Shofar", meaning "House of the Trumpet".”