Overview of The Church of God
Rooted in Historical Commitment
The Church of God is grounded in a strong tradition of New Testament teaching and experience. We trace our modern beginnings from the Protestant Reformation through the Methodist Revival to the spiritual awakening of the Pentecostal Revival.
From our humble beginnings in 1903 to the great successes in ministry and service of subsequent decades, The Church of God has always been dedicated to the premise of renewal of authentic New Testament Christianity and restoration of the Bible church – a commitment both to truth and to people.
Over the years, progressive steps and organizational reformations have produced the restoration of many doctrines, practices, and ministries of the New Testament Church that had been lost during the Middle Ages. As a result of our history we have come to our present condition of restored truth and ministry to people.
Dedicated to Present Ministry
We are dedicated to the proposition of ministering to the needs of the whole man – body, soul, and spirit. We seek to share the grace and power of the risen Christ with all those who need salvation, deliverance, healing, and relationship with the Lord. We seek to share the knowledge of the eternal truths of the Word of God with those who need to be enlightened and liberated from religious confusion and spiritual chaos by the power of the rightly-divided Word of God and its immutable principles.
Prepared for Future Service
We have a deep commitment to the calling on the church to equip all believers, both clergy and laity, for works of ministry and service. Our view of the future is one of ever-expanding opportunities for being the church of the Bible by ministering to the nations. We are committed, therefore, to preparation for future service, believing that the finest hours for the Christian church are yet to come.
The objective of The Church of God is to bring about a complete restoration of the church of the Bible with every doctrine and practice fully implemented and with every gift and office fully operational. This is the prophetic work that is to be accomplished when the spiritual tabernacle of David is restored among the Gentiles in the last days in preparation for the second coming of Jesus (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:15-17)
Calling sinners to repentance and Christians to action.
The Church of God is committed to global evangelism through personal witnessing, beginning in every member’s neighborhood. We are also called to awaken Christians throughout the world and to call them to action and service for God.
Holding forth the Word of Life.
“No Lawbook but the Bible” has been our motto for many years. The church is commissioned to shine the light of the word of life in the midst of a world of darkness and to establish God’s people in the sound doctrine, present truth, and divine revelation of His Word.
Urging believers to be equipped for ministry.
Every believer in Christ is called to a ministry, a work of service in the kingdom of God. The five-gifted ministry of the church is commissioned to equip believers for ministry and service so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Restoring authentic New Testament Christianity.
Every aspect of the life and mission of the New Testament church is just as vital to the church today as it was in the first century. We remain committed, therefore, to a full restoration of authentic New Testament Christianity.
Claiming the Judaic heritage of the Christian Church.
The faith that Jesus authored has a firm Judaic heritage. Since Jesus did not destroy that heritage, we are certain that the praise, worship, and service of the church today must reflect the same heritage of Judaeo-Christianity that the early church taught.
Heralding the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The ultimate purpose of the church today is to prepare for the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We have a strong commitment to proclaiming the fact that Jesus Christ will return from heaven to establish His millennial kingdom upon earth.
The History of The Church of God
The Church of God was founded on June 13, 1903 by A.J. Tomlinson in Cherokee County, NC. At its inception, the church was known as The Holiness Church. In 1907, the name of the church was changed to Church of God. A.J. Tomlinson was named General Overseer of the church in 1914 after many years of leading the church. In 1923, he reformed the church after it began a decline into democracy.
After A.J. Tomlinson founded the Church of Prophecy Markers Association in 1941, he appointed Grady R. Kent as head over it in 1943. After Tomlinson’s death his son Milton was appointed as General Overseer. In the subsequent years, Grady Kent was instrumental in the Fields of the Wood project in Murphy, NC and the airplane program. He, along with several pilots and other personnel, flew with nine single engine airplanes to the Caribbean Islands and became known at “The Flying Bishop of America.” In 1948, the church adopted a resolution making the General Assembly the highest authority in the church. In 1953, the church changed its name from Church of God to The Church of God of Prophecy.
Grady Kent resigned from The Church of God of Prophecy on February 13, 1957 and led a reformation to return to God’s pattern of Theocratic Government – with an appointed leader, 12 apostles, 72 Prophets, and the 7 Men of Wisdom. 300 people made a decision to stand with him and his convictions. This group reorganized and in 1958 adopted its official name, The Church of God. He was then appointed Chief Bishop over The Church of God.
In 1958, a seven acre tract of land was purchased in Cleveland, Tennessee and became known as Jerusalem Acres. In May of 1962, Bishop Kent made a long-anticipated trip to Israel for the purpose of marking the site on Mt. Hattin where Jesus established the church. There, he built a marker, placing twelve stones, symbolic of the twelve apostles that Jesus ordained there, upon one large stone which represented the revelation of Jesus Christ whom upon the early church was built. He also introduced the concept of “New Testament Judaism” to the church as a restoration of the Judaic Heritage of first century Christianity.
Bishop Kent died on March 31, 1964 during the Passover season, at the time of the great earthquake in Alaska. Since then, several Chief Bishops have presided over the church: Marion Hall, Robert Somerville, and John Looper. In 1976, the Star of David Building on Jerusalem Acres was dedicated. This serves as the Headquarters building and Publishing house of The Church of God, today. From 1964 through the early nineties, the church began to lean away from the ideals on which it was founded.
In July 1996, Bishop Samuel Kramer was appointed the presiding Bishop over the church. Under his leadership, the church has fully returned to a Sabbath-keeping service schedule which had largely been abandoned under Looper’s administration and has worked to restore the full practice of Theocratic Government within the church.
On March 13, 2017, Bishop Lavell Craig was appointed the new Presiding Bishop over the church with Bishop Kramer retaining an honorary Bishop designation in honor of 22 years of service to the Presiding Bishop seat. Bishop Kramer went home to be with the Lord after faithfully serving in the church for 54 years on November 9, 2017.
Currently, the church is working towards restoration in light of Romans 11.