The history of the Church is to a large degree a record of the perversion of the intention of its founders.
Assemblies of God was intended to be an umbrella or networking movement of local churches and leaders. It was never intended to be hierarchical. Thats a defi ning element of denominationalism, which A/G in theory at least has always rejected. With hierarchical structures carnal ambitious people struggle into positions and end up corrupting the whole. Sadly thats whats happened to Assemblies of God as a denomination in most parts of the world.
In a future issue of CETF we plan to publish a sequel in which we will look at whats happened to AoG in Australasia and UK, which for most of our readers will be closer to home. We have started with A/G USA deliberately on account of its undoubted infl uence on the other national expressions of the movement.
A/G-USA has in practice changed its doctrinal stance on the Word of Faith, Latter Rain and ecumenical emphases. There is also evidence of greed at the top in respect of money and property as the following article shows. Similar things have happened, to my knowledge, in Australia albeit in a different and more clandestine manner.
The late Frank Houston formed a movement (Christian Life Centres) within a movement. Over a 20 year period Andrew Evans, as General Superintendent supported Frank and his efforts, initially using his infl uence to promote Houston to the position of Superintendent of Assemblies of God for the state of New South Wales. The National Executive supported Andrew Evans. Whether it was known or not by his supporters, Frank Houston was cleverly creaming off property that belonged to local Assemblies of God for his own ambitious ends.
I have a testimony in my fi les of a former AoG pastor who alleges that when his Assembly in Sydney was struggling Mr Houston approached him with an offer to become part of the growing Christian Life Centre at Waterloo, which he accepted on certain understandings which Houston failed to honour.
The deal involved the eventual transfer of a valuable property to the control of Frank Houston who had established himself in a key authority relating to property within AoG.
It is alleged that it was based on deals such as this that Hillsong, now directed by Brian Houston but actually founded by his late father, Frank Houston, achieved their initial break.
I am not suggesting there was anything intrinsically illegal in the transactions that took place. What I am questioning is the ethics and morality of what happened and what continues to happen.
Brian Houston and Hillsong have been in the news, on several occasions over the past two or three years, regarding questionable property deals, which, according to the media reports, have benefi ted the Houston family personally.
Now is the time for these things to be investigated thoroughly.
Sadly it is the media that is leading the way, whereas biblically the AoG should be investigating and judging these matters.
Other cults have risen and have generated huge wealth.
One that I read of in USA was about to transfer its assets overseas when the Federal Authority got wind of it and froze their assets. It became a national scandal. May the Lord protect Assemblies of God from such an occurrence.
By JEFFREY L. WHITTAKER
From Hot Springs to Hot Water
The Journey from Local Autonomy to Denominational Ownership, and the Role of the Reverter Clause
T the first General Council of the Assemblies of God held in Hot Springs, Arkansas, (April 2-12, 1914) there was just a handful of fi ercely independent leaders that gathered to form a new fellowship that would provide a relational and administrative structure for the purpose of fulfi lling the Great Commission, while at the same time avoid replicating the denominational models they had left behind.
The basic Constitutional Guidelines that came out of that meeting stood until 1979 when they were altered through the insertion of new language describing requirements of affi liation that were to henceforth be placed upon local congregations wanting to function within the A/G family.
My study grew out of an earlier paper I produced relative to the A/Gs decision at the General Council of August 2005 in Denver, Colorado, to change its historic and Scriptural position toward the global ecumenical movement, as well as its relationship to the Roman Catholic Church.
As I studied this change I kept tripping over words like autonomy and sovereignty.
This, along with the encouragement of venerable A/G church leaders such as the late Dr. Opal Reddin, provoked me to dig deeper. What I discovered was the presence of what has come to be known as the reverter clause.
This small paragraph began to appear at the back of local church by-laws stating that the local church was autonomous and sovereign unless they chose to leave the A/G, in which case all real estate and assets would revert to the denomination (a term A/G members still shun in favour of fellowship; another testimony to our historic roots).
The historic resolutions adopted in 1979 at the General Council held in Baltimore, Maryland have changed how the A/G views its offi cial relationship with the local congregation.
In the Constitution Article XI. Local Assemblies, Section 1. General Council Affi liated Assemblies, a paragraph A was added which had never existed in the history of the fellowship.
Subparagraph 4 of paragraph A states the key requirement of adopt(ing) a constitution and bylaws compatible with those recommended by the district council.
On the offi cial website of the Assemblies of God General Council, < http://www.ag.org>, a prospective pastor and/or church seeking affi liation can read in the RECOMMENDED CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS FOR THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY what is going to be expected of them.
What many do not know is that in order to affi liate, the local assembly must adopt the recommended version which signs all ownership of property, by right of reverter, to the denomination even if there is a 100% vote of the membership to withdraw! Quite the catch 22!
Read this excerpt from a story reported in The Clarion Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) that tells of what happened to a small Assemblies of God congregation in that District.
This is indeed a time for soul searching by all of us as we strive to stay in the middle of Gods Will, resisting the undertow of denominationalism that has taken so many of our historic moves of God under the surface of this worlds system.
God loves the Assemblies of God; and so do I.
November 1, 2003 CHURCH CRIES FOUL
By Charlotte Graham email@example.com
The 60-member congregation, once af- fi liated with the Mississippi District Council Assemblies of God Inc. is being sued by the District.
And if the District prevails, the congregation will lose its place of worship, parsonage, mission house and two of the six acres owned by the church
The local church made a $20,000 loan from the District for the building program,
. Although the loan (made April 5, 1983) was for 10 years, it was paid in full on July 19, 1985.
The congregation believed it had cleared its debt and had all rights to the property.
However, in February 2000, members discovered that when the District recorded the deed at the courthouse, a clause had been inserted stating that if this church ever came out of the Assemblies of God denomination, the church and land would revert to the Mississippi District Assemblies of God
They (the District) didnt care about the church as long as it had a membership of 10 or 15 people,
. Now that the Morgans have built the congregation to 60 to 65 people, they all of a sudden have an interest in us.
Even if the District is legally right, 72-year-old David Milam believes its morally wrong. Sure, they backed the loan for us, but that has been paid back for 20 years,
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Appeared in Issue 36 CETF 12.2 NR June 2006
"...contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" -- Jude v3
-Last revised-Monday, October 09, 2006