The Church of God began in 1881 as a movement emphasizing the unity of God’s people and holy living. Daniel S. Warner and several associates sought to forsake denominational hierarchies and formal creeds, trusting solely in the Holy Spirit as their overseer and the Bible as their statement of belief. These individuals saw themselves at the forefront of a movement to restore unity and holiness to the church. They did not want to establish another denomination but to promote primary allegiance to Jesus so as to transcend denominational loyalties.
This movement is not historically related to the several Church of God bodies rooted in the holiness revival of Tennessee and the Carolinas in the 19th Century. Although it shares their holiness commitment, it does not emphasize the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues generally associated with Pentecostal churches.
Deeply influenced by Wesleyan theology and Pietism, generally accepted teachings include the:
• divine inspiration of Scripture;
• forgiveness of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of the believer;
• experience of holiness;
• personal return of Christ unconnected to any millennial reign;
• kingdom of God as established here and now;
• resurrection of the dead; and a
• final judgment in which there will be reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked.
Within the church, baptism by immersion is viewed as a witness to the new believer’s regeneration in Christ and inclusion in the family of God. The Lord’s Supper reminds participants of the grace experienced in the life of the believer. Foot washing is practiced in acknowledgement and acceptance of the servant ministry of all Christians to each other and to the world. These symbolic acts are reminders of what God has done in Christ. None of them are mandatory conditions of Christian experience or fellowship.
There is no formal membership. Individuals are assumed to be members on the basis of personal experience and conduct that supports that conversion experience.
The Church of God is congregational in government. Each congregation is autonomous. The Church of God has more than 7,300 congregations worldwide. Its administrative offices for the United States are in Anderson, Indiana.Information on this page taken from Church of God Ministries.