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The Assemblies of God is an evangelical, Pentecostal organization that was founded in Arkansas in 1914. It has grown to be the largest Pentecostal organization in Arkansas and around the world. Assemblies of God adherents in Arkansas now number approximately 40,000, while the worldwide count has grown to over 62 million people.
The modern Pentecostal revival generally traces its roots to a prayer meeting held at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, on January 1, 1901. Thirteen years later, after considerable growth and the phenomenal Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, leaders from the churches that had emerged during this time recognized the need to organize in order to ensure doctrinal purity, allow for the formal recognition of ministers, ensure financial accountability, and send out missionaries around the world. The organizational meeting that formed the General Council of the Assemblies of God was held at the Grand Opera House in Hot Springs (Garland County) from April 2 to April 12, 1914. This meeting was attended by over 300 men and women from across the United States, some of whom were ministers, some, interested laypersons.
In May 1914, a group met at Russellville (Pope County) and organized what was to become the Arkansas District Council of the Assemblies of God. Russellville seemed to be the logical place for this meeting, since a Pentecostal revival had been going on in Russellville, Dover (Pope County), and Hartford (Sebastian County) for some time, with literally thousands of people being exposed to the Pentecostal message with its emphasis upon individual experiences of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, gifts such as healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues. Three preachers—two women, Woodworth Etter and Julia Ross, and a man, W. J. Wathall—conducted these revival meetings.
These churches in the Russellville area were instrumental in the organization of the Assemblies of God in Arkansas and nationally, as were churches in Hot Springs and Malvern (Hot Spring County). After the formation of the Assemblies of God, these churches and many others across Arkansas became Assemblies of God churches, formally affiliating with the new organization. Eudorous Neander (E. N.) Bell, pastor of the Pentecostal church in Malvern, published a magazine from there titled, Word and Witness. It was in this publication that the call went out for the original organizational meeting in Hot Springs. Bell was the first and fourth chairman (now called general superintendent) at the national level of the new Assemblies of God.
The Arkansas Assemblies of God District Council offices were first located in Russellville and then in Hot Springs, before moving to Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Arkansas District Council offices are located at 10924 Interstate 30 in Little Rock. The Arkansas Assemblies of God superintendent as of 2011, Larry Moore, presides over approximately 1,000 ministers and 422 churches, which can be found in most cities, towns, and communities in the state. The Arkansas Assemblies of God operates the Mountain Valley Retreat Center near Hot Springs Village (Garland County), which covers some 300 acres and provides worship, recreational, and fellowship opportunities. This center is the site of annual summer children’s and teens’ camps as well as other departmental worship meetings.
The Assemblies of God in Arkansas has a history of involvement in areas of social need. The churches have assisted with the building of chapels at some of the state prisons. The district campground was opened to refugees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The churches have also been involved in opposition efforts to alcohol and gambling within the state.
Sovereign Arkansas Assemblies of God churches are self-governing bodies that volunteer to be cooperative with the District and General councils of the Assemblies of God. They choose their own pastors from among the credentialed Assemblies of God ministers and they choose their own local leadership. The district office serves as a resource center, providing opportunities for additional training for ministers and church leaders. Statewide leadership for men’s ministries, women’s ministries, youth ministries, children’s ministries, college ministries, and Christian education works out of the District Office.
For additional information:Arkansas District Council of the Assemblies of God. http://www.araog.org (accessed March 6, 2008).
Assemblies of God. http://www.ag.org (accessed March 6, 2008).
Booher, Geneva Taylor. Builders Together with God. 2 vols. Russellville, AR: First Assembly of God, 1972, 1989.
Files of the First Assembly of God. Malvern, Arkansas.
Lemley, J. B. “Holiness Meeting Leading to the Establishment of First Assembly of God in Russellville.” Pope County Historical Association Quarterly 22 (September 1988): 123–127.
Bob J. FantFirst Assembly of God, Springdale, Arkansas
Last Updated 12/9/2011
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