Ayers, assisted by two presiders and ten associate bishops. It supports missions in Haiti and Africa. In addition, the AOH holds regional and youth conferences, and a national Sunday school convention. In AOH reported an estimated 13, members; in it reported 13 bishops and 33 overseers. Half of the approximately AOH churches are in Alabama, with the other half scattered across 20 states. Arrington, Juanita R. The Assemblies closely resembles the United Pentecostal Church in doctrine.
The group preaches two experiences—justification and the baptism of the Spirit— and emphasizes healing, washes feet, tithes, and forbids participation in secret societies. Although they respect the civil government, members do not participate in war. Worldly amusements are forbidden, as are school gymnastics and clothes that immodestly expose the body.
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The government is congregational in form. There is an annual general conference. A general board oversees the church during the year. The church is divided into state districts that are located in the South , Midwest, and Southwest. ALJC also produces a weekly radio program that is broadcast internationally over two shortwave frequences.
In there were 50, members in congregations served by 1, ministers in the United States, and members in 5 churches served by 8 ministers in Canada.
There were an additional 10, members worldwide. In , near Thomas Town, Mississippi, a small group of ministers and their wives Rev. Johnson, Rev. Riley, Rev. Partridge, and Rev. Having been denied fellowship and credentials in other organizations because of this message, they resolved to form their own association and adopted the name Associated Ministers of Jesus Christ, with Rev. Partridge as chairman. In the early years of World War II , the ministers requested military exemptions for the purpose of continuing their duties as ministers of the Gospel.
Federal and state regulations required that they incorporate to be recognized as an official body. In the name adopted for the official body was the Associated Brotherhood of Christians. The Association is headed by an official board; state presbyters are either board-appointed or elected by their states. Churches are located across the South and Midwest and along the Pacific Coast. Albert Franklin Varnell to offer fellowship to ministers who held similar doctrinal views without the organizational pressures on the local church.
Varnell began his ministry as a tent evangelist. In the church to which he belonged decided that speaking in tongues was the first evidence of the reception of the Holy Spirit. Varnell opposed this teaching. He believed that the new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit were the same, and that speaking in tongues was a subsequent, supernatural manifestation of the Spirit among those who had yielded to and been filled with the Spirit.
It accepts the Bible as the Word of God. Water baptism is by immersion in the name of Jesus. Bethel churches are independent and slef-governing, and membership in the association is available to ministers only. The association has a publishing house in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. The association also operates the Bethel Youth Camp in southern Indiana; the Bethel Ministerial Academy, a ministerial training program; and Grace House partnered with Teen Challenge in Evansville, Indiana, a long-term residential program for women aged eighteen and over who are struggling with life-controlling problems.
Horath, David. They had suggested that Lawson consider sharing the leadership and consecrate more bishops for the growing denomination; when Lawson refused, a number of the leading ministers and their churches left to form the Bible Way Churches of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Among the leaders of the new church were Smallwood E. Williams — , John S.
Showell, and Joseph Moore. They were consecrated by John S. Holly, a bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. They selected Williams, for many years the general secretary of the parent body, as their presiding bishop. The name of the church derives from the name of the congregation Williams had led in Washington, D.
Williams has been credited with taking the lead among Apostolic Pentecostal groups in the development of a social service and social justice ministry. He led the church to become involved in Washington politics, sponsored the construction of a supermarket near his church, encouraged the development of a housing complex, and worked for more job opportunities within the African-American community.
His book, Significant Sermons , was largely concerned with a Christian response to social problems. Williams also emphasized education, as signaled by his opening and maintaining a Bible school adjacent to the headquarters church in Washington, D. In this effort he was greatly aided by Dr. James I. Bp, Huie Lee Rogers is the current presiding bishop and chief apostle.
In the church reported approximately , members in churches. In there were 28 bishops on its executive board. Richardson, James C. Winston-Salem, NC: Author, Williams, Smallwood Edmond. Significant Sermons. He became pastor of the St. Rather, in , with two other congregations in Virginia, he founded a new denomination. A fourth church was soon added. Marvin M. Arnold, who felt that many within the older Apostolic churches were drifting morally and doctrinally.
They felt that older Holiness standards were being compromised and that others were becoming associated too closely with Trinitarian Pentecostals and charismatics and accepting occult phenomena. The Holy Bible is the basis for all doctrine and teaching for the Apostolic Church. The church believes that all doctrine must be be based upon and harmonize with the real Scriptures, because the original autographs written by the holy men of old were very much inspired by God.
Members accept only the canonical 66 books of the Holy Bible; they do not accept any apocryphal scriptures or Gnostic writings. Neither do they accept any known interpolation as divinely inspired by God, because nothing can take the place or the authority of the real Scriptures. The idea of a trinity is unbiblical, having been concocted by superstitious people who lived in the Dark Ages.
They believe that the idea was forced upon the people of the Roman Empire beginning with the rule of Constantine. The church also affirms a four-part plan of salvation that includes: 1 faith in Jesus Christ that leads to 2 death repentance; 3 burial baptism in water by immersion in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins; and 4 resurrection the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance to be saved Acts ; ; —17; —48; —6. They believe faith and obedience work together in the grace of God to reconcile humans to God.
Willis, two vice presidents, and 20 bishops. The church supports a school that allows its students to study at home by correspondence. Mission work is conducted in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Jamaica. The Church of God Apostolic, Inc. It was one of a number of independent Holiness associations of the late nineteenth century. In it voted to change its name, and in became the Church of God Apostolic. In Cox was succeeded by M. Gravely and Eli N.
Neal as co-presiding bishops. Headquarters were moved to Beckley, West Virginia. Two years later Gravely divorced his wife and remarried, and as a result he was disfellowshipped from the church. These two bishops did much to put the national church in a firm financial position. They were succeded in turn by Bp. Ruben K. Hash, followed by the current presiding overseer, Bp. Cecil O. Baptism by immersion is in the name of Jesus. There is a general annual conference.
In , the most recent report, the church had 15, members, 43 congregations, and approximately 75 ministers. Carr and Monroe R. Saunders, both former ministers in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. The doctrine of the new church followed that of the parent body. The church had very strict standards concerning divorce and remarriage, which led to complaints by Saunders that the standards were not being uniformly enforced. The controversy led him to break with Carr and take the majority of members to found the United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic.
William S. Barnes then presided until his death in , and was followed by the current presiding bishop, William J. Faison Sr. The church holds an annual youth congress. DuPree, Sherry Sherrod. New York : Garland Publishing, It is similar in belief and practice to its parent body. It is under the leadership of its presiding bishop, Ralph Johnson. The church became a chartered organization in under the leadership of Bishop M.
Formed at Cleveland, it moved its headquarters to Kingsport, Tennessee, in The church is similar to the United Pentecostal Church in its doctrinal stance. The church believes in divine healing and calls members to holy living. Members refrain from the use of tobacco and alcohol and do not wear jewelry. Although generally following the laws of the state, members do not bear arms or take oaths before a magistrate. The Church of Jesus Christ Ministerial Alliance was formed in by members who withdrew from the Church of Jesus Christ Kingsport following the death of the founder and longtime leader, Bp.
There are no doctrinal differences between the two groups, their distinctions being solely administrative. In recent years there has been a friendly fellowship between the Church of Jesus Christ Ministerial Alliance and its parent body. In there were 85 congregations, ministers, and 6, members. The church is similar to the parent body and still cooperates with its foreign mission program. It differs in its strict policy regarding marriage and divorce. It demands any minister who was divorced and remarried before conversion to the church to either return to their original spouse or live alone.
At one point in his early life when he was ill Lawson had been taken to the Apostolic Faith Assembly Church, a leading church of the Pentecostal Assemblies, and its pastor, Garfield Thomas Haywood. There Lawson was healed, and he joined the Assemblies and adopted their non-trinitarian theology.
Other congregations were established, and a radio ministry, a periodical, a day nursery , and several businesses were initiated. In he opened a bible school to train pastors. In the s Lawson began a series of trips to the West Indies that led to the formation of congregations in Jamaica, Antigua, the Virgin Islands , and Trinidad.
His lengthy tenure as bishop of the church was a time of steady growth, broken only by two schisms, by Sherrod C. Lawson was succeeded by Hubert Spencer and by the current presiding apostle, Bp. William Lee Bonner. Doctrine is like the older Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Members believe in the oneness of God, who was the father in creation, the son in redemption, and now the Holy Ghost in the church.
Footwashing is practiced, and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is believed to be necessary for salvation. The church is headed by the presiding apostle, who is assisted by six regional apostles. There is an annual convocation. The Foreign Mission Department sends monthly stipends to various mission fields.
A radio ministry, initiated in , continued in with an hourly broadcast every Sunday evening. Bonner, the Man and His God. Detroit: Author. Johnson insisted that women wear cotton stockings, calf-length dresses, and head coverings, and that they not straighten their hair. Johnson also opposed the observance of Lent, Easter, and Christmas.
McDowell Shelton — When Shelton died in , his legally adopted son, Bishop Omega Y. Shelton, assumed the position of pastor and general overseer. The church members also believe one must be filled with the Holy Ghost in order to have the new birth. The church is known for its conservatism; women, who cannot become preachers or teachers, must dress modestly, and remarriage is not permitted after divorce. The church is episcopal.
There is a national convention annually at the national headquarters in Philadelphia. Laypeople have an unusually high participation level in the national church, holding most of the top administrative positions. It was founded in the s by Bp. The church has found its purpose in proclaiming a gospel of Jesus Christ that includes the calling of everyone to believe in Christ, repent of their sin, be baptized by water immersed , and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
People who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit will speak with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. Those who receive the Holy Spirit will begin a life of spiritual growth to maturity. The churches place an emphasis on the oneness of God in a manner similar to the United Pentecostal Church International. The churches sponsor an annual celebration, Apostolic Day; a ministry on college campuses, the Apostolic Crusaders; and an Internet Bible study course.
Much of the work occurs within the Spanish-speaking community. Hunter d. Sherrod C. Johnson — , he had moved to South Carolina and begun preaching in Darlington County. Hunter operated out of a tent until a congregation was assembled and a church building purchased in in Hartsville. Hunter pastored the growing church and gradually split from the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith.
Hunter began a radio show in that led to the formation of the Apostolic Faith Radio Network, which supports a nationwide radio ministry. Since the church has owned the White House for Senior Citizens, a home for the elderly. Hunter followed the doctrine of the parent body. He was strongly opposed to female ministers.
Bishop Joe C. In , the church reported 14 congregations scattered along the east Coast from New York to Florida. New York: Garland Publishing, In a controversy over divine healing arose in the Georgia Conference of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, now known as the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. One faction contended that the healing provisions in the atonement were sufficient, and that human aids doctors were unnecessary. While this faction admitted the therapeutic value of effective remedies, such remedies were not considered necessary for God to heal.
The other faction, led by Rev. The names of the Revs. Watson Sorrow and Hugh Bowling were dropped from the ministerial roll of the Pentecostal Holiness Church without their first being tried by the board of the Georgia annual conference, of which they were members. A number of ministers withdrew with them, and together in they organized the Congregational Holiness Church. They expressed differences with their parent body about the concentration of power in a few hands, so they attempted to democratize the church government. Consequently their polity is not episcopal, like that of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Instead, polity is a moderate connectional system: Local churches are grouped in associations that elect delegates to a general association with legislative powers. Pastors are called by vote of the congregation. Both men and women may be ordained. At each quadrennial general conference a full-time general superintendent with the honorary title of bishop is elected to administer, lead, and direct the Congregational Holiness Church in its affairs and functions.
In the general superintendent was Bp. Ronald Wilson. The general conference also elects a first and second assistant general superintendent. These three superintendents, along with an elected general secretary, general treasurer, and world missions superintendent, comprise the General Executive Board. Members of the General Executive Board serve four-year terms.
The Congregational Holiness Church in the USA is divided into nine districts, with each district electing a five-member presbytery. District officials serve four-year terms. The General Committee transacts any major business of the church between general conferences. The General Conference of the Congregational Holiness Church is the highest governing body, with full power and authority to designate the teachings, principles, and practices of the local churches.
Cox, B. History and Doctrine of the Congregational Holiness Church. Gainesville, GA: Author, The Evangelical Churches of Pentecost emerged out of the early Pentecostal revivals that occurred in Saskatchewan, Canada, in as the Oneness non-Trinitarian perspective spread through the West. A camp meeting was founded at Trossachs.
Some men converted at Trossachs became ministers and founded churches in various communities of the province. These ministers and churches were brought together in through the efforts of Rev. Alan H. Gillett — , pastor at Radville, who secured a charter for the group as the Full Gospel Mission.
Churches and ministers credentialed by the mission spread to the neighboring Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia. At the time of the merger, some of the ministers and churches of the Evangelical Church of Pentecost declined to enter the merged body. They were concerned that some of the affiliated churches would lose their sovereignty. Also, being amillennialists, they rejected the premillennial eschatology of the Apostolic church.
Amillennialism is a position that suggests that the millennium talked about in the book of Revelation is a metaphorical time period rather than an actual thousand-year period to be expected to occur in the near future. Those who stayed out of the merger reorganized and continued as the Full Gospel Ministerial Fellowship, but in the s reincorporated and reassumed their earlier name. It believes in one God, whose name is Jesus; baptism by immersion in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ; the baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced by the believer speaking in tongues; the living of a Spirit-filled life of holiness; and divine healing.
The Evangelical Churches of Pentecost is organized as a fellowship of ministers, evangelists, and missionaries. Theirs is a strong belief in the autonomy of the local church and the congregations affiliated with the church are independent assemblies who happen to welcome pastors credentialed by the fellowship. In the churches reported approximately 50 ministers who served 19 churches in Canada and 3 in the United States with a combined membership of approximately 3, Piepkorn, Arthur C. Honea b. Honea grew up in Taft, Tennessee, and was called to ministry as a teenager.
He began to preach when he was 16 years old and pastored churches in Alabama, Louisiana, Indiana, and Illinois before becoming pastor of the Tullahoma church, a position he still holds. The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of those ministers, missionaries, and deacons licensed by the church and the members of the local congregations affiliated with it. It considers itself a company of baptized believers who adhere to the form of doctrine preached by Jesus and his Apostles, who have associated in the faith and fellowship of Jesus Christ, who are governed by the rules of the New Testament church, and who possess the gifts of ministry Romans —8.
The church believes that it continues the revival begun on the Day of Pentecost, 33 c.
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The Holy Ghost is not considered the third person of the Godhead, but rather the manifestation of the Spirit of God the creator coming to dwell in the hearts and lives of men. This position is generally termed Oneness or Jesus Only. This set of doctrines is similar to those of other Apostolic pentecostal churches, such as the Church of Jesus Christ Kingsport. The First Church of Jesus Christ is headed by a chairman, assisted by a vice-chairman and assistant vice-chairman and the state bishops.
Together, they constitute the board of bishops. The board of bishops holds the property of the church in trust. In the church reported 10, members and ministers in the United States and an additional 8, members and ministers on the mission field. Ralph E. Green, formerly of the Way of the Cross Church of Christ. The church is similar in doctrine and practice to its parent body. The church is built around a large, 8,member congregation in Washington, which Green pastors. Green has developed an aggressive outreach ministry that includes a prison visitation program, a publishing concern, and a popular radio ministry.
The prison ministry publishes a periodical, From Prison to Praise, and a variety of tract literature. Green has recorded over 1, sermons, and the church choir has made several records. Payne, Wardell J. Stokes, its first presiding bishop. He was succeeded in by S. Bass who then headed the church for more than a quarter of a century. It had been taught for many years that marrying a divorced person was wrong. Those who remained loyal to Bishop Bass retained the name, but the founding charter was retained by the other group, which took the name Original Glorious Church of God in Christ Apostolic Faith.
Morris had been raised a Methodist and was called to the ministry in He received the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit in under the ministrations of Bp. Samuel Kelsey, a leader in the Church of God in Christ. After a decade of service to his church, during which time it moved out of a tent and store into its own building, PAW Bp. Turpin consecrated Morris to the bishopric. Lomax d. Robert Clarence Lawson. Samuel Redden replaced Lomax. The church is among the most conservative of Pentecostal bodies. The church will install women as deaconesses and will accept ordained women from other denominations, but will neither ordain nor install women as pastors.
Herman Girwright is the current pastor. Belton Green, who serves as apostle, pastor, and general overseer. The church operates primarily within the African-American community and shares a doctrinal perspective with the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, from which the church originated. The church emphasizes that the New Birth consists of being buried with Jesus through baptism unto death, rising up to walk in newness of this life, and then being filled with the Holy Spirit, manifested by speaking in tongues.
The church is somewhat unique in its disavowal of several common Christian holy days. It discourages the celebration of Christmas and church members do not receive or give gifts on that occasion. These are considered later pagan accretions to Christianity. It traces Christmas to Zoroastrianism. The church also takes a conservative stance on the role of women and does not allow female members to teach, preach, or in any way usurp the authority of the male members or the church. Members are encouraged to pay a tenth of their gross income to the church a tithe.
Continental Office— North America , Hwy. Oswaldo Arroyo and Bernie L. Wade and a group of Apostolic Pentecostal ministers who called for a new effort to unify Pentecostalism across the boundaries of its Trinitarian, Charismatic, and Apostolic segments. Since it has seen significant growth in North America, but also especially in Africa and Asia. Central to its new call to unity was the adoption of a system of spiritual mentoring of junior ministers by senior ministers in a father-son rather than boss-employee relationship. The Circle offers its associates mentoring by experienced pastors and church leaders, assistance in creating their own independent ministries, access to education, and national and international contacts.
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Educational assistance is given to young ministers through the ICOF International Educational Network, which connects students through distance-learning opportunities at all levels, from high school to college and seminary. True to its networking model, some of these schools, such as the Bernie L.
Wade Seminary in India, are specifically related to the Circle, whereas others have an older and broader constituency. Much of the growth of the International Circle of Faith has come from networking parachurch ministries rather than congregations. Growth in Africa, in particular, has been built around empowering ministers in chaplaincy positions. The Charity World Network includes all the ministries involved in the delivery of various social services.
The International Ministerial Association, Inc. Kidson and 20 other pastors formerly with the United Pentecostal Church.
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It practices baptism by immersion and foot-washing. Tithing is believed to be the financial plan of the church. A strong belief in the Second Coming is taught, and the group believes in a distinct judgment during which only believers will be rewarded. The Association is organized into12 districts across the United States. An annual international conference is the place for fellowship between the ministers, who hold credentials through the Association, and the members of the autonomous congregations that accept the statement of faith.
In the association reported affiliated churches and ministries and missionaries operating in countries around the world. As his work progressed, Wiley came to feel that because of his accomplishments for the denomination he should be accorded the office of bishop. He had had particular success in the area of youth work, and his wife, Sr. Lucille Wiley, served as president of the Department of Youth Work. However, the board of the Apostolic Church denied his request to become a bishop.
Wiley left with his supporters and became bishop of a new Apostolic denomination. Wiley has placed great emphasis on youth work and on radio work, establishing an outreach in New York, one in North Carolina, and another in South Carolina. The temple continues the doctrine and polity of the Apostolic Church of Christ in God and has a cordial relationship with its parent organization.
In the temple reported 3, members in nine congregations being served by 15 ministers. There are two bishops. The Mt. Rejecting the idea that she was suffering as an invalid for the glory of God, she sought healing by prayer and fasting, and was believed to be cured on July 14, The sanctuary asserts that she became blessed with the gifts of the Spirit, particularly healing. Humans find deliverance from sin and sickness in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus. Believers are sanctified as they obey the truth. Baptism by immersion is practiced and the Sabbath is kept. The church is considered to be the society of born-again believers who live a holy life.
Jackson was succeeded by Pr. Ithamar Quigley, who was healed under her ministrations. The current president is Pr. Theodore Jordan. In the sanctuary reported members in two centers led by two ministers in the United States. Internationally, there were 10 churches in Nigeria and 11 in Jamaica. Two formerly affiliated congregations in England have become independent. In , Rev.
The Church of God in Christ was the oldest and among the largest of the predominantly black Trinitarian Pentecostal churches. Doctrine is similar to other Jesus-only groups. The group is pacifist but allows alternative noncombatant positions to be held by law-abiding church members.
The presiding bishop is the executive officer and presides over all meetings of the general body. A board of bishops acts as a judicatory body and a general assembly as the legislative body. The Glorious Church of God was founded in However, in its presiding bishop, S.
Bass married a divorced woman. Approximately half of the congregation church rejected Bass and reorganized under the leadership of W. Howard was succeeded by Bp.
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Hamiter, under whose leadership the church has grown spectacularly and developed a mission program in Haiti, Jamaica, and India. In the church had 55 congregations in the United States, congregations overseas, ministers, and approximately 25, members worldwide. Early membership developed along the West Coast and in the Midwest. From to , the annual convention was held in Indianapolis, soon to become the center of the organization.
Many ministers from other pentecostal bodies joined the assemblies when the groups within which they held credentials rejected Apostolic teachings. In , the General Assemblies of the Apostolic Assemblies, a recently formed Apostolic body that included such outstanding early movement leaders as D. Opperman — and H. Goss — , merged into the PAW. From its beginning the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World was fully integrated racially, though it was predominantly white in membership. In , following the influx of so many ministers and members, especially the large newly merged body, the Pentecostal Assemblies reorganized.
Four of its 21 field superintendents were black, among them Garfield Thomas Haywood — , who would later become presiding bishop. In , most of the white members withdrew to form the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance, now an integral part of the United Pentecostal Church. The remaining members, who were not totally, but predominantly black, reorganized again, created the office of bishop, and elected Haywood to lead them. Haywood remained presiding bishop until his death in The merger attempt failed, but the assemblies again lost individual congregations and members to the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, and a large group who formed a new church, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ.
In the face of these new losses, a third reorganization occurred in For several years, the church was led by a small group of bishops, enlarged to seven in Two years later, Samuel Grimes, a former missionary in Liberia, was elected presiding bishop, a post he retained until his death in Under his guidance, the Pentecostal Assemblies Church experienced its greatest era of expansion.
Unlike most black Pentecostal bishops, Grimes did not also serve a parish; hence, he was able to devote himself full-time to his episcopal duties. The doctrine of the Assemblies is similar to that of the Assemblies of God , except that the church does not believe in the Trinity. Holiness is stressed and the group believes that for ultimate salvation, it is necessary to have a life wholly sanctified. Healing is stressed and foot-washing practiced. Members are pacifists, though they feel it is a duty to honor rules.
There are strict dress and behavior codes. Divorce and remarriage are allowed under certain circumstances. There is an annual general assembly that elects the bishops and the general secretary. It also designates the presiding bishop, who heads a board of bishops. The church is divided into 30 districts dioceses headed by a bishop. The assemblies are designated joint members of each local board of trustees. There are approximately 1, churches in the foreign missionary field. Dugas, Paul P. The Life and Writings of Elder G.
Golder, Morris E. History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Indianapolis, IN: Author, Peterson grew up in Florida, and though his family attended a Baptist church there, he was never baptized. The course of his life was interrupted in his early adult years by a dream in which he was in the presence of God and his angels. Now he leads a mega-church with a membership of roughly 3, in a renovated movie house in South L. Just as important is Molina's message.
But this is a church that says, in God's economy, you have total worth. Restauracion is made up almost entirely of recent immigrants — restaurant and construction workers, janitors and nannies — or their sons, daughters and grandchildren. Most are either in the country illegally or started out that way, said Molina, who once sneaked across the border himself.
Born in El Salvador, he came to the United States during the s, using fake documents to make it through customs. He scraped by on low-paying jobs, working at Burger King and as a janitor. But the loneliness that came from being far from home led to a drinking problem and depression. Romero was raised Catholic but had tired of religion. Out of desperation, he visited Restauracion. And the pastor was urging us to love God and improve ourselves It was not about wealth or becoming rich.
It was about becoming the best student, the best father, the best person and citizen we could be. Romero's narrative is a common one at Restauracion, where most of the membership was raised Catholic. So is the story of Eneida and Abelardo Alvarez. Sweethearts growing up in Guatemala, they came to Los Angeles in the mids. America has been full of opportunity, they said, but life is a daily struggle.
Eneida, 37, works as a nanny. Her husband is a plumber. They live in South L. The Alvarezes attend services three days a week. On a fourth night they host a Bible study in their home, one of about meetings held by church members every week. Pentecostalism — which spread globally after the success in of the Azusa Street Revival meeting in downtown Los Angeles — long has been known for its inward orientation. Members typically close themselves off from the affairs of a sinful world, shunning politics and social issues.
But Molina pushes his members to engage. If they are citizens, he says it's their duty to vote. If they can't vote, he says they should go on marches seeking to change immigration laws. The Alvarez family regularly joins the church's street-cleaning crews in the Crenshaw district and helps feed the poor on skid row. Part of Molina's draw is his manner.
He can be fiery and piercing from the pulpit, but also welcoming and humble. Just as appealing to congregants is his immigration tale. Molina came into adulthood in war-torn El Salvador in the s. He ended up abandoning Catholicism and joining Mision Elim Internacional , a Pentecostal church with a membership of at least 60, that trained him to become a minister. Eventually he headed for the United States, crossing the border on foot. After being caught by immigration police, he was jailed and returned to El Salvador. When he finally received a temporary visa and settled in Los Angeles, he slept in a cramped apartment and worked in a taco truck.
With El Salvador's Elim taking root here, Molina started a congregation in the rented sanctuary of a Baptist church. By the late '80s — at a time when Latino immigration was thriving — the number of his congregants was on the rise. By , Molina had become a citizen and his congregation had saved enough money to purchase an abandoned movie theater on Adams Boulevard. Restauracion's members, many of them in the construction trades, created a simply adorned church with beige walls, concrete floors and an expansive stage for sermons.
Molina has become one the most important figures in the Elim church, presiding over the creation of dozens of "daughter churches" throughout the country.