Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland

   Like the Assemblies of God in the United States, the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland (AGGBI) was organized by previously existing Pentecostal congregations. In February 1924, John Nelson Parr (1886-1976) invited representatives to a meeting in Birmingham. Promising to honor local autonomy, he proposed a united fellowship of assemblies sharing the same Fundamental Truths, who would maintain fellowship through district presbyteries and a General Presbytery composed of local pastors and elders. The formal organization took place at a second gathering in London in May with 80 people in attendance, including Donald Gee (1891-1966) and John (1893-1981) and Howard Carter (1891-1971). In the first year, 76 assemblies in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland joined.
   The Fundamental Truths resembled those of the American assemblies concerning such issues as the Trinity, the authority of the Bible, the need for a personal experience of conversion, and water BAPTISM by immersion. It affirmed that healing comes only through Jesus' atonement, by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the first sign of which is speaking in tongues (glossolalia). The Holy Spirit was seen as empowering the ordinary believer for Christian service.
   At the end of 1925, the Pentecostal Missionary Union (PMU), formed in 1909, merged with the assemblies as its missionary arm. It had already established work in China and India and has subsequently come to operate in more than 30 countries, primarily by supporting indigenous national Pentecostal churches.
   The Assemblies of God grew steadily in its first generation (200 affiliated assemblies by the end of the 1920s, 500 in the mid-1950s), thanks in part to the healing ministry of evangelist Stephen Jeffreys (1876-1943). In response to slower growth, a new constitution was adopted in the 1980s, grouping congregations into districts and providing for regional and national superintendents. In 1947, Donald Gee helped create the Pentecostal World Fellowship; he subsequently emerged as an important voice of Pentecostalism internationally.
   The international headquarters of the assemblies is located at Nottingham, England. It supports a Bible college, Mattersey Hall, for training leaders.
   Further reading:
   ■ Donald Gee, Wind and Flame (Nottingham, U.K.: Assemblies of God Publishing House, 1967)
   ■ A Sound and Scriptural Union: An Examination of the Origins of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland 1920-25
   ■ W. K. Kay, Inside Story (Mattersey, U.K.: Mattersey Hall, 1990)
   ■ ---, Pentecostals in Britain (Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster, 2000)
   ■ R. Massey, (Birmingham, U.K.: University of Birmingham. Ph.D. dissertation, 1987).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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