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The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies

The History of the Original Oneness Pentecostal Denomination

 

In perusing various Apostolic Historical publications it struck me as strange that there has never been, as far as know, a standard work on the short-lived Organization known as the General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies. In thie text, I shall try to present a reconstruction of the Brief History of this organization which contained some of the most well known preachers in the Apostolic Pentecostal ministry.
 
 

The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies lasted just over a year. It was organized at Eureka Springs Arkansas on Dec. 28, 1916, and equipped with a Body of Officers in Proceedings on January 2, 1917 in that same town. It was officially dissolved on January 23rd 1918 in a merger with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in Indianapolis Indiana. It figures historically important for Two reasons: #1. It served as a "Bridge" historically for the early Oneness Ministers immediately after they left the Assemblis of God in the fall of 1916, and until they joined the Haywood organization (P.A.W.) in 1918. They drafted a seed bed of Doctrines that still function as the written doctines of some Apostolic groups to this day. #2. The ministers involved are largely the same group of ministers who would one day many years later, in 1945, found the mighty UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH.
 
The organization, which was like an embryonic version of the future UPC, failed for reasons, both obvious, and inobvious.
 
For some reason they were not able to legally gain official government recognition, which left their ministers: subject to the World War One draft, and left their credentials to  possibly be regarded as spurious compared to the credentials of other denominations. Also, unless their ministers already held lifelong valid credentials (like local Baptist ordinations) it would cast doubt upon their legal ability to even perform marriages. But beyond that, with no government recognition, they could not obtain passes cheaply to ride the trains, which were the primary mode of transport for the early Pentecostal evangelists.
 
In researching the subject, you will find that several sources quote from one another and state that the GAAA ministers joined the PAW because it already had government recognition. But in reality, careful study shows that they also had not yet obtained govt. reconition, but soon did so, shortly after the GAAA ministers merged with them.
 
The 64 bed hotel which served as both the Bible school of D.C.O. Opperman, and as the headquarters of the group (primarily under General Secretary Lee Floyd), no longer stands. It was one of many Old Frame Hotels in Eureka Springs that was consumed by fire.
 
The denomination is very significant for one particular reason. While not the first Oneness denomination (the PAW holds that distinction) it was the first denomination FOUNDED as a ONENESS denomination from the moment of its inception.(The PAW was originally a Trinitarian denomination until around 1914). So, historically the GAAAA is very important for all Apostolic Pentecostal Bible students and students of Church History. Also, so many of the ministers would later reunite again, in 1945, at St. Louis Missouri to form the United Pentecostal Church.
 
Also, they drafted and ratified a set of Eighteen articles of Faith, many of the statements survive Verbatim as portions of the Statements of Faith of the PAW; the COGICJA; and the Jesus Only Apostolic Ministries  organizations. These statements express unanimity of thought , and reveal the uninimity of doctrine present with these early preachers (to a greater degree than during the later 1940s merger, who had separated with one another one of the doctrine of salvation, by the time they reached the point of merger talks to form what would become the United Pentecostal Church).
 
When the group first merged with the PAW, led by Bishop Haywood, the first convention after that was scheduled for the City Ampitheater (Opera House) in Eureka Springs but was shut down almost immediately after it began, by Federal Edict because of the famous Great Influenza outbreak which killed thousands nationwide. This would be the last national meeting at that location.
 
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