Church of God by Faith
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The Church of God by Faith is a Christian denomination in the United States.
The Church of God By Faith, Inc. is a religious institution founded in 1914 in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, by John Bright, Aaron Matthews, Sr., Nathaniel Scippio and Hubert Steadman. In 1922 an assembly was held in Alachua, Florida, US, a charter was drafted, and the name Church of God By Faith, Inc. officially adopted. Since 1987 the annual meetings of the church have been held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hubert Steadman became the first Executive Secretary and Editor for the Sunday School literature and other publications.
The first assembly meeting of the church was held in 1917 at White Springs, Florida; after which, missions were set up in various places. Palatka, FL was the "headquarters" of the group in 1919. A General Assembly was held in Alachua, Florida in 1922 where the leading elders drafted a charter, now known as the "Church of God By Faith, Inc." The General Assembly was moved from Alachua, Florida to Ocala, Florida, in December 1941. In 1987, the church went annually to Atlanta, Georgia, where meetings are still held.
The Church of God by Faith, Inc. is a 100-year-old organization which has had four bishops:
1. Aaron Matthews, Sr.: 1915 - 1959; 2. Willie W. Matthews: 1959 - 1984; 3. James E. McKnight, Sr: 1984-2014; 4. James E. McKnight, Jr.: Presiding
The church stands in the holiness tradition, teaching that entire sanctification is an instantaneous work obtained by faith, but must be preceded through the consecration of the individual. It believes in divine healing, but does not reject the use of medicine and doctors.
Articles of Faith
God is first in the Godhead - the church believes in one eternally existent, infinite God, sovereign of the universe. He only is God, creative and administrative, Holy in nature attributes and purpose. He as God, is first in the Godhead, an essential being, revealed as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ- the church believes in Jesus Christ, the second person of the God-head. Christ was eternally one with the Father. He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary so that two whole and perfect natures, (the Godhead and manhood) are thus united in one person, very God and very man, the God-man. The church believes that Jesus Christ died for its member's sins and that He rose from the dead and took again His body, together with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith He ascended into Heaven and is there engaged in intercession for members.
The Holy Spirit- the church believes in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is ever present and efficiently active in and with the church of Christ, convincing the world of sin, regenerating those who repent and believe, sanctifying believers and guiding them into all truth as it is in Jesus.
Holy Scriptures- the church believes in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are given by divine inspiration, revealing the will of God concerning members in all things necessary to their salvation, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.
Original Sin of Depravity- the church believes that original sin or depravity is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life and inclined to evil, and that it continues to exist with the new life of the regenerate until eradicated by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Atonement - the church believes that Jesus Christ, by His suffering, the shedding of His blood, and His meritorious death on the cross, made a full atonement for all human sin. This atonement is the only grounds for salvation and that it is sufficient for every individual of Adam's race.
Free Agency - the church believes that man's creation in God's likeness included the ability to choose between right and wrong. Thus, man was made morally responsible and through the fall of Adam he became depraved. So, he can not now turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works of faith and calling upon God. But only by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ that is freely bestowed upon all men, enabling all who will to turn from sin to righteousness. Members believe in Jesus Christ for pardon and the cleansing from sin, and believe that man, though in possession of the experience of regeneration and entire sanctification, may fall from grace and apostatize, and unless he repents of his sin, will be hopelessly and eternally lost.
Repentance - the church believes that repentance, which is a sincere and thorough change of mind in regard to sin, involving a sense of personal guilt and voluntary turning away from sin is demanded of all who have by act or purpose become sinners against God. The Spirit of God gives to all that will repent the gracious help of penitence of heart and hope of mercy, that they may believe unto pardon and spiritual life.
Justification and Adoption - the church believes that justification is that gracious and judicial act of God by which He grants full pardon of all guilt and complete release from the penalty of sins committed and acceptance as righteous to all who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Members are expected to believe that regeneration or the new birth is that gracious work of God whereby the moral nature of the repentant believer is spiritually quickened and given a distinctively spiritual life, capable of faith, love and obedience.
Members are expected to believe that adoption is that gracious act of God by which the justified and regenerated believer is constituted a "Son of God". Justification, regeneration and adoption are simultaneous in the experience of seekers after God and are obtained upon the condition of faith, preceded by repentance.
Entire Sanctification - the church believes that entire sanctification is the act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotion to God and the Holy obedience of love is made perfect. It is wrought by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for life and service. Entire sanctification is provided by the blood of Jesus, is wrought instantaneously by faith, preceded by entire consecration. This experience is also known as "Christian Perfection", "Heart Purity", and "The Baptism of the Holy Ghost" and"Christian Holiness."
Second Coming of Christ - the church believes that Jesus Christ will come again. It believes that members who are alive at his coming will not precede those who are dead, but that they will be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air.
Resurrection, Judgement and Destiny - the church believes in the resurrection of the dead. That the bodies of both the just and the unjust will be resurrected and united with their spirit. Members are expected to believe in future judgment in which every man shall appear before God to be judged according to his deeds in this life.
Divine Healing - the church believes in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urges its congregates to seek the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. Medical consultants and agencies when deemed necessary are not condemned.
National headquarters are located in Jacksonville, Florida. Churches are up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States from New York to Florida – with a few churches in Texas, the Midwest and in the state of Washington.
Bishop James E. McKnight, Jr.
James E. McKnight, Jr. was born in Gainesville, Florida to Bishop James E. and Sister Jessie McKnight. He served in various capacities including: youth minister, deacon, musician, choir president and Sunday School teacher at his local and the National Church. He married Delois Turner in 1978 and they had four children. In 1985 he became a minister and founded the Starke Church of God by Faith in March 1987. He runs outreach programs across the Bradford County Community in Florida.
McKnight served as the president of the Bradford County Ministerial Alliance and is the president and founder of Bradford County Faith Community Center, that serves North Central Florida by providing HIV testing and counseling, a recovery program and prison ministry, food distribution and a family literacy program.
He led an project that included the purchase of more than 21 acres (85,000 m2) for a church.
Bishop McKnight was selected as a ruling elder on the Executive Board in December, 2003 and served until December 20, 2014, when he was appointed the Presiding Bishop of the Churches of God by Faith.
Executive Secretary David C. Rourk
Elder David C. Rourk is a long-time member of the executive board, and has served the church organization in many capacities. Rourk, who has been the pastor of Adams Street Church Of God By Faith since 1974, was appointed to serve as the district elder of the Northwestern New York District four years later.
He was appointed to the executive board in 1991. He has served as the organization's executive secretary since 2003. His assignments as pastor have included Prayer House Crossroads and Sodus Center COGBF.
Rourk and his wife Ruth livein Rochester, N.Y. They have four children and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In November 1999, Inter-faith Theological Institute and Seminary conferred Elder Rourk with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.
Ruling Elder Horace Nelson Turner, Sr.
Elder Dr. Horace Nelson Turner Sr. is the pastor of Sears Street Church of God by Faith in Douglas, Georgia and COGBF in Nicholls, Georgia.
An ordained minister since 1986, his mission work can be traced back to an old funeral home and storefront.
He has made gospel radio and television programs broadcast in the Coffee County area. The former correctional center chaplain is the founder of Faith Base Pod, a prison ministry. He is the chaplain for the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, chairman of the South Georgia District Christian Board of Education and a member of the Coffee County Ministerial Alliance Association.
Elder Turner was elected to serve as a national Ruling Elder for the church organization.
He and his wife, Sandra LaFaye, have 6 children and 10 grandchildren.
Ruling Elder James Ware
Ruling Elder James Ware was born in Dothan, Alabama. He is the eldest of seven siblings, born to Thomas and Betty Ware. His father, an elder in Church of God by Faith, relocated the family to Groveland, Florida.
Upon graduating from high school, he met and later married Gwendolyn Cooper; they had three sons and one daughter.
He became a minister and began preaching in 1975. He was ordained a minister in Church of God by Faith in 1989. In 1995 the Executive Council appointed him presiding Elder of the Ocala District where he serves as the Pastor of Greater Macedonia Church of God by Faith. In 2012 he was appointed to the Executive Council as Ruling Elder under Bishop James E. McKnight, Sr.
Ware planted Brooksville Church of God by Faith in Brooksville, Florida.
Ruling Elder James Williams
Ruling Elder James E. Williams was born and raised in the Church of God by Faith, and is the son of District Elder James and Cora Williams.
Williams moved to Tampa, from the Gainesville District, January 8, 1970, to further his education. He served one year under the leadership of Elder Robert L. Evans. He was appointed chairman of the Deacon board at Tampa in 1972. In 1973 he was appointed assistant finance secretary to Elder Alonzo Smith of the South Florida District. In 1975 he was appointed to the National Finance Board of the Church of God by Faith by the Executive Council. He served 17 years and as secretary of the National Finance Board for eight years, where he prepared reports for executive Elders and Finance Board members.
He served as pastor of New Life church of God by faith, Fort Myers, Florida for 10 years, and as pastor of Church of God by Faith, Plant City, Florida for 2 years, and later became the pastor of The Rock Church of God By Faith, Tampa Florida, and District Elder of the Tampa Westcoast District.
He was appointed as a Ruling Elder on The Executive Board on December 20, 2014.
Bishop Emeritus James E. McKnight, Sr.
James E. McKnight has was born in Gainesville, Fla., and served in the Korean War. He is married to Mother Jessie Camps McKnight, and they have four adult children.
He has served as the spiritual leader of Church Of God By Faith Inc. for more than 20 years.
An ordained minister of the organization since 1957, Bishop McKnight was appointed assistant bishop in 1970. He was named presiding bishop in 1984, and underwent the formal consecration ceremony two years later.
McKnight is charged with fostering the spiritual and physical growth of more than 200 churches and missions across the country.
He initiated a half-million dollar project to involve the construction of an administrative headquarters. National church officials bought an acre off Old Middleburg Road, in Jacksonville, Fla., with plans to build an administrative headquarters.
- "2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches". The National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
- Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
- Handbook of Denominations (10th ed.), by Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill