United House of Prayer for All People

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United House of Prayer for All People
United House of Prayer for All People.JPG
The Headquarters of The United House of Prayer for All People located in Washington D.C.
ClassificationProtestant Christian
PolityEpiscopal oriented
RegionUnited States
FounderMarcelino Manuel da Graça
West Wareham Massachusetts, incorporated in 1927 in Washington, D.C.
Official websitehttp://www.tuhopfap.org/

The United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith was founded by Cabo Verdean Marcelino Manuel da Graça. In 1919, Grace built the first United House of Prayer For All People in West Wareham, Massachusetts, and incorporated the United House of Prayer for All People in Washington, D.C. in 1927.[3]

According to church literature and their official website, the United House of Prayer for All People has 145 places of worship in 29 states. The church has an estimated membership of 27,500-50,000 members.[1][2] The national headquarters for the church is located in Washington, D.C. at 601 M Street.

The United House of Prayer for All People runs soul food restaurants that serve the communities and holds annual "Christian Saints" marching parades in honor of its past bishops. The United House of Prayer for All People is noted for its public street baptisms, sometimes performed by fire hose,[4] and for its shout bands.[5]


The United House of Prayer for All People is Apostolic in doctrine. Its creed establishes its basic principles as believing in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross so that humanity could have life, water baptism for the repentance of sin, that to be saved one must be born again of the Holy Spirit, and that one leader is the Divine ruler of the Kingdom of God. The United House of Prayer for All People's sacred text is the Holy Bible.

The first portion of the name is derived from Isaiah 56:7 where God says: "Mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." (This is also found in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, and Luke 19:46). The latter part is taken from "Acts 4:10–12 and Ephesians 2:20, which discusses Christian salvation as being built on a figurative cornerstone, or rock,"[6] which "is believed to be the teachings of Jesus Christ as preached by the Apostle Peter."[6]

The United House of Prayer for All People believes that the word church means a group of Christians who are believers and worshippers in Christ and that the modern definition of church as a building, denomination, or institution is unbiblical according to the writings of the Holy Scriptures as recorded in Acts 9:31."[7] Therefore, the United House of Prayer does not see itself as a denomination.


Bishop Grace[edit]

Bishop Charles Manuel "Sweet Daddy" Grace was born Marcelino Manuel da Graca, January 25, 1884, in Brava, Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese possession off the west coast of Africa. He came to America on a ship called Freedom in 1903 and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After leaving his job as a railway cook, Grace began using the title bishop.[2] In 1919, "Daddy" Grace, as parishioners knew him, built the first House of Prayer in West Wareham, Massachusetts at the cost of thirty-nine dollars.[8] He later established branches in Charlotte, North Carolina and Newark, New Jersey.[9]

The "Mother House" in Harlem, New York City was founded in 1920 by Bishop Grace; the congregation moved to this building after their first house burned down in 1947

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Grace traveled America preaching and establishing the United House of Prayer for all People. The constitution and bylaws of The United House of Prayer, promulgated in 1929, stated that the purpose of the organization in pertinent part was "to erect and maintain places of worship and assembly where all people may gather prayer and to worship the Almighty God, irrespective of denomination or creed."[8] He traveled extensively throughout the segregated South in the 1920s and 1930s preaching to integrated congregations years before the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s and the religious ecumenical movements which followed.

One of the principles that Grace taught which provoked controversy was the concept of one-man leadership. Grace used the Bible as his reference and taught that God only used one man at a time (e.g. Noah, Moses, and Jesus. One of the many criticisms made against Grace is the following statement which Grace is to have allegedly made in the early 1940s: "Salvation is by Grace only. Grace has given God a vacation, and since He is on vacation, don't worry about Him. If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God cannot save you."[2][9][10] Nonetheless, the "interpretation of this point – that Grace claimed he himself was God – has been almost completely definitive in both academic and popular literature, and only a handful of writers have ever questioned it, usually as an aside."[6] The most extensive research done by Danielle Brune Sigler on this statement shows that Mr. Fauset selectively quoted certain parts of the original message which changed the context."[6] The original statement, spoken by a member and not Grace, shows that the members and Grace, himself, thought that he was not "God himself", but merely an "intermediary" and "the path to salvation."[6][11]

One reason for the early success of the denomination is that offerings went directly to Grace for investment into products such as soap, stationery, tea, coffee, cookies, toothpaste, facial creams, talcum powder, hair dressing, and the Grace Magazine.[2]

Bishop Grace died on January 12, 1960, at his home in Los Angeles, California. Bishop W. McCollough succeeded him and served for 31 years.

Bishop McCollough[edit]

United House of Prayer for All People in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

When Grace died, the succession was undecided. After a court battle and two elections, Walter McCollough succeeded as the second bishop.[9] Bishop McCollough launched a nationwide building program, under which low-income affordable housing was being erected. New church structures were built by their own construction teams and other edifices received major renovations, financed solely by the members. Day care centers and senior citizens homes were also erected. One of the unique features of Daddy McCollough's building programs was that all of the church structures were completely paid for at the time of dedication.[citation needed] Under his leadership, the House of Prayer acquired a fleet of luxury coaches; property was acquired for the House of Prayer for use as future development sites; concert and marching bands were organized to march in annual parades and annual competitions; and softball teams were organized, nationwide, for interstate competition.[citation needed]

In addition, the McCollough Scholarship Fund was established to allow youth of the church to pursue higher education. Bishop McCollough died on March 21, 1991.[8]

Bishop Madison[edit]

Once again a crisis occurred over the succession, with Charles McCollough, a son of the late Bishop McCollough, and Samuel Christian Madison, the Senior Minister of "God's White House", struggling for control of the church.[9] On May 24, 1991, the members voted Madison to the office of Bishop. Shortly after, Madison pledged to fulfill everything that was on Bishop McCollough's agenda. Under his administration, over 123 Houses of Prayer received major renovation or were constructed. Added to this number were numerous apartments, senior citizens' dwellings, parsonages, houses, and commercial properties.

Bishop Madison was an advocate for scholastic achievement and was the chief executive officer and major contributor to the McCollough Scholarship College Fund. Madison expanded the academic programs of the organization through inaugurating the Annual First Lady Scholastic Achievement Awards Program.[8] Bishop Madison died on April 5, 2008.[12]

Bishop Bailey[edit]

Bishop C. M. (sometimes known as "Sweet Daddy") Bailey, a native of Newport News, Virginia, and the former pastor/apostle of the United House of Prayer For All People in Augusta, Georgia (the "Motherhouse" or parent church for their ministry in Georgia), succeeded Madison on May 23, 2008. He was elected during Memorial Week in Washington, D. C. after having won 91% of the electoral votes by the General Assembly. As a result of the appointment, he became Sole Trustee of the United House of Prayer, and C.E.O.


United House of Prayer for All People in the Near Northeast neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

The United House of Prayer as defined in their constitution and by-laws is composed of the bishop, elders, ministers, deacons, and all persons who assemble themselves in the various places of assembly maintained by the organization.[13] "On a broader organization level, each House of Prayer belonged to a regional district"[6] and each district is chaired by a minister who is the state chairman. The organization also has what they call the General Assembly which consist of the bishop, ministers, elders, and two elected representatives from each congregation.[13] The General Assembly is the vehicle used to make amendments to the constitution and by-laws, to fill vacancies in the office of bishop, and to remove the bishop for cause.[13] Besides the bishop, the General Assembly, ministers, and members, there exist an ecclesiastical court called the General Council.[14] The General Council consist of the bishop, state chairmen and others who are appointed by the bishop and their primary responsibility is to protect the work of the organization and the bishop and to ensure that all houses and members are compliant with laws outlined in the Supreme Laws For the Government of the United House of Prayer.

The constitution and by-laws of the organization stipulate that the bishop must be in full knowledge of the doctrine of the United House of Prayer, ready to give answers in good faith, able to judge the various members among the church and congregations, and must be continuously working for the good of the organization in accordance with the rules of the New Testament.[13] The bishop's role includes the power to select, ordain, and supervise ministers. He is also designated on behalf of the members as trustee of all church property.[6]

2020 COVID-19 outbreak[edit]

On October 17, 2020, health officials in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina announced a COVID-19 outbreak was linked to the United House of Prayer's "Holy Convocation" held at the Charlotte motherhouse on October 4-11. The event drew at least 1,000 people from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York.[15] Over 140 positive tests for the virus have been linked to the convocation. Of those cases, seven people required hospital care, and five people have died. Health officials were also trying to identify 192 close contacts [16][17]

Despite this, the organization was prepared to move ahead with a weeklong "Worldwind Revival" in Charlotte beginning on October 25. In response, on October 24, Mecklenburg County health officials issued an "abatement of imminent hazard" order that barred all in-person events at the United House of Prayer's Mecklenburg County facilities until at least November 6, 2020. The order also requires that the Charlotte motherhouse be cleaned and disinfected before in-person gatherings can be held there again.[18]

Several members subsequently reached out to WCNC-TV in Charlotte, claiming that the Charlotte event was the culmination of 12 weeks of gatherings across the East Coast that began in July. They also claimed that the convocations continued even in areas with high case counts, and even in the wake of several outbreaks and deaths among members. One member shared a letter from Bailey in which the bishop insisted that members come to services "when you can." In the letter, Bailey also rebuked several pastors who told their flocks to stay home, saying that members should not become "lazy and non-supportive in (their) weak state."[17]


A mausoleum in memory of W. McCollough and S. C. Madison was built in Lincoln Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland. The monument also honors C. M. Grace and the United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on The Rock of The Apostolic Faith. The memorial features several larger-than-lifesize statues. W. McCollough is buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery, Brentwood, Maryland.[19]



  1. ^ a b Burgess, Stanley M. and Van de Maas, Edouard M. (eds.) "United House of Prayer For All People, Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith" in The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002).
  2. ^ a b c d e "United House of Prayer for All People". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  3. ^ Guide to the United House of Prayer for All People Collection, 1944-1955, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, the George Washington University
  4. ^ Salmon, Jacqueline L. (2007-08-27). "For Crowd Of Believers, A Baptism By Fire Hose". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
  5. ^ "Saints Paradise: Trombone Shout Bands from the United House of Prayer". Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Dallam, Marie W. Daddy Grace: A Celebrity Preacher and His House of Prayer, pp.57,87
  7. ^ The Truth and Facts of the United House of Prayer and the Most Honorable Bishop Dr. S.C. Madison (2005) p.30
  8. ^ a b c d "Official Website of the United House of Prayer for All People". Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  9. ^ a b c d Frantz, Douglas & Pulley, Brett (1995-12-17). "Harlem Church Is Outpost of Empire;House of Prayer Built Wide Holdings on Devotion to Sweet Daddy Grace". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
  10. ^ Fauset, Arthur. Black Gods of the Metropolis, p.26
  11. ^ Brune, Danielle. "Sweet Daddy Grace: The Life and Times of a Modern Day Prophet" (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, Austin, 2002), pp.64–71,170
  12. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (2008-04-07). "House of Prayer Bishop Had Deep Roots in D.C". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
  13. ^ a b c d Constitution and By-Laws of the United House of Prayer For All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith (1992), pp.2,3,4,6
  14. ^ The Supreme Laws For The Government of the United House of Prayer For All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith (2005) p.1
  15. ^ Lauren Lindstrom; Hannah Smoot (October 21, 2020). "2 dead from COVID-19, cases reach 68 from events tied to Charlotte church, county says". The Charlotte Observer.
  16. ^ Hannah Smoot (October 26, 2020). "Death toll rises to 5 in 143 cases of COVID-19 linked to Charlotte church events". The Charlotte Observer.
  17. ^ a b Billie Jean Shaw (October 26, 2020). "'It's almost like a betrayal': Congregation says Charlotte church not taking COVID seriously". WCNC-TV.
  18. ^ Tina Terry (October 25, 2020). "Charlotte church banned from holding in-person events after COVID-19 outbreak". WSOC-TV.
  19. ^ Rath, Molly (June 9, 1995). "A House Divided". Washington City Paper. Retrieved July 4, 2014.

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