United Pentecostal Church International

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United Pentecostal Church International
Logo of the United Pentecostal Church International.png
AbbreviationUPCI
ClassificationWestern Christian
OrientationPentecostal
TheologyOneness Pentecostalism
PolityCongregational
Presbyterian
General SuperintendentDavid K. Bernard
Origin1945
Merger ofPentecostal Church, Inc. and Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ
SeparationsWorldwide Pentecostal Fellowship
Kingdom of Jesus Christ
Congregations42,000
Members5,100,000
Official websiteupci.org

The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) is a Oneness Pentecostal denomination headquartered in Weldon Spring, Missouri, United States.[1] The United Pentecostal Church International was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church, Inc. and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ.[2] The United Pentecostal Church International began with 521 churches and has grown, according to their own figures, to more than 42,000 churches (including daughter works and preaching points), 41,000 credentialed ministers, and a total worldwide constituency of around 5.1 million.[3] In 2006, the denomination had an estimated 9,224 clergy, 4,358 churches and 646,304 members.[2] The international fellowship of United Pentecostals consists of national organizations that are united as the Global Council of the UPCI,[4] which is chaired by the general superintendent of the UPCI, currently David K. Bernard.

History[edit]

The United Pentecostal Church International emerged from the Pentecostal movement, which traces its origins to the teachings of Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas, and the Azusa Street Revival led by William J. Seymour in 1906.[5] The UPCI traces its organizational roots to 1916, when a large group of Pentecostal ministers within the Assemblies of God USA began to unite around the teaching of the oneness of God and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.[3][6] Several Oneness ministers met in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and on January 2, 1917, formed a Oneness Pentecostal organization called the General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies.[7]

The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies merged with another church, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), and accepted the leadership of G. T. Haywood, an African American. This group held the first meeting in Eureka Springs in 1918. This interracial organization adopted the PAW name and remained the only Oneness Pentecostal body until late 1924. Southern Jim Crow laws and racial hatred resulted in many white leaders withdrawing from the PAW rather than remaining under African American leadership. Many local congregations in the Southern U.S., however, remained integrated while attempting to comply with local segregation laws.

In 1925, three new Oneness churches were formed: the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ, the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance,[8] and Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ. In 1927, steps were taken toward reunifying these organizations. Meeting in a joint convention in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Emmanuel's Church in Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ merged, taking the name the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.[9] This merger united about 400 Oneness Pentecostal ministers. In 1931, a unity conference with representatives from four Oneness organizations met in Columbus, Ohio attempting to bring all Oneness Pentecostals together. The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance voted to merge with the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, but the terms of the proposed merger were rejected by that body. Nevertheless, a union between the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and the PAW was consummated in November 1931. The new body retained the name of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.

In 1932, the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance changed its name to the Pentecostal Church, Incorporated to reflect its organizational structure. In 1936, Pentecostal Church, Incorporated ministers voted to work toward an amalgamation with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ. Final union, however, proved elusive until 1945 when these two Oneness Pentecostal organizations combined to form the United Pentecostal Church International.[10] The merger of these two Oneness Pentecostal bodies brought together 521 churches.[11]

In the U.S. and Canada the newly formed United Pentecostal Church International has traditionally reflected the majority culture with the majority of its constituency being White and Anglo-American. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, the United Pentecostal Church International attempted to shift its doctrines toward the inclusion of every race and culture in North America. In 2008, the United Pentecostal Church International published a statement against racism.[12] Despite attempts to reconcile with minorities, several congregations have left the United Pentecostal Church International citing persistent racism.[13][14]

Organization[edit]

The basic governmental structure of the UPCI is congregational at the local church level and presbyterian at higher organizational levels. Local churches are autonomous, electing their own pastors and other leaders, owning their own property, deciding their own budgets, establishing their membership, and conducting all necessary local business.[15] The central organization embraces a modified presbyterian system: ministers meet in sectional, district, and general conferences to elect officers and to conduct the church's affairs. The annual General Conference is the highest authority in the UPCI, with power to determine articles of faith, elect officers and determine policy. A General Superintendent is elected to preside over the church as a whole. On October 1, 2009, David K. Bernard was announced as the new General Superintendent.[16]

According to the UPCI, in the United States and Canada it has grown from 521 member churches in 1945 to 4,819 churches (including daughter works and preaching points) 10,627 ministers, and 750,000 constituents in the United States and Canada in 2019. Outside the U.S. and Canada it has 34,779 churches and preaching points, 25,292 licensed ministers, 970 missionaries, and a constituency of 3.25 million in 195 nations and 35 territories. The international fellowship consists of national organizations that are united as the Global Council of the UPCI, which is chaired by the general superintendent of the UPCI, David K. Bernard. Total worldwide membership, including North America, is at more than 5 million.[17]

Ministers at all levels are allowed to marry and have children. Homosexuality is considered contrary to biblical teaching and the UPCI opposes homosexual acts and homosexual marriage just as it opposes unbiblical heterosexual conduct such as adultery and fornication.[18] The UPCI has made it clear, however, that it affirms the worth and dignity of every human being and opposes bigotry and hatred.[19][relevant? ]

General Conference[edit]

At the annual conference of the United Pentecostal Church International, attendees conduct business, receive training, network with colleagues, participate in worship sessions, and raise funds for various ministries.[20]

Educational institutions[edit]

The UPCI operates the only Oneness Pentecostal seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools:[21] Urshan Graduate School of Theology was granted the status of Candidate for Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission in June 2018.[22]

The UPCI launched a Christian liberal arts college in Fall of 2012. Urshan College was granted the status of Candidate for Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission in June 2018.[22]

  • Urshan College in Wentzville, Missouri (formerly known as Gateway College of Evangelism)

In addition, the UPCI endorses several unaccredited bible collegees:[23]

Currently, there are only two accredited colleges endorsed by the UPCI:

North American Youth Congress[edit]

The North American Youth Congress is a church gathering primarily for the youth of the UPCI, held every other year since 1979, in various locations around North America. It was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2017, in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The meeting was one of the largest to date, with over 34,000 youths attending. NAYC 2019 took place from July 31 to August 2, 2019 in The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 36,000 people were in attendance.[25] NAYC has been described as one of, if not the largest, gathering of Christian Youth in the US.[26]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "New World Headquarters for the United Pentecostal Church International - May 2016". pentecostallife.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  2. ^ a b "United Pentecostal Church International: Association of Religion Data Archives". www.thearda.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  3. ^ a b "About the UPCI". www.upci.org. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  4. ^ "UPCI Global Council". UPCI. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  5. ^ "BBC - Religions - Christianity: Pentecostalism". www.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  6. ^ "The Hidden Cult of Oneness Pentecostalism". Market Faith. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  7. ^ "The General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies (1917)". www.apostolicarchives.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  8. ^ "The Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance (1925)". www.apostolicarchives.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  9. ^ "History of the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ". ACJC International. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  10. ^ "The Merger: UPCI". Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  11. ^ Bernard, David (1999). A History of Christian Doctrine, Volume Three: The Twentieth Century A.D. 1900–2000. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press. p. 98.
  12. ^ "Racial and Ethnic Affirmation" (PDF). Website of the United Pentecostal Church International. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  13. ^ "Missouri Congregation Quits United Pentecostal Church in Video Protesting Racism". www.christianpost.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  14. ^ "Maplewood flock quits fast-growing Pentecostal denomination in protest over racism". STLtoday.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  15. ^ Retrieved on 17 July 2008.
  16. ^ "gc2009 - News". www.unitedpentecostal.net. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  17. ^ Jack Zavada. "United Pentecostal Church International". About.com Religion & Spirituality. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Homosexuality". United Pentecostal Church. Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  19. ^ "RESPONSE TO SUPREME COURT DECISION REDEFINING MARRIAGE". United Pentecostal Church International. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  20. ^ UPCI General Conference http://www.upcigc.com/. Retrieved 2018-07-24. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "ATS - Member Schools". Archived from the original on 9 June 2008.
  22. ^ a b "Accreditation Information". Higher Learning Commission. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  23. ^ "Bible College". edu.upci.org. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  24. ^ https://clc.edu/accreditation/
  25. ^ Parke, Caleb (2019-08-16). "Over 36,000 Christian students help serve disaster victims at youth conference". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  26. ^ "Here's How One of the Largest Christian Youth Events in the US is Celebrating 'Serve Day'". CBN News. 2019-08-02. Retrieved 2020-11-19.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bernard, David. The New Birth.
  • Bernard, David. The Oneness of God.
  • French, Talmadge. Our God is One.
  • Norris, David S. I AM: A Oneness Pentecostal Theology.

External links[edit]