The Church of God, with general offices in Anderson, Indiana, began in 1881 as a movement emphasizing the unity of God’s people and holy living. Daniel S. Warner and several associates sought to forsake denominational structures and formal creeds, trusting solely in the Holy Spirit as their overseer and the Bible as their statement of belief. These individuals saw themselves at the forefront of a movement to restore unity and holiness to the church. Their aim was not to establish another denomination but to promote primary allegiance to Jesus Christ..
Deeply influenced by Wesleyan theology, the following are the church’s generally accepted teachings:
- The divine inspiration of Scripture.
- Forgiveness of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of the believer.
- The experience of holiness.
- The personal return of Christ.
- The kingdom of God as established here and now.
- The resurrection of the dead.
- A final judgment of all people.
- Baptism by immersion is viewed as a witness to the work of Christ in one's life.
- Communion reminds participants of the grace experienced in the life of the believer.
- Foot washing is practiced in acknowledgement and acceptance of the servant ministry to all.
There is no formal membership. Individuals are assumed to be members on the basis of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Church of God is congregational in its government. Each local congregation is autonomous. Ministers meet in voluntary state, regional and national assemblies, and other associations. In North America, the General Assembly, composed primarily of ministers but also including lay congregational delegates, meets in connection with the movement’s annual North American Convention held in Anderson, Indiana.
In 1996 and 1997 the General Assembly initiated a restructuring of the work of the national ministries of the Church of God within the U.S. The result was the formation of Church of God Ministries, Inc. Priorities for the work of this organization are identified by representatives selected from the grassroots church.
Since those early days, the Church of God has continued to grow into a multi-national community of faith. At present, the largest concentrations of U.S. churches are in the Midwest, along the Pacific Coast, and in western Pennsylvania. Average weekend attendance in the congregations of the United States and Canada totals approximately 235,000. There are approximately 2,300 congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Worldwide, the movement has work in 90 countries representing approximately 7,340 churches and over 750,000 believers.