Historical Precedents in an International Context
Our church was founded in Bogota, Colombia in 1972. Nonetheless, the doctrinal background within which the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International (CGMJCI) could fall into comes from a movement that originated in the United States over a century ago.
How did that process came about?
One of the foundations of our Church is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in angelical tongues as proof of that manifestation. The Scripture references this matter in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles and many other passages thereafter.
Between the years 100 and 400 AD—the time period after the apostles referenced in the New Testament—speaking in tongues has been recorded only on a few occasions as an isolated and misunderstood occurrence. Between the years 400 and 1900 AD, limited cases have been recorded, especially after the protestant reformation. Nonetheless, this was considered an enigmatic topic and an unorthodox phenomenon.
Incidentally, many of the choruses and hymns that we currently sing in the CGMJCI were written by individuals, who were part of that group of people.
The United States experienced a period of religious resurgence, approximately between 1730 and 1743, historically known as “First Great Awakening.”
Later on, during the 19th Century, some Christian denominations in the United States recorded cases of manifestations with the gift of tongues among their members—mainly its leaders. However, it was deemed a special and specific phenomenon. Among those denominations were the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Restoration Movement (also known as the American Restoration Movement), and the Holiness movement. These denominations are part of a religious and cultural phenomenon called: “The Second Great Awakening,” which took place around the first three decades of the 19th Century, between 1800 and 1830.
The history of Christianity considers “The Third Great Awakening” a very important time period, which started in 1857, because it is where the Pentecostal Movement started, which is where the CGMJCI would later on adopt some of its foundations.
In 1900, Charles Parham, an independent preacher from the Holiness Movement, developed a doctrine called “Initial Evidence,” which stated that the guarantee to confirm the baptism with the Holy Spirit was to speak in tongues. He started a Bible institute called “Bethel” in Topeka, Kansas – USA, where he instructed his students on the doctrine of the “initial evidence.” One of them, William Seymour, traveled to Los Angeles and held a meeting on April 14, 1906 at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. On that day, it was recorded that they experienced spiritual ecstasy along with the gift of tongues. This was called the “Azusa Street Revival,” which is considered nowadays as the catalyst to spread Protestant Fundamentalist Christianity—or Evangelical Pentecostal—to all others continents. This ‘revival’ lasted for three years.
Attendees were baptized with the Holy Spirit. They sang in tongues and danced. In addition, they witnessed miracles and healings. Many congregations joined this new “Pentecostal Movement,” churches with Methodist and Wesleyan beliefs.
The churches that were founded as a result of this movement, sprung forth in the South East of the United States, mainly in African American communities. Their doctrine was based on speaking in tongues as the guarantee of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, who helps each believer to live a life in holiness in order to reach salvation.
This is, therefore, one of the current foundations of the CGMJCI, which the Pentecostal movement from the first decade of the 20th Century also believed in. This precedent went through many historical and geographical phases, before it was ever consolidated in Colombia, which happened in the ‘70s.
For example, preachers and missionaries who came from Europe and former British colonies, took this “phenomenon of the baptism with the Holy Spirit” to Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. In fact, it even reached India and Hong Kong. T.B. Barrat, a Norwegian preacher, took this doctrine to Europe (1906) where he started the Pentecostal movement in Norway, Sweeden, Denmark, Germany, France and England. His successor, Alexander Boddy, spread Pentecostalism in Great Britain. Another one of his followers, Jonathan Paul, did the same in Germany. In 1907, Luigi Francescon took Pentecostalism to Italian churches in the United States, Argentina and Brazil. In 1908, John Lake took it to South Africa; Giacomo Lombardi to Italy (1908); two Swedish missionaries arrived in Belem do Pará in Brazil and founded the Assemblies of God in Brazil. This, Pentecostalism started to reach and grow in other countries.
These churches, which came from the 1906 Pentecostal Movement, were founded by visiting preachers who went back to their home cities. Each church was autonomous with independent names, but they shared the same foundation that Charles Parham established in 1900. Little by little, the Pentecostal doctrine made its way to several states in America. For example, in 1914, a group of 300 white Pentecostal preachers decided to create a Pentecostal Fellowship called, “the General Council of the Assemblies of God.”
In spite of sharing the same foundation, new discussions led to the first divisions among Pentecostals. For example, one segment believed that it was just necessary to baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus, while others argued that it was necessary to mention the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This controversy resulted in the birth of the Oneness Pentecostalism, who did not believed in the Trinity of God, but rather in three aspects of one and the same God. The Assemblies of God rejected this doctrine and, in consequence, several pastors and believers left in 1916. Hence, first the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World were born, and later on, the United Pentecostal Church International.
There were two aspects that were part of the Pentecostal Movement from the first decade of the Twentieth Century. The first one was the inclusion of African American members to their services, even though years later there was a racial segregation among the newest churches.
The second was the role of the woman who founded churches, composed hymns, led Bible institutes and performed pastoral and evangelical duties. For example, Florence Crawford founded the Apostolic Faith Church. Sadly, men took it upon themselves to change the conditions of women within Pentecostal churches and took away rights that “apparently” only belonged to men—such as preaching.
All of these changes occurred with the institutionalization of Pentecostal doctrines. The CGMJCI implemented, in its early days, part of these bylaws, because for the first 24 years of its existence—between 1972 and 1996—women were not allowed to preach, and their spiritual duties were limited to ministering the gift of prophecy and laying hands. Nonetheless, when Sister Maria Luisa Piraquive took the reigns of the CGMJCI back in 1996, the role of the woman began to recover.
Today, women are eligible for the pulpit. They take prominent positions in evangelistic trips. Women are valued as elders within the location of our church. Women minister spiritual gifts, advise newcomers to Church, among many other tasks.
Between 1960 and 1970, believers from several predominant Christian denominations in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world, started to accept the idea that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was also possible in our current days. Therefore, new churches started to spring forth and were given the name Charismatic (from the greek term “Kárisma,” which means “favor freely given” or “grace-endowment”) who stated that they had the gift of the Holy Spirit. In those days, the Charismatic Movement shared the same ideological precept with the Pentecostal doctrine, though their historical origins were different.
For Christian investigator, Peter Wagner, the rise of Pentecostalism in 1906 is “the First Wave” in the history of Twentieth Century Christianity. “The Second Wave” is the charismatic phenomenon that breaks out from within the Christian denominations from the dominant beliefs in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Lutheran preacher, Harald Bredesen, coined the term.
“The Third Wave,” which took place in the ‘70s, saw independent churches spring forth with practices and doctrines that were inherited from both the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, but that didn’t align themselves with either of the two. These churches or denominations practice the laying of hands, ministering of gift of healings and prophecy, and consider themselves independent with their own system of self-government and self-regulation. The neo-Pentecostalist churches were born from within Evangelical, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic churches.
All things considered, an argument could be made that the CGMJCI represents a remarkable milestone in the history of Christianity, as a religious event in North and South America, since it has turned the gift of prophecy into the standard bearer for each believer. It has allowed the Holy Spirit to become the One who guides each person on an individual level and the One who rules the Church. Along those lines, the gift of prophecy has played a prominent role in the growth of the Church.
God’s one-on-one guidance through the gift of prophecy has been palpable and constant since 1972. In addition, it has allowed the Church to understand the nature of all other spiritual gifts on an individual and general level.
Lastly, the Church’s government system through a visible leader—this being Sister Maria Luisa Piraquive—allows God’s support to manifest itself in Church based on the link between her and God, and her and the people. This relationship forms the backbone of the CGMJCI, which in turn makes a strong, united, and blessed Church.