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Two Assemblies of God groups work on partnership comment (0)

March 13, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God (UPCAG) have agreed to put their racial divide aside and work on a new partnership.

A 12-point agreement to build cooperation that includes introducing their churches to each other and sharing resources was signed Feb. 11. 

The road to get to this point started four years ago when Thomas Barclay was elected as head of the UPCAG. He wrote a letter to George O. Wood, the general superintendent of the 65 million-member Assemblies of God.

Wood said he did not even know the UPCAG existed until he received Barclay’s letter. That is when he learned that in 1917 a missionary couple who had sought support to travel to Liberia were refused by the Assemblies of God — which had started three years earlier — because they were “colored.”

In 1919, a group of black New England churches started the UPCAG and sent that missionary couple to Africa. Learning that history “pained me a great deal,” said Wood, who said he “apologized several times” to the UPCAG leaders.

“It’s just tragic that there was that epoch in America where the church caved in to the culture rather than transforming the culture,” he said.

The UPCAG has about 70 predominantly black churches in the U.S., the Caribbean and Liberia. The Assemblies of God has 360,000 churches worldwide; about 300 Assemblies congregations in the U.S. are predominantly black. 

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