Church of God (Anderson, Indiana)

A Protestant Christian fellowship fostering unity among believers, emphasizing holiness and a non-creedal approach to faith.

The Church of God, headquartered in Anderson, Indiana, is a Protestant Christian fellowship that originated in 1881 through the efforts of Daniel Sidney Warner and several associates. As a part of the Holiness movement, it embraces Wesleyan-Arminian theology, emphasizing personal holiness and the potential for falling from grace. This denomination is distinct in its lack of formal creeds, prioritizing the Bible as the sole authority on doctrinal matters. Its key beliefs include the divinity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of personal conversion, baptism by immersion, and foot washing, which are seen as external expressions of internal faith.

The governance of the Church of God is congregational, advocating for local church autonomy while engaging in regional and national assemblies to discuss policies and doctrinal issues. Uniquely, it rejects formal ministerial salaries, promoting financial integrity and simplicity. Over the years, this church has shifted from enforcing strict rules on outward adornment and traditional practices to a more focused approach on internal spiritual life and community engagement.

Initially founded not as a conventional church but as a reform movement within Christianity, the Church of God aimed to depart from denominational hierarchies and focus on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and biblical teachings. Its history highlights a commitment to restoring primitive Christian practices and achieving unity among believers. The Church supports fundamental Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and views conversion as a process that includes a “second work of grace,” allowing believers to live free from willful sin.

The Church’s distinctive practices include the ordination of women and the implementation of three ordinances: the Lord’s Supper, baptism by immersion, and foot washing. It also maintains a strong eschatological focus, with beliefs in the imminent return of Christ, the rapture, and a literal millennial reign.

Globally, the Church of God boasts approximately 887,000 members and 7,800 congregations spread across 89 countries. It operates educational institutions like Anderson University and has a publishing arm, Warner Press. As a member of the Global Wesleyan Alliance and the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church actively participates in ecumenical efforts and theological discussions, particularly in the contexts of the Holiness and Restorationist traditions.

Today, the Church of God continues to adapt to contemporary societal issues, emphasizing social justice, community involvement, and global outreach, all while maintaining its foundational commitment to what it views as biblical standards of living and the guiding principles of the early Christian church.

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