Church of God General Conference

A nontrinitarian Christian body with roots in 19th-century American revivalism, emphasizing biblical unitarianism and the literal kingdom of God on Earth.

The Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC), an evangelical Christian denomination primarily based in the United States, traces its origins to John Winebrenner, a former minister of the German Reformed Church. Winebrenner founded the Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the early 19th century, stemming from his doctrinal disputes with his previous affiliation and leading to his rebaptism by immersion in 1828. In 1830, he and other like-minded ministers formed the General Eldership of the Church of God, which evolved into today’s CGGC, focusing on the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice, baptism by immersion, and a non-Calvinistic, Arminian theology emphasizing free will.

This denomination is known for its presbyterian church government, distributing authority among elected elders and deacons across regional conferences. It has hundreds of congregations and tens of thousands of members, mainly in the Midwest and Pennsylvania, but also globally, including Mozambique, Malawi, and the United States. Theological education is central, with institutions like the Atlanta Bible College and Winebrenner Theological Seminary providing training for ministers and laypeople.

Internationally, the CGGC has established significant missions in countries like India, Bangladesh, Haiti, Brazil, and Kenya, reflecting its commitment to spreading its teachings worldwide. The denomination adheres to doctrines emphasizing personal conversion and regeneration, and practices such as the Lord’s Supper and foot washing.

The Church of God General Conference (CoGGC), also known as the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, shares similar origins but developed distinct theological views. Originating from several small groups that united in 1921 in Waterloo, Iowa, CoGGC emphasizes the oneness of God, the non-preexistence of Jesus Christ except from his miraculous conception, and a biblical unitarian faith termed “Biblical Unitarianism.” It advocates a literal interpretation of biblical prophecies, including the premillennial second coming of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of believers at his return.

The CoGGC, which denies the personal pre-existence of Jesus Christ but accepts his virgin birth, stands out for not regarding Satan as a fundamental doctrine in its Statement of Faith. The church operates under a congregational government system, cooperating in publications and missions ministries, and supports the Atlanta Bible College. Its history includes significant publishing efforts through periodicals like The Gospel Publisher and The Church Advocate, and educational support via institutions such as Findlay College and Winebrenner Seminary. Additional organizational elements include the Churches of God Youth Advance, Women’s Christian Service, and Churches of God Winebrenner Brotherhood.

With its headquarters in McDonough, Georgia, and its official periodical, the Restitution Herald, the CoGGC had 89 churches and 5,018 members as of 2002. The denomination also supports a Korean ministry through the Atlanta Bible College Korean Extension, established in 2003, indicating its ongoing growth and adaptation to meet the needs of diverse communities.

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