Church of God of the Union Assembly

A vibrant Christian movement with deep roots in Holiness tradition and a strong presence in the southeastern United States.

Founded in the early 20th century, the Church of God of the Union Assembly has established itself as a significant Christian movement rooted in the Holiness tradition. Its inception dates back to 1920 in Walker County, Georgia, when dissidents from the Church of God Mountain Assembly sought to form a new congregation. The church’s early days were marked by the evangelistic efforts of Reverend Charlie T. Pratt, who, after being ordained in 1910, embarked on a mission that would lay the foundation for the church’s establishment. Pratt’s ministry began in earnest with a tent revival in Bartow County, Georgia, in 1911, which eventually led to the organization of a church at Cass Station, appointing him as Overseer.

The church’s formative years were characterized by significant growth under Pratt’s leadership, who traveled extensively across Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, establishing churches and holding revivals. A pivotal moment came in 1916 when the churches Pratt had established convened for a General Assembly in Knoxville, Tennessee, agreeing on a unified doctrine. This collaborative spirit was further solidified in 1919 when Pratt, along with seven other men, applied for and received a church charter in Bartow County, Georgia, marking the official beginning of the Church of God of the Union Assembly with its first headquarters in Center, Georgia.

Throughout the 1920s and beyond, the church continued to expand its reach and influence. In 1922, the national headquarters was relocated to Dalton, Georgia, where it remains to this day. The church was formally incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the Georgia Corporation Act of 1938 in October 1942, cementing its legal and organizational structure.

The Church of God of the Union Assembly boasts a long history of more than a century, celebrated for its doctrinal clarity and commitment to the Holiness/Wesleyan tradition. It emphasizes the importance of spirit-filled services, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope for eternal life, and engaging in community outreach and ministry activities. With a diverse congregation that participates in traditional and contemporary worship styles, the church places a strong emphasis on preaching the Word, teaching the love of Jesus, and reaching the lost.

The Church of God of the Union Assembly has a storied history that includes periods of controversy and criticism, notably chronicled in David Cady’s “Religion of Fear: The True Story of the Church of God of the Union Assembly.” This detailed examination reveals a complex narrative of leadership dynamics, authoritarian control, and the evolution of the church from its roots to becoming one of the largest and wealthiest cults in America by 1995. The church’s founder, C.T. Pratt, along with subsequent generations of family leadership, implemented increasingly authoritarian and exploitative practices, driving the congregation to significant hardships.

Cady’s research, based on hundreds of interviews with members and former members, outlines a trajectory of charismatic but illiterate leadership beginning with Pratt, whose flair for spectacle drew a resilient following. This lineage of leadership later witnessed Pratt’s son Jesse taking control, followed by Jesse’s son, Jesse Junior, both of whom exacerbated the church’s authoritarian tendencies. Jesse Junior’s leadership, in particular, is noted for its uncompromising demands on followers, contributing to the church’s financial difficulties and sparking a crisis that threatened its continuity.

Ultimately, the narrative concludes with a transition of leadership to Charlie T. Pratt III, who, according to Cady, managed to dispel the oppressive atmosphere cultivated by his predecessors, maintaining the church community against the odds​​​​. This account provides a crucial perspective on the inner workings and challenges faced by the Church of God of the Union Assembly, offering insight into the complexities inherent in such religious movements.

Today, the Church of God of the Union Assembly continues to thrive, with a significant presence primarily in Northwest Georgia and Southern Tennessee. Its mission, rooted in the foundational beliefs of the Holiness movement, underscores a dedication to spreading the Gospel, nurturing spiritual growth, and serving the broader community​​​​.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *