Church of Universal Triumph, Dominion of God, Inc.

A Pentecostal Holiness spiritual church led by the charismatic ‘Prophet Jones’, known for its lavish lifestyle and unique religious practices.

The Church of Universal Triumph, Dominion of God, Inc., led by its charismatic founder James F. Jones, also known as Prophet Jones, is a notable chapter in the history of Pentecostal Holiness movements within African American communities. Established in Detroit in 1944, the church originated from the Detroit branch of Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, with Jones claiming the title of Dominion Ruler, a role he believed was divinely ordained.

Born on November 24, 1907, in Birmingham, Alabama, Jones moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he launched his own religious movement after a purported divine calling. The church quickly gained attention for Jones’ authoritative leadership and lavish lifestyle. He lived in opulent residences, including a “French Castle” in Detroit, funded by his congregation, and was known for his extravagant attire, often featuring expensive suits and jewelry, which underscored his larger-than-life persona.

Jones’ teachings focused on strict adherence to his unique doctrines, which included rigorous lifestyle decrees such as prohibitions on alcohol, tobacco, and unapproved marriages, as well as specific rules on personal attire. He preached an apocalyptic vision of a “New World” where the faithful would enjoy eternal life, a central theme in his sermons which he claimed were revelations from God.

The church’s governance included a hierarchy where Jones, as the Dominion Ruler, was seen as a divine king, overseeing all religious and organizational activities. He also had the authority to bestow royal titles to prominent members. The church’s finances were tightly controlled by Jones, who generated revenue through selling “blessed” items and exploiting his followers’ belief in “lucky” numbers for lotteries.

Under his leadership, the Church of Universal Triumph, Dominion of God established numerous “Thankful Centers” across the U.S. and abroad, claiming millions of followers, though actual numbers were likely exaggerated. His influence extended into the cultural and social spheres, particularly within the black community in mid-20th century America. The church replaced traditional Christian observances like Christmas with celebrations like Philamethyu, a week-long homage to Jones’ birthday, further highlighting his central role within the church.

Jones’ later years were marred by controversy, including allegations of indecency from which he was acquitted, and his following dwindled after he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1970. He died in 1971, marking the end of his direct control over the church. His extravagant residences and belongings were reportedly ransacked by relatives as his ministry faltered. After his death, James Schaffer and later Gregory S. Ramsey succeeded Jones, maintaining the church’s structure but with a significantly reduced membership.

image via Get Archive

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