Church of God History

In 1884 near the community of Coker Creek in Monroe county, Tennessee, a Baptist preacher name Richard G Spurling led a small group of like minded friends in prayers, study of scripture and church history. His burden was for the simple faith of Jesus to be restored in the Church.

For over 2 years Spurling appealed to the churches for revival as he felt that the church had drifted from Christ's intention and purpose and must renew itself in Him.

Thursday 19th August 1886, at Barney Creek Meetinghouse Spurling invited those present to unite themselves in Christian Union. He spoke persuasively and passionately on the spiritual issues that had brought them together: the need for spiritual renewal and Christian unity - his one objective was to restore primitive Christianity and bring about the union of all denominations.

Eight people came forward:

RG and Barbara Spurling
1. Barbara Spurling
2. John Plemons
3. Polly Plemons
4. Melinda Plemons
5. John Plemons Jr
6. Margaret Lauftus
7. Adeline Lauftus
8. RG Spurling Jr



3 men in the Croker Creek area: William Martin (Methodist); Joe M Tipton (Baptist) and Milton McNabb (Baptist), became interested in the “holiness” sermons and began to preach sanctification by declaring, proclaiming and urging others to seek it and live it to whoever they met wherever they were met.

At the same time WF Bryant and a group of Baptist started meeting in their home for prayer. Without the endorsement of their church they had no-one to guide them so they would sing, testify and prayer. Anticipating the large numbers being unable to fit into Bryant’s home Shearer schoolhouse was used. The sceptics of holiness were convinced that such living was not only possible but was demanded by Christ and those rough-living sinners were converted. People came from everywhere – they were hungry for the pure and simple faith “preached” by these 3 men – whose only theology began and ended with “Thus saith the Lord”. shearer schoolhouse

The cynical, hostile, curious and rowdies attempted to disrupt the services and create confusion but as The revival was born of the Spirit of God nothing was able to deter it. When the meeting in this part of the mountain ended the men went to other parts of the mountain causing the revival to spread, but the simple people didn’t understand what was happening to them – so they decided to search the scriptures and to their amazement the scriptures (Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6) revealed that the Disciples spoke in other tongues on the Day of Pentecost.

WF Bryant was encouraged many times to join the Christian union but refused until 12th May 1902, he finally relented and the church called Holiness church at camp creek was organised. The new name reflected their emphasis. Meanwhile, a travelling Bible salesman by the name of Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson, a Quaker from Indiana, came to the mountain area to sell his bibles and other Christian literature. As he approached two young men to sell a NewTestament for 5c they invited him back to their home to meet their highly religious father, Bryant. After much praying and sharing with these folks AJ joined the Christian Union, understanding it to be “the church of God of the Bible” and not man made.

The first General Assembly was held at the home of JC Murphy on the 26th & 27th January 1906 with 21 delegates.

During their 2nd Annual Assembly in 1907 the Church changed its name to to the Church of God as it was in line with Paul’s references in 1 Cor 1:2 and 2 Cor 1:1.