2016 Wesleyan Discipline: E. The Formation and Development of The Pilgrim Holiness Church

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E. The Formation and Development of The Pilgrim Holiness Church

23. The Pilgrim Holiness Church came into being as a result of the revival of scriptural holiness that swept across the various denominations in America in the last half of the nineteenth century, the same awakening that had rechanneled the energies of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection from social and political reform to holiness evangelism (2016 Wesleyan Discipline:12-13). The awakening crystallized in the establishment of many nondenominational and interdenominational holiness unions and associations and independent churches. Toward the close of the nineteenth century many of like precious faith began to draw together in the unity of the Spirit.

24. A focal point for the beginning of The Pilgrim Holiness Church as an organization was the formation of the International Holiness Union and Prayer League in September 1897, at Cincinnati, Ohio, in the home of Martin Wells Knapp. Rev. Seth C. Rees was chosen President, and Rev. Martin Wells Knapp, Vice-President. The Union was not thought of as a church, nor intended as such, but was an interdenominational fellowship, marked by simplicity and the absence of restrictions. The primary purpose of the Union was to unite holiness people in promoting worldwide holiness evangelism. A fourfold emphasis was declared concerning the regeneration of sinners, the entire sanctification of believers, the premillennial and imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the evangelization of the world. The Union met the need of many people for fellowship and cooperation in the spread of scriptural holiness and grew rapidly. Extensive revival work was carried on by members of the Union, resulting in the formation of many city missions, churches, rescue homes, and camp meetings.

25. In the annual meeting of the Union held in July 1900, the name was changed to International Apostolic Holiness Union in order to express more fully the aim of promoting a return to apostolic principles and practices. Also in 1900 the foreign missionary work began as members of the Union went out as faith missionaries to South Africa, India, Japan, the West Indies, and South America.

26. The Union gradually developed into a church organization in order to provide church homes for the converts and the conservation of the work. In 1905, the name was changed to International Apostolic Holiness Union and Churches. The interdenominational features also faded out, and in 1913, the name was altered to International Apostolic Holiness Church.

27. In 1919, the Indiana, Illinois-Missouri, and Kansas-Oklahoma Conferences of the Holiness Christian Church were received by the General Assembly of the International Apostolic Holiness Church. The Holiness Christian Church had its beginning in a revival movement around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1882, and was organized at Linwood, Pennsylvania, in 1889 as the Holiness Christian Association. By 1919, it was known as the Holiness Christian Church and was composed of four conferences; it also sponsored a missionary work in Central America.

28. The Pentecostal Rescue Mission joined the International Holiness Church in March 1922, and became the New York District. It had originated at Binghamton, New York, in 1897, and had spread until it included missions, rescue work, camp meetings, orphanage activities, churches, and a missionary work in Alaska.

29. In October 1922, the General Assembly, in special session, received The Pilgrim Church of California and adopted the name, The Pilgrim Holiness Church. The Pilgrim Church was first organized on May 27, 1917, as the Pentecost-Pilgrim Church in Pasadena, California. By 1922, a school known as Pilgrim Bible School had been established and a periodical was being published at Pasadena, California, and missionaries had been sent out to Mexico.

30. In 1924, a group of several churches known as the Pentecostal Brethren in Christ united with and became a part of the Ohio District of The Pilgrim Holiness Church.

31. In 1925, The People’s Mission Church, with headquarters at Colorado Springs, Colorado, became a part of The Pilgrim Holiness Church. It was the outgrowth of revival work that began in 1898 in Colorado Springs and spread through several surrounding states. A Bible school was operated, a periodical published, and a camp meeting maintained at Colorado Springs.

32. In 1946, The Holiness Church of California was received by the General Conference into The Pilgrim Holiness Church. This Church, which began in a revival movement in 1880 and was first known as The Holiness Bands, maintained a Bible school at El Monte, California, and a growing missionary work in Peru and Palestine.

33. The Africa Evangelistic Mission, with headquarters at Boksburg, Transvaal, South Africa, was received by The Pilgrim Holiness Church in 1962. The Mission carried on work organized into three districts, two of which were located in the Orange Free State and Transvaal in the Republic of South Africa, and a third district comprising extensive work in Mozambique.

34. The growth of The Pilgrim Holiness Church continued through revival work and evangelism in greater measure than by the uniting of other bodies. An important turning point in the organizational structure was reached in 1930 when the General Assembly unified the administration of the denomination by providing for one General Superintendent, one General Board, and a general headquarters at Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1958, a plan for three General Superintendents was inaugurated. In 1962, the General Conference, known until 1942 as the General Assembly, was designated as The International Conference in recognition of the growth and development of the overseas work.

35. The original purpose of the founders of The Pilgrim Holiness Church to promote worldwide holiness evangelism remained an indelible characteristic. Missionary work was carried on in many lands, and The Pilgrim Holiness Church extended beyond the United States and Canada to the following places: South Africa, including Natal, Transvaal, Cape Province, and Orange Free State; Swaziland; Mozambique; Zambia; the Caribbean area, including Grand Cayman, Jamaica, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Saba, St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curacao; Guyana; Suriname; Brazil; Peru; Mexico; Philippine Islands; and England.