In the year 1860, as a direct result of a call to prayer that was published in the Kerkbode of the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Dutch Reformed Church in Worcester in the Cape, and later in other congregations as well.
This "revival" was echoed in the Zoutpansberg in Northern Tvl. in the late 1870's and spread to all sections of the population in that area. It appears that the D.R.C. could not comprehend or adapt to some of the manifestations of that revival and we hear very little of it again. Nevertheless, there were families that received salvation at that time and a generation later, at the end of 1890 and early in the 1900's we find born again believers who were experiencing the baptism with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.
In the year 1909 George Bowie came to South Africa as a missionary sent from the Bethal Pentecostal Assembly, under the leadership of Minnie Draper, Newark in New Jersey, U.S.A It was in the month of April 1910 that the Pentecostal Mission was started, and this Pentecostal Mission was to become The Full Gospel Church of God in Southern Africa, a bilingual Church.
The initial vision of George Bowie was to Evangelise the indigenous inhabitants of South Africa. This vision never faded and the Church extended the preaching of the gospel to many areas in South and Southern Africa, as far as the Belgian Congo. As early as 24 June 1915, W.F.R. Burton and James Slater were certificated by the Executive Council and opened the Congo to the Gospel. The whole of South Africa, Mozambique, South West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and the then Rhodesia and further north to the Equator, heard the Gospel through many under the banner of the Full Gospel Church
A great work was being done amongst the, so called, Coloured Community. Since 1925 J F Rowlands, and later with his brother Alex at his side, initiated and led a mighty Evangelistic thrust which has continued to this day in the Indian Community For many years the White community had the oversight of the whole Church and all the Departments were subject to the Executive Council in lrene. Since 1986 all the communities had their own Moderators and Executive Councils, with representation on the General Moderateur. This constituted 4 associations in one Church
In 1951 a wonderful event took place, under the guidance of the Lord, when the Full Gospel Church amalgamated with the Church of God, Cleveland, U.S.A., which church is represented in 162 countries of the world by means of a World Missions Programme. The blessings and fellowship of our American brethren has made a wonderful contribution to the Full Gospel Church in Southern Africa. This amalgamation has been extremely beneficial and we thank our Brethren of the Church of God for their unfailing loyalty and love.
Negotiations for change were in progress for some 16 years and eventually it was agreed that those communities who so desired could unite to become one Integrated association within the Full Gospel Church of God, and in March 1990 the United Assemblies of the Full Gospel Church of God was constituted, consisting of the majority of the Black Community, the so called Coloured Community, the Indian Community, and a small group from the White Community. The Church now had 2 groups instead of 4, the lrene Assemblies and the United Assemblies. More than 7 years later, in October 1997, we had the joyous experience of the whole Full Gospel Church of God in Southern Africa uniting to become one structural organisation, for which we praise the Lord., thus sculpturally representing the Body of Christ.
The Full Gospel Church has approximately 1500 Workers. The 242 Assemblies of the lrene Association were united with the 586 assemblies of the United Association resulting in a total of 828 assemblies in the United Full Gospel Church of God, with a conservatively estimated membership of 350 000 members, excluding Namibia.
The Church has two Old Age Homes and a number of Creches operating on a local Assembly basis. There are also a variety of "Feeding Schemes" being operated by local Churches and more are in the "pipeline". There is one school that operates the "Accelerated Education Programme". The Church also has 4 accredited Training Colleges plus an accredited Correspondence College with approximately 650 students enrolled. There are a further two Theological Schools.
The Structural Unification of the Church formally took place at the Inaugural Conference on Thursday the 9th of October 1997, on the basis of the agreed "20 Principles". This made the Full Gospel Church of God a non racial and structurally integrated Church.
Through its amalgamation with the Church of God which is represented in 162 Countries, the Full Gospel Church of God in Southern Africa is an International Church. Through its outreach programme into Southern and Central Africa it has multiplied tens of thousands of followers in Maputo, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, the Congo, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and other territories.
The Historical committee is busy with the drafting of a new History Book for the FGC. Individuals, Church Councils and Departments who might have information on the History of the FGC may contact one of the following Committee members in your area:
- Pastor R H Roberts
- Pastor J Z Mvelase
- Pastor W Bock
- Pastor E J Moodley
- Pastor Z van Kerken
- Moderator – Pastor A S van Deventer
The Historical Committee is in search of a 1921-1922 Church Constitution. Please send a copy or any relevant information concerning the History of the Church to: Historical Committee, P.O. Box 40, IRENE, 0062