August 19 is the birthday of the Church of God. On this day in 1886, a small group gathered at a gristmill along Barney Creek in Monroe County, Tennessee—not far from the Coker Creek stop on the well-traveled Unicoi Turnpike.
According to Dr. David Roebuck, director of the Pentecostal Research Center and Church of God historian, on that summer Thursday, 135 years ago, Richard Green Spurling, “preached a sermon on God’s church and invited his hearers to set aside man-made creeds and traditions, to adopt the New Testament as their only rule of faith and practice, to give equal rights to interpret Scripture according to one’s own conscience, and to sit together as the church of God.”
Eight responded to Spurling’s invitation, including his father, Richard Spurling, who as an ordained Baptist elder had the ecclesial authority to set a church in order and to moderate their business meeting. They called themselves Christian Union—signaling a rejection of separatism and exclusivism they had experienced in other churches.
A few days later, Elder Spurling ordained his son as their first pastor, and over the following decade or so, Richard Green Spurling organized other Christian Union congregations in nearby communities.
Although none of those original mountain congregations have survived until 2021, Richard Green Spurling’s vision, first proclaimed alongside an Appalachian mountain creek, now reaches more than 7,600,000 members globally, who worship in more than 40,000 congregations, in 185 nations and territories of the world.
For the earliest publication of this account, see A. J. Tomlinson, “The Last Great Conflict” (Cleveland, Tenn.: Press of Walter E. Rodgers, 1913; reprinted White Wing Publishing House, 1984 and 2011).
Church Historian, David G. Roebuck, posted this video. Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill also posted a greeting about the birthday of the Church of God and it can be viewed by clicking here.
Since first becoming a credentialed minister in the Church of God in 1954, Bishop Robert E. Daugherty distinguished himself as a respected pastor, leader in church planting and evangelism, and state administrator. Before and after retirement, he served for 23 years as a World Missions Field Representative. During his ministry, he served on many boards and committees, including the Lee University Board of Directors and numerous state-level boards. He served as Bible teacher and night speaker at several camp meetings and preached at the 1982 General Assembly.
The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center has now added to our holdings the Robert Daugherty collection that contains scores of sermons and lessons developed by Bishop Daugherty. Dr. Dan Tomberlin was instrumental in getting the collection to us and Sharon Tomberlin volunteered hours of labor in creating the initial inventory and description of the sermon materials. Under the leadership of Bishop Gary Lewis, the Church of God of South Georgia, where the Daugherty family spent decades in ministry, funded the development and housing of the collection at the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center. Robert and Patricia Daugherty gathered at the Center today, along with the Lewises, Tomberlins, and Director David Roebuck, to celebrate the processing of this valuable resource on Pentecostal preaching.
The Dixon Center continues to develop our resources on Pentecostal and Charismatic preaching that we see as a valuable means to get at both the culture and theology of the movements. If you or a family member have similar collections of sermon materials consider donating them to us. If you would like to partner with the Center financially in pursuit of this mission you can find out more here.
General Overseer Tim Hill hosted officials from the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center today to present original sermon manuscripts of his, and his late father, Rev. J.W. Hill. The donation will be added to a growing collection of sermon materials housed at the DPRC.
Hill reminisced about his father as the inspiration for much of his own sermon material. Among the presented items were sermon outline books, written and typed by J.W. Hill himself.
“He wrote out everything, where he preached a particular sermon, inked notes in the margins and then kept it all,” Hill stated. “He also gave himself a grading system which would guide him in deciding what sermons would be most appropriate for the thousands of sermons he preached over his lifetime.” Along with his father’s manuscripts, Tim Hill presented his own personal sermon notes, primarily from his early days as a pastor in Danville, Virginia, and other materials including lyrics, books, and CDs related to his life as a gospel music writer and singer.
“Pentecostals take seriously Paul’s question in Romans 10:14: ‘how shall they hear without a preacher?’” stated Dr. David Roebuck, director of the DPRC. “The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is honored to receive the sermon manuscripts of Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill and his father, John W. Hill. Tim Hill is one of the most significant Pentecostal preachers of our time; and no doubt John Hill was the most important influence on the preaching of his son. These sermons will be a vital resource for anyone wanting to know what Pentecostals believe and preach.” Roebuck stated that the Hill sermons will be added to the printed and recorded sermons of other Pentecostal giants, including Ray H. Hughes, Wade H. Horton, W.L. Ford, Margaret Gaines, James L. Slay, Paul L. Walker, F.J. May, and many others, “as they enhance the significance of the Research Center and our mission to preserve the voices of global Pentecostalism.”
Hill presented the material at a luncheon attended by members of the International Executive Committee, Roebuck, DPRC Archivist Gene Mills, and others. Having celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Center’s founding earlier this month, the DPRC is now into its second half century. Hill acknowledged part of the impetus to hand over his and his father’s personal papers at this time was the commemoration of the DPRC’s founding on the campus of what was then Lee College by the late Charles W. Conn. Since then the Center’s work has reached around the world in gathering historical papers, books, and items related to the Pentecostal movement.