The roots of The Apostle Church Of Christ In God (ACCG) go back to The Church Of God Apostolic. In the early part of 1915, Bishop Thomas J. Cox heard the Apostolic Doctrine preached by Bishop R. C. Lawson. And this occurred in some part of West Virginia. Bishop Cox accepted the teachings of Bishop Lawson as biblical; got baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, and then made a very important decision.
Bishop Cox had originally organized a religious group known as the Christian Faith Band. That was done in Danville, Kentucky in 1897. But after his experience with Bishop Lawson, Bishop Cox expressed a desire to have a more Scriptural name. And with a majority of support, the group became known as The Church Of God Apostolic, which was incorporated in Paris, Kentucky in 1919. Coincidentally, this was the same year that Bishop Lawson resigned his pastorate in Columbus, Ohio, from a church affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). Bishop Lawson moved to New York City and began the Refuge Church Ministry. That congregation has evolved into The Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith.
Well, Bishop Thomas J. Cox served as Presiding Bishop of The Church Of God Apostolic from 1897-1943. He was succeeded by Co-Presiding Bishops who were Bishop M. Gravely, Beckley, West Virginia, and Bishop Eli Neal, Winston-Salem, NC. This arrangement only lasted for two years. Some personal issues led to Bishop Gravely leaving The Church Of God Apostolic. In the meantime, Bishop Eli Neal solidified his position as the General Overseer and Presiding Bishop.
Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. was serving as Bishop Neal's Assistant Pastor at Saint Peters Church Of God Apostolic, when he was led to Martinsville, VA to organize Mount Sinai in 1935. This followed a personal request by Mother Lucy Redd, and Mother Sally McVey for Bishop Neal to send a pastor to Martinsville to take over her Ministry. Mother Redd had been having Prayer Meetings and Bible Study in her home on 30 High Street.
Getting back to The ACCG, in 1940, some of the pastors and ministers serving under Bishop Neal began expressing concerns about administrative procedures used by their presiding bishop. An opportunity to discuss and resolve their differences was not acceptable to some of them.
Thus in 1941, five ministers pulled out of The Church Of God Apostolic to organize The Apostle Church Of Christ In God (ACCG). They were Elders J.W. Ardrey, J.C. Richardson, J.J, Jenkins, J.M. Williams, and W.R. Bryant. At the time this group started, there were three affiliated churches. They were St. Paul Apostle Church, Rudd, NC, J.W. Ardrey, pastor; Mt. Sinai Apostle Church, Martinsville, VA, J.C. Richardson, pastor; and Bethlehem Apostle Church, Winston-Salem, NC, J.M. Williams, pastor. Shortly thereafter, the original five added another minister, Elder Walter J. Jackson, who had formerly served with Bishop Faison. Elder Jackson later succeeded Elder Williams as pastor of the Bethlehem Church.
With significant growth within The ACCG, there was need for another bishop. Therefore at the 1952 General Assembly in Newport News, VA, Elder J.C. Richardson was consecrated to the Office of Bishop. This allowed him to serve more broadly as the primary assistant to Bishop Ardrey.
This new organization was barely thirteen (13) years old when the possibility of a split developed. Elder Robert O. Doub, by then our State Overseer of Pennsylvania, had expressed his personal displeasure with Bishop Ardrey as presiding bishop. According to Doub, Ardrey lacked the administrative ability to lead The ACCG effectively. The Executive Board did not support Elder Doub's position, and kept Bishop Ardrey as the Presider.
Even though some pastors tried to persuade Elder Doub to stay with The ACCG, he would not reconsider his position. Thus in 1953, he left, became consecrated as bishop, and organized the Shiloh Apostolic Temple, Inc. The headquarters was his growing congregation in Philadelphia, PA.
Subsequent events gave a measure of support to Bishop Doub's position. In 1956, the man whom Bishop Doub had supported against Bishop Ardrey became the second presiding bishop. Bishop Ardrey chose to resign from the presider's office. He was in turn succeeded by Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. in the year of 1956.
One of the primary areas of growth under the leadership of Bishop Ardrey, was the addition of a number of churches in the fellowship. From the original three congregations, more were added in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York. Thus, the Lord used Bishop Ardrey as a Servant to establish a firm and solid foundation on which The ACCG could build.
Under the leadership of Bishop Richardson, ACCG achieved very high levels of success. Concentrating his initial efforts in Virginia and the Carolinas, Richardson led by example. He either organized or assisted in organizing ten churches; and personally pastored at least three. And from these three states, churches were added in Georgia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Bishop Richardson also added legal counsel to assist with the administrative order of local churches and the Parent Body. Additionally two other noteworthy achievements were initiated during Bishop Richardson, Sr.'s term. The Apostlic Gazette, later changed to The Apostolic Journal became the official magazine of The ACCG. Secondly, an Educational Fund was established to encourage young people to pursue educational training after high school. Another major achievement during the Richardson era was the organizing of National Auxiliaries to better meet the needs of delegates. The Convention Program was often designed around the goals of these various auxiliaries.
Again, leading by example, in 1961 at the age of fifty-one (51), Bishop Richardson enrolled as a student in the Virginia University of Lynchburg to pursue studies toward a Bachelor's Degree. Earlier, he had been a correspondent student at Aenon Bible College, Columbus, Ohio. Aenon was later moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the official college of contemporary Apostolic Organization in the world. By contemporary, we mean 1900 Present. Further, PAW is the largest predominantly African-American Apostolic Organization in the world.
Well, as The ACCG grew, Bishop Richardson was blessed with a great host of Bishops, Elders, and Pastors who held various positions in ACCG. They contributed immeasurably to the increase of The ACCG.
In an attempt to be comprehensive and yet brief, the pastors will be listed by states. Starting with the state of New York, we had Bishop M.L. Jones, Bishop George Wiley, Pastor Trollinger, and Bishop Ernest Hairston.
In Pennsylvania, there were: Elder Willie Bryant, Bishop R.O. Doub, Bishop Little, and Bishop E.E. Everette.
Maryland and Washington, DC included: Bishop Tilmon Carmichael, Bishop Claude Lovelace, Dr. James Brooks, Bishop Jeremiah Jefferson, Bishop Ellihue Cartledge, Bishop Dennis Jefferson, Pastor Roosevelt Ford, Elder Ashley Brown, Elder Lee McBryde, and Elder Joseph Wiley, Jr.
Virginia: Bishop J.R. Ziglar, Bishop R.B. Fuller, Elder J.M. Williams, Bishop Robert Kellam, Bishop J.N. Gravely, Bishop Albert Hairston, Bishop Leroy Robinson, Pastor Pearlene Motley
North Carolina: Bishop J.W. Ardrey, Bishop J.J. Jenkins, Bishop W.J. Jackson, Bishop Joseph Wiley, Bishop Eli Daniels, Elder Sherman Mahan, Bishop Joseph Cotton, Bishop O.D. Legrant, Bishop S.E. Saunders, Elder William McClary, Bishop C.R. Washington, Elder Roosevelt Watson, Elder James Benton, Elder Benjamin Joyner, Bishop J.D. White, Bishop C.L. White
South Carolina: Bishop Enoch Fordham, Bishop Ulysses McCall, Elder H.C. Cotton
Ohio: Pastor Arenn Wynn
In 1991, Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. made his last recommendations for the office of Bishop; although we did not know at the time that it would be his last. They were: Elders H.W. Betts, J.P. Lowery, and J.C. Richardson, Jr. Little did we know that these three men would become the next Spiritual and Administrative Leaders of The ACCG. Elders Betts and Richardson were the last two men consecrated Bishop by Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. Elder J.P. Lowery declined, saying that it would not be right for him to be consecrated with his pastor, Elder J.C. Richardson, Jr. Instead, he was elevated in 1992. However, poor health prevented Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. from attending Holy Convocation that year.
In 1995, after almost three (3) years of sickness, Our Lord called Bishop J.C. Richardson, Sr. home to Glory. That culminated sixty (60) years as Pastor of the Historic Mount Sinai Church, and thirty-nine (39) years as Presiding Bishop of ACCG. What a faithful and committed Servant Bishop had been to Our Lord.
In 1995, the following men were presented to the Convocation for the head offices:
Bishop H. W. Betts - Second Vice Bishop
Bishop J.P. Lowery - First Vice Bishop
Bishop J.C. Richardson, Jr. - Presiding Bishop
They were overwhelmingly confirmed. And Bishop William L. Bonner came to preach for that service in August.
Some accomplishments during the term of our third Presider include: The Grand Opening Reception to "thank" delegates for their support; The ACCG Academy, Monthly ACCG Pastors' Conference Calls, expansion and reformatting of the Convocation Program Committee, creation of the Ministerial Guild, and the Office of Protocol, scheduled 6 AM Convocation Prayers, National Auxiliary Executives appointed, publishing (periodically)l of The Bishop's Epistle, renaming the ACCG Scholarship to the Bishop Walter J. Jackson ACCG Memorial Scholarship. And scheduled for 2017, the beginning of the Annual Church Growth & Leadership Conference.
Bishops, Elder, and Pastors who have worked with this Administration include, but not limited to: Bishop M.L. Jones, Bishop J.P. Lowery, Bishop H.W. Betts, Elder H.E. Millner, Pastor Pearlene Motley, Pastor Alberta Pettiford, Bishop J.N. Gravely, Bishop Dennis Jefferson, Bishop Eddie Cherry, Elder J.D. Mahan, Bishop Jacqueline Foye, Elder Abraham Wiley, Bishop William Wiley, Pastor Shirley Johnson, Elder Edward Lowery, Elder Gary Johnson, Elder Carl T. Motley, Jr., Elder M.A. Motley, Bishop Robert Conward, District Elder H.J. Betts, Pastor Mary Scoggins, Bishop Raymond Carter, Pastor Cynthia Carter, Elder Gregory Robertson, Bishop David Fuller, Elder Leroy McGhee, Elder John Scales, and Bishop Robert Gaston.
Although pastors were the only names listed, please know that a long list of members have been major participants in the ongoing development of The ACCG. Among their many, many contributions have been the release of two National Recordings. Their support and prayers continue to undergird The ACCG. And for that we are truly thankful.
Like so many other Apostolic Organizations, The ACCG did experience a major split in 1970-71. And also like so many others, we simply learned how to persevere, continue going, and to keep trusting in the Lord.
During this 75 th Holy Convocation, major leadership appointments will take place. BishopElect H.J. Betts will become the Second Vice-Bishop. It is the same position once occupied by his late father, Bishop H.W. Betts. Our current Regional Bishop Robert Conward will assume the position of First Vice-Bishop. That position was previously held by Bishop J.P. Lowery. And then the office of Senior Bishop will be filled by Bishop Raymond L. Carter, Sr. He succeeds the unique Bishop M.L. Jones, who held that office for twenty (20) years.
As we move forward to the next phase of growth for The ACCG, we remain totally open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, as He directs and orders our steps.