By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 October 2015
At the 1927 General Council, the Assemblies of God considered a possible name change as one of two hot topics covered on the Council floor. Delegates also considered and adopted the formal constitution and bylaws of the Assemblies of God (which included several minor changes to the Statement of Fundamental Truths).
The Oct. 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes lively discussion of the reasons for a name change and, whether the AG is a denomination. Two years earlier, the 1925 General Council had rejected a proposed constitution and bylaws. A Revision Committee was formed to craft changes that would be more acceptable. In the process of making revisions, this committee explored the possibility of a new name.
J. Narver Gortner, the chairman of the committee, reported: “When the Revision Committee was looking for a name, we wanted to find one that would indicate what we are, one in harmony with our real character. And we all agreed that we are Pentecostal people. Then we are evangelical too, we believe in evangelization.”
The committee recommended changing the name “Assemblies of God” to “Pentecostal Evangelical Church.”
“For a long time there has been widespread dissatisfaction concerning the name by which we have been known,” Gortner said. He found precedence for a name change in Scripture, since God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, and several others.
After continued discussion from a number of delegates, Harold Moss interjected. “We as a people are evangelical, that is, we have a worldwide evangelistic program to get men and women saved through the blood of Jesus Christ,” Moss said. “But the name is not sufficient as there are other evangelical churches, so we need another name to draw a clear line of demarcation — Pentecostal Evangelical church. We are Pentecostal, thank God; and I am not ashamed.”
T. K. Leonard, who had originally suggested the name Assemblies of God in 1914, reminded everyone that “after days of meditation and trying to get an undenominational, nonsectarian name” the founders saw this as the “God-given name” for the Fellowship. “When It was read to the audience, by one standing vote, unanimously, the whole body stood there and sang, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow,’ Leonard said. “And the whole house was filled with the power of God.”
The discussion of a possible name change went on for several days. At the close of the discussion, delegates decided to delay the suggested change until the next meeting of the General Council, to allow additional feedback and study on the matter. The constitution was adopted at the 1927 General Council, but not the name change. In the years since its founding, the name Assemblies of God had become familiar to the world at large. So with very little further discussion, when the General Council met two years later in 1929, the name Assemblies of God was retained and continues to be the name of the Fellowship, 101 years after its founding.
More information is available in the article “The Assemblies of God: A Good Name” in the Fall 1994 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.
The Pentecostal Evangel article, “A Suggested Change of Name,” is on pages 5-7, and 9-10 of the Oct. 8, 1927, edition.
Also featured in the issue:
* “Continuous Revival,” by R. E. McAlister
* “A Fine New Church,” by Mae Eleanor Frey
* “God’s Call to Pentecostal Saints,” by Sara Coxe
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
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