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10+ Convincing Reasons to Love Australia From Afar
Bible colleges affiliated with Australian Christian Churches In order to train future pastors and leaders in the denomination, Commonwealth Bible College now known as Alphacrucis was established in as the official ministry training school of Australian Christian Churches. Since the emergence of megachurches, large churches have begun establishing their own bible colleges. At the beginning of the 21st century, it was estimated that there are over 3, full-time students being trained at bible colleges affiliated with Australian Christian Churches. The Apostolic Faith Mission was short lived, however. Doctrinal controversy, disputes over female authority, and accusations of immorality against Van Eyk ultimately led to the splitting of the AFM in the late 20s. They adopted the Assemblies of God name to gain the recognition of the global Pentecostal movement, as Australian Pentecostal churches were dependent upon visiting clergy. He came to Australia in and stayed two years, beginning an evangelistic work in Brisbane which grew to fill a two thousand seat tent, the Canvas Cathedral. It has been described as "the greatest religious revival Brisbane has seen". Valdez visited Australia and was invited by Charles Greenwood to preach at his church in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, beginning what would become the year-long Sunshine Revival. The growing congregation converted a movie theatre into a 1, seat church known as Richmond Temple. The Pentecostal Church of Australia grew out of this revival, and many of Australia's early Pentecostal churches trace their origins to Richmond Temple. Glover was baptised in the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street revival and was one of the rare participants in early American Pentecostalism with an intellectual background. Glover thought the greatest need of the Pentecostal movement in Australia was "preachers, anointed of God and rightly instructed in the Word". Glover resigned in October and handed the church over to Greenwood. Wigglesworth's healing crusade reinforced the importance of faith and the ministry of healing in Australian Pentecostalism. Originating in Great Britain, the Apostolic Church was distinct from the majority of Pentecostal groups at the time by its belief in the fivefold offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Most Pentecostals saw prophecy as a function open to the entire Spirit baptised congregation, not as offices given to specific persons. Within a week of the Apostolic Church's opening, 70 of Richmond Temple's members left and joined the new church. However, a congregational vote sided with Greenwood, and all but one elder joined the Apostolics. The two bodies were virtually identical doctrinally, culturally, and in their focus on missions and evangelism. Furthermore, the leaders of both movements' had links to the Sunshine Revival. The two bodies were in some ways different in their polities. Greenwood and Philip Duncan prominent PCA pastor in Sydney exercised greater control in their own churches which were large and their influence dominated the other PCA churches. The Queensland churches, on the other hand, were more dispersed and more democratic. Their pastors tended to rotate their tenure, and no single church held preeminence. This tended to make the AGQ more egalitarian. It was decided that the new denomination's name would be the Assemblies of God in Australia. By this time, Greenwood had developed a close relationship with Donald Gee of the British Assemblies of God and was willing to drop the PCA label in exchange for association with the global Assemblies of God movement. For a national constitution, the conference drew from the two existing constitutions as wells as from the constitution of the Assemblies of God USA. The new fellowship would be based on "voluntary cooperation, on terms of equality" and would be governed by biennial national conferences. Charles Greenwood was elected the first chairman. At the time of the merger, there were 38 churches and 1, members. Over eight years it grew by four churches, but membership decreased to 1, In its early history, the AOG was a peace church having officially adopted a position of pacifism. Article 23 of the AOG constitution declared "we cannot conscientiously participate in war and armed resistance which involves the actual destruction of human life, since this is contrary to In the end, the matter was left to "individual conscience". James Wallace, an Assemblies of God minister from Great Britain, was appointed principal of the college in and was then elected AOG chairman in , holding the post until During his tenure, the college developed a central role in the fellowship and saw an increased number of pastors, church planters, and missionaries trained. This period saw the AOG double in size from 50 churches in to almost in There was also increased missionary activity, almost all of which was focused on the mission field of Papua New Guinea. This approach was successful and led to the turning over of all mission property and authority to local churches and the establishment of the self-governing Assemblies of God of Papua New Guinea which by rivaled the size of the Australian fellowship. In , the position of chairman was made a full-time one, and the constitution was reformed to make the AG's polity closer to that of the American Assemblies of God. At the national conference of , state presbyteries governing bodies were given more responsibility, the denomination asserted more control over ordination, and the title of chairman was changed to general superintendent. Charismatic movement and aftermath[ edit ] The impact of the charismatic movement was far reaching in the AOG. It was initially celebrated by classical Pentecostals as a sign that Pentecostalism was influencing traditional churches; however, there were also concerns over the influence the charismatic movement was exerting within the AOG. Because of its openness to the Latter Rain Movement of the s, the AGNZ was quick to accept the charismatic renewal than the more conservative Australian movement. New Zealand pastors such as Robert Midgley , Frank Houston , and Phil Pringle would significantly influence Australian Pentecostalism, and all ultimately moved their ministries to Australia. These churches had historically been mistrusted by Pentecostals, but now many inside these churches were claiming the same experiences that Pentecostals enjoyed without rejecting those churches. Some AOG ministers responded with "new openness to ecumenical relationships", but others warned against "linking hands with modernists and liberals". At the national conference, it seemed that a split within the movement was inevitable. There was no split; however, it was clear that the charismatic faction had gained the support of the movement. Realizing he had lost support, Ralph Read resigned as general superintendent, and Andrew Evans, a supporter the charismatic movement, was elected to replace him. The autonomy of local churches was now only limited by the AOG's doctrinal statement—which was broad enough to allow for diversity. Prominent pastors such as Frank Houston also began to advocate strong pastoral leadership of the local church—as opposed to the congregationalism traditionally preferred by Pentecostals. Members of the National Executive were exclusively mega-church pastors, and both state and national departments came under the control of mega-churches. Decentralization has also occurred in the area of world missions. In , responsibility for particular mission fields was given to "regional churches" mega-churches or near mega-churches. This has occurred at a time when the National Executive has gained power at the expense of the representative National Conference, which by had only the election of National Executive members on its agenda. There has been significant attention drawn to the denomination's relationship to the Family First Party , particularly in light of the party's founder, Andrew Evans , being a former superintendent of the movement, and its one-time leader, Andrea Mason , attending an ACC church. Both Australian Christian Churches and the Family First Party maintain that links are historical only, and that there is no organisational connection at the present time. One thing we are not is a political movement The Assemblies of God in Australia does not have a political vision and we don't have a political agenda. I think people need to understand the difference between the church being very involved in politics and individual Christians being involved in politics. There is a big difference. Church names[ edit ] When the Assemblies of God in Australia was incorporated in , churches generally were the name of the location and then the words Assembly of God. From his church, Houston planted several others with the Christian Life Centre name. From the s onwards, there has been a large change in the naming of AOG churches. Another trend is for churches to change their name to a popular name or word that represents the church. For example, Hills Christian Life Centre which became Hillsong Church once the name Hillsong became more well-known than the church name. Megachurches[ edit ] A megachurch is a Protestant church having 2, or more people in average weekend attendance. In the s, Hillsong Church became the largest church in the movement and also in Australia. Today there are 8 Assemblies of God churches that are classified as megachurches with over 2, attending each weekend.
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