The Churches of God were born out of a spiritual renewal that was taking place during the economic depression of the 1930's.
In the city of Glasgow, Scotland, a young man was one of the many casualties of the great depression's rampant unemployment. Promised a job in the Belfast shipyard of Harland & Wolff, James. I. Forsythe decided to return to his native city.
Having been an active member of the Glasgow City Temple, founded by the late and beloved Principle George Jeffreys, it was therefore natural that he should seek out a spiritual home in which to find fellowship, teaching and training. What he could not have forseen at the time was the marvellous way in which the Holy Spirit would lead and prepare him for the task ahead. There are no accidents in the plan of God.
Shortly after arriving in Belfast James Forsythe settled into his new spiritual home on the east side of the city: the Belfast Tabernacle and Bible School. This was an independent Pentecostal work pioneered by an Englishman by the name of E.H Davis who had the vision of young men undergoing Bible College training on a part-time basis, whilst experiencing the discipline of local church life and without having to leave home to train in a Bible College in England. It was in this Church College that he met three other very keen young men who like himself were devoted to the Lord's work. These four, drawn together by a common interest in doctrine and evangelism, became inseperable as they prayed and studied together. God was shaping them in readiness for His appointed role in their lives: the building of the New Testament Churches of God.
James Forsythe was to become the first full-time minister. Gordon Magee was soon to followhim into the ministry. William Mann became the first General Secretary of the Churches of God. James McCartney never held an office, yet as a co-worker and adviser his abilities in the field of administration were invaluable.
In those days 'Pentecost' was not at all popular and any anti-Pentecostal preacher could easily draw a large crowd if he preached against tongues or divine healing. But despite vigorous opposition, across Ulster there were around 32 Pentecostal churches of various hues opened, 18 of them in Belfast. Of course being in it's infancy mistakes were made, nevertheless God was blessing these churches and people were sincerely reaching out to God for the more abundant life in the Spirit.
During this very turbulant period, both economically and religiously, the Belfast Tabernacle and Bible College buidings had to be sold off to pay off bank debts. It was a critical time for the four young men, and indeed for others in the congregation.
But trauma often comes before trial, and as the Church and College closed a number of the members approached the young men asking if it would be possible to hire a rented building to worship in.
The story continues - click here for more.