A major development in Christianity since the early 20th century is the appearance of many Pentecostal denominations throughout the world. Beginning in the United States and spreading rapidly to most nations of the world, they now comprise a third force (originating as neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant) in Christendom, the phenomenal growth of which has commanded the attention of the world.
One of the first groups to designate itself officially as a member of the Pentecostal movement was the Pentecostal Holiness Church. With roots in the midwestern and southeastern United States, the Pentecostal Holiness Church has played a significant role within the movement from the beginning.
The character of the church is to be seen in its name, which places it astride two major revival movements: the Holiness revival of the late 19th century, and the Pentecostal revival of the 20th century. As its distinctive contribution to contemporary Christianity, this church has attempted to preserve the Wesleyan tradition while perpetuating the Pentecostal tradition.
The fundamental faith of the church is that God’s power to redeem man and society is resident in Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, who sent the Holy Spirit into the world as the agent of salvation. It is this faith–that God’s power is directly available to everyone to save, cleanse, empower, and heal–that gave the International Pentecostal Holiness Church its birth.
You can learn more about our 100-year history by visiting the Archives and Research Center.
Founded in the 1890s, the denomination has roots in historic Christianity as we affirm the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Definition at Chalcedon. The following three streams of historic Christianity make up the theological and ecclesiastical foundations of the church:
- While we rejoice at the work of the Holy Spirit through church history, the IPHC was birthed in the theological heritage of the Protestant Reformation and the emphasis of Martin Luther on justification by faith alone, the supremacy of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers.
- We are also influenced by the holiness emphasis of the Anglican priest John Wesley. Our theological framework reflects Wesleyan holiness and Wesley’s understanding of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.
- Following the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, in 1906, the message spread around the world of the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit. This dynamic understanding of Acts 2 and all the gifts of the Spirit being available for the church today was received by the church and has characterized our life of worship of God, mission to the world, service to others, and fellowship with Christ’s church.
Because of our Wesleyan and Methodist roots, local congregations are part of larger entities that are usually called “conferences.” Local congregations are led by pastors, and the conferences are led by a bishop. In a nation with several conferences, there is usually a presiding bishop over the entire national movement.
BEGINNINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA
At the time of the merger that gave birth to The Pentecostal Holiness Church, Jacob D. Lehman was a missionary in South Africa having arrived in 1903. He was from Pennsylvania originally and a member of the Brethren in Christ Church. While on leave in America in 1907 he heard the dynamic messages concerning Azusa Street and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Before returning to Africa he received his personal Pentecostal experience. In 1912 he was granted membership in the newly formed denomination. In 1913, he applied to be accepted as a missionary of the church. He apparently had his support from independent sources and was accepted to serve as a missionary of the denomination without remuneration. With his acceptance as a missionary, it gave him the distinction of being the first missionary of The Pentecostal Holiness Church in Southern Africa. The year 1913 became a historical marker for the work of thousands of nationals and many missionaries who have dedicated their lives to the spread of the Light of The Lord Jesus Christ across the continent that was known for many years as The Dark Continent.