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Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Jesus Christ, USA (Asamblea Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús, EUA)

This Hispanic denomination traces its origin to the early days of the Pentecostal Revival that broke out in Los Angeles, California, in 1906, but it was not formally organized until 1925 in San Bernardino, California. Its present name was adopted at its legal incorporation in the State of California in 1930. For lack of a denominational structure prior to 1930, the early Hispanic leaders of Oneness ("Jesus Only") Pentecostal churches obtained their ministerial credentials from the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). The Apostolic Assembly, early in its development, adopted an episcopal structure of church government. Among those who attended the famous Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission (1906-1913) in Los Angeles were several Mexican believers. Luis López was baptized there in 1909 and before long the mission had produced its first Mexican preacher, Juan Navarro. Evidently, both López and Navarro were Protestants prior to their arrival in Los Angeles; but, upon hearing the Pentecostal message, they were convinced of its truth and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by speaking in tongues and other signs and wonders. They also accepted the doctrine that they should be baptized or rebaptized only in the Name of Jesus, and that "this is the true baptism that saves." This baptismal practice dates from about 1909, which is several years prior to the controversy that erupted over the "Jesus Only" vs. Trinitarian baptismal formula that sharply divided Pentecostals in 1913. In 1912, soon after 22-year-old Francisco F. Llorente (1890-1928) arrived in San Diego from his home in Acapulco, Mexico, he was converted to Pentecostalism by a group of Anglo-Americans who were followers of the Apostolic Faith (or "Jesus Only" Pentecostals). In 1914 Llorente was instrumental in the conversion and baptism of Marcial De La Cruz; then, together, they traveled throughout Southern California during 1914-1915 and established numerous Spanish-speaking Apostolic churches. These early Mexican Pentecostals differed from other Pentecostals by teaching that their churches should not have women preachers, that women should have their heads covered during public worship services, and that water baptism should be administered only in the "Name of Jesus" (as in Acts 2:38 and I Timothy 2:12). Beginning in 1916, Navarro, Llorente and De La Cruz received their ministerial credentials from the PAW, and Llorente was named the PAW's "Mexican Representative." That event marks the organizational beginning of the Apostolic Assembly as an emergent denomination, with Llorente as its acting bishop (1916-1928). In 1916-1917, Antonio Castañeda Nava (1892-1999) of Nazas, Durango, Mexico, was converted, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and received a call to the ministry while working in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. He launched a career in evangelism and church planting that led to his being named the second Presiding Bishop (1929-1950) of the Apostolic Assembly following the sudden death of Llorente in 1928. Between 1916 and 1919 the Spanish-speaking Apostolic work spread from San Francisco to the Mexican border. Llorente dedicated most of his efforts to ministry between Los Angeles and San

Francisco. Although loosely related to the PAW, the PAW leadership exercised no control or supervision of the Spanish-speaking work in California at the time the PAW was formally incorporated in 1919. In December 1925, the leaders of the Hispanic Apostolic churches (some 23 congregations) in the American Southwest and Baja California met together in San Bernardino, California, for their first general assembly as an organization. Those in attendance chose "The Church of the Apostolic Pentecostal Faith" (Iglesia de la Fe Apostólica Pentecostés) as the official name of their movement and elected Francisco Llorente as Presiding Bishop (1925-1928). However, when the new denomination became officially incorporated in California on March 15, 1930 as a nonprofit organization, its name became "The Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Jesus Christ" and it formally severed its ties to the PAW. The work in Baja California, Mexico, remained under the supervision of the Apostolic Assembly in California until transferred to the supervision of its sister denomination in Mexico, the Apostolic Church of Faith in Jesus Christ (Iglesia Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús), in 1933. The latter was formally organized in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico, in 1932, although its first church was formed in 1914 in Villa Aldama, Chihuahua. Also, the delegates at the first general assembly in 1925 adopted an organizational structure similar to Methodism, with an executive board of bishops. The original officers included the President (Pastor General or Presiding Bishop), Executive Elder (Anciano Ejecutivo), Secretary and Assistant Secretary. The young Hispanic Apostolic Faith movement suffered from the migratory nature of the Mexican-American population, mainly composed of agricultural workers that followed the seasonal planting and harvesting of crops in the southwestern states; the lack of literacy and basic education among the Spanish-speaking people; the lack of funds for pastoral salaries and for purchasing land and constructing church buildings; the large-scale movement of migrant farm workers back to Mexico during the Great Depression of the 1930s; and the general lack of experience in organizational development and management. Also, two divisions affected the new denomination during the 1920s-1930s. In 1926, a small group of pastors, led by José L. Martínez of San Bernardino, revolted against the leadership of Llorente and demanded a doctrinal purification, the purging of the ministry, and a new name for the movement, but also the requirement concerning tithing was a major issue in the financial structure of the denomination. The unfortunate result of this conflict was the withdrawal of Martínez and six other pastors, who formed the "Apostolic Christian Assembly of the Name of Jesus Christ" in 1927. During the late-1930s, a small group of churches in New Mexico, led by Pedro Banderas, left the Apostolic Assembly over disagreements on tithing (ca. 1938) and joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, which was created in 1932 by a merger of the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. During the period 1940-1945, the Apostolic Assembly adopted a pacifist position regarding the bearing of firearms during World War II, and recommended that if called upon to serve in the armed forces the duty of their members was to obey the draft but to declare themselves as "conscientious objectors" and only serve in a non-combatant role, such as in the medical corps.

The Apostolic Assembly grew slowly during the 1930s and early 1940s, but began a period of expansion following World War II. In 1935, there were at total of 18 churches in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In 1946, the Apostolic Assembly agreed to a joint venture with the United Pentecostal Church International and the Apostolic Church of Mexico to evangelize Central America, initially in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In 1949, the Apostolic Bible Training School was established in Hayward, California, to better prepare Spanish-speaking ministers. During the 1950s, the denomination divided its work into various districts, each supervised by a bishop who was elected by the majority of the ministers of his district and subject to the approval of the Qualifying Commission, composed of three members of the national board of directors. The ministers of the local congregations were appointed and subject to removal by the District Bishop; the local congregations are consulted regarding the matter, but the final decision is made by the bishop. Sometimes the District Bishop allows the local church to call its own pastor; however, pastoral changes are normally made at the district conventions or at regional pastors meetings. All church buildings and properties are held in the name of the corporation. The principle of self-support is strongly adhered to and tithing is considered the duty and obligation of every member. In addition, no local church is exempt from sending a tenth of its tithes and offerings to the General Treasurer of the Apostolic Assembly. The tithes of the pastors and elders of each district must be sent monthly to the District Treasurer for the support of the District Bishop and the administration of the district. During the early 1960s, new Apostolic Assembly churches were established in Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as missionary efforts in Costa Rica, Honduras and Italy in 1964-1965. By 1966, there were 152 Apostolic congregations with about 8,000 members in 12 states, including new work in Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin. By 1980, the Apostolic Assembly had grown to 298 organized churches and 80 missions with about 16,700 members nationally, with the largest concentration of congregations in California (129). In 1993, the Apostolic Assembly reported 451 organized churches nationally with about 40,600 members, which made it the third-largest Hispanic denomination in the USA after the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention in terms of Hispanic churches and membership. In 2004, the annual report listed 52,000 adult baptized members, about 80,000 adherents (adults, adolescents and children), 700 organized churches in 44 states distributed among 27 districts in the USA. In addition, there were 19 mission fields in Canada, Mexico, Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama), South America (Brazil Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela), the Caribbean (Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), and Europe (Italy and Spain). These mission fields reported 19 missionaries, 31,000 adult baptized members, about 50,000 adherents and 600 organized churches. As of November 1, 2007, the Apostolic Assembly had twenty-six districts in the USA and five regional mission districts in 20 countries, including 228 affiliated churches in 10 districts in Mexico.

This Hispanic denomination experienced significant growth in membership in the USA between 1996 and 2002. In 2007, it had more than 700 organized congregations with 94,000 members in the USA and more than 690 missionary churches with 36,800 members in 20 countries, including the USA, Central America, South America, Europe and Africa. Its estimated total membership worldwide is 130,000, and it has 5,500 ordained ministers and deacons. Since 2002, the Obispo Presidente of the Board of Directors has been Daniel Sánchez (born in 1939), the current Vice-President is Bishop Samuel Valverde, and there are six other board members: General Secretary, General Treasurer, Secretary of International Missions, Secretary of National Missions, Secretary of Christian Education and Secretary of Social Assistance. Under the Board of Directors is the Episcopal Body, which includes all District Supervisors or Bishops. Districts generally correspond to state or regional boundaries and are led by a Bishop who serves a four-year term. The Bishop is assisted by a District Secretary and a District Treasurer. Bishops may also rely on Elders, an elected position for Pastors who advise a small group of congregations on behalf of the corresponding district. During its first eighty years of existence, the Apostolic Assembly has had eight national leaders or "Bishop Presidents," who are listed here, with corresponding terms of service in parenthesis: Francisco Llorente (1925-1928), Antonio Castañeda Nava (1929-1950, 1963-1966), Benjamin Cantu (1950-1963), Efraín Valverde (1966-1970), Lorenzo Salazar (1970-1978), Manuel Vizcarra (1986-1994), Baldemar Rodríguez (1978-1986, 1994-2002) and Daniel Sánchez (20022006, 2006-2010). National Headquarters: The headquarters building houses offices for its eight-member Board of Directors and also for its administrative staff, which is comprised of 15 full-time employees. In addition, it has two conference rooms, bookstore, shipping & receiving area and a warehouse. The Christian bookstore is open to the public. Headquarters Address: Obispo Presidente Daniel Sánchez 10807 Laurel Street, Rancho Cucamonga, California 91730 Telephone (909) 987-3013 Internet: E-Mail: [email protected] Clifton L. Holland Last updated on June 11, 2009 Sources: Burgess, Stanley M. and Gary B. McGee, editors. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library/Zondervan Publishing House, 1988. Denominational websites:

Gaxiola, Manuel J. La Serpiente y la Paloma: Historia, Teología y Análisis de la Iglesia Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús de México (1914-1994). Second Edition. Nacaulpan, México: Libros Pyros, 1994. Holland, Clifton L. The Religious Dimension in Hispanic Los Angeles: A Protestant Case Study. South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Press, 1974. Holland, Clifton L. "An Update on the National Study of Hispanic Protestant Church Growth in the USA," an unpublished research report. Pasadena, CA: IDEA-PROLADES, 1993. See: Martin del Campo, Ismael. Cosechando en el Field. Norwalk, California: Editorial Nueva Visión, 2004. Note: this is a history of his denomination, the Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Jesus Christ. Martin del Campo, Ismael. "Asamblea Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús" in Iglesias Peregrinas en Busca de Identidad: Cuadros del Protestantismo Latino en los Estados Unidos, edited by Juan F. Martínez and Luis Scott (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Kairos and CEHILA, 2004). Ortega, José A., editor. Historia de la Asamblea Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús, 1916-1966. Mentone, CA: Editorial Committee of the Asamblea Apostólica, 1966. Torres, Domingo A. "Asamblea Apostólica de la Fe en Cristo Jesús," Chapter 6 of Hacia Una Historia de la Iglesia Evangélica Hispana de California del Sur, edited by Rodelo Wilson. Montebello, CA: AHET, 1993. (about 2,150 words)


Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Jesus Christ

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