Christ Gospel Churches International
Christ Gospel Church is a fundamentalist, Pentecostal Christian denomination. It was founded in the 1950s by Reverend Bernice R. Hicks and fellow believers starting in a small Christian mission in Louisville, Kentucky. Rev Hicks still takes an active leadership in the church role despite her advanced age.
The Christ Gospel Churches affirm their acceptance of the Apostles' Creed as an expression of Christian faith. Their Pentecostal emphasis is seen in teaching the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of glossolalia, or speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4,11,38).¹ However, they do not believe that evidence of glossolalia is a requirement for salvation; rather, it is a gift that Christians can accept as they desire. The church also teaches that water baptism by immersion is a commandment for all Christians (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 9:5,18).¹ The church believes that worship should embrace all kinds of music (e.g., traditional hymns, choruses, country gospel, urban gospel, classical) and musical instruments (e.g., drums, guitars, pianos, saxophones, trumpets, violins). The church welcomes all races and classes of people because it realizes the importance of people being united in Christ rather that being divided among themselves. The church teaches "old-fashioned Holiness" in matters of conduct and dress, but also understands there are different levels of commitment and regards this as a matter of the individual conscience.¹
The emphasis of Rev. Hicks' teachings is that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and that it calls on Christians to grow to spiritual maturity, both in their moral development and in their spiritual love relationship with Jesus Christ, in order to be in the Bride of Christ. The core of her teachings is founded on the principle that the Old Testament Tabernacle was laid out in the form of a cross and serves as a picture or metaphor of Christian believers' spiritual experiences as they grow to maturity in Christ Jesus, as taught in the New Testament (Hebrews 9:8-11; Ephesians 2:19-22). A related core principle is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head over all things, and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. These concepts can be found throughout Rev. Hicks's numerous publications and in church teachings.
Christ Gospel Churches International claims some 70 congregations in the United States, over 400 in India, about 500 in Mexico, and affiliates in several countries of Africa and Central America. There are congregations in El Salvador, England, the Faroe Islands, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, and various countries of South America, including Colombia and Ecuador. In all, the movement claims over 1,400 affiliated congregations in 135 countries (2008). Its international offices are located in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where it operates a Bible Institute, publishing ministry, broadcast ministry, and audio ministry. The church also publishes a quarterly newsletter, Voice of Hope.
A series of articles in The Evening News (Jeffersonville) and The Courier-Journal in 1979, 1987, and 1993 questioned Hicks's lifestyle and the treatment of current and former members.
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