It is an honor for the IPHC and the General Superintendent to participate in the Centennial Celebration of our sister denomination, the Congregational Holiness Church. Their theme this year is “Bridging the Gap,” a phrase that describes our relationship over much of the last 50 years. Our mutual roots go deep into Wesleyan holiness and the Pentecostal experience. For many years ministers have pastored congregations in both the IPHC and CHC. Our denominational leaders have had close friendships and service together for Jesus Christ. I am grateful to the late Bishop Charles Hanson and the CHC executive board for the invitation to speak at this significant gathering. The IPHC global family is praying for our brothers and sisters in the CHC as they fulfil the mission of Jesus in this new century!
I asked Dr. Harold Hunter, director of the IPHC Archives and Research Center (ARC), to address the IPHC/CHC relationship from a historical perspective. His response is below.
The unique relationship between the Congregational Holiness Church and the IPHC can be illustrated in part by the holdings found in the IPHC Archives & Research Center in Oklahoma City, OK. On October 29, 2020, Rev. Scotty Poole and Dr. Matthew Turner came to see these treasures, including books by Watson Sorrow, the rare 1922 Congregational Holiness Church minutes, and a history by B.L. Cox.
The interconnectedness of the Congregational Holiness Church and the IPHC during the early years made their way into the exhaustive biography of J.H. King by Dr. Tony Moon. Dr. Harold D. Hunter hosted Bishop Ronald Wilson and Dr. Matthew Turner inside the King Heritage House and Dr. Moon took them on a tour of Emmanuel College. This fraternal visit to Franklin Springs, GA, was September 14, 2020.
Through the years the IPHC sought forgiveness for divisive issues that tarnished a close fellowship. One of the high marks of this pilgrimage was the March 12, 1980, affiliation agreement signed by Bishop James H. Martin, Congregational Holiness General Superintendent, and Bishop J. Floyd Williams, IPHC General Superintendent along with their respective executive boards. An article celebrating this event titled “International Pentecostal Holiness Church and Congregational Holiness Church Sign Affiliation Agreement” was published in the International Pentecostal Holiness Advocate 64:9 (8/24/1980). This agreement was signed after a joint meeting of the Congregational Holiness General Executive Board and the IPHC General Executive Board at the IPHC headquarters in Oklahoma City, OK.
The IPHC Archives & Research Center endorses with enthusiasm the centennial celebration of the Congregational Holiness Church, a sister church of the IPHC. When IPHC General Superintendent Bishop James Leggett addressed the 1998 centennial of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas in Greenville, SC, led by the late and beloved Bishop W.E. Fuller Jr., Bishop Leggett was quick to not only affirm their shared history but to offer a way forward together. The proud son of the legendary African-American pioneer W.E. Fuller received these words with great satisfaction.
Congratulations to Bishop Stephen D. Phillips, Congregational Holiness General Superintendent. May your centennial celebration glow with the power of the Holy Spirit. Your invitation for IPHC Presiding Bishop Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr., to join in the celebration is a sure ‘Sign of the Spirit’. “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:20, NRSV).”
Harold Hunter, Ph.D.
IPHC Archives & Research Center