History of the Church of God in Germany
The beginnings of the Church of God in Germany date back to the time of the Second World War. Herman Lauster, born January 6, 1901, in Stuttgart-Münster, emigrated to America in 1926. While there, he came into contact with the Church of God. After ten years, on December 5, 1936, he returned to Germany as a missionary and started planting churches in 1937. Already during the war years, twelve churches were planted in the Stuttgart area. In 1947–1949, the first church building was built in Rudersberg-Krehwinkel. By 1954, the Church of God had already grown to 30 congregations, with 1,000 people in attendance. All of these churches were situated in the vicinity of Stuttgart. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the work advanced into other federal states, including Bavaria, Saarland, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.
After the death of Herman Lauster in 1964, his son-in-law, Lambert DeLong, provided oversight to the church for ten years. From 1974 to 1994, Dieter Knospe served as national overseer, followed by Dr. Paul Schmidgall (1994–2001), Erich Schneider (2001–2013) and Marc Brenner (2013 to today). Up to the year 2003, the Church of God in Germany was registered as a charitable organization; in 2004, it became recognized as a corporation under public law by the state of Baden-Württemberg. Today, the Church of God in Germany has over 70 local churches and nearly 4,500 members, besides 10,000 further constituents.
As part of the international Church of God based in Cleveland, Tennessee, USA, we belong to the worldwide Pentecostal movement, an evangelical branch of Protestantism. At the national level, the German Church of God operates as a distinct denomination. It is governed by its National Executive Council and represented by the National Executive Committee; both of these bodies are elected by the German National Assembly.
Beginnings of the Church of God in the United States
The Church of God (Cleveland, TN) is one the oldest Pentecostal denominations in the world. Its beginnings date back to 1886, in the time of the Holiness movement that arose in churches in the United States. Today, the Church of God is represented in 185 countries and has around 10 million constituents around the world.
On August 19, 1886, in a millhouse along Barney Creek (in Monroe County, Tennessee), former Baptist pastor Richard Green Spurling and eight like-minded persons formed a Christian Union. They wanted to take a stand against the rampant secularization and theological liberalization of the established churches. Thus, they became a link in a long chain of small groups that were establishing themselves as independent Holiness churches. After ten years, the Christian Union joined together with a small group of Baptists in North Carolina. In the year 1896, they experienced a revival at the Shearer Schoolhouse in Camp Creek (in Cherokee County, North Carolina). Here, ten years before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street, around 130 people experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues. There were also reports of divine healings of the sick.
As the revival in Camp Creek spread and the hub of the young church shifted to the city of Cleveland, in southeastern Tennessee, the church eventually adopted the biblical name “Church of God” in 1907. In the year 1910, the Church of God began its missionary activity and solidified itself in formulating its Declaration of Faith, which was then ratified by the General Assembly in 1911. From these modest beginnings in the Holiness movement, the Church of God has grown into one of the largest and most prominent Pentecostal denominations in the world.