We’ve Come This Far by Faith: Readings on the Early Leaders of the Pentecostal Church of God, by Larry Martin. Pensacola, FL: Christian Life Books, c2009.
This is the best-documented history of the founding and early days of the Pentecostal Church of God. Based on Martin’s earlier book, In The Beginning, this work contains much new information on the church’s founders and is well documented. He covers the backdrop of the founding of this movement, tracing its roots back to Charles F. Parham at Topeka and influences from John Alexander Dowie, William Durham, William Piper, George Brinkman, John Sinclair, and many others. Several of the early leaders also had close ties with the Assemblies of God.
Originally called the Pentecostal Assemblies of the USA, the organizational meeting took place at George Brinkman’s Pentecostal Herald Mission in Chicago on December 29-30, 1919. John Sinclair was elected the first chairman, an executive committee was formed, a constitution was formulated, and Brinkman’s Pentecostal Herald was established as the official paper of the group. The denomination was reorganized as the Pentecostal Church of God in 1922.
Larry Martin has done extensive research on the origins of the movement, particularly on its early leaders. He covers the years when the denomination’s headquarters and printing operation were located in Chicago and then gives some information about when the offices moved to Ottumwa, Iowa in 1927. Beginning in 1934, the group was headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and those years are scheduled to be treated in a forthcoming sequel.
He then includes chapter biographies of each of the early leaders and chairmen of the Pentecostal Church of God. These notables include: George Brinkman, John Sinclair, Edward Matthews, John B. Huffman, Silas Shepard, Osborn Gilliland, Rik Field, A. D. McClure, and Alfred Worth. His information is augmented with photographs and footnotes. Photographs of some of these early leaders are published for the first time.
One chapter includes a Who’s Who of the founders of the denomination which provides brief biographical information on these additional leaders: R. E. McAlister, James A. Bell, Ida Tribbett, W. C. Thompson, Wilmer Artis, Herbert J. Wilson, Fred O. Price, Watson E. Tubbs, Thomas B. O’Reilley, and Eli DePriest.
Not only is this an important history of the beginnings of the Pentecostal Church of God, Inc., now headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, but it is noteworthy that many of these individuals had a wider influence that impacted the broader Pentecostal movement as a whole.
Reviewed by Glenn W. Gohr