Our affiliation with the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. connects us with a larger Christian community beyond our local church. The Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. is a national fellowship of local churches unified through a common heritage, doctrine, and government for service to the Kingdom of God. The Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. began in 1896 as a spiritual movement pioneered by Bishop Charles Price Jones (1865-1949). As a movement and a denomination, our doctrinal heritage embraces the fullness of the Spirit, an emphasis on holy living and the fellowship of the faith.
Fullness of the Spirit
Bishop Jones began this spirit inspired movement with a desire to know the Lord in a greater way. His hunger and thirst for righteousness resulted in his being filled with the Spirit of God at Selma, Alabama in 1894. He taught that this infilling of the Holy Ghost is a normal Christian experience for every believer. It is through the infilling of the Holy Spirit (also known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit) that believers are anointed for service and empowered to live a life that produces the fruits and gifts of the Spirit: “That no man could follow Christ in his own strength; that it is therefore the privilege and duty of all to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:16-18), and walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:15-26)” (Jones). It was this belief and the resulting teachings on the holy life that led to the persecution of Jones and others and to the founding of this denomination.
Emphasis on Holy Living
Bishop Jones embraced whole heartedly the biblical command to “be ye holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16), and he was fully convinced that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Yet, his desire was not to establish a man-made system of legalistic rules, but rather to urge holiness “upon the conscience, to make it a daily thought, a daily aim, a goal, a faith, an experience, a life so as to give it room in all manner of conversation…”(Jones). He also recalled in a 1930 address to the church that “there have always been honorable exceptions as to moral conduct and religious faithfulness. But the churches were not CALLED TO HOLINESS.” We still continue in this doctrine and contend that faith and repentance are necessary for salvation, and that after conversion, believers are to commit to a life of purity as children of a holy God.
Fellowship of the Spirit vs. A Denominational Image
Though the movement became a denomination, Jones never sought to establish a new church. “Not to form a new church was this convention called, but to establish a new fellowship, yet as old as Pentecost.” Instead, Jones felt that “denominationalism is slavery”. Our movement was “entirely inter-denominational, non-sectarian, and in spirit anti-sectarian.” With this heritage as the backdrop of our movement, we do not consider ourselves greater than any other denomination or Christian organization, and we embrace fellowship with other churches. However, in respect to the biblical beliefs we espouse, we have united for a common fellowship with those of like precious faith.