On the twenty-eighth day of August in the year 1919, George A. Phillips, Walter Wooby Smith, Robert LeRoy Finlay, Conrad J. Dottin, Florence H. Thomas, Henry L. Fisher, Alexander R. Howard, Margaret L. Howard, Charles W. Rider, Hiram T. Carpenter, and Ethel C. Brown associated themselves with the intention of forming a Corporation under the name of the New England District Council of the Assemblies of God, Incorporated. These forefathers desired that the Council be a unique one and that it continue long into perpetuity.
George A. Phillips
Rev. Alexander and Margaret Howard
The insights and spiritual aspirations for a strong Council were evidenced by the efforts of the late Rev. and Mrs. Alexander Howard, who in the year 1919 journeyed to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from their home in Michigan. Rev. Howard preached at our local churches and was very dynamic. Shortly thereafter, the Lord called him to be a missionary to Liberia, West Africa; this he stated was his sincere desire and conviction. He and his wife, although willing to go, did not have available the necessary financial means of reaching their desired destination to fulfill the God-called mission. The Council knew that the Lord had called them and that they were to be the first missionaries and roots of this great Council.
Rev. Conrad Dottin
With God’s guidance, Rev. George A. Phillips obtained the cooperation of the pastors and saints at three churches in Cambridge: The Apostolic Pentecostal Church (now known as Abundant Life Church), 47 Howard Street, where Rev. Conrad Dottin was Pastor; Christian Mission Holiness Church, 789 Main Street, where Alfred G. Cragwell was Pastor; and the First Holiness Church, 57 Moore Street, where Rev. George A. Phillips was Pastor. Rev. Phillips chartered the organization to be named the New England District Council of the Assemblies of God (later to be known as the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God, Incorporated, or UPCAG), to enable us to financially support, spiritually strengthen and reinforce our missionaries.
The fruits of their efforts were soon rewarded. The Council was able to raise Twelve Hundred Dollars ($1,200.00) and within one-year, the Rev. and Mrs. Alexander Howard sailed for the mission fields of Liberia. The words of our Charter, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel…”, were witnessed as a true testimony that God had affirmatively approved the Council’s objectives; for it was only through God that such a feat could have been accomplished, for the poorer members were suffering great financial hardships, yet they trusted God to replace that which they had given in order that His Word through the foreign missionaries and the Council could be spread abroad.
The New England District Council of the Assemblies of God, Incorporated was now ready to branch out into new horizons, but first an amendment had to be made to the Articles of Organization. Upon the presentation of the Charter to the Massachusetts Secretary of State for certification of legal existence, it was determined that there was a problem regarding the Council’s title in that another organization was in existence using the same corporate name; namely, the Assemblies of God, Incorporated. Hence, on March 1, 1920, it was voted by the general body that the Council therein after would be know as the United Pentecostal Council of the Assembiles of God, Inc.
Our Council has great a heritage, as it was wrought by the Holy Ghost of which men and women of the Gospel were instrumental and played an integral part in establishing a Council with a strong foundation. Great giants in the Word of God were the essence of our Council.
Our late Bishop George A. Phillips was a great Bible scholar, who taught at the Zion Bible Institute in Providence, Rhode Island, where the Rev. and Mrs. Gibson, members of the UPCAG, were the founders.The UPCAG grew from three churches in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to churches located in Chicago, Illinois; New York; Louisville, Kentucky; and several other places. Its foreign works included Aruba; Cape Palmas, Liberia, West Africa; Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Trinidad, West Indies.
The year 1948 was a trying time for the Council. Bishop Phillips lay seriously ill and during November 1948, he went home to be with the Lord. Rev. Conrad Dottin was chosen to be the next leader of the UPCAG, and served faithfully in that office until March, 1953, when after a long illness, he was called to be with the Lord. Thereupon, Rev. Allan C. Miller was elected President of the Council. Rev. Miller was President until the year 1964 and on June 14 the Presbytery Board consecrated him to be the National Bishop. In June 1969 during the Convention in Cambridge at the election of the Officers, Bishop Miller declined to be nominated for the Office of President. Due to the sudden decision by Bishop Miller, a special business meeting was called and held on July 19, 1969, at the general headquarters of the Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the following Officers were nominated and elected:
Rev. Ezra N. Williams – National President
Rev. Aiden C. Ward – 1st Vice President
Rev. Walter Plummer – 2nd Vice President
Herman L. Greene – General Secretary
Leota Figgins – Recording/Corresponding Secretary
Clyde N. Thornhill – Treasurer
It was with this Administration that the Council began to take a new turn toward the solidifying of its purpose as a Council as outlined in the Charter of the organization – mainly Foreign Missions. Rev. Williams, upon taking office, noted that if this body were to succeed as an organization it would have to undergo some changes.
In order to bring this about, he called for a three-day Summit Meeting to be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whereby all the National Officers, District Presidents and their Officers, Pastors, Elders, Evangelists and Missionary Workers would be present. This conference was first held in November 1972, and was to become an ongoing Summit to be held each succeeding year with the time used strictly for transacting the business of the Council. One of the main items on the agenda was the upgrading of our by-laws, which needed to be entirely strengthened. This became one of the major objectives of Rev. Williams – an endeavor, which he pursued vigorously along with other God-given directions for the Council. Rev. Williams brought about many changes in the Council, which were not only approved by the Executive Board, but by the general body as well.
The updating of the by-laws proved to be an arduous and painstaking task far beyond anyone’s expectations. However, after some ten years of work, the task was finally completed.
Rev. Williams was instrumental in creating a new District in the United States, namely the Southern District under the leadership of Rev. Lun Greene and a District in Barbados, West Indies, under the leadership of Rev. Nathaniel Allsopp. During that time the Council, along with the Barbados District, was successful in building a Tabernacle at Goodland, St. Michael, Barbados.
Rev. Williams traveled extensively for the Council, visiting the various Districts and Foreign Fields. During his administration, Rev. Lun Greene of Charleston, South Carolina was consecrated a Bishop.
In July 1981, having felt that he had completed the work of the Lord in regard to the Council, he decided not to seek the Office of President, whereupon Dr. William H. Bentley of Chicago, Illinois was elected President of the Council. Rev. Bentley’s vision for the Council was not only to carry out the previous administration’s goals, but also to further the vision that the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost gave to him. Namely, to build a strong administrative branch by using the expertise of the young adults, placing them in meaningful positions in order that they may gain experience in the operation of the Council and be better prepared to carry on the work in the future.