United Pentecostal Church International
I. Group Profile
II. Beliefs of the Group
The most unique belief of the United Pentecostal Church International is their doctrine of Oneness. The Oneness of God is opposite to the belief of the Trinity, which is God acting separately as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The UPCI believes that there is only one person that acts as the Godhead, and that is Jesus Christ. In addition, the UPCI believes that in order for someone to gain salvation they must repent for their sins, have a water baptism in the name of Lord Jesus Christ so that their sins are forgiven, receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and live their lives in a godly manner. All of this is possible because the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. (John 3:16)
The Oneness doctrine states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all present in the manifestation of each other because of this oneness nature of God. (Burgess, p.649) When performing religious prayers and ceremonies they do so in the name of Jesus Christ, not in the name of the Trinity. The UPCI believes that "the one true God, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, took upon Himself the form of man, and, as the Son of Man, was born of the virgin Mary. As the apostle Paul says, 'God was manifest in the flesh.'" Clanton, p.186) They also believe that "the Holy Spirit is God with us and in us." (Burgess, p.864) This idea of oneness can be described in the analogy of a man being a son, a husband, and a father all at the same time. (Burgess, p.649) Oneness Churches believe that Jesus states that His identity and God's identity are one in John 14:7-11: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
The Oneness of God is the key element to the UPCI's beliefs on baptism. They believe that a person should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, not in the name of the Trinity. This is read in Matthew 28:19 when Jesus commands his disciples to "go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Jesus uses the word name in the singular tense to portray the use of one name for all three titles, and this name is Jesus. The UPCI also believes that water baptism needs to be done only by immersion. (Acts 8:38-39, Mark 1:10) A child that is only sprinkled with holy water has not been truly baptized; therefore, they have not truly entered the world of Christ, yet. The UPCI sees these traditions as being human oriented, and as being against the Word of God.
The Pentecostal belief of baptism by the Holy Ghost is also seen as very important. When you are baptized by the Holy Ghost it means that the spirit of Christ is born within you. The indication of when someone is baptized with the Holy Ghost is when they begin to speak in tongues. This phenomenon is described to have happened to the Jews on the Day of the Pentecost, in Acts 2: 1-4. Speaking in tongues is defined by Webster's New International Dictionary as "a phenomenon experienced by some of the Christians of New Testament times, the nature of which seems to have been a kind of ecstatic utterance usually unintelligible to the hearers and even to the speakers." This ability to speak in unlearned languages shows the complete control of God over the speakers body. It symbolizes God entering one's body, and it signifies that one can now enter the kingdom of God.
The UPCI has a certain manner that they worship in. They pray aloud together and lift their hands in praise. They like to sing, play musical instruments, clap, shout, and dance for the Lord. They also testify publicly in front of the congregation. They believe in anointing people with oil so that they may be healed. Divine healing and the operation of spiritual gifts are practices that are not frequently seen in most churches, but are common to Pentecostal churches. The UPCI also observes the Lord's Supper and foot washing.
The UPCI also adheres to standards of conduct that are similar to the standards held by the earlier Pentecostal Churches at the start of this century. The members are asked to refrain from participating in or watching movies, worldly sports and amusements. Dancing and public swimming are seen to be unholy, and so is the wearing of immodest dress, make-up, jewelry, short hair on women, and long hair on men. (Burgess, p.864)
III. Contemporary Issues
The United Pentecostal Church International is actively involved in foreign missions. The UPCI Foreign Missions Division's purpose is to "proclaim the whole gospel to the whole world." (UPCI Home Page-Foreign Missions) They believe that the people of the world need not only to find Jesus, but also to repent, be baptized in full water immersion in the name of Jesus, and to receive the Holy Spirit through the speaking of tongues.
There are mission groups in seven regions around the world: Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East, Pacific, and South America. According to the UPCI's home page, there are currently 500 appointed missionaries who are working in 131 different countries. The UPCI Publishing House prints their literature in five different languages.
There are several different programs within the UPCI that sponsor the foreign missions work. The Partners in Missions group has families within the UPCI church sponsor a particular missionary. It is the missionary's responsibility to visit churches and find host families. The family offers prayer and money to the missionary monthly. There is a similar program called the Faith Promise Ministries where a specific amount of money is given monthly to the foreign missions department of the church, according to the income of the member. The promise that the member makes to give money is not to the church, but rather to God. It is the belief of the church that God will provide the member with the adequate amount of money each month. Finally, there was a program called Harvest '96 which purpose was world evangelism. This program spread the gospel around the world through such ways as prayer revivals, training sessions for evangelists, special times for fasting and prayer, and developing sister churches between North American and overseas churches. One of Harvest '96's main goals was to see as many new people baptized in the name of Jesus as possible.
IV. Links to United Pentecostal Church International Web Sites
This is the official web site for the UPCI and it is full of useful links to other divisions of the organization, such as the Publishing House and the Sunday School Department. The page itself looks into the history, structure, administration, doctrines, and current events of the organization.
The United Pentecostal Church International
Pentecostalism-in the Light of the World
Foreign Missions Division-UPCI
Home Missions Division-UPCI.
FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE "The basic and fundamental doctrine of this organization shall be the Bible standard of full salvation, which is repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. We shall endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit until we all come into the unity of the faith, at the same time admonishing all brethren that they should not contend for their different views to the disunity of the body." (Fundamental Doctrine, United We Stand, p.144)
ACTS 2:1-4 "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came form heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."