The First Schism

Many younger guys might not know this but the first schism in the American Oneness Pentecostal movement took place in 1919 a hundred years ago.

Bishop G. T. Haywood had originally taught that folks coming into the church in a second marriage had to separate or be reconciled to their first wife. There was a couple coming to the Bishop’s church trying to get their lives in order to receive the Holy Ghost but the man had been married before. During a service the man received the Holy Ghost. Bishop Haywood believing the man’s experience was genuine and he said, “who was I to withstand God?”. Thus he began teaching judgment begins at the House of God. Teaching folks coming into the church in their remarried condition could remain in that marriage and be saved.

Bishop R. C. Lawson who pastored at Columbus, Ohio who had been a convert of Bishop Haywood strongly disagreed. Later he moved to Harlem, NY and built a huge church, and honestly, this one man evangelized the entire East Coast with the Apostolic message. He founded The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. This group through the years had many splits but multiplied the East Coast of Apostolic teachings.

His 3 major differences with Bishop Haywood and the PAW was these:
1. The divorce and remarriage issue. He taught remarried folks had to separate when coming into the church.
2. He did not accept women as pastors, they could have a limited ministry under the oversight of a man.
3. He taught some some of head covering was necessary for women in the church.
These rules were very autocratic and caused several splits.
He was a noted teacher, author, composer, singer.
He spoke at Bishop Haywood’s funeral.

While almost unknown among most of the white constituency he was one of the most prominent Oneness leaders of the American Apostolic movement for nearly 50 years and his work lives on today. The Mother church in Harlem is huge and his influence casts a long shadow especially on the East Coast.