About

About

Today the AGA has 29 local churches and 6 affiliates in the USA and England. The challenge lies before us to effect transformation in our personal lives, our communities, our churches, in our country and across the world. God has raised us up to accomplish His purposes through His power.


The earliest events that set the stage for the birth of the AGA date back to the early 1920s when a small group of Christians—after meeting at a number of locations including El-Bethel, home of Cecil Harris on Shortwood Road, began to meet regularly at the home of T. J. and Clarabelle Karram at 66 Constant Spring Road.

The Karram’s two sons, Albert and Stanley, and Henry White later became members of the Rehoboth Mission, and were instructed in their early spiritual walk by Stanley Harris, pastor of the “mother” church, Rehoboth and brother of Cecil. He was not the founder of the church, but rather offered himself in 1925 to lead the small group of believers that had been meeting for about three years. Stanley Harris, his brother Cecil and an Alaskan native named John Wesley Long all figure prominently in the pre-formation years of the Association.

Rehoboth’s first full-time worker and assistant pastor was Frank S. Bent. Bent and Albert Karram were saved in November 1925 under the ministry of Stanley Harris. Bent and Harris had differences primarily concerning the operations at the Jones Town mission. These differences may have been what led to Bent’s departure from Rehoboth in 1935. The vast majority of the leadership and members sided with Bent, including T. J. Karram (father of Albert) on whose property the fellowship met. “Father” Karram thereafter left the church on his own premises Sunday after Sunday to go to Jones Town where his former employee, mason Frank Bent had become pastor.  Among the few who remained faithful to Harris were T. J.’s two sons, Albert and Stanley.

In 1946, Bro. Stanley Harris and his wife migrated to England, and left the then dwindling congregation at Rehoboth in the care of six elders whom he ordained.  They were Henry A. White, Albert T. Karram, Lancelot E. Smart, Phillip B. Christie, Louis Johnson and Granville Salmon.  These elders spearheaded the founding of several churches over the next two decades.

The Associated Gospel Assemblies was incorporated in 1959 by Henry Alexander White (Overseer), Albert Temeir Karram (Treasurer) and Stanley George Karram (Secretary).  For a number of years these men had along with several others, operated as a religious body and possessed several properties by a limited company known as Church Property (Undenominational) Limited.  The group had not been incorporated earlier as a religious body because of an adherence to a doctrine that they had received in their early spiritual nurture.  Incorporation in 1959 entitled these leaders and their group of about ten churches to operate Merl Grove High School, formerly a private institution, as a grant-aided institution.

Henry White had given up a lucrative contract with Rapid Sheffield and forsaken the building profession to serve full-time in the ministry.  He had a profound and particular sense of call to be overseer of the Association, and also served as Chairman for several years.  Eventually, the denomination ended the Overseer position and offered him any portfolio he desired.  He selected (Home) Missions and thus engaged his energies in the supervision of the churches.

In many ways, Henry White is a living legend in the AGA.  He was not part of the very earliest beginnings of the movement under Cecil Harris, nor was he a part of the movement when it was on the Karram porch.  In fact his time with Frank Bent barely overlapped, White becoming a member in January 1934, the year before Bent left.  His name is singularly linked with just about every Association congregation—from Rocky Point, Clarendon to Roundwood, England; from Olivet, Clarendon to Olivet in New York.

The first church that was founded under the leadership of the freshly ordained corps of elders was Bethel at St. Joseph’s Road in Kingston.  Pastor White’s sister Gladys, and her husband Hubert Reynolds kept a Sunday School in their home on Crescent Road.  Bro. Albert Karram had a special desire to see a work founded in this area, so the brethren banded together, had open-air and cottage meetings, secured a plot of land, erected a building and Bethel Gospel Assembly was born.

Name of Church

Rehoboth

Bethel

Spring Village (Ebenezer)

Grace (Richmond)

Carmel

Hebron

Rocky Point

Elim

Nazareth

Olivet (Rock)

Calvary

Bethesda

Hope

Spalding

Marlborough (Hopewell)

Emmanuel

Duhaney Park

Lloyds

Lyndhurst

Denbigh

Light of Life

Sharon (Contrivance)

Arlene Gardens

Exchange

Portmore

Treadways

Lillyfield

Melrose

Date established

1925

1943

1944 (*1948 AGA)

1947

1948

1948

1949

1952

1953

1956

1957

1957

1959

1960 (*1964 AGA)

1960

1964

1964

1965

1965

1965

1965

1967

1975

1978 (*1982 AGA)

1978

1978

1993 AGA

2001

First Pastor(s)

Stanley Harris

Clive Afflick

Ivanho Jones

Paul Davis

Seymour Mills

Patrick Reynolds

Odel Peart/Henry White

Louis Johnson

Lloyd Bewry

Joseph Blackstock/Fitz B. Reeves

Curtis Cole

Lloyd Bewry

Lancelot E. Smart

Seymour Mills

Paul Davis

Basil Chen

Lloyd Bewry

Archibald Oreleu

Dudley McKenzie

Fitz B. Reeves

Albert Karram

Seymour Mills

Curtis Cole

Aston Brown/George Headlam

Odel Peart

Gladstone Clarke

Aston Brown

On Saturday, January 19, 1994 General Council (the highest governing body of the AGA) met as usual to conduct discussion and decision-making on the business of the Association.  The meeting was convened at Rehoboth and Rev. Kevin Llewellyn who was slated to conduct the devotional session, shared on the need for revival.  Prior to this meeting, from as early as 1991, fervent prayers had been going up for desired change to take place relating to matters of governance within the denomination.  In fact, Chairman, Albert Karram had himself voiced the need for change.

It was amidst this air of expectancy and desire for change that the leaders had now met for Council, agenda prepared, and ready to move forward.  But, as it turned out, God had “other plans”.  Council erupted into spontaneous, impassioned prayer and petition for such an extended period of time, that the agenda items were put on hold.  Even after attempts to get back to them, it seemed that what was on God’s agenda was in fact –more prayer.  Finally, Council asked the Executive Board to meet separately while the rest stayed and prayed.  When they returned, they were encircled and committed to God through the continued prayers of the Council members, including Evangelist Devene McLean from Denbigh.  Eventually, Council broke at about 3:30 p.m. for lunch and dismissal.

Council met again on Wednesday, February 5, 1994 to now deal with the agenda items, which had been shelved.  There was an air of cautiousness and expectancy as the leaders waited on God to direct the way forward.  Very few items of business were discussed, but the nominating committee was soon on its way to presenting a new slate of possible leaders.  At this time, the existing Executive Board was dissolved.  Change was instituted as to how the Executive Board would be constituted.  Under the new system, ten persons would be elected to pre-determined portfolios, each with a job description.  The Board would now consist of ten persons –five officers and five directors.

Governance
Prior to 1994, the nominating committee would consist of two Board members and one member from the floor.  This committee would then select twelve persons to serve, and those twelve would later decide among themselves who would be Chairman, and what portfolio each would hold.  There were the offices of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Director of Schools and Director of Home Missions.  The other six positions were Members-at-large.

The nominating committee, which at this time consisted of Donovan Cole (floor), Kevin Llewellyn (floor) and Wilfred James (Board member), returned with their slate of ten, as follows:

(The title was changed from Chairman to President.)

President                –    Rev. Peter Garth
1st Vice President              –     Rev. Dr. Carlton Dennis
2nd Vice President              –    Rev. Dudley Bragg
Secretary                –    Rev. Ewart Watson
Treasurer                –    Elder Phillip Silvera
Director of Schools            –    Pastor Albert Karram (Life Member)
Director of Missions & Evangelism      –     Rev. Henry White  (Life Member)
Director of Pastoral Concerns        –    Elder Leslie Hamilton
Director of Public Relations        –    Elder Kermit Tucker
Director of Christian Education    –    Rev. Lance Lewis

In his usual impassioned way of speaking, Pastor George Headlam (now deceased) called on Council to accept en bloc the recommendation of the nominating committee.  Council agreed.

Among the first actions of the new President, Rev. Peter Garth was the reopening of the AGA Head Office at 15 Dunrobin Avenue, Kingston 10.

Bible/Theological Training
Transformation has also taken place in the area of training of Pastors.  Some of the founding fathers felt that attendance at Bible Colleges or receiving any kind of theological training was unnecessary, and therefore did not promote this kind of preparation for ministry.  Today, not only are Pastors required to have a sense of call to the ministry but some degree of theological training and preparation for the pastorate is mandatory.  Pastors are also given a proper service of installation by the denomination, into their respective pastorates.

Women
The denomination’s posture regarding women has also seen significant transformation.  Sis. Olive White started the Women’s Missionary Fellowship and served as President for 17 years.  However, up to 1991, women were not allowed to attend General Council.  They were allowed to read the report of the Women’s Missionary Fellowship and then leave the meeting.  This practice was found to be contrary to the stipulations found in the AGA Handbook which allowed for leaders of all the auxiliaries to be in attendance—as Rev. Carlton Dennis was at pains to point out.

In 1998 by decision of Council, women were allowed to be appointed as deacons.  Women, such as Sister Joyce Reeves after the 1988 passing of Pastor Fitz B. Reeves at Denbigh, though not serving formally as pastors have led churches in the denomination.  Today, Sis. Hyacinth Peart serves as Pastoral Concerns Director on the Executive Board of the Association.

Women were also thought to be accountable for the purity within the church, as they were to be blamed for immorality considered to result from their immodest dress.  Thankfully, today women and men recognize that the responsibility to maintain purity within the church rests on all our shoulders.  Modesty of dress for both men and women is emphasized.

Divine Healing
Founding father, Bro. Stanley Harris did not believe in medicine.  Early teaching in the denomination had a leaning towards seeking divine healing outside of the use of medicine and attendance to doctors.  While we do believe that God heals supernaturally, the AGA also acknowledges that God also enacts healing through medicine and the wisdom He gives to those in the medical profession.  In fact, the AGA presently has medical doctors, nurses and other persons working in the health services in several of its congregations.

Polity
Since the 1990s the churches have become more associated, though they remain autonomous.  There is a greater emphasis on, and awareness of the need for unity and there is recognition that in the midst of autonomy, the Executive Board still has rights over the local churches.

Education
The AGA has certainly had a transforming effect on the nation’s education system.  In the early 1950s, Henry White and Albert Karram had a gentleman’s agreement that the former would concentrate on churches and the latter on schools.  Albert Karram served on the Board of Merl Grove High School from its inception until ill health made him unable to function.  Dunrobin High School, Dunrobin Preparatory School, Dunrobin Primary School, Edith Dalton Secondary/High School and a myriad of Basic Schools across the island have had immeasurable impact on the education of our youth.

With the input of Clive Afflick and Clinton Hoffenden (Church of the Firstborn) the AGA played a major role in having the Evangelical Training Association’s program of training for lay leadership introduced at the Jamaica Theological Seminary.  Today, the AGA has instituted its own ETA program that is on par with that offered at the Seminary.

Jamaica Association of Evangelicals

Henry White was a founding member of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals (then known as the Jamaica Association of Evangelical Churches) and was appointed life member.

The AGA has made extensive contributions to National Crusades in Jamaica from the 1950’s spurred on by White, Albert Karram and Curtis Cole, and more recently under the leadership of Peter Garth.  These crusades include those with Barry Moore, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and Louis Palau.