What Happened on June 13, 1903?

This account was Published in The Arise Shine Publication June 2015 Vol. 9 Issue 6

The following is excerpts from Upon This Rock, Volume 1, pages 313-315, by C. T. Davidson concerning the Arise Shine of The Church of God on June 13, 1903:


“The Holiness Church at Camp Creek, in Cherokee County, North Carolina, had been organized about thirteen months when they called a special meeting to be held Saturday, June 13, 1903, at the home of W. F. Bryant which stood at the base of Burger Mountain. They invited A. J. Tomlinson to join them for the study of God’s Word. He had been acquainted with most of the little group for some time before they had any form of organization, and had preached for them several times. He loved them and enjoyed their good free spirit, and appreciated the warm welcome they always gave him when he visited them. They were a conscientious group and possessed great inspiration and enthusiasm to obey the precepts of the Holy Writ in spite of the spasmodic outbursts of persecution that assailed them. Tomlinson said that he ‘came with the understanding we were going to search the Bible to see if we could find the Church of God just like David said we would find it."


‘‘Tomlinson spent Friday night, June 12, 1903 at the W. F. Bryant home where he enjoyed great fellowship and hospitality. He sometimes expressed himself’ as having had a strange sensation that night.

“Morning awakened in the hills early Saturday, June 13, 1903, and perhaps there was a pervasive strangeness with the wake of dawn . . . a day long to be remembered. After prayers and breakfast with the kind family of Bryants an urgency for additional private prayer took hold of Tomlinson, and about eight o’clock he wended his way up the pine-skirted trail to the top of Burger Mountain. He searched out a convenient place for prayer on the mountain top, and on his knees wept and prayed, and prevailed with God. It was there that God revealed to him the light and true vision of the Church of God of the Bible.

“NOTE: Tomlinson seemed to think that it was about eight o’clock that Saturday morning of June 13th when he ascended the mountain to pray. He often said he got lost away in the spirit of prayer as God blessed him, and he did not know just how long he stayed on the mountain, but he was sure that it was an hour or more.

“When he came from prayer on the mountain his countenance was aglow with new vistas of spiritual work, and unexplored horizons loomed ahead of him in his inspired vision of greater things to be achieved for God. His very soul thrilled to his new-found freedom in Christ.

“Let Tomlinson tell it years later in his own words: ‘I came back down the mountain and entered the meeting. Questions were asked, Bible answers were given. They said they took the whole Bible rightly divided as their only rule of faith and practice. I said, ‘Well if you take the whole Bible rightly divided, that makes it the Church of God. Why do you want to call it the Holiness Church at Camp Creek?’ They agreed with me but couldn’t answer my question. Then I said, ‘You have agreed that this that I have said makes it the Church of God, and will you be willing to take it and keep it the Church of God?’ They said they were willing. I then asked if they were willing to take me in with the understanding that it IS the Church of God-not going to be, but IS the Church of God? They were willing. So I stood right there in front of the fireplace and Brother Spurling, who has gone to heaven, took the Bible and gave it to me. He handed it to me and said, ‘Will you take this as the Word of God, believe it and practice it, obey its precepts and walk in the light as God is in the light?’ I thought deeply. I remembered what a time I had on the mountain. I meant business. God meant business ... Right here I gave my hand to Brother Spurling ... I took the obligation with deep sincerity and extreme sacredness never to be forgotten.’ (9)

“Tomlinson was one of the five new people who accepted the obligation. Another minister and two deacons were ordained ... Tomlinson was the new minister, and was chosen to pastor the little church of perhaps 20 members that year.

“So right there in the W. F. Bryant home, at the base of Burger Mountain, Cherokee County, North Carolina, on Saturday, June 13, 1903, the Church of God of the Bible, the continuation of the Early Church as designated in the Scriptures, was declared to be in existence and functioning. Many have said that Tomlinson became the first member of the Church of God by covenant this side of the Dark Ages, when he led in declaring, “It is the Church of God of the Bible.” They professed to be no part of any Holiness Organization or Church of God then in existence. The Bible Church was their heart’s desire ."