About First Church
Forasmuch as we have taken in hand to set forth a declaration of those things which were preached and practiced by the Apostles, it is our duty and divine responsibility to perpetuate and exalt the Apostles' Doctrine and Standard of Holiness. It is imperative that we "earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints." This is in accordance with the instruction given to us by the great servant of our Lord, Jude (Jude 1:3). This we intend to do both in word and in deed. We have adopted these Rules, Regulations, and By-Laws. We humbly comply with what the Apostles left on record in order to instruct and govern the people of God so that they may not be led away into error or fall from their steadfastness, but grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the Lord God, Almighty.
The Standard of Salvation that God has ordained in his word has been watered down and conveniently ignored through deceit and compromise by false prophets and lustful leaders. The carnal religious Ministers, in the past and more so today, have obviously given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. It is incumbent upon us to teach and to warn God's people against their trickery and evils. This has culminated into an assortment of false doctrinal tenets that does not, neither will not produce fruits worthy of acceptance by the True Originator of the most precious Faith, The Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul declared, "that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the clouds and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat' (I Corinthians 10:1-3). God had only one way for Israel and all had to observe this way and do as Moses had commanded them. Hence, we must observe and do all that was commanded to us by the Lord Jesus through the Apostles. God has required of us - ONE WAY. He has also given us an example of what we must do: "Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (St. John 3:5).
Therefore, we believe that men must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues, according to Acts 2:4. Just as Israel passed under the cloud and passed through the sea, so we must be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and receive the gift (baptism) of the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Therefore, we encourage the saints to God to be steadfast, immovable; always abounding in the work of the Lord. For we know that doeth the will of God shall abide forever.
History of the Ministry
As the purpose of the Almighty God concerning this world unfolds, He has allowed a man to be born. That man's life has been controlled and directed by God himself. At the appointed time the Almighty God reveal himself to him. The path he would take is shown to him...there would be many days of preaching and teaching; many hours of traveling; many occasions of counseling others; many people; many enemies; much untold suffering; much fasting and much praying ...but the divine vision he would receive would be certain and clear...he was appointed a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ...an ambassador to the nations...a preacher of righteousness...a faithful steward of God that would be driven on by the zeal and knowledge and will of the Almighty God.
"...Come out from among them and be ye separate..." II Corinthians 6 v 17
The beginning of the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostles' Faith Inc. (the incorporated organization) began with Pastor Gino N. Jennings and the divine vision given him of his ministry. The fourth of five sons born to Bishop Ernest and mother Jennings, Pastor Jennings has been involved with the worship of God since he was a child. The family continued sincerely in what truth they knew for many years. The church where they worshipped was headed by Pastor Jennings' great uncle. Bishop Ernest Jennings was the second in-charge and Pastor Jennings, despite his tender age was third in-charge. He was also the Bible reader for his leader and would often accompany him in his travels. He began preaching at the age of thirteen with a message that could not be more fitting than from Hebrews chapter 11 v 6: "...But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is..." This message set the stage for his ministry. As the time for the start of Pastor Jennings' ministry drew closer, the Holy Ghost began to make known to him the work he would be appointed to do. He began to tell others. He spoke of his God given vision; of doing a great work involving many people and churches; of a worldwide radio broadcast and many other things. Few believed, some doubted, others mocked. Yet it was on the second day of a three day and three night fast, while still a teenager that the Lord God of heaven appeared unto him:
"He stood there before me ... I saw his hands...something just comes over me when I talk about it...," Pastor Jennings has often testified..."...He showed me my work...," he would say,..."...my calling was made known to me : Jeremiah 1 verse 5...'...Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.' ,... He placed his hands in my face and made it hard as flint..."
After not preaching for a year he was again given the opportunity to speak to the congregation. However, he was told to preach only those things that his pastor taught. He started preaching again but the Holy Ghost had already begun a good work in him. His preaching did change. The Holy Ghost was still calling for true holiness. He was silenced again for another entire year. Yet he held firmly to the vision given to him; he would not be shaken in mind. The heavy hand and somewhat strange teachings and ways of the leader became a concern. Many were discouraged. Some left. At that time Bishop Ernest Jennings also became ill. Despite the worsening conditions at the church, Pastor Jennings determined within himself not to leave unless he was told to do so by God and God alone. He was allowed to preach again after the end of the second year. But again, his message did not change. By this time, the once beloved helper of his leader, Pastor Jennings was now almost despised by him. It was May 17, 1984, at age 22, when the Holy Ghost finally told him to "...Come out from among them and be ye separate..." He did not hesitate, but went to his leader and told him he was leaving to do the work to which the Holy Ghost had called him. He was told that he was too young to be a leader; that he would have no followers; that he must have the blessings of his leader to prosper. He was unmoved because the vision remained in his mind; it was certain and clear, and he believed that God was faithful.
"...The day of small things..." Zechariah 4 v 10
May 21, 1984. It was the same week in which he had left the false church and decided to start the work God had shown to him. Bishop Jennings, (his father) never considered himself to be a leader and so decided to work under the leadership of his son. Although attempts were made to get a place of worship, the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostles' Faith Inc. had its beginnings in the basement of the home of Bishop and Mother Jennings located at 1335 West Jerome Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a humble beginning, yet nonetheless, the beginning. The small basement area was filled with used chairs provided by a friend of the family. An old dresser covered with a white sheet and red valor cloth was used as a pulpit. Small cardboard posters were made proclaiming the well known scriptures of Acts 2 v 38 and Matthew 28 v 19 and hung in the sanctuary. The cement floor was painted. The lighting from two or three wall mounted units helped to provide just enough light to allow reading of the scriptures. A small microphone and speaker box were set up. The winter of that year would see the small underground sanctuary being warmed by the steam rising from a heated pot sitting atop a stove located in the rear of the basement. Music from a small portable piano keyboard blended with the voices of the 12 to 15 sincere and eager souls that gathered to hear the word of the Lord. Headquarters? Yes, this was the headquarters church...it was the day of small things.
Many things would be accomplished from these humble beginnings. After the basement was transformed into an underground church, the Holy Ghost, through Pastor Jennings, continued crying out against pride and fleshly lusts. The false church had not held a genuinely strict standard of holy living. Some things had been taught and believed that were unscriptural. Now changes had to be made to comply with the Law of God. For some in the small group, it was not going to be easy. But gradually, modest apparel replaced worldly fashions and Pastor Jennings, as he was led by the Holy Ghost, set about the hard task of correcting many of the false teachings that had been heard for so many years. During this time, the church was incorporated and the first auxiliaries were formed; The Brotherhood, The Women Workers, The Daughters of Zion, The Ushers, Senior and Children's Choirs, The Prayer Band and a Tape auxiliary. Bishop Ernest Jennings was appointed National Bishop and the first deacon was ordained, Deacon Tyrone Jennings. The first communion service was also held. The Lord wrought miracles by the hand of Pastor Jennings: The hearing in the left ear of Brother Leon Palin was healed; Sister Seline Brown received the Holy Ghost while receiving prayer; Sister Mary McAliley died, prayer was made and the mercy and power of the Lord brought her back to life! The Almighty God had set his approval on the early work of Pastor Jennings! He began preaching in other areas of the country. Soon services were being held in Champagne Illinois, Detroit Michigan and Memphis Tennessee. While flying back from Detroit, he has often recalled how the Holy Ghost spoke to him: "If you are faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over much." Souls began to come from many places to hear the word of the Lord. By the winter of 1988, God had blessed him to be laboring in thirteen areas. Monthly services were being held in Landover and Salisbury Maryland, Stafford Virginia, Philadelphia and other places. More than 350 souls were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus! Soon the small sanctuary was completely filled. Saints sat on the basement steps, others sat in the kitchen that led down to the basement, and in the dining and living rooms. Still others sat on the front porch of the home where they could hear the booming voice of the servant of God. Services in Philadelphia had to be moved to the Hunting Park Recreation Center on the first Sunday of the month in order accommodate the growing congregation. Of a truth, the word of the Lord was precious in those days...
But there would be times of disappointment and opposition too. On four or five occasions, the sanctuary was completely flooded after heavy rains. Each time, the water was cleaned up and the sanctuary made ready again. The first death of a member of the body occurred, that of Brother Jack Johnson. Mother Sarah Mills was also taken from among us. Other preachers that claimed to be of the Apostles' Faith began to oppose Pastor Jennings and the church as souls began to leave them. But the hand of God was with us and souls continued to come out of the false churches. On August 28, 1988, while services were being held in Jamaica, New York, a false prophet contended with Pastor Jennings concerning the body of Christ. His mouth was stopped, and the word of the Lord was preached mightily that day. Additional souls, amazed at the boldness and power with which the word was preached, left the false church they were attending and were added to us.
"...Their sound is gone out, and their voice to the end of the world..."Rom 10:12
April 2, 1989. The headquarters of the church was moved to 7485 Briar Road, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the fellowship hall of an Episcopalian church was rented. This location provided enough room to accommodate the growing congregation, musical instruments and other equipment. It was a welcomed reprieve from the limited basement space. However, the church's stay at his location would also bring times of great joy and times of deep sorrow. That month would see a big change for Pastor Jennings and Sister Darlene Gayman; they were married April 15, 1989. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Jennings. It was an occasion that will always be remembered; for many it was the first holy wedding they had ever seen. Since his wedding was not to divert his attention from his calling, Pastor Jennings insisted on preaching that same night, and preached he did.
The dawning of 1990. Souls have continued to come from different churches. At that time two things were uppermost in the mind of Pastor Jennings - whether to launch the broadcast or to purchase a headquarters church. He decided that it was time to take the gospel to the air waves. This was communicated to the church and preparations began. The name of the broadcast - The Truth of God Radio Program"> - and format were put together and broadcast rehearsals began in earnest. On one Thursday evening, the saints arrived at the church only to find that the church had been broken into and equipment needed for the up-coming broadcasts, stolen. That night, Pastor Jennings also announced that Sister Snyder of Washington D.C. had been brutally murdered by a family member. The saints were all saddened and disappointed. However, new equipment was purchased and broadcast rehearsals continued. Several local radio stations were contacted. By mid-February, God had provided us with a thirty minute international broadcast on WWCR, Nashville, Tennessee; and a one-hour broadcast on WTMR, Camden, New Jersey. The Truth of God Radio Program was aired for the first time on Sunday March 4, 1990 over WWCR. That same night our one hour program was also heard for the first time on WTMR. This was another step in the fulfillment of the divine vision given to Pastor Jennings. He prayed to God that the program would be heard on ten stations by the end of the first year. By the end of the first year, the Truth of God Radio Program was being on eleven radio stations! God had set his approval on the work of Pastor Jennings yet again. The broadcast continued to grow; numerous letters began coming in from listeners throughout the United States, Nigeria west Africa, Great Britain, the Caribbean and even as far away as New Zealand. By the end of the second year and ten months towards the third, the Truth of God Radio Program was being heard everywhere around the world!
Then suddenly, in the very early hours of April 12, 1991 our beloved Bishop Ernest Jennings and father of Pastor Jennings, died. The suddenness of his death left everyone in shock. His unexpected departure seemed to reverberate through the entire church. Before the church would leave this location Mother Rachel Armstrong, Mother Mary Stacker, Sister Marie Richardson, Sister Cleo Edwards, Brother Clarence Spann and Brother Herman Moore and Brother Jimmie Coleman would also be taken from us.
November 21, 1991. Settlement was made on the present headquarters church located at 2431 Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia. The building was in dire need of repair; the roof leaked in several places and had caused significant interior damage; the stonestructure needed to be pointed; the pavement area was cracked and the open parking lot area was overgrown with bushes and covered with trash. It was going to take a lot of work to get the building fully renovated. The brothers immediately began clearing the first floor of the church. A new floor was laid, and the entire first floor hall painted and the woodwork stained. Work continued almost daily despite the cold temperatures and there not being any heat in the building. Renovation of the first floor was completed and dedication services were held on February 2, 1992. It was a happy occasion and two were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Pastor Jennings' desire that the church have its own headquarters' building had come to pass.
The broadcast continued to grow. By the end of 1994, the Truth of God Radio Program was being heard on more than twenty radio stations throughout the United States and the Caribbean. The number of letters from radio listeners increased greatly as the program became more widely known. Sadly, however, seven others; Brothers Roger Brooks, Sherman Stone, John Boyer, James Nelson, Dennis Harvey, William Caldwell and Mother Thelma Carney have all been summoned into eternity.
Mobile, Alabama and surrounding regions have been particularly affected by the broadcast. In 1993, Pastor Jennings was invited to radio station WLVV in Mobile, where he was the guest of a call-in talk program. His answers to questions from listeners regarding divorce and remarriage and women preachers caused quite a stir. Undoubtedly, Mobile had never heard anything like it. Visits to this area became more frequent. Successive days and nights of live broadcasting became the norm. Honest hearts began surrendering to the power of the Gospel and many left the churches they were attending. The gospel had taken root in Mobile. In 1993 it became necessary to set up a church to hold the congregation which was increasing quickly. The church was set up in Chickasaw, Alabama (near Mobile). In April, 1996, a new larger building was purchased in Mobile Alabama. Visits to Florence, South Carolina in December 1992 and early 1993 also resulted in the establishment of a church on March 28, 1993 as honest hearts decided to walk according to the word of the Lord. Other souls in Jacksonville, Florida also determined to follow the word of the Lord, saw the start of a work in that area too. A church was also purchased in Delmar, Delaware. Contacts have been established with brethren in Africa and India. Renovation of the main sanctuary (second floor) of the headquarters church on Frankford Avenue has progressed to near completion as of the date of this publication. A new pavement has been laid and the parking lot has been completed.
Opposition to the church has continued. A debate was held with the so called Church of Christ in 1994, and as expected, the mouth of the false prophet was stopped. On another occasion, a self proclaimed prophet publicly declared and contended with Pastor Jennings during a broadcast, that the world would end in December, 1994. His mouth was stopped and obviously he has proven to be a liar. Despite the opposition, the church has continued to prosper. The Truth of God Radio Program is now on 22 stations and continues to open the eyes of people throughout the world; souls continue to be healed and baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Above all, more of the mystery of the scriptures is being made known to the people of God than at any other time in recent history. Many other things have occurred that are too numerous to name at this time.
So then, some of the beginning of the vision given to Pastor Jennings has been written. The beginning of the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostles' Faith Inc. has unfolded just as the Almighty God had shown him. The works and accomplishments of the church indicate clearly that a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ has arisen and is among us. As the future becomes the present and the present becomes the past, it is certain that we will not only write the vision, but it will be made plain in the sight of many so that he that fears God may run.
Belief and Doctrine
We stand for the faith that was founded and built upon the precepts, practices and doctrines that are infallible. We believe that First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a direct descendent of the original Orthodox Church of the Orthodox persuasion. Our doctrine, which is that of the Apostles, reflects this experience. "And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer" (Acts 2:42).
God's Standard of Salvation
We earnestly contend for God's Standard of Salvation. In the Word of God, we can find nothing short of a Holy Spirit filled life: St. Mark 16:15-17; Acts 1:18; 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 19:1-6. Also read: Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:14; St. Matthew 5:48; I Peter 1:15-16.
We firmly hold that Jesus Christ is God Almighty and apart from Him there is no God: Isaiah 7:14; St. Matthew 1:23; Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:14-17; Isaiah 45: 15-21; Titus 1:13; Deuteronomy 32:4; I Corinthians 10:4; Colossians 2:9; I John 5:20; Revelations 1:8.
The Lord's Supper
Melchizedek, the Priest of the Most High God, gave the first communion to our father, Abraham, consisting of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18). Christ being a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, eventually administered the same. Water and grape juice are modern substitutes that have been invented by the formal and carnal Churches of today (St. Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 11:23-32).
The Lord's Supper is to be celebrated by the use of the elements of bread (which represents the broken body of our Saviour) and wine (which represents the blood that was shed for the remission of sin). The wine shall be adminsistered by the use of one cup for all (I Corinthians 11:25; Mark 14:23).
We hold that Feet Washing is an example given by the Lord Jesus to the Church and it should be observed as often as communion is served (St. John 13:5-14).
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The pre-millennium coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in person, is a doctrine clearly set forth by the Apostles in the New Testament. Jesus taught it. The Apostles believed it, the Saints expect it. Read: St. Matthew-Chapter 24; Acts 1:11; 3:19-21; I Corinthians 1:7-8; 11:26; Phillipians 3:20-21; I Thessalonians 4:14-17; Titus 1:13-14.
We believe in the Apostles' principle and custom of financing the Church by means of Tithes and Offerings. A tithe is one-tenth of one's earnings and an offering is what is given of free will in honor and sacrifice to God above one's tithes. Offerings may be received by the Minister and workers in the field, wherever and whenever given without begging (Malachi 3:8-10; St. Matthew 23:23; Hebrews 7:5-10). We firmly hold that socials, concerts, and shows, are not God's plan for carrying on His work. Programs with choirs and quartettes; charging entrance fees at the door of the Church, is of the devil himself and is the tradition of men and not of God.
In the time of persecution or ill treatment at the hands of the ememy, we should not avenge ourselves but rather give place to wrath. For it is written: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12-19; Deuteronomy 32:35). Neither shall we take up any weapon of destruction to slay another in our own defense or in the defense of others. For it is written: "Do violence to no man." We should rather suffer wrong than to do wrong.
Marriage and Divorce
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" St. Luke 16: 18; Romans 7:1-3; I Corinthians 7:39; St. Mark 10:11-12. We have no right to add any thought or our own to such plain statements in order to justify those who have taken their second companion while the first one still lives.
All Civil Magistrates are ordained of God for peace, safety, and the general welfare of all people: Romans 13:1-10. Therefore, it is our duty to be in obedience to all requirements of the laws of the land that do not contradict biblical principles. They must not conflict as to force one into violation of the Sixth Commandment of Bearing of Arms and going to war. It is our duty to honor them, and show respect in all lawful requirements of the Civil Government.
Resurrection and Translation of the Saints
We believe that the time draweth near for the coming of the Lord to make a change in the present order of things. The dead in Christ shall rise first and those that remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The unrighteous and the wicked dead shall not rise, until the thousand years have expired, which shall be the White Throne of Judgement. "And whosoever is not found in the Book of Life shall be cast into the lake of fire." Revelation-Chapter 20; St. Matthew 24:36-42; St. Luke 17: 20-21; I Thessalonians 4:13-17. After Christ has come for his saints in the translation and after the tribulation period, He shall return with them and reign on earth for a thousand years (I Thessalonians 4:17). There shall be peace on earth and good-will toward men, afterwhich, the Second Resurrection and the White Throne Judgement shall take place. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
Moreover, we believe that the distress upon the earth is the "beginning of sorrows" and will become more intense until there "shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation even to this present time (St. Matthew 24:3-8; Daniel 12:1); and that period of tribulation will be followed by the dawn of a better day on earth" and that for one thousand years. There shall be 'peace on earth and good will toward men'-Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 65: 7-25; St. Matthew 5:5.
When the thousand years are finished, there shall be a resurrection of the wicked dead, who shall be survived before the Great White Throne for their final judgment, and all whose names are not found written in the Book of Life, shall be cast into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone, which is the second death that God hath prepared for the devil and his angels and all the wicked who serve him. Satan will be cast in first: Revelation 20:7-15; St. Matthew 25: 41-46; Revelation 21:8.
Moral Standard for the Saints of God
We are to honor and give glory to God because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost (Romans 12:1,2; I Corinthians 6:19-21; 10:31). If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the works and lusts of the flesh (Galations 5:16). The works of the flesh that do not glorify God are found in several passages of Scripture (Romans 1:24; I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galations 5:19-21; Revelations 21:8).
The works of the flesh that are condemned and named include: homosexuality, adultery, worldly attitudes, evil communication (gossip, angry outbursts, profane and filthy words), murder, drunkenness, stealing, and witchcraft. When we respect the liberty in Christ that is ours as a benefit, it should not be an occasion for one to slip back under the dominion of the power of Satan (John 8:32, 36; Romans 6:14; 8:2). We are not to become entangled again under the yoke of bondage (Galations 5:1).
In light of this God given liberty, it is imperative that the saints refrain and abstain from all alcoholic beverages and any habit forming or mood-altering substances - chemical substances are forbidden for the saints of God. These vices are out of character and do not perpetuate a positive moral ethic for those who are sanctified. Saints must never participate in activities such as gambling or playing the lottery. These things will corrupt the temple of god and enslave the Spirit that had once made us free (Isaiah 28:7; James 1:21).
The foundation of First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is built upon the timeless truths found in the inspired Scriptures. The "Holiness of God" is our creed (the basic essential tenets of our faith which is supported and undergirded by the authority of God's Word) in and for our daily living. Our theology (the study of God's discipline for holy living and views that certify our doctrine as written in the Scriptures) is rooted and grounded in our knowledge and comprehension of the mystery of the Oneness in the Godhead, repentance for sins and water baptisms in the Name of Jesus Christ and then receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance, and living a holy life in this present evil world until Christ comes for His Church - whether we be alive or asleep.
Many who had once loved and held the Truth of God dear to their hearts and maintained the faith in its orthodox perspective in principles, have let down the standard, giving heed to many seducing spirits. It is the global and objective of this body, with God to be our helper to:
- Hold to and stand for Truth that the devil has obscured from they eyes of many in these last and evil days.
- To hold Scripture as the ruling guide for our conduct; re-affirm our standard of holiness in doctrine, principles, and conduct.
- To have its Minsters and members reflect this standard of holiness in their daily walk with God.
- To have ministers and member prayerfully guard their lives and not to be conformed to this world in selfish gain, willful pride, worldly appearance, worldly attitudes, nor to associate with those who are deliberate in their attempt; and not attack the Church, which God has purchased with His blood.
Peace Be Unto You and With Your Spirit