The root of our assembly was founded in 1946 on the 15th day of May by Brother George W. White. Brother and Sister White held prayer meetings in the living room of their home at 1741 Betz Drive in Akron, Ohio with five other people. Below, one of the original members and co-founders, Brother Charles H. Beougher, recounts his personal testimony of his first encounter with the Body of Christ and founding the church with Brother White:
My name is Charles H. Beougher and I was born October 31, 1915 on a farm near Clinton, Ohio. I was one child out of eight: five sisters and two brothers — one died when I was only three years old.
While growing up, there was an Evangelical Church in Manchester, Ohio that my parents occasionally attended. When I was about 14 years old, I went down to the altar to be saved at the Evangelical Church. People told me I was saved, but I didn’t feel anything; I couldn’t feel a change and knew in my heart that I hadn’t found salvation. Discouraged, I quit church for about two years.
When the youth at the Evangelical Church my family was attending arranged to go to a camp meeting in Mt. Vernon, my dad said I could go. I decided I would go so I could get out of doing chores around the farm. During the first morning of the meeting, I came under heavy conviction. I went down to the altar and prayed through. I had a true conversion experience.
My family moved from the farm to the city of Akron in 1935. Since there wasn’t an Evangelical Church there, I began attending the Nazarene Church. I met my wife Ruth there and we were married on December 10, 1936.
While building a road when was working a WPA (Work Progress Administration) job, I heard a commotion from further up the way. I saw a man raising his hands and shouting, “Praise the Lord!” I felt that anyone who would react this way to God in front of all the other workers must have something deeper from God than what I had experienced. I immediately went over to him and asked him where he went to church and what he believed.
The man told me that he went to an Apostolic Church and then told me that they believed in the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, and being baptized in Jesus’ name. My aunt had already received the Holy Ghost and hadn’t been well received by the family, but after meeting this man (whose name turned out to be William Sluder), I decided I would visit this church.
I went to a revival meeting in 1937 at Brother Sluder’s church. I tarried for the Holy Ghost for three nights. The second night, they told me I should be baptized in Jesus’ name. The only baptistery available was in a condemned building where the heat was turned off. The water in the baptistery was ice cold, but after I was baptized, the water felt warm.
The next night, I received the Holy Spirit. I was lying on my back on the floor at 2:00 in the morning. I tried to say, “Praise the Lord,” but I couldn’t. The only words that would come out were words in another tongue. When I tried to get up, I could hardly stand. I staggered around like a drunken man.
That night when I came home, I turned the light on. My wife (who didn’t have the Holy Spirit) looked at me and said, “You got it.” My wife Ruth wouldn’t associate with the Apostolic Church in the beginning because of their oneness belief, but after I received the Holy Spirit, she began coming to church with me in 1940.
While working at B.F. Goodrich, I became acquainted with a man named George White. He also attended one of the Apostolic churches I was attending. After Brother White and I had talked, I realized he had more of the love of God than any of the ministers I had been under up to this point. Brother White told me that he believed God had called him to the ministry.
One of the Apostolic churches asked him to come and hold a service at their church.I gathered my family together and we went to the service that night. I wasn’t sure that God wanted me to leave my church and follow Brother White so I put out a fleece. My oldest daughter had been seeking the Holy Spirit. I prayed that if God wanted me to go with Brother White that she would be filled with the Holy Spirit that night. Immediately, she began speaking in other tongues. I was determined to go with Brother White.
We began having services in Brother White’s home. The services were attended by seven adults and their children. The adult members were George and Faye White, my wife and I, Curtain and Bea Taylor, and Bea’s sister, Garnet Robinson (Maglione). Brother White’s children present were Larry, Naomi, and Janice. My children were Dorothy, Marie, Bob, Bill and Gloria. Later, Charlene and Jackie were born to the Whites and David was born to Ruth and I.
William Sluder, the man I met on the WPA job, had moved to West Virginia. His wife was having back problems and he decided to take her out west to the mineral springs. On the way, he stopped outside of Indianapolis, Indiana and asked the locals if there was an Apostolic Church nearby. He was told no, but there was a Holy Ghost church around the corner. The church around the corner was the Gospel Assembly Church. Brother Sluder was so impressed with the church that after he took his wife out west, he moved from West Virginia to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the Gospel Assembly Church.
A few months later, Brother Sluder came to visit me in Akron. He told me he had found a church that had the Fruits of the Spirit in action and more of the Spirit of God than the Apostolic Church. In 1947, I talked to Brother White, but he didn’t show much interest. He was headed to an Apostolic convention in Indianapolis. Brother White finally agreed to visit the Gospel Assembly Church while he was in Indianapolis.
While at the Indianapolis Gospel Assembly Church, Brother White was asked to sit on the platform. He prayed and said, “Lord, I won’t move a finger. If this is what they say it is, You are able to bless me.” They began to sing, “Oh Lord, I’m In Your Care.” Brother White felt the Spirit all over him. It started at the top of his head and went down to his feet. It felt like he was turning flip-flops inside.
He went back to the Apostolic convention the following day. A voice spoke to him and said, “These people don’t know what they’re doing.”
On the way home to Akron, Brother White prayed, “Lord, if You give me something in Your words to back this, I will never doubt that I’ve found Your people.” He randomly opened his Bible and cast his eyes on Ephesians 3:5, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit … “
Brother White’s car broke down 35 miles from Akron so he called me to pick him up. As we were driving home, he told me his experience. The Spirit of the Lord filled the car. I felt like I had a hold of electric wires — like electricity was coursing through my body. Months later, God revealed to me that at that moment, I was planted into the Body of Christ.
In March of 1948, Brother White and I traveled to a School of the Prophets meeting in Indianapolis. At this meeting, we met Brother William Sowders and began our affiliation with the Body of Christ.
On October 30-31, 1951, the first Body meeting was held in Akron. Brother T.M. Jolly and Brother David Walker came to Akron. Brother Jolly confirmed that the Akron Church was the Body of Christ. Agnes Lewis spoke and gave a message in tongues at this meeting. Part of this statement was, “I have set before thee an open door, it shall not be shut… for yea, I shall hold it open with My foot. I shall wedge it, who shall shut it?”
I was 32 years old when I had my experience in the car with Brother White on the way home from Indianapolis and I have never left this Body of people. 60 years have passed and God has kept me in the palm of His hand all this time.
I have always said, “If I could find anything better, I would move,” but God has never shown me a better way. I truly believe this is the greatest work of God in the earth today!