Church #34, True Witness Apostolic Faith Church

Date: 6/23/13

Church name/type: True Witness Apostolic Faith Church, belongs to a denomination called TCAF (True Church Apostolic Faith), a group with Pentecostal origins

Pastor: Evangelist Euthia Benson

Style of worship:Umm…shouty. Very shouty. Loose format otherwise.

Overall Impression:Wow, this church defies description. I’ll try anyway!

So, where to start? They don’t keep careful track of time at this place. When I arrived at the advertised time of 2:45pm something was already happening. In fact I believe I caught the end if their afternoon bible study spilling into the actual service. Advertised ending time was supposed to be 4pm, but I was there until 5:30. The church building was the same one used by the ELCA church I attended some months ago, which is why they hold service in the afternoon. There were exactly seven people there including the pastor. All of them were black. I think this was related to the preaching/worship style, which is a type I had never experienced before in person.

Since the preaching was almost the whole show here, I’ll try to describe it. I get the feeling that biblical memorization has a huge presence with this church and perhaps denomination as well. The way the speaker was rattling off lines and passages from the bible made it clear she knew it all pretty well. The style of preaching was very unusual to my experience. For one thing, much of it was simply reiteration of parts of the biblical narrative. We heard about God’s creation of Adam and his disobedient nature, all the way up to Abraham and the near-sacrifice of Isaac. Then in terms of New Testament we got a synopsis of Jesus, Mary’s divine conception and her interacting with her cousin Elizabeth, up through Jesus as an adult. We heard how he was baptized followed by the dove/spirit falling on him, and his subsequent temptation by Satan. All this is pretty standard knowledge. The weirdest part, however was the volume and tone of delivery. The church leader started off talking and then slowly began to raise her voice as if in great excitement. Actually now I think about it, it was more like she thought she was being pushed backwards away from us and had to keep getting louder so we could hear her. I called it ‘shouting’ but the term ‘hollering’ might be more appropriate. It was nearly melodic at times, like a loud chant. And she rose to such a fevered pitch at one point I actually feared her ability to go on. Seriously, I wrote in my notes ‘Is this woman about to hyperventilate?’ She was panting hard and I really wanted to just get her a glass of water and tell her to take a break already. I honestly have never seen anything quite like it among all the churches I’ve ever been to ever. This woman preached for a whole hour, maintaining high volume for at least 30 minutes of that. Frankly, I am astonished that she manages this once a week every week.

There were several interesting bits I scribbled down which my phone has now lost. From memory: 1) Our speaker mentioned it never rained at all on earth until God brought the flood rains down on Noah. 2) Heavy emphasis on our ‘burial’ during baptism and how the Adam nature stays buried so we can rise up again in Christ leaving it behind 3) I’ve been reading about the evolution of Christology in the first couple centuries and how they reconciled Jesus as both God and man, and so found this bit particularly interesting -she said Christ was born a man and upon the descent of that dovelike spirit was filled with God. 4) I asked the preacher about who lied to Eve. Remember how I maintain the God lied when he said Adam and Eve would die upon eating the forbidden fruit? I was told their death was a metaphorical one in which they lost access to God. Convenient that.

During the break between the bible lesson the the actual service I talked with the Pastor. The most annoying thing about this conversation was the lack of normal English; I’m talking about heavy Christianese. When she first came up to me she said something about whether I knew about the rebirth in water and the spirit. I said, “Um, you mean being a Christian??” Seriously, if you suspect someone doesn’t know about Jesus, what a weird way to ask if they’ve heard. Trying to be polite, I just let her mostly ramble. She got talking about familiar spirits and the Ten Commandments and whatever. I still don’t really know if she had a point for me. I did get another interesting bit out of her though. I mentioned the small number of congregants and asked if it was usual. She replied that it was the normal amount and that this was because many will be called but very few will stay. I guess this is like a vague reference to a chosen few who make it into God’s kingdom in the end? If that’s what she meant, she was saying the church is supposed to be small and that’s how they know they are getting it right. I didn’t stay very long after the service because it was already so late. One woman asked me if I might come back again. Not wanting to lie, I said, “Probably not.” She seemed concerned about this, but I didn’t change my answer. This stuff is really not my style, and the project beckons.

Website?: None that I can find. And it’s ridiculous trying to search the web for good information on TCAF as a denomination. Pentecostal groups in general seem to be extremely fractured and reunited, making their twists and turns hard to follow. This church needs to move into the future already. All I can find is one other church using the acronym. They refer to a wider group called PCAF (Pentecostal Church Apostolic Faith). The PCAF website is rather more informative, and mentions in their history the church springing from a group called PAW (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World). So at least I now know the basic evolution of the denomination. PAW -> PCAF -> TCAF

6 Replies to “Church #34, True Witness Apostolic Faith Church”

  1. To Tracy I am glad you got something about Jesus when you visited our church, I pray that God will bless you and help you to process the word of God which you received. Not to say this to criticize you but your project style is not God style and not saying this to down you project. But you should never go around and criticize the word of God and the way God put it out because God way is not man way and you can never understand God way except you have the Holy Ghost which is the Spirit of God which comes by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and receiving the Holy Ghost. It may seem weird to you but it is real. And Jesus is not God he is the Son of God. Not once did I tell you that Jesus is God. May God bless you and let heaven shine upon you and give you peace in the name of Jesus Christ the righteous Son of God. I did not know this was out on the internet just happen to go out on a search. What you put our here is between you and God.

    1. Hi Euthia, I pondered how best to respond to you for a while. Thank you for correcting me on your church’s theology. It usually comes up in conversation with the pastor the fact that I keep this blog. When we spoke I felt we weren’t really communicating, which is why I didn’t feel I could share much of anything with you. This wasn’t and isn’t meant as an insult. I simply felt we were talking past one another instead of really hearing each other. I am aware that I am the one accountable for what I write here. In general I strive for accuracy and honesty, but I don’t hold back on criticisms as I see them. I try not to overstep into becoming snarky, but as with anything, I’m human and make mistakes from time to time.

  2. In reply to: ” And it’s ridiculous trying to search the web for good information on TCAF as a denomination…So at least I now know the basic evolution of the denomination. PAW -> PCAF -> TCAF”

    The denomination is not the organization itself. The denomination is Apostolic: “of or relating to the Apostles.”. The organization is TCAF. Just as pentecostal (“of or relating to Pentecost”..”the descent of the Holy Spirit” Acts Chapter 2) is a denomination and their particular organizational affiliations are PAW or PCAF etc.

  3. Hi I am a member of the TCAF at a church in Lansing Michigan. I had the honor of hearing Evangelist Benson preach at one our conferences in Detroit-my first conference. I can tell you first hand that this women preaches as the Holy Ghost gives her utterance! It feeds your spirit and stregnthens you in your walk with Christ. If you have not been Baptised in the Holy Ghost as in Acts 2:38, you will either be drawn to receive Jesus and be Baptised or you WILL be a little bewildered when youwitness this power come upon her while she’s preaching! It is the Spirit of God which is available to all who diligently seek Him. But in your case you didnt go seeking God you went to find something to analyze-this is not how God works. See Luke 10:21. As a mattee of fact if your searching for God that’s between you and Him. You can actually speak to Him and tell Him to show yoj and lead you.But this way you’re doing isn’t the way and you end up criticizing the things of God-dangerous.

    1. A couple things come to mind here:
      1) So far I haven’t found questioning God to be dangerous. Since embarking on my journey I haven’t faced more danger in particular than otherwise as far as I can tell. Or were you talking about the afterlife?
      2) You assume I did not go seeking God and also that I did not speak to him and ask him to lead me. Both incorrectly. Thanks for playing though!

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