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Our History

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Bishop George W. Keith

Mother Alma Walker

Bishop Earl Walker

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1919 Pikeville, KY

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1923 McRoberts, KY

In 1916, George W. Keith hosted a revival in Empire (AL), at the Methodist church that he was affiliated with.

A brother and sister Phelps, who were traveling evangelists, led the meeting.  Keith as well as Alma and A. Earl Walker were saved during that meeting. 

The group was soon expelled from the Methodist facility, and complaints from local “Christians” prompted police to tell the Phelpses to leave town.  However, the Walkers moved the meetings to their home and continued, under Elder Keith.

Persons were filled with the Holy Ghost, as Keith preached; prompting local police to warn, then take Elder Keith out of town; telling him not to come back. Yet, Keith returned and continued to preach, but was put in jail after a week.  Upon his release, he was again taken out of town and told never to return.

The next year, work became scarce in the area and members of the congregation moved north . . . the Walkers

and Keith to McRoberts (KY).  There, they began meeting in their home until the crowds grew so much that the Consolidation Coal Company gave them a house to hold their worship services. 

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Churchgoers at a house donated by Consolidation Coal in McRoberts, KY.

As the congregation grew in McRoberts, emphasis was placed on Bible study.  Through studying scriptures, they received revelation regarding The Lord’s Supper. 

As a result, they adopted the practice of foot washing and the use of water for the communion sacrament. They began searching for an organization that embraced both practices, but were unable to find one.

In 1919, the Walkers, Elder Keith, Mother Millie E. Brown, Elder Sim Johnson, Sister Virginia Johnson, Elder H.A. Rollins, and Elder W.M. Rice met in Stanford (KY) to write Articles of Incorporation for a new organization.  They enlisted a Pikeville (KY) attorney to file and establish a charter for The Church of God of America (COGA), with headquarters in Pikeville (KY). Elder Keith was elected Bishop.

During an early meeting in Campbellsville (KY), souls were saved and enough money was raised to make first payment on a building there. It was the first building owned by the Church of God of America. 

After fasting, praying, and studying further, some of the leaders noted that the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. They shared this revelation with the others, but some rejected it . . . as well as Bishop Keith’s plan to get married. As a result, several of the founders “got out of the Church of God of America and let them have it, even though we organized and established it,” according to Mother Walker.


The group that left COGA organized and chartered the Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of the Truth in Pikeville on February 18, 1922. Bishop Keith was elected Bishop. Elder A.E. Walker was named National Secretary. Sister Annie Riggins and Alma Walker were ordained Elders in the newly formed Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of the Truth.


Despite being derided and shunned by many “Christians,” these apostolic stalwarts continued preaching repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, healing, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. During the next few years, missions were organized in towns around Kentucky and West Virginia. 


In 1932, Elder Jess Hunn moved from Lockland (OH) to McRoberts, and through the witness of and study with Mother Walker, he and his wife were re-baptized (this time in the name of Jesus). That same year, Elder Walker became a Bishop and Elder Hunn was named Presiding Elder, while Bishop Keith presided over the Assembly.

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Baptism in McRoberts, KY 1924

In 1933, Baptist preacher Eddie (E.J.) Cooper’s wife Hattie was saved in McRoberts. Shortly thereafter, he accepted Jesus’ name baptism and began preaching holiness. He and Elder Jess Hunn were ordained COGMPGT Bishops later that year.


In 1934, the COGMPGT national missionary work was organized. Martha Clark was the first national president, Myrtle Tyson was secretary, and Thella Byres became treasurer.  


After moving to McRoberts from Illinois, Walter Hardin was saved. He became the COGMPGT’s first national Sunday School Superintendent in 1938. He served until 1940, then was re-elected in 1952 and served until 1971. He ministered in Akron and Columbus, before being ordained Bishop following the passing of Bishop James Burress in 1973.  

Burress, who had been a deacon at the McRoberts church, moved from Knifley (KY) to Lockland (OH), near Cincinnati in 1938, and established a church. He and Assistant Pastor Charles Spurling brought that church into the COGMPGT.

Also in 1938, Evangelist Ollie Carter became the first president of the COGMPGT Holiness Young People’s Union. The Charleston (WV) church was also established that year.

Through the 30’s and into the 50’s, the COGMPGT expanded into Springfield and Cincinnati Ohio, as well as into Richmond (KY), Beckley and Fairmont (WV), and
Gilbertown (AL).  

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COGMPGT General Assembly
Lockland, OH  1941

Mother Alma Walker was named the COGMPGT’s first National Mother on June 27, 1942 in Blue Diamond (KY).

And in 1949, Bishop Walter Hardin’s wife, Savannah invited Bishop and Mother Walker to Akron (OH) to begin a work with members that had been saved in McRoberts.

That work at 1129 Andrus Street prospered and housed the COGMPGT Headquarters for several years, until the church moved to a facility on Cole Avenue in 1966. These two facilities hosted the COGMPGT General Assembly for many years.


From the 1960s through the 80s , COGMPGT churches were established in Columbus, Cleveland, Medina,
and Lorain (OH). In 1993, the church expanded into Racine (WI).

Savannah Hardin and daughter, Sarah Nettles organized the COGMPGT’s first choir. Nettles later served
as Holiness Young People’s Union president. In 1979, she, Juanita Irvin, Alma Horne, and Ruth Hines
were ordained as Elders.

The COGMPGT National Nurses Guild was also established in 1979.

Over the years, the Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of the Truth has had national headquarters in Akron (OH), Columbus (OH), and now in Springfield (OH).

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COGMPGT "Mother Church"
McRoberts, KY

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Current COGMPGT National Convention Center
Springfield, OH

References: Revealed Unto Babes: The History of the Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of the Truth
Compiled by Mother Alma Walker; Written by Sarah A. Nettles
Franklin Publishing Company (1980)

Interviews w/ Bishop Willie Lamb, Bishop Michael Austin, Bishop Timothy Napier


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