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Apostolic Ministers Fellowship
1968 ~ Present
In August of 1968, a group of approximately 72 ministers, namely associated with the United Pentecostal Church International, met in Baker, Louisiana for the first "General Council of Elders" of the newly formed Apostolic Ministers Fellowship (AMF). The AMF was formed due to a growing unrest among the majority of its constintuency (while still in the UPCI) concerning the autonomy of pastors over their individual congregations. Elder M.E. Burr is the person of interest in the initial formation of the AMF. It seemed that he had experienced personal disagreements with the Texas, District Board, and inparticular with District Superintendent, V.A. Guidroz. This unrest led to a gathering of support from several ministers around the country who were sympathetic toward his position.
A special meeting was held in July 1968, at C.W. Shew's church in Fort Worth, Texas, prior to the August, Conference in Baker. Many of the supporting minister's were present to show their favor toward the cause of self autonomy. C.W. Shew, Verbal Bean, R.C. Cavaness, Jimmy Davis, A.L. O'Brien, Carl Ballestero, and C.R. Free were among the list of some of the ministers who gave life to the AMF. When the movement was first started, it was intended to be a fellowship only! No emminant plans were made at the outset to form a distinct and seperate organization. It was intended to be kept strictly as a fellowship of apostolic ministers, with hopes of maintaining a lifeline to the UPCI. However, when this attempt failed, the fellowship would eventually evolve over 16 years until it became a fully developed organization. This turning point took place in August, 1984 during the 16th Annual General Conference at Cincinatti, Ohio.
During this Conference, a congressional vote determined the new direction of the AMF. The revised Constitution and By-Laws stated that along with this new direction would come a new name as well. The Apostolic Ministers Fellowship, would now be called the Apostolic Churches International (ACI) taking on a global presence. One of the next steps taken was to sub-divide the organization into 9 seperate districts (Central, Gulf Coast, Indiana, Louisiana, Midwestern, Northeastern, Southeastern, Texas, and Western) with a district elder appoined over each division. This eventualy caused some in the organization to withdraw their membership, as they objected to this new approach of operation, which, for some, too closely resembled what they initialy were opposed to in the first place. It had the appearance of the old system written all over it. Though not the exact same, some seemed uncertain where this new approach was going to lead.
When another group showed possible interest in forming under the name "Apostolic Ministers Fellowship", the ACI quickly reorganized with intentions of retaining the rights to its old name (AMF)! They reaffirmed this intention by adopting the name Apostolic Ministers Fellowship as a "doing business as" (DBA) agreement, thus, maintaining the name Apostolic Churches International as the corporate name, but using "Apostolic Ministers Fellowship" under the auspices of the ACI.
The Apostolic Ministers Fellowship has maintained throughout its existence a strict conservative view of holiness. Also, the AMF has maintained a very pro-active missionary program, supporting missionaries in various countries, including, Brazil, the Philippians, China, and others. The general chairman is elected by the lot system, and serves two year terms. There is no set number of terms for which they can serve.
The AMF operates under the leadership of a "General Council of Elders". Namely, the General Chairman, Assistant Chairman, and Secretary & Treasurer, including (12) Elders. It has no Bible Colleges, and does not favor women ministers. The AMF has one "General Conference" per year, generally held in August, with various other conferences throughout the year such as, Local Church and Pastoral Anniversaries, Campmeetings, and Youth Camps. It maintains a Missions Department, and a Missions Board. The Official Organ of the AMF is the "Apostolic Standard". This publication was started by the late Rev. Murray E. Burr, and has been distributed since the formation of the AMF in 1968.