|United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith|
|Geographical areas||United States|
|Founder||Charles Manuel Grace|
West Wareham Massachusetts, incorporated in 1927 in Washington, D.C.
|Members||1.5 million (estimate)|
The United House of Prayer for All People (also known as United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith) is a Christian denomination founded by Marcelino Manuel da Graca (Charles Manuel Grace) (1881?–1960). Marcelino Manuel da Graca was born in Brava in the Cape Verde Islands. In 1919, Bishop Grace, with his own hands, built the first United House of Prayer For All People in West Wareham, Massachusetts, and incorporated the United House of Prayer for All People in Washington, D.C. in 1927.
According to church literature and their official website, the United House of Prayer for All People has 131 places of worship in 26 states. The church has an estimated membership of 1.5 million members though some estimates place it lower. The national headquarters for the church is located in Washington, D.C. The church is known for its periodic mass baptisms by fire hose which started around the 1920s by the founder and also its shout bands.
The United House of Prayer for All People is Pentecostal and Holiness in doctrine. Its creed establishes its basic principles as believing in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross so that humanity could have life, water baptism for the repentance of sin, that to be saved one must be born again of the Holy Spirit, and that one leader Jesus Christ should rule the Kingdom of God.
One unique aspect of the faith of the United House of Prayer is the full name: the United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. The first portion of the name is derived from Isaiah 56:7 where God says: "Mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." The latter part is taken from "Acts 4:10–12 and Ephesians 2:20, which discusses Christian salvation as being built on a figurative cornerstone, or rock," which "is believed to be the teachings of Jesus Christ as preached by the Apostle Peter."
Another unique aspect about this organization's doctrine and belief is the definition of the term church as used by the bishop and members. The United House of Prayer for All People believes that the word church means a group of Christians who are believers and worshippers in Christ and that the modern definition of church as a building, denomination, or institution is unbiblical according to the writings of the Holy Scriptures as recorded in Acts 9:31." Therefore, the United House of Prayer does not see itself as a denomination.
Bishop Charles Manuel "Sweet Daddy" Grace was born Marcelino Manuel da Graca, January 25, 1884, in Brava Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese possession off the west coast of Africa. He came to America on a ship called Freedom in 1903 and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After leaving his job as a railway cook, Grace began using the title bishop. In 1919, Daddy Grace, as parishioners knew him, built the first House of Prayer in West Wareham, Massachusetts at the cost of thirty-nine dollars. He later established branches in Charlotte, North Carolina and Newark, New Jersey.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Daddy Grace traveled America preaching and establishing the United House of Prayer for all People. The Constitution and By-Laws of The United House of Prayer, promulgated in 1929, stated that the purpose of the organization in pertinent part was "to erect and maintain places of worship and assembly where all people may gather prayer and to worship the Almighty God, irrespective of denomination or creed." He traveled extensively throughout the segregated South in the 1920s and 1930s preaching to integrated congregations years before the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s and the religious ecumenical movements which followed.
One of the principles that Daddy Grace taught which provoked controversy was the concept of one man leadership. Grace used the Bible as his reference and taught that God only used one man at a time (e.g. Noah, Moses, and Jesus). One of the many criticisms made against Grace is the following statement which Grace is to have allegedly made in the early 1940s: "Salvation is by Grace only. Grace has given God a vacation, and since He is on vacation, don't worry about Him. If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God cannot save you." Nonetheless, the "interpretation of this point – that Grace claimed he himself was God – has been almost completely definitive in both academic and popular literature, and only a handful of writers have ever questioned it, usually as an aside." The most extensive research done by Danielle Brune Sigler on this statement shows that Mr. Fauset selectively quoted certain parts of the original message which changed the context." The original statement, spoken by a member and not Grace, shows that the members and Grace, himself, thought that he was not "God himself", but merely an "intermediary" and "the path to salvation."
One reason for the early success of the denomination is that offerings went directly to Grace for investment into products such as soap, stationery, tea, coffee, cookies, toothpaste, facial creams, talcum powder, hair dressing, and the Grace Magazine.
Bishop Grace died on January 12, 1960. Bishop W. McCollough succeeded the founder of the denomination.
When Bishop Grace died he left the church with an unclear succession. After winning a court fight and two elections, Walter McCollough succeeded Grace as the second bishop. Bishop McCollough launched a nationwide building program. Through this program, low-income and affordable housing was being erected which benefitted not only parishioners, but other members of the community. New church structures were being built by their own construction teams and other edifices were receiving major renovations, which were financed solely by the members. Day care centers and senior citizens homes were also erected. One of the unique features of Daddy McCollough's building programs was that all of the church structures were completely paid for at the time of dedication.
Under his leadership, the House of Prayer acquired a fleet of luxury coach buses; property was acquired for the House of Prayer for use as future development sites; concert and marching bands were organized to march in annual parades and annual competitions; and softball teams were organized, nationwide, for interstate competition. In addition, the McCollough Scholarship Fund was established which allowed youth of the church to pursue higher education. Bishop McCollough died on March 21, 1991.
Once again a crisis occurred over the succession, with Charles McCollough and Samuel C. Madison struggling for control of the church. On May 24, 1991, the members voted S.C. Madison to the office of Bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People. Shortly after entering the office of bishop, Madison pledged to fulfill everything that was on Bishop McCollough's agenda. Under his administration, over 123 Houses of Prayer received major renovation or were constructed. Added to this number were numerous apartments, senior citizens' dwellings, parsonages, houses, and commercial properties.
Bishop Madison was an advocate for scholastic achievement and was the chief executive officer and major contributor to the McCollough Scholarship College Fund. Madison expanded the academic programs of the organization through inaugurating the Annual First Lady Scholastic Achievement Awards Program. Bishop Madison died on April 5, 2008.
Bishop C. M. "Daddy" Bailey, native of Newport News, Virginia and the former pastor/apostle of the United House of Prayer For All People in Augusta, Georgia, the "Motherhouse" or parent church for the state of Georgia, succeeded Madison on May 23, 2008. He was elected during Memorial Week in Washington, D. C. after having won 91% of the electoral votes by the General Assembly. Bailey has been preaching and teaching across the nation since his election as bishop. Ever since his election, Bailey has been carrying out the goals and plans of Bishops McCollough and Madison. Some of the Bailey's plans involve outreach ministries and missionary work in Africa, South America, and the Cape Verde Islands (the birth home of "Daddy" Grace).
The United House of Prayer as defined in their constitution and by-laws is composed of the bishop, elders, ministers, deacons, and all persons who assemble themselves in the various places of assembly maintained by the organization. "On a broader organization level, each House of Prayer belonged to a regional district" and each district is chaired by a minister who is the state chairman. The organization also has what they call the General Assembly which consist of the bishop, minsters, elders, and two elected representatives from each congregation. The General Assembly is the vehicle used to make amendments to the constitution and by-laws, to fill vacancies in the office of bishop, and to remove the bishop for cause. Besides the bishop, the General Assembly, ministers, and members, there exist an ecclesiastical court called the General Council. The General Council consist of the bishop, state chairmen and others who are appointed by the bishop and their primary responsibility is to protect the work of the organization and the bishop and to ensure that all houses and members are compliant with laws outlined in the Supreme Laws For the Government of the United House of Prayer.
The constitution and by-laws of the organization stipulate that the bishop must be in full knowledge of the doctrine of the United House of Prayer, ready to give answers in good faith, able to judge the various members among the church and congregations, and must be continuously working for the good of the organization in accordance with the rules of the New Testament. The bishop's role includes the power to select, ordain, and supervise ministers. He is also designated on behalf of the members as trustee of all church property.