Before I was born my father, and founder of the ABC, Ramon A Haas studied at two seminaries earning a degree in religious studies with the intent of one day becoming an ordained Pentecostal minister. He was also, at the same time, learning from a man named William Branham, a famous Pentecostal minister.
One of Branham’s teachings was the ability to use the “Spirit of God” to make things move on their own accord. My dad related to me on several occasions he had tried this, just once, and said that things in the room did indeed move on their own but that the air had become very cold, dark and heavy when this happened. It scared him and he never tried it again and he rejected this particular teaching by Branham. He did however, throughout his life, maintain many of the other principles taught by Branham and the Latter Rain Movement and he incorporated a great many of the Branham / Latter Rain Movement principles into the fabric of his teachings to the Assembly of the Body of Christ. In this way he carried forward some of these Branham doctrines.
One of my dad’s favorite songs, and one we sang quite often, was the tune “This is the Promise of the Coming Latter Rain. Lift Up Your Eyes...” In his heart my dad had every intent to restore and revive the “Latter Rain” movement of his youth and spoke quite often of the Latter Rain movement when he was at home. The restoration of the "latter rain" is still a common thread among other groups similar to the ABC.
Branham HistoryWilliam Branham was born in 1909 in Kentucky. On the day he was born, or so it was reported anyhow, a halo formed above his head. His mother, not a Christian, and one who dabbled heavily in fortune telling and the occult decided, after this sign, her best option was to take him to a Baptist church in the community for a blessing. Why she did this is not really known and she and her family did not continue at this church during Branham's childhood but, even so, he grew up to become a Baptist preacher.
In 1948, Branham, unexplainably, left the Baptist church to become a Pentecostal minister instead and soon acquired a faithful group of followers in the Pentecostal church. My dad, not long back from the war, was one of those followers. These followers declared Branham to be “the apostle of the final church age” and my father, after starting the Assembly of the Body of Christ, declared himself to be “an apostle of the final church age” just like Branham had.
Branham believed the church was in the seventh, and final, church age and in order to exhibit this belief developed a teaching he called "God’s Seventh Church Age". In this teaching, he taught that God’s kingdom would soon return to earth and leaned heavily on the scripture in Joel 2:23 that speaks of the latter rain. Thus his movement would eventually become known as “The Latter Rain Revival” movement.
While it appeared Branham had immense healing power, this was later proven to be a scam. He also alleged to hear “The Voice” which instructed him in the way he should live his life morally. “The Voice” was with Branham his entire life and he later claimed it revealed itself to him as an angel physically. Angel, however, simply means messenger, and it is highly doubtful, in my mind, this voice came from God.
Branham’s life ended in a tragic head-on collision in Arizona and his followers; believing he had come in the spirit of Elijah; expected he would rise from the dead and so kept a regular vigil by his grave. He didn’t rise from the dead as they expected but facets of his teachings still live on in many movements today.
The principle vehicle for carrying Branham’s message forward was the Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. One of the students at this school was a man named George Hawtin; a man my dad knew personally. Hawtin would also end up befriending several other men who would bring the Latter Rain doctrine to Seattle.
In the fall of 1947, when the group at the Sharon Orphanage and School; some of whom had been at Azusa Street; traveled to Vancouver BC and heard Branham speak, they returned to Saskatchewan excited by new ideas and developed a plan to rebuild the “Latter Rain Movement” started at Azusa Street. This group held the belief that the Pentecostal church, which they had recently left behind, was "stale, dry and lacking in spiritual gifts" and they felt a revival of the “Latter Rain Movement", that first began at Azusa Street, was the only means to bring life back to the church.
By 1949, the Pentecostal church had begun an effort to squash this new movement, but were mostly unsuccessful as the "Latter Rain Revival" movement continued to spread. Many ministers left the Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churches to take an active role in the new movement but by the 1950s the movement lost most of its steam, ran its course, and most of the men who had been in the forefront simply faded into the distance. Many of the doctrines they taught however are alive and well today, for good or for bad.
One of the doctrines that carried through from this era to the present is “the fivefold ministry”. This doctrine teaches that the church must have an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor and a teacher. There is also an emphasis on restoring and observing the feasts of Israel, and a very heavy emphasis on teaching primarily the foundational truths found in Hebrews 6:1-2 while ignoring some of Christ’s original message of tolerance and love. These things being actually Jesus main message.Paul, the apostle, battled this tendency in his era as He often mentions those who followed the law and were mired in legalism.
The next few paragraphs are excerpted from the Apologetics Index and the links are provided after. These paragraphs show that some of the principle players in the birth of the ABC; Ern Baxter, William Branham, James A Watt and Derek Prince (shown later to be directly connected to James Watt) were all tied to the Sharon Orphanage and schools.
A significant event in the history of Sharon Orphanage and School was its July 7-18, 1948 Camp Meeting, during which thousands of people from Canada and the United States flocked in hopes of receiving something special from God. Residents from at least twenty states attended, and the great Latter Rain Movement burst upon the world.From that time the movement spread rapidly and Sharon shortly became just one of many centers of teaching for the Latter Rain Movement. Link-------
Among those present at the Sharon Camp Meeting in July, 1948, was George Warnock who at one time had been personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham's healing ministry). At this meeting one of the teachers, James Watt, made a passing remark that the third of Israel's feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, was yet to be fulfilled. This struck Warnock and he began to associate it with the end-time ministry of the Church, and the concept of restoration.In the fall of 1949 Warnock took up residence at Sharon, "assisting in the office work, and helping in the Bible School and in the local church."In 1951 Warnock wrote his book, 'The Feast of Tabernacles,' in which he layed out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement, and those who came after. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God's feasts for Israel, through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel's worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) pre-figure and typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in "the manifestation of the Sons of God" - the "overcomers" who will step into immortality and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.Warnock teaches that this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity and, once done, the saints will "eat the Lord's Supper in reality." (as if we are not doing so now)."Unity" as defined by Kingdom Theology entails the putting on of "the mind of Christ" so that we all think, say, believe, and confess the same things. What we will think, say, believe, and confess will be told to us by the apostles and prophets.Unity without regard to "doctrine" (except the doctrine of those imposing the unity) is the great cry among those today who think that the Body of Christ has thus far failed in its commission. We will deal with these teachings in more detail later. Link
A short video excerpt can be seen here of Jim Watt talking about the 1948 revival in Saskatchewan.
Note: To delineate further the tie-in the ABC has with these “Latter Rain” doctrines please reference these links to their official site. Jewish Calendar and Last Days Calendar About the time I was being pushed out of the ABC these feasts were beginning to be physically observed by the men at three yearly special gatherings.