by Pastor Eric Gabourel
“I don’t eat the flesh of animals, their by causing them pain…” wrote the man that was to become the first General Overseer of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). A.J. Tomlinson’s story of facilitating the growth of an international Pentecostal denomination begins in the lonely hamlet of Culbertson, North Carolina.
Tomlinson, a native of Indiana, was no stranger to this part of the American South. He had been on missionary journeys to rural Appalachia before. Armed with the disciplines of fasting and prayer this journey was to be one that would make a lasting impact on 20th century Christianity.
Tomlinson moved to Culbertson, N.C. on October 16, 1899 with an Edenic vision in his heart. Tomlinson referred to himself and his cohorts as Bible Missionaries Living in Common. Their goal was not only to recreate the egalitarian vision of the early church, but to also restore a reality experienced in the Garden of Eden.