William J. Sowders
God called Bro. William J. Sowders to lead an association of churches that are called the Body of Christ. They are not organized denomination. Rather, they are a voluntary association of churches and believers. Many of those churches go by the name of Gospel Assembly. William Sowders was born in Louisville, Kentucky on September 13, 1879. After serving as a policeman, boat builder, and fisherman, he was converted from a rough life to a life of following Jesus Christ and, in 1913, received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost near Paducah, Kentucky. Shortly after receiving the Pentecostal experience, while working on a boat motor on the Ohio River, the Lord spoke to Bro. Sowders in an audible voice saying, "I want you to preach MY GOSPEL." He was called of God to be a great teacher. Early in his ministry God began to reveal truths to him. These included truths about the Godhead, the beast, Babylon, water baptism, the number and qualifications of the Bride of Christ, and other doctrines. He had a tremendous revelation about staying outside of organized religion and manifesting the divine love of God, or the charity which is explained in 1 Corinthians 13. At the peak of his influence, it is estimated that Bro. William Sowders led a fellowship that consisted of 75,000 believers in 300 congregations in 31 states. This man of God died on November 20, 1952. After his death factualism divided and splintered the movement he had led. Yet his vision remains. God called William Sowders to begin a work that will yet be completed. The Body of Christ will be healed.
Lloyd L. Goodwin
Bro. Lloyd L. Goodwin was sent to Des Moines, Iowa, in March, 1963, to pastor a small, struggling Gospel Assembly Church. Although the church traced its history back to 1939, and despite having a long series of pastors, the church had not ever taken hold. When Bro. Goodwin arrived, the church consisted of 16 people and a bank account of $93. Bro. Goodwin had been trained for the ministry under Bro. William Sowders, his son, James Sowders, and Thomas Jolly. He came and began to work as the pastor of the small assembly. Over the course of time, that church grew. At the time of his death in July, 1996, the church congregation numbered in excess of 400, and possessed approximately 10 million dollars in assets. Bro. Goodwin was a world-renowned Bible teacher. He published several books, and had an international radio ministry and tape ministry. Under his direction, the Gospel Assembly Christian Academy was started. As an apostle, Bro. Goodwin became the leader of an international association of churches, which had established congregations in more than 30 countries on six continents at the time of his death. The Lord used Bro. Goodwin to establish tremendous truths regarding the first resurrection, the return of the Lord and the establishment of His kingdom, the law of God, sovereignty and election, and other Biblical doctrines. Bro. Goodwin died as he always had wanted: on the field of battle, laboring for the Lord. He died in his church, after delivering a powerful, anointed message. He left the churches a vision for the future and an inspiration to continue the work of the Lord.
At the death of Lloyd L. Goodwin, his brother, Vernon, became the pastor of the Gospel Assembly Church in Des Moines. His ministry was short and hard, but effective. Under Bro. Vernon's ministry, God began a work toward healing the divisions and fractions in the work of God since the death of William Sowders. Bro. Vernon had the heart of a shepherd and the gentleness that was necessary to effect a healing in God's people. His ministry was short, only 16 months as pastor, but it was effective. The work he began is still bearing fruit.
Glenn Goodwin, the nephew of Lloyd Goodwin, is the current pastor of the Des Moines Gospel Assembly Church. He was formerly legal counsel to the Gospel Assembly Churches, and had served as an elder in the local assembly. He is a teacher; his calling is to teach the truths that the Lord gave this fellowship through the ministry of William Sowders, Lloyd Goodwin, and others.