Assembleias de Deus

The Assembleias de Deus (Portuguese pronunciation: [asẽˈblɛjaʒ dʒi ˈdews,ˈdewʒ]) are a group of Pentecostal denominations in Brazil founded by Daniel Berg and Gunnar Vingren, who came to Brazil as missionaries from the Swedish Pentecostal movement. The Assembleias de Deus are related to the worldwide Pentecostal movement, and some groups are affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Currently, the organization is one of the largest Protestant denominations worldwide.

Assemblies of God in Brazil
LeaderJosé Wellington Bezerra da Costa (President of CGADB)
AssociationsAssembly of God
HeadquartersRio de Janeiro, Brazil
FounderDaniel Berg and Gunnar Vingren
Belém, Pará, Brazil
Members22.5 million[1]


The Assembleias de Deus began when Daniel Berg and Gunnar Vingren, two Swedish Pentecostal missionaries departed to Brazil. They arrived in Belém, Pará, where in 1911 founded the Missão de Fé Apostólica, which later changed its name in 1918 to "Assembleia de Deus".

The Pentecostal movement in Brazil had already been started by that time among Italians in São Paulo, by an Italian-American missionary, Louis Francescon, who initiated the Christian Congregation of Brazil (CCB) in 1910. While the CCB spread in the South, the Assembleias de Deus reached the Amazon villages and the semi-arid Nordeste before migrants from the North brought the Church to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in the late 1920s.

Initially the Assembleia de Deus was intimately linked to the Scandinavian Pentecostal movement, led by Lewi Pethrus, who financed and sent missionaries to help Berg and Vingren. The Swedish Pentecostals gave autonomy to the Brazilian Assembleia de Deus in a General Convention in 1932. From that time onward, the American Assemblies of God increased their presence, mainly on doctrinal and teaching spheres, on the Brazilian denomination, but retained its independence from their American brethren. Walter Hollenweger explains such relation as follows: "In the mission statistics of the North American Assemblies of God, the Assembleia de Deus figure as their mission church. In contrast, the Brazilian Pentecostals regard themselves as an independent church."[2]


Since the 1980s the Assembleias de Deus have suffered several schisms and splits. As a consequence, many Conventions and Ministérios left using the same name "assembleia de Deus", though being totally independent organizations. The most significant denominations named Assembleias de Deus are:

  • General Convention of the Assemblies of God in Brazil (CGADB) - the largest and most traditional convention, the only group that has official fellowship with the American Assemblies of God, headquartered in Rio de Janeiro and considers itself the heir of the Swedish mission. The CGADB had nearly 3.5 million members in 2001. The CGADB owns the publishing house of the Assemblies of God (CPAD), headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, which meets significant portion of Brazilian evangelical community. At CGADB also owns Evangelical College. In the political area, some federal MPs are members of the Assemblies of God and represent institutionally with public authorities on matters of interest denomination, supervised by the National Political Council of the Assemblies of God in Brazil, headquartered in Brasilia, DF, which coordinates all CGADB the political process. In addition, there are also state legislators and even mayors and councilors, all under the auspices of churches linked to CGADB. In the election campaign of 2011, 22 deputies were elected to Federal Chambers at the 54th Legislature (2011-2015).
  • National Convention of the Assemblies of God- Also known as the Assembleias de Deus Ministerio Madureira - started as an internal ministerio of the CGADB in 1958, with headquarters in the Madureira neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, but in 1989 was expelled from the General Convention, taking 1/3 of its membership and churches. It has an episcopal governance, but doctrinally is similar to the GCADB. It had about 2 million members in 2001.
  • Assembleia de Deus Betesta - headquartered in Fortaleza, Ceará. It has nearly 200 churches, serving mostly middle class.
  • Assembleia de Deus Vitória em Cristo, formerly the Assembly of God of Penha district in Rio. It spun off the CGADB with its leader, Silas Malafaia.
  • There are almost a hundred small ministérios and independent conventions.

Altogether, the churches that bear the name Assembleias de Deus in Brazil had 8.5 million adherents in 2001.[3]

Foreign work

The Brazilian Assembleia de Deus has always sent missionaries abroad, starting in 1913 when a returning Portuguese immigrant was commanded to Portugal. Today, there are Brazilian missionaries in Latin America and in the Portuguese-speaking Africa. There also are Brazilian Assemblies of God among the Brazilian immigrant communities in North America, Japan, and Western Europe, but usually they do not have relations with the local World Assemblies of God Fellowship affiliated national denominations.[4]

In the United States there are a Brazilian Assembleias de Deus, mostly in the Eastern Coast, some are affiliated with the Brazilian District of the Assemblies of God, but the majority of the Brazilian churches are either independent or linked to their ministério back in Brazil.


The Assembleias de Deus have a non-territorial episcopal polity (called Ministerio)[5] where each Ministerio is a directed by a mother-church under a pastor-president (also called bishop or apostle in various Ministerio) with affiliated congregations and preaching points. The mother-church receive tithes and manages the funds of the affiliated local churches, as well as assign pastors for the local congregations. There is a strong influence of pastoral leadership on the decision-taking process, and the members only rubber stamp the Ministerio decisions.

As the ministerio structure overlaps many territorial boundaries, there usually is no much organizational collaboration among ministérios. Virtually, each ministério operates independently, and end up becoming an independent denomination on itself. Among the major ministérios stands the Assembly of God Bethlehem Ministry, which has about 2,200 churches concentrated in the south-central and headquartered in Belenzinho neighborhood in São Paulo. In 2008, Ministério do Belém was chaired by Pr José Wellington Bezerra da Costa, who succeeded Pr. Cicero Canuto de Lima, who also chaired the CGADB.

Since the 1980s, for administrative reasons, notably after the death of Paul Leiva Macalão pastor and his wife, Zelia missionary, the Brazilian Assembly of God has undergone several divisions that gave rise to various conventions and ministries with autonomous administration in various regions of the country The most significant of the independent ministries are the Ministry of Madureira, whose church has existed since the 1930s, founded by the aforementioned Pr. Paul Leiva Macalão and, in 1958, served as the basis for structuring national Ministry chaired by him until his death in late 1982.


Since it is not a unified movement, there are many variations in doctrine and practice in the Assembleias de Deus in Brazil, but in common they believe in the Bible as the sole source of doctrine, the vicarious death of Christ, in the baptism of adults by immersion in water, in Holy Communion with no wine, the obligation of the tithe,[6] the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the premillennial return of Jesus, consider Christian headcovering for woman in worship and kiss of peace as heresies.[7]


In Brazil, the Assembleias de Deus have, although representing only a minor part of the population, increasing influence on politics. The far-right Partido Social Cristão is considered as "political arm" of the Assembleias. The PSC is led by the two priests Pastor Everaldo Pereira and Pastor Marco Feliciano, who are known for their involvement in various cases of corruption and sexual misconducts.[8][9][10]

Other Brazilian politicians with ties to the Assembleias, e.g. Benedita da Silva and Marina Silva do not follow the right-wing course of the PSC. Marina Silva pursues ecologist ideas and supports the right of the indigene tribes of her country. Silva has been at times criticized by the church leadership for her leftist stance on many issues such as drug reform.[11]

See also


  2. Hollenweger, Walter. The Pentecostals. Grand Rapids, 1977. p.82
  3. IBGE, Brazilian Census 2000
  5. Chesnut, R. Andrew. Born Again in Brazil: The Pentecostal Boom and the Pathogens of Poverty. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
  6. Assembleia de Deus Ministério Belém Pindamonhangaba - Seja Dizimista
  7. Marques do Amaral, José.Igreja do Véu: SEITA ou heresy?Goiania, 2001. Preface by José Wellington Bezerra, pastor-president of the CGADB
  8. "Pastor Everaldo é acusado de agressão por ex-esposa" (in Portuguese). Gospel Prime. 18 May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  9. Quintella, Sérgio (1 June 2017). "Jovem conta detalhes do suposto assédio do pastor Marco Feliciano" (in Portuguese). Veja. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  10. Bezerra, Mirthyani; Prazeres, Leandro; Costa, Flávio (13 January 2017). ""Desespero total": Pastor Everaldo (PSC) pediu dinheiro a Cunha, aponta PF" (in Portuguese). Uol. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  11. "Pastor Silas Malafaia critica Marina Silva e vira destaque no Twitter" (in Portuguese). 28 September 2010. Retrieved 2019-07-25.


  • Almeida, Abraão de. História das Assembléias de Deus no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: CPAD, 1982.
  • Berg, David. Enviado por Deus - Memórias de Daniel Berg Rio de Janeiro: CPAD,
  • Conde, Emílio. História das Assembléias de Deus no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: CPAD, 2000.
  • Freston, Paul. "Breve Historia do pentecostalismo brasileiro". Antoniazzi, A. (org.). Nem anjos nem demônios interpretações sociológicas do pentecostalismo. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1994.
  • Vingren, Ivar. O Diário do Pioneiro.Rio de Janeiro: CPAD,
  • Vingren, Ivar, Nyberg Gunilla, Alvarsson Jan-Åke, Johannesson Jan-Endy. Det började i Pará: svensk pingstmission i Brasilien. Estocolmo: Missionsinstitutet-PMU, 1994.

Further reading

  • Prien, Hans-Jürgen (1999), "Assembleias de Deus no Brasil", in Fahlbusch, Erwin (ed.), Encyclopedia of Christianity, 1, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, pp. 142–143, ISBN 0802824137


English-speaking countries

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