Pillar of Fire’s roots come from the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. So, its heritage is best understood within the historical framework of the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition of the Holiness Movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was initially organized on December 29, 1901, and then incorporated in Colorado on May 20, 1902, under the name Pentecostal Union. The name was officially changed to the Pillar of Fire on October 6, 1917.
Bishop Alma White was the founder. It was not her initial plan to establish a new denomination but rather a missionary society to spread the gospel and the message of holiness. However, after a long struggle, she branched out to form the Pillar of Fire. Its beginning was mired in controversy as her husband was not in agreement. It eventually led to their marital separation, which was later repudiated by the Pillar of Fire leadership.* Nevertheless, she was ordained on March 16, 1902 and went on to be consecrated as the first Bishop of the Pillar of Fire. As such, she was the first woman consecrated a Bishop in America. Much talk has also arisen over her brief but significant association with the KKK, which has also been publically condemned and repented of by the POF leadership with a request for full forgiveness.* Despite these and other errors in its history, the Lord in His grace and mercy has chosen to bless the ministry.
Along with a missionary zeal and churches preaching holiness, Christian education and literature distribution were key elements in the development of the POF. Bishop White also had great vision for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ via the radio. KPOF was established in 1928, and the Pillar of Fire became the first denomination to own and operate a Christian radio network. Each of these elements grew and blessed many through the years. They currently have ministries in New Jersey, Ohio, Colorado and California.
The Pillar of Fire has also been active in overseas missions. The first mission was established in London, England, in 1909. The second mission was opened in 1960 in Liberia. They currently have works in Liberia, India and Costa Rica.
* Zarephath repents its past by Monique Parsons HOME NEWS TRIBUNE - 4/24/97
"We regret, repudiate and repent, and ask for full forgiveness for anything in our past that is short of Christian standards based on God's Word, following Jesus' model prayer that teaches us to ever pray and forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4) We specifically regret mistakes and bad judgement by previous generations or anyone in our membership of the past."
Scripture references in favor of this statement: Proverbs 28:13; Leviticus 26:40f; Jeremiah 3:12-25; 14:20.