Organized in 1939 by Dr. W.O.H. Garman, the Associated Gospel Churches (AGC) endorses Chaplains from fundamental churches to the U.S. Armed Forces, and to other agencies. The AGC has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to represent Independent, Fundamental Bible-believing churches. For more than 75 years AGC has supported a strong national defense and protected the free exercise of religion in the armed forces.
Rooted in the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40)
and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20),
and recognized by the federal government
as an official ecclesiastical endorsing agency,
the Associated Gospel Churches (The AGC)
exists to represent historic and classic fundamental churches,
for the purpose of recruiting, endorsing, and supporting
ordained men to serve as chaplains – Pastors in Uniform –
in restricted access institutions.
While accountable to local churches, the AGC does not belong to any outside ecclesiastical authority, denominational structure, or religious hierarchy.
The AGC is evangelical, meaning it is gospel focused and gospel proclaiming. The gospel message is focused on the life, death, burial, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
We declare and defend the fundamentals of the Christian faith as captured by the Five Vs. The virgin birth of Christ; the vicarious atonement of Christ; the victorious resurrection of Christ; the visible return of Christ; and the verbal inspiration of the Bible. These doctrines and others are summarized in the four-volume set of books, The Fundamentals (1917).
While AGC chaplains seek to be team players, the Bible clearly teaches that a Christian must be separated unto the Lord and away from worldly pleasures, carnal temptations, and theological error. AGC chaplains love their Commanders and their Soldiers / Sailors / Airmen / Marines and their families. There will be times that an AGC chaplain, because of personal or doctrinal conviction, cannot perform a certain task. In such cases an AGC chaplain will refer the case to someone else.
The AGC has more experience than any other fundamental endorsing agency when dealing with the Department of Defense. Because of the excellent records and performance of AGC Chaplains over the years, our association is highly respected by DOD. The military constantly seeks after our men and calls upon us directly for new chaplains. As a result of our earned confidence, we can expeditiously get candidates into the military. In short, we know the chaplaincy and how it works.
Our chaplains, new and old, experience warm fellowship, mentoring, and have personable and friendly attitudes. We enjoy Christian fellowship and encouragement. When difficulties arise, the AGC leadership will defend its chaplains.
We are supervised by a President, a Vice-President, a National Field Representative, and a Board of Directors. All offices are voted on semi-annually. The AGC is guided by its Constitution. All AGC chaplains in good standing are voting members of the AGC. We are independent, evangelical, and fundamental Christians, separated unto the Lord.
Organized in 1939 and recognized by the Department of Defense since 1942, the Associated Gospel Churches (AGC) endorses Chaplains (Pastors-in-Uniform) from Independent, Evangelical, Historic Fundamental churches to the U.S. Armed Forces. The group was formed as a response to Protestant liberalism, and is baptistic in practice. A long time defender of the historic Christian faith, Dr. W.O.H. Garman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the longest serving President and the Patriarch of the AGC.
The Associated Gospel Churches rose to national prominence shortly before WWII and is an Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agency recognized by the Department of Defense. The AGC was born in the midst of the theological controversy of the early and mid-20th century, as liberalism and biblical Christianity were engaged in mortal combat. Theological liberalism first poisoned Europe and then the United States, infecting many Protestant denominations with liberal skepticism, a presupposition against the inerrancy of the Bible, a passion for ecumenicity, a degradation of the deity of Christ, and a rabid anti-supernaturalism. In essence, this so-called “Christian liberalism” resulted in a new religion with the name of Christian still accepted, but with the fundamental core doctrines of the Christian faith rejected or compromised (II Timothy 3:5).
It was in this climate of theological turmoil that the AGC rose to prominence. Having begun as a small local ministerial fellowship in Michigan, the AGC gained national recognition through the efforts of its long-time president, Dr. W.O.H. Garman (1899-1983). Dr. Garman served as President of the AGC from 1942 until his retirement in 1981, a long tenure of thirty-nine years. His elevation to national recognition came about as he fought against the liberal Protestant denominations which sought to remove Chaplains from the Military. Garman’s extensive efforts against pacifistic liberalism and in support of the historic fundamentals of the Christian faith, and against the new and unreliable doctrines of the liberals, were the foundational tenets of the AGC, which are still supported by the organization today.
Dr. W.O.H. (Bill) Garman was an energetic minister of the Gospel who was involved in senior leadership outside of the Associated Gospel Churches in the following organizations: the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (1942-1963); the American Council of Christian Churches (1940-1960); the International Council of Christian Churches (1950’s); Immanuel College of the Bible (1953-1958); and the American Association of Christian Schools of Higher Learning (1967-1971). On a more local level, Bill Garman served as a Pastor in various churches in Pennsylvania from 1925 to 1981.
A large part of Bill Garman’s ministry was focused on the United States Military Chaplaincy. Before Dr. Garman’s time, with minor exceptions, all Protestant Pastors who desired to join the Military Chaplaincy had to do so through membership in the Federal Council of Churches (FCC), later renamed the National Council of Churches (NCC) in 1950. This theologically liberal group maintained a monopoly on the Protestant Military Chaplaincies. Conservative or Fundamental Christian men could not in good conscience join such a group, thus excluding them from Military ministry in uniform. Garman’s pioneer efforts resulted in the breaking the monopoly of the FCC over the Military Chaplaincies, thus allowing conservative evangelical men who preached the Historic Fundamentals of the Faith into the Military Chaplaincies during World War II.
The Associated Gospel Churches has endorsed Military Chaplains in every major United States Military conflict since World War II. Chaplains from the AGC have ministered to troops who fought the Japanese and the Nazis in World War II, and served as Pastors-in-Uniform to service members in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, multiple peacekeeping and nation building deployments to such places as Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom now Operation Freedom’s Sentinel) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (now Operation Inherent Resolve). In the over eighty years since the AGC rose to national attention, the theological foundation of the group has not wavered or compromised with the changing theological trends of fads of our culture. The AGC remains today what it always has been: a group of committed Christians, separated unto the Lord, dedicated to the Bible as the Word of God, seeking to win military men and women and others to Heaven through faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
The AGC supports Historic Fundamental Churches with the Military Chaplaincy as its primary focus. AGC Endorses ordained men for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as Civil Air Patrol. The AGC also Endorses men to Agencies such as the Veteran’s Affairs Chaplaincy, Police, Prison, Hospital, and Hospice Chaplain Services.
Every Chaplain must be a member in good standing with a Bible-believing local church, and the Chaplain remains accountable to his Local church through the AGC. The AGC, with its Chaplains Commission, represents the Chaplain’s local church in matters of theology and practice to organizations otherwise closed (restricted access institutions) to the Gospel.
The AGC truly honors the purpose of the local church. With a large nation-wide constituency of Independent Baptist Churches, Bible Churches, and other Bible-believing Churches, the AGC provides a united voice in Chaplain Affairs in Washington, DC. It is the largest and oldest truly independent, Historic Fundamental Christian group in the United States endorsing Chaplains.
The AGC supports the local church by keeping current with the ever-changing, complex Military regulations, procedures, and issues. Whereas, the local church is not in the position to give detailed attention to such matters, the AGC is. AGC represents Historic Fundamental Churches to the Department of Defense, the Veterans Affairs Agency, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and other Government Agencies. The AGC meets annually in Washington DC with the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers (ICECE) to discuss relevant issues pertaining to the Military Chaplaincy. The AGC provides professional and pastoral insight to Chaplains who need guidance when they must stand on difficult issues.
AGC Chaplains provide excellent ministry in preaching, teaching, and counseling for Military members and families and in other related ministries. In addition to serving as godly Pastors-in-Uniform, AGC Chaplains are among the nation’s finest Officers. Our Chaplains are spiritual advisors to the Command and sometimes serve in difficult assignments. Like the Soldiers they serve, they sometimes are separated from their families at home and abroad.
AGC Chaplains serve with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as providing Chaplains for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Moreover, we have Chaplains serving in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, State Correctional Systems, with Police Districts, and Fire Departments. They also serve as Hospital Chaplains and with VA Chaplaincy Affairs. Thousands of Military personnel have come to know the Lord through AGC Chaplain ministry. In short, the AGC has been serving God and Country in many venues of Chaplain Service to include Special Forces/Operations, Airborne, Command Chaplains, Navy SEALS, Troop Chaplains, and Chapel Pastors.
Many AGC Chaplains serve as part-time Chaplains while they serve in other full-time ministries, such as Local Church Pastors, Christian Educators, Counselors, and the like. These Reserve Chaplains minister in Military Units or in Civilian Police and Fire Department Chaplaincies. These Chaplains are often the first to respond to natural disasters and civil disturbances.
Since WWII, AGC Chaplains have been bringing the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to our men and women in uniform and in other related ministries. Grateful to God for this over eighty years of faithful ministry, it can be truly said that the sun never sets on AGC ministry.
Captain Steven D. Brown
Endorser/President, Associated Gospel Churches
Chaplain Corps, United States Navy (Retired)
A native of Clawson, MI, Chaplain Brown began his military career by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in February 1980. He served as a “Cobra” Helicopter mechanic in HMA-773, MAG-42 for five years at NAS Atlanta. While serving as a Marine Reservist he also served for three years as Associate Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Panama City, FL. He returned to BJU Seminary to complete his Master of Divinity Degree and was commissioned an Ensign, Theological Student Program Officer (TSPO) in August 1985. CAPT Brown superseded to active duty in the Navy Chaplain Corps in 1987.
In January 1987 he reported as Staff Chaplain, US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he served until July 1989. He then served as a Marine Chaplain at 2D Medical Battalion, 2D FSSG, Camp Lejeune, NC from August 1989 – May 1991. Chaplain Brown deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. His Battalion constructed the “Al Khanjar” Desert Trauma Center, which received most Marine casualties and Enemy Prisoners of War casualties during the War.
In June 1991 he reported as Command Chaplain, USS SAN JACINTO (CG 56). Chaplain Brown made Mediterranean, UNITAS, and BALTOPS deployments while serving aboard “SAN JAC.” He subsequently was selected to attend Post-Graduate School at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Religious Education Degree. LCDR Brown reported to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan in July 1995 to serve as Deputy Command Chaplain. He moved to Sasebo, Japan where he reported as Command Chaplain, USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA 3) in 1998, “swapping hulls” to USS ESSEX (LHD 2) in July 2000 where he served until June 2001.
In July 2001 CDR Brown reported to the Ninth Coast Guard District, Cleveland, OH. After 911, he deployed to New York City where to serve as part of a Coast Guard Chaplain Emergency Response Team providing ministry at Ground Zero, the Family Support Center, and at the Disaster Mortuary Team (DMORT) Facility. Chaplain Brown then reported to US Marine Corps Forces Command in Norfolk in April 2004 serving as Deputy Force Chaplain. He returned to sea duty as Command Chaplain, USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-75) in February 06. While aboard, he deployed as an Individual Augmentee to Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan from Sep 06 – Mar 07 where he served as the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Theater Chaplain.
CAPT Brown then reported to US Naval Construction Forces Command/FIRST Naval Construction Division in September 2007 where he served as the senior “Seabee” Chaplain. Chaplain Brown assumed his duties as Second Marine Division Chaplain in March 2010 and deployed as the Regional Command (Southwest) /II MEF(FWD) Chaplain in Helmand Afghanistan from March 2011-March 12.
Chaplain Brown’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (with Gold Star), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 Gold Stars), Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with 3 Gold Stars), the Coast Guard Commendation Medal (with Operational Device) and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He was awarded the John H. Craven Servant Leadership Award in 2012.
CAPT Brown retired on 1 February 2013 after almost 33 years of active and reserve Navy and Marine Corps service, and then assumed responsibilities as the President and Chaplain Endorser of Associated
Gospel Churches (The AGC) located in Greenville, SC. AGC currently endorses about 100 Active Duty and Reserve Military Chaplains. In addition to his work at AGC, Chaplain Brown serves on the General Council and Boards of Directors of five Mission Agencies and Christian Colleges/Seminaries.
He is married to the former Sandra Elaine Jones and they have 5 children, Matthew (Joan), Joshua, Stephanie (Jay), Steven II (Ashley), and Erika, and one grandson, Grayson.
Colonel Ronald W. Benzing
Vice President, Associated Gospel Churches
Chaplain Corps, United States Army (Retired)
Chaplain Ronald W. Benzing was commissioned a Captain in the Army Chaplain Corps upon his completion of Bob Jones Seminary, ordination at Southside Baptist Church, Greenville SC, Endorsement from the AGC, and the Basic Army Chaplain Course in June 1967.
His first assignment was with 325 Signal Battalion, Ft. Meade, MD. In the spring of 1968 elements of his battalion provided support for the 82nd ABN in Washington, DC where extensive rioting took place following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Later he trained for deployment to Viet Nam at the Jungle Operations Course, Panama Canal Zone.
CH Benzing joined the 3rd Battalion, First Infantry, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division in 1968 in the Republic of Viet Nam. During that assignment the unit lost 138 brave soldiers (KIA) and hundreds of others to wounds received in combat (WIA). One Battalion Commander was wounded and another killed in combat action. CH Benzing had hundreds of preaching opportunities and witness for Christ to his men.
CH Benzing subsequently served tours at Ft. Carson, CO and Ft. Ord, CA. In 1972, He received unaccompanied orders to Korea and graduated from the Airborne School, Ft. Benning, GA enroute. He was assigned to the 38th Air Defense Bde where he spent hours in a jeep traveling from one site to other providing services for his soldiers. Upon returning from Korea he and his family moved to Ft.
Campbell, KY with HHC, 101st ABN Div where he was promoted to MAJOR.
He then attended the US Army Chaplain School Advanced Course, Ft. Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY (1975-76) where he also earned the Master of Education in Counseling and Guidance from Long Island University. God also gave him a unique opportunity to serve as the Pastor for Woodhaven Baptist Church in Queens, NY for the year he was in school.
CH Benzing’s first assignment in Germany was to Hanau in 1976 with a very large 8th Maintenance Battalion. Many single soldiers came to Christ. After two years he was reassigned to Bad Toelz in southern Bavaria as the Chaplain for the Special Forces Group (Airborne, Europe). The assignment was cut short due to selection for advanced schooling at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, OR. After earning the Master of Theology in Marriage and Family Counseling, he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, Ft. Riley, KS. After one year of Counseling Ministry and Pastor of the Main Post Chapel, he rejoined Infantry Soldiers with 1st Bde, Ist Infantry Division for deployment to Germany (REFORGER, 1981), the National Training Center, CA, and Winter Training, Ft. Drum, NY. While assigned with the 1st Division, he was promoted to LIEUTENANT COLONEL.
In 1983 he transferred to Ft. Gordon, GA to serve as the Director, Chaplain Family Life Center during the week and served closely with the Pastor Woody Proffitt of Garden City Baptist Church each weekend.
In 1986 he moved to Heidelberg as the 7th MEDCOM Chaplain where he was promoted to COLONEL. He also served as the Heidelberg Military Community Chaplain. After four years, he returned to Ft. Dix, NJ in 1990 as the Installation Chaplain. During that time he supervised Chaplain ministry for over 20,000 military deploying to SE Asia under Operations Desert Shield/Storm and enjoyed the fellowship and support of a Christian Commanding General with whom he met weekly for Bible Study and prayer.
CH Benzing returned to Germany in 1992 as the Area Support Group Chaplain, Seventh Army Training Commmand, Grafenwoehr, where he retired 1 March 1995 with almost 28 years of active duty. He and his wife, Hazel, moved immediately to Garmisch, Germany where he was contracted as a civilian by USAREUR as the Military Community Chaplain. Ministry in Garmisch included the newly formed George C. Marshall Center, the NATO School, Armed Forces Recreation Hotels, and the Edelweiss Conference Center. They remained there until relocating to their home near Hendersonville, NC in September 2005.
Chaplain Benzing joined the AGC staff in February 2006 where he served under the leadership of Dr. Billy Baugham providing pastoral care for AGC Chaplains. He left AGC in March 2009 responding to a call from the Stuttgart Bible Church in Stuttgart, Germany where he served as the Pastor from September 2009 until October 2012 when he and Hazel returned to their home in Mills River, NC.
In God’s providence, he accepted the nomination and election as the Vice President of the AGC at the Annual Conference in February 2013, where he continues to still serve. Again, in God’s providence he was asked to serve in September 2013 as the interim Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mills River, NC which subsequently called him to be their Senior Pastor. Dr. Greg Stiekes led the Installation Service on 13 July 2014.
Chaplain Benzing’s awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with OLC, the Air Medal, with 3 OLCs, the Meritorious Service Medal with 3 OLCs, the Army Commendation Medals with 4 OLCs, the Army Parachute Wings and other decorations.
Ron met Hazel (Miller) his wife at Bob Jones University and they were married in Emmanuel Baptist Church on 9 June 1962, where he now serves as Senior Pastor. The Lord blessed the Benzings with two sons, Joel and Andy. Joel and Laura reside in Castle Rock, CO and have given four grandsons to the Benzing Family. The second grandson, Sam and his wife, Meghan, brought a great-grandson, Liam and great-granddaughter, Emma Rose to Ron and Hazel. Andy and Sarah live in Tucson, AZ and have no children.
Colonel Charles J. Flesher
National Field Representative, Associated Gospel Churches
Chaplain Corps, United States Army (Retired)
Pastor Chuck Flesher served in various Local Churches as a Pastor for over 46 years. The Churches he served include Calvary Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church in the State of Georgia, Sunbury Bible Church in Sunbury, OH, and Greencastle Bible Church near Columbus, OH. Pastor Flesher served at Greencastle for 38 years and was elected Pastor Emeritus upon his retirement. Under his leadership, Greencastle Bible Church became a faithful supporter of the Associated Gospel Churches and superbly hosted the AGC Annual Chaplains Conference on at least three occasions.
In addition, Pastor Flesher and Greencastle Bible Church were part of the Ohio Bible Fellowship with its Christ-centered camping program at Camp Peniel, Fredericktown, OH. Pastor Flesher received regular invitations to speak at Bible Conferences, Family, Men’s and Father/Son Retreats. Chaplain Flesher began his Army Reserve career in 1977 when he was commissioned as a 1LT. He reported for the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CHBOLC) in April 1978. His Military Assignments include: the 2291st US Army Hospital; the 452d Support Group; the 914th Combat Support Hospital; and the 307th Medical Brigade in Columbus, OH. He was mobilized for 2 months in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and mobilized again for three months as part of the Rear Detachment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF and OIF). He retired after 30 years of service at the rank of COLONEL in 2007. Pastor Flesher faithfully served several terms on the Board of Directors of the Associated Gospel Churches. He also served for over 15 years as the Vice President of the AGC. His current ministry as the AGC National Field Representative is a providential culmination of his long-time Pastoral and Military Chaplain experience. Along with his wife, Kathy, they continue to joyfully serve Christ, local churches, and the AGC.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVID HANN
Executive Assistant, Associated Gospel Churches
Chaplain Corps, United States Army (Retired)
David Hann (Dave) was born in 1957 to northeastern Ohio construction workers. His grandfather ran a dairy farm which Dave worked on all through school. On Sunday the family attended church, but attended was all that mattered. If you attended church you were a Christian. Following high school Dave enlisted into the USAF.
While serving in the USAF Dave met a former AGC Chaplain Chris Seidlitz who led him to the Lord. Through the discipleship process Dave felt the need to do for others what Christ was doing in his heart and life. He finished his enlistment, returned home and began to work on his undergraduate degree. While living at home, he began to attend a Bible Church. At this church he met Dee and they eventually married.
Knowing he needed seminary, Dave chose Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA. While in seminary he continued to serve in the PA National Guard. Following seminary, they returned to Ohio and began to serve in the church in which they were married. During this time, Dave tried again to enter the chaplaincy but the quota system just did not allow it. Until, one Sunday night Billy Baugham called and said there were Army openings and if Dave would “salute the flag,” he could get into the Army Chaplaincy. Dave returned the salute and in 1987 was accessioned onto active duty.
Chaplain Hann’s first assignment after the Chaplain Officer Basic Course was a tank battalion at Ft. Hood, TX. Eventually this battalion would deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Following the Gulf War Chaplain Hann served in Germany, Ft Lee and his Chaplain Advanced Course. A tremendous opportunity came when Chaplain Hann was selected as the first AGC Chaplain to serve in the Army’s Chief of Chaplains Office, Washington DC.
Following the Chief’s office, Chaplain Hann served at Ft Riley, attended the Command and General Staff College, Korea, and faculty of the US Army Chaplain Center and School, Ft. Jackson, SC. In 2007 with the Surge in Iraq, Chaplain Hann deployed to Iraq with HQ US Army Materiel Command as the Chaplain of the 401st and 402nd AFSB. Following his two deployments, Chaplain Hann would serve his last assignment as the Post Chaplain, White Sands Missile Range, NM.
Chaplain Hann’s total years of service as enlisted, commissioned, active and reserve total 35 years of service. His awards include Army Achievement Medal 5 OLC, Army Commendation Medal 6 OLC, Meritorious Service Medal 4 OLC, and the Legion of Merit. Other awards include Department of the Army Staff Officer Badge, three Combat Stripes, Liberation of Kuwait and Iraqi Freedom Global War on Terror.
Chaplain David Hann and Dee have been blessed with three children. Linnea, a paralegal in Columbia, SC. Ben, a USAR CPT Combat Engineer, and Stephen a US Army Bandsman stationed at Ft. Benning, GA. Both Ben and Stephen are married giving the Hann’s four grandchildren.
How Can You Help Support AGC?
The military provides unique ministry opportunities because sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen are often in harm's way and are open to spiritual considerations. AGC has been and remains true to Dr. Garman’s mission, to endorse Bible-believing fundamental men whom the Lord calls to minister to the Armed Forces by providing examples of a scriptural life and faithfully representing their Bible-believing sending churches. The Lord has blessed AGC since its founding in 1939 by providing outstanding Bible-believing men committed to ministering to military personnel in a pluralistic environment while remaining true to the inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Scriptures. However, some AGC chaplains have paid a price for doing so.
215 Pine Knoll Drive, Greenville, SC 29609
Give us a call