Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ is a revelation by God to the late lamented, Brother Elias Dempsey Smith, who, in 1915 became the Apostle, Priest, and King of the Church. January 20th is known as Founders’ Day and is observed as Triumph’s holiday in commemoration of the birth of the Church. On this day, we celebrate the advent of Triumph in all day services, feasting and gift giving.
Elder E. D. Smith, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, had fulfilled the aspirations of its curriculum and, in 1897, sought a deeper truth. His inner soul longed for something but he didn’t know what. He asked for a transfer to another conference thinking that a change in scenery and people would suffice. But it didn’t. The unrest remained in his soul. He then resorted to a deeper study of the Bible namely, Isaiah, Revelation, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel in that order. Many new interpretations, revelations, and visions were given to him on the Scriptures. It was during a trip across the Mississippi River in a rowboat that a strange phenomenon happened in the middle of the river. While rowing and conversing with his friend, Bro. Elisha Bailey, a fellow minister in the AME Church, it appeared that the boat started twirling around and around and around out of their control, yet the wind was still. At this point, he prayed to have his life spared and vowed to preach and teach the truth as God had and would further reveal to him.
In his meditation he saw a vision. There appeared unto him an eagle, a lion, and a brown-skinned damsel, dressed as a bride adorned for her husband. The spirit of God told him that these were only figures of speech, but had a divine message. The characteristics of each symbol were revealed to him as follows. The truth revealed to him would be:
– like an eagle, higher than any other religion or sectarian church thought and nothing would ever stand between a mind in tune with God and the illumination of divine substance.
– strong like the strength of a lion, mastering every previous limited idea by wisdom and power and not by carnal ordinances.
– like a brown-skinned damsel dressed as a bride adored for the bridegroom, representing the church and the entire world, whom, when he married her, holds the ability to birth all of her needs.
Some say that the Apostle also envisioned a lamb, which would represent the humility of man, acknowledging God in all his ways.
This message was given to other ministers of various denominations, each of whom became leaders of their respective organizations. They thought the message was good, but refused to accept it, saying it was too soon. The message was carried to them because Triumph came to gather all sanctified and Holy Ghost-filled persons and carry them into the glorious liberty of the sons of God and eternal life.
Bro. E. D. Smith journeyed to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he organized this Church called Triumph The Righteous Church on January 20, 1902. According to Triumphant historians, this concept was known as Triumph Methodist Church. It reigned on the earth for two years while God continued to prepare Father Smith for his ensuing life-giving ministry. God was preparing him to share with all humanity a life-giving word in the midst of a dying world. A new message was on the way; a message of redemption without bloodshed and a challenge to become the “Second Adam” and live as God intended for man to live in His image. It was not popular in that day and time. At the turn of the twentieth century much was happening in our history. The black man was not given a fair chance in this country. Many other church organizations were being birthed, yet none with the message that God had given Father Smith. Many talked about holiness and righteousness, but with an end to life, as we know it. This time in religious history was known as the Pentecostal Movement.
The doors of the church were opened to the world on January 20, 1904. The first member of the church was Mrs. Hannah Peters. The original message was for the black man of that day. According to Triumphant historians, in 1907, Father Smith joined forces with Bishop C. H. Mason, founder of the Churches of God in Christ. This union lasted until 1912 when Father Smith dismissed himself from that order. It is said that the message of Body Redemption, as given to him by God, was too strong for Bishop Mason and his followers. Father Smith then re-implemented Triumph the Holy Righteous Church.The first National Congress was held in Birmingham, Alabama in July 1915. At this assembly Father Smith was named Apostle, Priest and King and the name of the church was changed to Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ. The first International Congress was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in July 1919, where over 1500 delegates registered. The meeting lasted for 50 days.
In January 1920, Father E. D. Smith and Prince J. D. Barbar sailed to Addis Ababa, Abyssinia, Africa. At that time Ethiopia was ruled by Empress Waizero Zandita and her nephew, Ras Tafari, co-ruler. They were met by Ras Tafari Jerry Hapigaus with ten thousand soldiers. Father Smith was given the reception of a king. After a banquet, he took ill and complained of stomach pains. He died shortly afterwards. It is said that he was buried on Mount Tach La Hammount.
Father Smith’s death produced a dramatic change in Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ. The supreme authority shifted from one person to a board of seven Bishops.