June 1, 2007 marks 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri.
Just after the Azusa Street revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, Evangelist Rachel Harper Sizelove began writing glowing reports to her sister, Lillie Corum, who lived in Springfield, Missouri. Mrs. Corum started reading copies of William Seymour’s Apostolic Faith paper, and she earnestly began seeking and praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The next May, Rachel Sizelove traveled from Azusa Street to Springfield to visit her sister and family. And in an all-night prayer meeting, Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit at her farmhouse in the wee hours of June 1, 1907. She is credited with being the first person in Springfield to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And soon afterwards, the Corum family, rejected by their Baptist pastor, began holding prayer meetings in their home. This was the beginning of Central Assembly of God, the mother church in Springfield, Missouri.
One unsung hero in the beginnings of Pentecost in Springfield is Amanda Benedict, who was a devoted prayer warrior. According to an early write-up in the Pentecostal Evangel, her prayers are credited as the reason for Central Assembly’s existence, as well as for Central Bible College and the Assemblies of God Headquarters being located in Springfield. For one whole year she subsisted on bread and water, praying and fasting continually for the church and for the city of Springfield.
On May 1 of this year, the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center hosted a special chapel service in the AG Headquarters auditorium on “Celebrating 100 Years of Pentecost in Springfield.” The service included a panel discussion with General Secretary George Wood as emcee. Guests on the platform included FPHC director Darrin Rodgers, former FPHC director Wayne Warner, assistant archivist Glenn Gohr, Billie Huffman (granddaughter of Lillie Corum), Jim Harrell (longtime member of Central Assembly), and Lee Shultz (former narrator for Revivaltime). A short video clip of Hazel Corum Bakewell was also featured.
In conjunction with its 100-year anniversary, Central Assembly (Pastor Jim Bradford) is hosting an all-church banquet on June 1, 2007 (the Friday after Pentecost Sunday and 100 years from when Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit). Both Sunday services on June 3 will also be devoted to history relating to the church as Springfield and Central Assembly both celebrate 100 years of Pentecost.
Today there are 30 Assemblies of God congregations in Springfield proper, with others located in outlying towns, including James River Assembly (Pastor John Lindell) in Ozark, Missouri. A number of these churches were started by Central Assembly as satellite churches. At least one other local congregation, Oak Grove Assembly (Pastor Ronald Morein), plans to make note of the 100th anniversary of Pentecost in Springfield on Sunday June 3rd. Guest speaker for the evening service will be General Secretary George Wood.
Posted by Glenn Gohr