Category Archives: Church

William Fetler, the Welsh Revival, and Early Russian Pentecostalism

William Fetler
This Week in AG History–July 22, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 21 Jul 2014 – 4:28 PM CST.

St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was in the midst of social turmoil 100 years ago. A decade of civil unrest and strikes, heightened by an emerging Marxist political movement, threatened to undermine the ruling czar. Political assassinations and mass uprisings became commonplace. Compounding these problems, the advent of the First World War led to high prices and a scarcity of food and other consumer goods. It was into this chaotic situation that William Fetler, a Latvian Baptist pastor, became a Pentecostal pioneer in the Russian capital city.

William Fetler (1883-1957), born in Latvia, was the son of a Baptist pastor. As a young man he worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper in the Latvian capital of Riga. He was quite sharp and had mastered seven languages, four of which he could speak fluently. He felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Spurgeon’s College, the ministerial training school in London founded by noted Baptist Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon.

Fetler was profoundly touched by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) during his time at Spurgeon’s College. The Welsh Revival, which lasted only for about a year, resulted in over 100,000 converts to Christ. The revival, which included enthusiastic worship and miracles, left a lasting imprint on the religious landscape of Wales. Evan Roberts, the primary leader in the Welsh Revival, was asked by the Spurgeon’s College principal if he had a message for the students. Roberts replied, “Tell them to live near to God. That is the best life — near to God.”

William Fetler took that message to heart and was never the same. He felt a great burden to see revival in Russia and Latvia. He would spend the rest of his life working to see Latvians and Russians come to Christ. After graduating with honors in 1907, he moved to St. Petersburg. He found a ready audience with nobility who were already believers, including Princess Lieven, Baron Nicolay, Madam Tchertkoff, and others. His impassioned preaching in multiple languages attracted large audiences. He raised money for the construction of a large “Gospel House” in St. Petersburg.

The Welsh Revival fed into the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Fetler rejoiced at the news of this latest spiritual outpouring. What had been somewhat localized in the Welsh Revival became a worldwide movement in Pentecostalism. Fetler maintained his Baptist identity and also worked within the Pentecostal movement and became a regular speaker at Pentecostal conferences across Europe.

Events in Russia overtook Fetler’s St. Petersburg ministry. Government officials viewed him with suspicion and kicked him out of Russia in 1912. Fetler recounted persecution in Russia, as well as healings, visions and miracles he witnessed, in an article published in 1916 in the Weekly Evangel. Fetler, possibly the best-known Latvian pastor in the West, wrote a book about his life experiences under the pen name Basil Malof. He moved back to his native Latvia, where he led a thriving congregation.

Read Fetler’s article, “Pentecostal Power in Russia,” on pages 4 and 5 of the June 22, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Tithing,” by E. L. Banta

* “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Eudorus Neander Bell: Pentecostal Statesman


This Week in AG History–June 30, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 01 Jul 2014 – 1:17 PM CST.

Eudorus Neander Bell’s name was not the only thing about him that stood out. Better known as E. N. Bell (1866-1923), he served as first chairman (this title was later changed to general superintendent) of the Assemblies of God. He and his twin, Endorus, learned to work hard at a young age. Their father died when the boys were two years old, and they had to help provide for the family.

A sincere and studious Christian, E. N. Bell felt a call to the ministry at a young age. However, his family’s poverty meant that this calling would be postponed. He dropped out of high school and instead worked to put bread on his family’s table. At times, the only bread he could afford was stale and had to be dipped in water to be edible. Finally, at age 30, he achieved a longtime dream and graduated from high school.

Bell proved to be an adept student. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Stetson University, attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 1900 to 1902, and received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School (then a Baptist school) the following year.

He pastored Baptist churches for about 17 years. Despite success in the ministry, Bell was hungry for more of God. After he heard about the emerging Pentecostal movement in 1907, he took a leave of absence from his church in Fort Worth, Texas, and traveled to William Durham’s North Avenue Mission in Chicago to wait upon the Lord. He prayed expectantly for 11 months, until he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on July 18, 1908.

Bell described his Spirit baptism in a testimony published five months after the experience: “God baptized me in His Spirit. Wave after wave fell on me from heaven, striking me in the forehead like electric currents and passing over and through my whole being…. [The Spirit] began to speak through me in a tongue I never heard before and continued for 2 hours…. After 3 months of testing, I can say before God, the experience is as fresh and sweet as ever.”

Bell traveled back to the South, uncertain what his next steps should be. He ministered across the South, seeking God’s will for his life. Then, in 1909, God answered two prayers. At age 44, Bell finally married. He also became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Malvern, Arkansas. He began publishing a monthly periodical, Word and Witness, which became a prominent voice within the young Pentecostal movement.

In 1913, Bell published the “call” to Hot Springs. Those who attended the April 1914 meeting in Hot Springs organized the Assemblies of God and elected Bell to serve as its first chairman. Bell, a Pentecostal statesman with a pastoral heart, proved a wise choice. He helped to lay the theological and organizational foundation for the young fellowship

J. Roswell Flower wrote that Bell was the “sweetest, safest and sanest man” he had ever met in the Pentecostal movement. According to Flower, Bell was “a big-hearted man” and took time to pray with the sick and tend to other pastoral duties, despite the numerous pressures of his office. He slept little, traveled much, and wrote constantly. He did all this “without murmur or complaint.” Flower noted that Bell looked much older than his 56 years. “He grew old in the service,” Flower wrote. “He had purposed in his heart that he would give all that was in him for the faithful performance of the work that had been allotted to him.”

Bell’s health broke, so he stepped down as chairman in November 1914. He returned to the pastorate but remained active as an executive presbyter and editor of the Weekly Evangel andWord and Witness. He was elected as chairman again in 1919 once he had recovered. He intended to leave office in 1924 and to pour himself into budding ministers by teaching at the newly-formed Central Bible Institute.

Bell’s work ethic took a toll on his health. He literally worked himself to death, dying in office on June 15, 1923. Tributes to the fallen leader were published on six pages of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Early Pentecostals taught that those who truly had Christian love would lay down their lives for one another (1 John 3:16). So perhaps it should not be surprising that the first chairman of the Assemblies of God did just that.

Read tributes to E. N. Bell on pages 1 through 6 of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Many Members, One Body,” by Zelma Argue

* “On the Top of the World,” by Victor G. Plymire

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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The Open Bible Council


This Week in AG History–June 24, 1916
By William Molenaar

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 23 Jun 2014 – 3:13 PM CST.

In the early days of the modern Pentecostal movement, controversies raged over the nature of tongues, sanctification, water baptism, and the Trinity. Many local churches and pastors operated independently, with little accountability, and did what was right in their own eyes. The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 in part to bring unity, stability, and accountability to churches within the Pentecostal movement. However, the first General Council decided not to create a binding statement of faith.

The emerging Oneness movement (also called the “New Issue”) forced the Assemblies of God to reconsider its decision to be non-creedal. Advocates of the New Issue were teaching that believers must be baptized in the name of Jesus based on the narrative of Acts, rather than using the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They further rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and understood the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit not as persons of the godhead, but rather as different manifestations of the one personal God. As a result, some Oneness believers asserted that no distinctions existed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The young Assemblies of God was compelled to define its doctrine and to create organizational mechanisms to ensure accountability. Chairman J. W. Welch, in the June 24, 1916, editorial of theWeekly Evangel, issued a call to ministers to attend a third General Council of Assemblies of God. Welch desired unity and decried the strife and contentions among Pentecostals. He pointed out the need for “scriptural unity, order and government in the church.” Welch referred to the council as “an OPEN BIBLE council,” asking that those who attend to base their decisions squarely on the Bible.

Welch reassured readers that the meeting would not seek to create a sect or denomination. Doctrinal confusion was at hand, and he pleaded with those attending the next General Council to strive for unity and harmony, while discerning what is truth and what is error according to the Word of God. What resulted? The 1916 General Council adopted the Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Read the entire editorial by J. W. Welch on pages 3 and 7 of the June 24, 1916, issue of theWeekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Christians in India Are Given ‘Gift of Tongues,'” by William T. Ellis.

* “Some Good Things to Remember,” by Mrs. P. M. (Agnes Ozman) LaBerge.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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First female elected to Assemblies of God presbyter posts in Ohio

ImageAt the recent 69th Network Conference of the Ohio District, Rev. Donna Barrett was elected to serve as the first female general presbyter and executive presbyter in the Ohio Ministry Network (District) of the Assemblies of God. By virtue of this election, Donna also serves the Ohio Ministry Network as an executive officer. Previously, Donna Barrett served the Network as a Nonresident Regional Executive Presbyter. Donna is lead pastor of Rockside Church, Independence, Ohio.

Donna Barrett succeeds David Gross in this role, with David having served 25 consecutive years on Ohio’s Network Presbytery (including multiple terms as General Presbyter). Jim Palmer, Assistant Superintendent and Secretary of the Ohio Ministry Network writes, “She is highly regarded in our Network as a leader, mentor and pastor.  We are confident she will make a significant contribution to the General Presbytery.”

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Gerrit R. Polman and Pentecostal Unity

This Week in AG History–May 29,1926
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Wed, 28 May 2014 – 3:53 PM CST.

Gerrit R. Polman (1868-1932) is regarded as the founder of the Pentecostal movement in the Netherlands. Polman was originally a member of the Reformed Church and joined the Salvation Army in 1890. Influenced by reports of revivals in Wales and at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, Polman and his small congregation in Amsterdam identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907.

Polman wrote a historical account of Dutch Pentecostalism, which was published in the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Polman recounted testimonies of how lives were transformed. He recalled that in one city, “The sick were healed, demons cast out, souls saved, and other manifestations of the power of God were given.” This pattern was repeated, with some variations, in cities and villages throughout the nation.

According to Polman, people who experienced God’s power did not stay the same. He wrote, “What a wonderful change it brings in our lives when the Holy Spirit comes in, in Pentecostal power; how it changed our conduct, our hearts and lives; what a fellowship in the Spirit with our risen Lord!”

Polman used his article about Pentecostalism in his corner of the world to encourage unity among Pentecostals everywhere. He gave praise to God for “the unity in the Spirit” that existed among Dutch Pentecostals. He believed that this unity would be “a testimony in the midst of the spiritual deadness.” One’s Christian citizenship, he argued, should outweigh all earthly allegiances: “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether we be American or Dutch, English or German.” He continued, “The body of Christ is a new race of people, born from heaven, and as such, they are a heavenly people, seeking the things which are above.”

Polman was a Pentecostal leader in his nation, but he grasped a vision of the body of Christ that was much bigger than the churches he oversaw. A similar vision for Pentecostal unity, grounded in God’s Word and for the purpose of worldwide evangelization, also energized the founders of the Assemblies of God in 1914. Early Pentecostals recognized the tensions between heavenly and earthly allegiances, and they regularly encouraged believers to seek unity by forming their identity around biblical ideals.

Read the entire article by G. R. Polman, “The Pentecostal Work in Holland,” on pages 2-3 of the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Newspapers Report Mrs. McPherson Drowned”

* “Pentecostal Power,” by Ernest S. Williams

* “Brother Wigglesworth in Ceylon,” by Walter H. C. Clifford

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Minnie Abrams and the Pentecostal Revival in India


Description: Minnie Abrams on the right.

This Week in AG History–May 19, 1945
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-NewsMon, 19 May 2014 – 4:21 PM CST.

Minnie Abrams (1859-1912), in many ways, was a typical female in the American Midwest in the late nineteenth century. However, everything changed when she heeded God’s call to the mission field. Abrams was reared on a farm in rural Minnesota and, in her early twenties, became a schoolteacher. After a few years in the classroom, however, she sensed that God was leading her in a new direction. She attended a Methodist missionary training school in Chicago and, in 1887, set sail for Bombay, India.

In Bombay, Abrams helped to establish a boarding school for the children of church members. Not content to stay within the walls of missionary compound, she learned the Marathi language so that she could engage in personal evangelism. Ultimately, she became a fulltime evangelist and began working with Pandita Ramabai, a leading Christian female social reformer and educator. Abrams worked with Ramabai at her Mukti Mission, a school and home for famine victims and widows.

After hearing news of revival in Australia (1903) and Wales (1904-1905), Abrams, Ramabai, and others began seeking a restoration of the spiritual power they read about in the New Testament. They formed a prayer group, and about 70 girls volunteered to meet daily, study the Bible, and pray for revival. Beginning in 1905, several waves of revival hit the Mukti Mission. The prayer group grew to 500, and many of the girls reported spiritual experiences that seem to repeat what they found in the Book of Acts. Some prophesied, others received visions, and yet others spoke in tongues. Abrams wrote about the revival, which became the foundation for the Pentecostal movement in India, in the July 1909 issue of the Latter Rain Evangel. Her account was republished in the May 19, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

According to Abrams, the revival came to India because of deep prayer, consecration, and repentance. During the daily prayer meetings, the girls memorized Scripture, became deeply aware of their own sinfulness, and hungered for righteousness and an outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Abrams recalled, “I cannot tell you how I felt in those days of repentance at Mukti when the Holy Spirit was revealing sin, and God was causing the people to cry out and weep before Him.” The girls who had been touched by revival did not stay put; they fanned out into surrounding villages and brought the gospel to anyone who would listen.

According to Abrams, the early Indian revival provided valuable lessons for Christians everywhere. She gave a warning to readers that is just as applicable today as it was in 1909: “the people of God are growing cold and there is a worldliness and an unwillingness to hear the truth and to obey it.”

How can we have revival today? Abrams offered the following admonition: “If you want revival you have to pour your life out. That is the only way. That is the way Jesus did. He emptied Himself; He poured out His life; and He Poured out His life’s blood.” Abrams recounted that revival at the Mukti Mission included not just remorse over sin, but also incredible joy that followed repentance. She wrote that “ripples of laughter flowed” in prayer meetings, that some of the girls began dancing in the back of the room, and that they were filled with a “deeper joy.”

Read the entire article by Minnie Abrams, “How Pentecost Came to India,” on pages 1 and 5-7 of the May 19, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Speaking in Tongues,” by Howard Carter

* “The Tarrying Meeting,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

* “An Anniversary Testimony,” by A. H. Argue

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Donald Gee on Miracles


By Darrin Rodgers

This Week in AG History–April 28, 1957
Also published in AG-News, Mon, 28 Apr 2014 – 4:23 PM CST.

Miracles have played an important role in the histories of both the early church and the Pentecostal movement. However, just as the Apostle Paul had to correct excesses in the first century church at Corinth, twentieth century Pentecostal leaders were faced in some quarters with an overemphasis on miracles.

British Assemblies of God leader Donald Gee (1891-1966) wrote an article, published in the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, in which he affirmed the miraculous but also called for balance.

“The unvarnished story of the New Testament reads like a refreshing gust of fresh air,” Gee wrote. The New Testament “not only blows away the stuffiness of our unbelief, but also cools the fever of our fanaticism.” Gee taught that miracles should be part of “any truly Pentecostal revival,” but he also warned against extremism.

Miracles naturally attract a crowd. But Gee observed that the existence of miracles did not necessarily signify repentance or a change of heart. He urged readers to pay greater attention to the “less spectacular ministries” that are necessary to disciple believers.

Read the entire article by Donald Gee, “After That — Miracles,” on pages 8-9 of the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Great Faith,” by Louis M. Hauff

* “Power in the Word,” by Mrs. C. Nuzum

* “Missions in Northern Alaska,” by B. P. Wilson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

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