P.C. Nelson on the Value of a Liberal Arts Education


This Week in AG History–June 16, 1934
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 16 Jun 2014 – 4:12 PM CST.

Peter C. (“P. C.”) Nelson, an Assemblies of God educator and theologian, made an eloquent plea for Pentecostal schools to develop curriculum in the liberal arts and to train students for non-ministry vocations in a 1934 Pentecostal Evangel article. Up to that point, all Assemblies of God colleges focused on the training of people for ministry. Nelson noted that increasing numbers of Assemblies of God young people have an “anointing of the Spirit for doing a worthy work in other fields besides that of the ministry.”

Nelson warned readers that the “moral and spiritual conditions in most schools and colleges” cause many Pentecostal young people to abandon the faith. “If we want our young people to remain loyal to our movement,” Nelson wrote, “our fellowship must provide instruction for them along all branches of study.” He envisioned new courses that would train teachers, musicians, businesspeople, stenographers, accountants, engineers, architects, carpenters, masons, auto mechanics, and printers.

Where would this new liberal arts school be located? Nelson suggested that Central Bible College, the national ministerial training school of the Assemblies of God, located in Springfield, Missouri, would be an ideal location. He recommended that its facilities be enlarged so that it could train even more ministers and also add a liberal arts curriculum.

Nelson was not alone in his support for the development of Pentecostal liberal arts education. His article received the unanimous support of the Executive Presbytery. There was a growing recognition that the Assemblies of God should develop educational programs for training young people in fields other than vocational ministry. Nelson began his article by pointing out that the Assemblies of God constitution, adopted in 1927, included the following paragraph: “The General Council shall be in sympathy with the establishment and maintenance of academic schools for the children of our constituency.”

Although Nelson did not mention it in his article, this vision for a Pentecostal liberal arts curriculum dated back to the founding of the Assemblies of God. The “Call to Hot Springs” — the open invitation to all Pentecostal “elders, pastors, ministers, evangelists and missionaries” to attend the first general council of the Assemblies of God — enumerated five purposes for the meeting. The fifth purpose was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was a 19th and early 20th century term that roughly corresponds to “liberal arts” today.

Nelson’s call for Central Bible College to train ministers alongside laypersons was not realized during his lifetime. However, other Assemblies of God Bible schools began expanding their curriculum. North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota) added a two-year business college in 1938. Southwestern Bible College (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas), the school founded by Nelson, opened a junior college in 1944. Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington) also added a junior college in 1955. That same year, the Assemblies of God established its new national liberal arts school, Evangel College (now Evangel University), in Springfield, Missouri.

Nelson encouraged readers to invest in Assemblies of God young people who possess “real sterling character, native ability, and spirituality.” The value of Pentecostal schools, asserted Nelson, “exceeds the cost…No investment will pay a larger dividend.”

Read the entire article by P. C. Nelson, “Enlarging Our Educational Facilities,” on page 7 of the June 16, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Finishing Our Course,” by Zelma Argue

* “Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?” by Otto J. Klink

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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Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released

Water baptism, 2013. Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

This water baptism was performed in 2013 by the pastors of Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

The Assemblies of God (AG) is one of the few major denominations in the United States to show continuing growth. The AG has now experienced 24 consecutive years of growth in the number of U.S. adherents, according to a press release from the AG National Leadership and Resource Center in Springfield, Missouri. The article compares the AG’s growth to the “declining attendance for many other North American evangelical denominations.”

The 2013 Full Statistical Report was not posted on the AG website as of today (6/16/14), but the article provided the following notable statistics for calendar year 2013. For comparative purposes, statistics from 2008 and 2012 are also provided here.

U.S. Stats             2008             2012            2013     2012-13 Growth

Adherents                   2,899,702       3,095,717        3,127,857        1.0%

Churches                     12,377              12,722               12,792               0.6%

Membership              1,662,632        1,780,468        1,805,381        1.4%

Major Worship

Service Attendance  1,799,987       1,880,269      1,918,686        2.0%

Water baptisms          114,091           131,713           137,375           4.3%

Spirit baptisms            85,667             81,345             83,731             2.9%

Conversions                 441,377           453,496          456,395         0.6%

Credentialed ministers34,178           35,867             36,434           1.6%

Worldwide Stats       

Adherents                   61,550,938      66,383,778      67,512,302      1.7%

Preaching Points         332,411           362,791           366,105           0.9%

The AG is growing at a faster rate than the U.S. population, which increased by 0.7% in 2013. The number of U.S. adherents has been increasing at a relatively steady pace — at an average of 1.6% per year since 1989, and 1.5% per year since 2008.

In recent decades, most mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have witnessed significant numerical declines. From 1960 to 2011, the United Church of Christ lost 48% of adherents; The Episcopal Church lost 43%; the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost 35%; the United Methodist Church lost 29%; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 19%. Others showed increases, including the Southern Baptist Convention (66%) and the Roman Catholic Church (62%). During the same period, the Assemblies of God grew by 498%, from 508,602 members in 1960.

While mainline denominations have been declining for decades, in the past few years some evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), have also begun to decline. SBC leaders recently have shown alarm over deceasing numbers of baptisms and conversions. The number of SBC baptisms has declined for seven straight years.  This demographic decline has caused some pundits to predict the slow death of evangelicalism.

Robust growth of Pentecostal churches, including the Assemblies of God, shows a different story. All statistics released in the article — water baptisms, Spirit baptisms, membership, attendance, conversions, and numbers of adherents, churches, and ministers — increased last year in the AG. Other categories, including attendance at Sunday evening and midweek services, were not included in the article and presumably declined. The AG press release attributes much of the growth to increases in ethnic minority churches and young people: “The impact is especially evident among Latino adherents, who now make up 20 percent of the Fellowship (more than 40 percent of total adherents are ethnic minorities), and Millennials (ages 18-34), who contributed 21 percent of the growth from 2001-2013.”

The breakdown of the 2013 numbers will be available in the yet-to-be-released Full Statistical Report. But the 2012 report shows the AG’s significant ethnic diversity: Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%); Black (9.8%); Hispanic (21.7%); Native American (1.4%); White (59.2%); and Other /Mixed (3.5%). These stats suggest that the AG closely mirrors the ethnic makeup of the U.S. population as a whole. The 2010 U.S. census revealed the following racial breakdown of the U.S. population: Asian/Pacific Islander (5%); Black (12.6%); Hispanic (16.3%); Native American (0.9%); White (63.7%); and Other /Mixed (6.2%).

Much of the numerical growth in the Assemblies of God in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. From 2007 to 2012, the number of AG adherents increased by 8.1%. During this period, the number of white adherents increased by 1.6% and the number of non-white adherents increased by 19.2%. This demographic shift continued from 2011 to 2012, and the percentage of white adherents dropped from 59.6% to 59.2%. When the 2013 Full Statistical Report is released, it is likely to reveal that this demographic shift continued apace in 2013.

The AG’s growth in America is partly due to immigration. The Assemblies of God is a global church. About 1% of the world’s population is AG. Only 5% of AG adherents worldwide live in the U.S. Pentecostals who move to America from other regions of the world often bring with them a faith, burnished by persecution and deprivation, that is an important part of their identity. Pentecostal refugees who move to America are like pollen scattered by a strong wind — they plant churches wherever they happen to land. Strong African, Slavic, Asian, and Hispanic AG churches are taking root in American soil, and their congregations sing, preach, and testify in the tongues of their native countries.

Interestingly, this demographic shift is also helping to usher in a global re-alignment of Christianity. Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are generally evangelical in belief, if not Pentecostal in worship, and often have much more in common with their brothers and sisters in the Assemblies of God than they do with liberal members of their own denominations in the West.

The Assemblies of God is growing in America. But the real story is the ethnic transformation of the Assemblies of God. It is becoming less white and more reflective of the ethnic, linguistic and social diversity that exists in the global church. The founding fathers and mothers of the Assemblies of God  laid the foundation for this ethnic shift when they committed the Assemblies of God in November 1914 to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” In 1921 the Assemblies of God adopted the indigenous church principle as its official missions strategy, in order to better carry out world evangelism. The implementation of this strategy — which recognizes that each national church is autonomous and not controlled by Western interests — resulted in the development of strong national churches and leaders. And now, in a fitting turn of events, those churches are sending missionaries to America.

–Darrin J. Rodgers

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The Assemblies of God and Japanese Sex Trafficking in 1917

Pages from 1917_06_09
This Week in AG History–June 9, 1917
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Wed, 11 Jun 2014 – 3:04 PM CST.

The June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel featured a shocking photograph on its front cover — a picture of 10 female prostitutes in Japan, locked behind a window with bars. The caption read, “Sold! Carest thou not that we perish?” This image of sexual slavery was intended to provoke readers to pray for and support the ministry of William and Mary Taylor, early Assemblies of God missionaries who helped to free women involved in prostitution in Japan.

The caption beneath the photograph further described the plight of the women: “Sold to work evil, the conditions of thousands of these poor girls is indeed pitiful. These hopeless slaves are dolled up, painted and powdered, and then exposed to the gaze of every passerby, whose trade they are expected to solicit.”

The Taylors and their ministry colleagues, through the Door of Hope Mission in Kobe, Japan, worked tirelessly to free woman who found themselves caught in a life of sex trafficking. Prostitution had been first legalized in Japan 300 years earlier, in 1617. In an article in The Weekly Evangel, William Taylor described the disastrous consequences of the sex trade. He pled for readers to pray for the women — whom he called “somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister.”

Christians must not be silent about the evil of sex trafficking, Taylor warned. He cited Scripture, “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). The Taylors continued to speak out against sex trafficking, serving with the Assemblies of God in Japan until the late 1930s. During World War II, the Taylors returned to America and ministered at the Japanese American Relocation Camps, in which the United States government incarcerated over 100,000 people because of their Japanese ancestry.

Read the article by William J. Taylor, “So I Opened My Mouth,” on pages 1 and 3 of the June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Pictures of Pentecost in the Old Testament,” by Alice E. Luce

* “Sweet Smelling Roses on Thorny Bushes, or God’s Encouragement Along the Way,” by Max Freimark

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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What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley?

john_wesley
This Week in AG History–June 3, 1944
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 02 Jun 2014 – 5:40 PM CST.

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism?

Wesley, an Anglican priest in England, helped to lay the foundation for large segments of the evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Despite living in a nation that identified itself as Christian, he recognized that most people in the nation, and even in the churches, did not have saving faith. He pioneered new evangelism and discipleship methods, which upset some of the religious leaders of his day. He appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists who traveled and preached the gospel. He also encouraged the formation of small groups of Christians for the purpose of discipleship, accountability, and Bible study.

Wesley encouraged each person to experience God’s love. However, he insisted that if a person was truly saved, an experience with God must yield a transformed life. True Christians, he taught, would live holy lives. When the Holy Spirit transformed a person’s desires, this inner holiness would naturally be manifested in outward holiness.

In many ways, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the tradition of Wesley. The June 6, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published an article that shared the “secret” of “Wesley’s power.” Three reasons existed, according to the article, that caused Wesley’s ministry to be so powerful.

First, Wesley believed that the Bible was “the very Word of God.” The Bible was the standard for everything, and he prayerfully consulted it for guidance.

Second, Wesley “preached with a living sense of divine authority.” He believed his sermons were given “by direct communication of the Spirit,” based on the Bible, and “applied logically, earnestly, passionately to the hearts of men.”

Third, Wesley “lived and preached in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.” His deep spirituality was formed by living daily in the presence of God and by developing daily habits of “prayer and song, fellowship and meditation, study and preaching.”

Wesley taught that changed hearts should ultimately change society. He and his followers (known as Methodists) became leaders in social issues of his day, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.

Read the entire article by Samuel Chadwick, “Wesley’s Secret of Power,” on page 4 of the June 3, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Direct Answers to Prayer,” by Frederick M. Bellsmith

* “Following Jesus,” by H. A. Baker

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

Leave a comment

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