Tag Archives: Assemblies of God

Early Assemblies of God Schools: Training for Life and Service

Pages from 1917_11_17
This Week in AG History–November 17, 1917
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 18 Nov 2014 – 10:13 AM CST

From the outset, the Assemblies of God promoted the development of educational institutions. The fifth purpose of the “Call to Hot Springs” (the open invitation to Pentecostals to organize what became the Assemblies of God) was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries and roughly corresponds to a “liberal arts school” today. The Assemblies of God was formed, in part, to encourage both ministerial training and liberal arts education.

Initially, the Assemblies of God endorsed several small regional schools. Delegates to the first general council in April 1914 unanimously adopted a resolution that endorsed two schools – one Bible school (The Gospel School, Findlay, Ohio) and one literary school (Neshoba Holiness School, Union, Mississippi). The Ohio school trained ministers and the Mississippi school was a high school that included both liberal arts and technical education.

Assemblies of God leaders recognized the need to train their young people for life and service. In a September 1915 Word and Witness article encouraging parents to send their children to Ozark Bible and Literary School, D. C. O. Opperman wrote:

“Parents! Think of getting your Children out of the corruption of the public schools into a clean good school where God is honored, under teachers, who not only are real instructors, but who love and serve God, are consecrated, Spirit-filled and are thoroughly in love with their work. The teachers that God is sending are not the cheap, shoddy, no account class, they are able, gifted, college bred, experienced, and sent of God. Praise Him! The school itself, we believe is a plan of God, and is a part of His eternal purpose.”

Both the Ohio and Mississippi schools were short-lived. The Assemblies of God endorsement of the Neshoba Holiness School lasted until 1915, when its principal, R. B. Chisolm, left to start a new school, Ozark Bible and Literary School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The endorsement of The Gospel School lasted until 1917, when that school merged into Mount Tabor Bible Training School, located in Chicago. The Assemblies of God endorsed each of the successor institutions, which it encouraged its young people to attend.

The November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel published an article about Mount Tabor Bible Training School, which was sponsored by Bethel Temple, a large Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago. A photograph of the church’s impressive stone edifice accompanied the article, noting that the school’s urban location provided numerous opportunities for employment and ministry. Practical ministry opportunities abounded: “Missions, Bible Classes in private homes, teaching in Sunday Schools, street work, hospitals, prisons and other institutions, rescue work, visiting the sick and others in need, and in any other ministry to which a door may be opened.”

Mount Tabor was “a school where the entire Bible is believed and taught,” according to the article. Furthermore, “No fads, nor new issues” were welcome at the school. This was a clear to reference to the anti-Trinitarian teachings (also called “New Issue” or Oneness) that caused a large number of ministers to leave the Assemblies of God the previous year. Assemblies of God schools, from the earliest years of the Fellowship, provided young people and budding ministers with balanced biblical education and practical experience in ministry.

Read the article, ” Mount Tabor Bible Training School” on pages 15 and 16 of the November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Sad Effects of the War on the Persian Pentecostal Saints,” by Andrew Urshan

* “Open Doors in Mexico,” by Alice E. Luce

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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Second AG General Council Marks 100th Anniversary

Pages from 1914_12_05
By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published in AG-News, Thu, 13 Nov 2014 – 8:41 AM CST

One hundred years ago, hundreds of Assemblies of God pastors, evangelists and missionaries traveled to Chicago to attend the second General Council. Held November 15-29, 1914, at the Stone Church, this meeting’s explicit purpose was “to lay a firm foundation upon which to build the Assemblies of God.”

The Assemblies of God had been organized just seven months earlier in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The young Fellowship grew quickly as existing independent ministers joined its ranks. They appreciated the vision for fellowship, accountability and structure, while maintaining the autonomy of the local congregation. This growth caused founding chairman E. N. Bell to call for a second meeting, in order to make urgent decisions about the future of the new organization.

The Stone Church, one of the largest Pentecostal congregations in America, could easily accommodate the expected 1,000 participants. Delegates to the meeting made several important structural changes. They decided to move the headquarters from Findlay, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, which would provide a more central location in a larger city. Delegates voted to expand the number of executive presbyters from 12 to 16, making the leadership more representative of the constituency. New leadership was also elected and Gospel Publishing House was authorized to expand its operations.

But the most far-reaching decision at the second General Council was one that was not on the original agenda. Assemblies of God leaders planned to take a missionary offering at the conclusion of the General Council. They had written articles encouraging people to bring money to give to missions. But the pastor of the Stone Church decided that the final offering should instead go to his own church, to help defray expenses related to hosting the council. Assemblies of God leaders, although frustrated with this turn of events, did not oppose the pastor’s request. Instead, they decided to issue a strongly-worded resolution in which they committed the Assemblies of God, from that point forward, to the cause of world evangelization. L. C. Hall drafted the resolution, which read:

“As a Council, we hereby express our gratitude to God for His great blessing upon the movement in the past. We are grateful to Him for the results attending this forward movement and we commit ourselves and the movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen. We pledge our hearty cooperation, prayers and help to this end.”

This iconic resolution, unanimously adopted by the delegates, has been widely quoted as illustrating how support for missions is part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God.

There is more to the story. In the spring of 1915, something shocking was discovered about the Stone Church pastor, R. L. Erickson, who had refused to let the offering go to missions. The May 29, 1915, issue of the “Weekly Evangel” alerted readers that Erickson had been removed from the ministerial list due to moral failure. In a lengthy article, E. N. Bell detailed how Erickson’s “greed” was evidence of poor moral character, which also manifested itself in other harmful ways in his life and ministry. What Satan meant for harm, Bell wrote, God could turn into good. And one hundred years later, the Assemblies of God remains committed to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”

Read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Outlook,” in which he details the events surrounding the adoption of the resolution regarding missions, on pages 3 and 4 of the May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

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.

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Speaking in Tongues: The Proliferation of Assemblies of God Language Branches Among Immigrants in the 1940s and 1950s


This Week in AG History–November 10, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 10 Nov 2014 – 9:01 PM CST

The Assemblies of God, during the 1940s and 1950s, formed eight language “branches” for immigrants to the United States. These branches functioned much like geographic districts, allowing Pentecostals whose mother tongues was not English to organize themselves and to better coordinate their ministries.

Most of these new language branches were for immigrants from southern and eastern Europe: Ukrainian (1943), Hungarian (1944), Polish (1944), Russian (1945), Yugoslavian (1945), Italian (1948), and Greek (1953). The German Branch (established 1922) was the first language branch. The Philippine Branch (formed circa 1940) was the only language branch for non-Europeans formed during these early decades. All branches became known as districts in 1973.

Hispanics have always been the largest non-English speaking group in the Assemblies of God in the United States. However, Hispanics had their own structure within the Assemblies of God and never identified using the term “branch.” The first Hispanic administrative structure was organized in 1918 as the Latin Conference of the Texas District. It was renamed the Latin American District in 1925.

The last language branch to form, the Greek Branch, was actually a pre-existing network of Greek Pentecostal churches called the Hellenic Protogonos Apostolic Ecclesia (Greek Original Apostolic Church). The group was recognized as the Greek Branch by the Assemblies of God General Secretary on August 14, 1953. The Greek Branch disbanded in 1968.

Most language branches served as a temporary cultural bridge for new immigrants to America. As their children Americanized and learned English, the churches founded by immigrants joined geographic districts and most language branches dissolved.

The Pentecostal Evangel published numerous reports of the language branches over the years. The November 10, 1957, issue was no exception and carried news of the Greek District’s annual convention held in Oakland, California.

Read the article, “Greek Branch Holds Convention,” by Gust Harbas, on page 30 of the November 10, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Call of the Spirit,” by James Van Meter

* “Springfield’s New Central Assembly”

* “Lead Me to the Rock,” by Elva Johnson

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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Persecution of Pentecostals in Iran 100 Years Ago


This Week in AG History–August 19, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 18 Aug 2014 – 8:49 PM CST.

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), the son of a Presbyterian pastor in Persia (now Iran), immigrated to the United States in 1901. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1908 in Chicago, where he started a Persian Pentecostal mission. He returned to his homeland in 1914 as an Assemblies of God missionary and, amidst much persecution, helped to establish an enduring Pentecostal church.

Urshan shared his testimony in a series of three articles published in 1916 in the Pentecostal Evangel. Persia was a melting pot of numerous people groups, including Arabs, Jews, and Armenians. But Urshan felt a call to minister to his own people, the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who mostly belonged to various Christian churches, had a long history of suffering as a persecuted religious and ethnic minority.

Interestingly, most of the persecution experienced by Urshan and other Pentecostals came from other Christians. Urshan recounted that Muslim leaders treated him with respect, because the Pentecostals and the Muslims shared similar moral values. When Urshan was placed in jail for preaching the gospel, Muslim leaders stated, “He says people shouldn’t get drunk, and that is why they have imprisoned him.”

Pentecostal revival spread in the Assyrian community. Urshan related the stories of the birth of Pentecostal churches in five towns. In each new church, miracles and changed lives were accompanied by suffering. In the town of Urmia, a mob of Eastern Orthodox Christians attacked a group of Pentecostal girls who were headed to church. The mob shot their rifles at the young converts, hitting three and killing one of the girls. The grief and violence did not deter the Pentecostals from meeting. Ultimately, about fifty people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Urmia. Similar stories happened in each town touched by Pentecostal revival.

Urshan pleaded for readers in America to learn from the deep spirituality of Persian believers. He wrote, “I have seen young girls like some of you interceding and agonizing for the salvation of souls in the whole world.” These young Persians, he explained, “walked carefully, with their eyes and hearts filled with God, singing praises unto Jesus, and pleading tearfully with souls, before their persecutors.”

When Urshan returned to America, he was troubled by the lack of consecration he found in churches. Many Christians he met seemed to live “careless” lives and seemed most interested in “fashions of dress” and “the pleasures of this world.” Urshan wrote that he “suffered in the spirit” for American Christians. People who are “in danger of death,” he surmised, may actually be better off spiritually. Americans, he believed, should seek to cultivate spiritual depth by learning from the suffering church.

Read the series of three articles by Andrew D. Urshan, “Pentecost in Persia,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here for the August 19, 1916, issue.

Click here for the August 26, 1916, issue.

Click here for the September 2, 1916, issue.

Also featured in the August 19, 1916, issue:

* “The Unity of the Spirit,” by W. Jethro Walthall

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

And many more!

Click here to read the August 19, 1916, 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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Global, Diverse, and Growing: The Assemblies of God at 100

Several of the 40+ Papua New Guinea guests at the Assemblies of God Centennial meet Hispanics from the East Coast. Assemblies of God National Offices, Springfield, MO, August 4, 2014.

Several of the 40+ Papua New Guinea guests at the Assemblies of God Centennial meet Hispanics from the East Coast. Assemblies of God National Offices, Springfield, MO, August 4, 2014.

The Assemblies of God is global, diverse, and growing!

This diversity will be on full display this week when 2,000 registered foreign guests join thousands of American church members for the triennial World Assemblies of God Congress and to celebrate the centennial of the Assemblies of God USA.

Worldwide, 95% of Assemblies of God adherents lived outside the United States in 2013. In the U.S., over 41% of Assemblies of God adherents were non-white. In the U.S., the white constituency has decreased by 34,922 over the past ten years, while the number of non-white constituents has increased by 433,217.

The editorial in the 2014 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine, reproduced below, addresses this significant demographic shift in the Assemblies of God. This seachange carries enormous implications.

The Assemblies of God has a significant future because of the Fellowship’s historic vision to be a global church. In November 1914, delegates to the second general council committed themselves 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 may be bringing renewal to America.

Immigrants are sparking growth and renewal in the American church. Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, anticipated this moment. He lamented the decline in spirituality that he witnessed among American Pentecostals over fifty years ago. He wrote that “it would be easy to become defeatists.” However, he foresaw a coming revival, which he believed would fulfill prophecy in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17: “In the last days … I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”

Brumback’s prediction is coming true before our eyes. He identified two trends, then in their infancy, which gave him great optimism about the future of the Assemblies of God. First, he saw a Pentecostal outpouring on “representatives of practically every branch of Christendom in these United States.” Second, he believed that “The Revival That Is” in foreign lands will bring “The Revival That Is to Come” in America. “The simplicity, zeal, and spiritual power of our brethren around the world,” he forecast, will ultimately lead to “a new visitation upon the homeland.”

The coming revival is unfolding. Are you ready for it? What are you doing to build bridges with the next generation of Pentecostals who do not look or sound like you?

The centennial celebration of the Assemblies of God promises to be an important mile marker, not only because of its chronological distance from its founding, but because it will make visible to the world that the Assemblies of God is a global church. And this realization should change the way we view ourselves, and the way others view us.

Enjoy my editorial below!

Darrin Rodgers
drodgers@ag.org
______________________________________________

Global, Diverse, and Growing

The Assemblies of God is 100 years young!

When approximately 300 ministers came together in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914 and organized the Assemblies of God, they could not have envisioned what the next 100 years would bring.

The Assemblies of God (AG) was formed by a broad coalition of ministers who desired to work together to fulfill common objectives, such as sending missionaries, establishing schools, and providing fellowship and accountability. Formed in the midst of the emerging worldwide Pentecostal revival, the AG quickly took root in other countries and formed indigenous national organizations.

A Global Body

The Assemblies of God USA is a constituent member of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship (WAGF) — one of the largest families of Christian churches in the world. However, an international headquarters for the AG does not exist. The WAGF is not a legislative body. The 140-plus member bodies from across the world are all equal and relate to each other fraternally.[1] This year also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the WAGF, which was formed just days after the 1989 General Council in Indianapolis.

In 1989, the AG counted 2,137,890 adherents in 11,192 U.S. churches and 18,552,282 adherents in 128,307 churches around the world. These numbers have increased significantly. In 2013, the AG counted 3,127,857 adherents in 12,792 U.S. churches and 67,512,302 adherents in over 366,000 churches worldwide. Since 1989, that is a 46% increase in the number of U.S. adherents and a 264% increase in the number of adherents worldwide.

The AG is a global body of believers because, from its beginning, deep spirituality and missions have been central to its DNA. In 1964, on the fiftieth anniversary of the AG, then-general superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman wrote that two common concerns united participants at the first general council: “matters of spiritual interest and a desire to reach the world with the gospel.”[2]

People and programs come and go. But attention to these dual transcendent concerns — a deep spirituality anchored in the Word of God and a consecration to carry out the mission of God — will keep the AG from straying from its founding ideals.

Assembling the Numbers

The AG has shown growth in the number of U.S. adherents each year since 1990. That’s twenty-four straight years of growth, at a time when most major denominations in the United States are declining.

In 2013, the AG grew by 1.0%, while the U.S. population only increased by 0.7%. The number of U.S. adherents has been increasing at a relatively steady pace — at an average of 1.525% per year from 1989 to 2000, and 1.515% per year since 2001.

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Assemblies of God growth is in marked contrast to the decline of many other denominations. 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 AG 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.[3]

Robust growth of Pentecostal churches, including the AG, shows a different story. AG statistics increased last year for water baptisms, Spirit baptisms, membership, attendance, conversions, and numbers of adherents, churches, and ministers. Other categories, including attendance at Sunday evening and midweek services, declined. An AG press release attributed 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.”[4]

Ethnic Diversity

The 2013 statistics reveal significant ethnic diversity in the AG: Asian/Pacific Islander (4.4%); Black (9.6%); Hispanic (21.7%); Native American (1.5%); White (58.7%); and Other/Mixed (4.0%). These numbers 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 AG in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. From 2003 to 2013, the number of U.S. adherents increased by 14.6%, from 2,729,562 to 3,127,857. During this period, the number of white adherents decreased by 1.9% (-34,922) and the number of non-white adherents increased by 50.5% (+433,217).

The AG’s growth in America is partly due to immigration. The AG is a global church. About 1% of the world’s population identifies with the AG. Only 4.6% 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. Pentecostals who move to America are often like pollen scattered by a strong wind — they plant churches wherever they happen to land. Strong African, Slavic, Asian, Pacific Islander, 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 AG than they do with liberal members of their own denominations in the West.

The Coming Revival

This demographic shift carries enormous implications for the future of the church. Certain segments of the AG are in spiritual and numerical decline, mirroring the general decline of Western culture and its rejection of biblical values. Non-whites and immigrants, often embracing a strong Pentecostal identity, are on the ascendancy.

Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the AG, anticipated this moment. He lamented the decline in spirituality that he witnessed among American Pentecostals over fifty years ago. He wrote that “it would be easy to become defeatists.” However, he foresaw a coming revival, which he believed would fulfill prophecy in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17: “In the last days … I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”[5]

Brumback’s prediction is coming true before our eyes. He identified two trends, then in their infancy, which gave him great optimism about the future of the AG. First, he saw a Pentecostal outpouring on “representatives of practically every branch of Christendom in these United States.” Second, he believed that “The Revival That Is” in foreign lands will bring “The Revival That Is to Come” in America. “The simplicity, zeal, and spiritual power of our brethren around the world,” he forecast, will ultimately lead to “a new visitation upon the homeland.”[6]

The Assemblies of God is growing in America. But the real story is the ethnic transformation of the AG. 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 AG laid the foundation for this ethnic shift when they committed the Fellowship in November 1914 to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” In 1921 the AG 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 may be bringing renewal to America.

–Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D., is director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine.

NOTES

[1] George O. Wood, “The World Assemblies of God Fellowship: Uniting to Finish the Task,” in Together in One Mission: Pentecostal Cooperation in World Evangelization, ed. by Arto Hämäläinen and Grant McClung (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2012), 123-130. See also: William Molenaar, “The World Assemblies of God Fellowship: United in the Missionary Spirit,” Assemblies of God Heritage 31 (2011): 40-47.

[2] Thomas F. Zimmerman, “Anniversary Reflections,” Pentecostal Evangel, April 5, 1964, 2.

[3] Kate Tracy, “Five Reasons Why Most Southern Baptist Churches Baptize Almost No Millennials,” Christianity Today, May 29, 2014, http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/may/five-reasons-why-southern-baptist-baptize-millennials-sbc.html (accessed 21 June 2014).

[4] “The Assemblies of God (U.S.A.) Celebrates 24 Years of Growth; World Growth Tops 67.5 Million,” AG News, June 16, 2014.

[5] Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 350-351.

[6] Ibid., 352-354.

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2014 Assemblies of God Heritage Magazine – Now Available Online and in Hard Copy!

cover2014

The world will be gathering this week in Springfield, Missouri, for the triennial meeting of the World Assemblies of God Congress and to celebrate the centennial of the Assemblies of God USA. Registrants include 2,000 guests from outside the United States. Excitement is in the air and people are flooding into town for what has been described as the most ethnically diverse event in the history of Springfield.

The 2014 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine is now available and may be picked up at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center offices or at the Heritage Center booth at the JQH Arena this Thursday through Sunday. All Assemblies of God USA ministers will receive a copy of the magazine in the mail in the next couple of weeks. The magazine is also accessible for free on the Heritage Center website.

Assemblies of God Heritage magazine makes a great gift! Hard copies of the magazine are available for $8 plus postage and handling.

The lineup of articles, specially chosen and commissioned for the centennial, reflects important themes and people from Assemblies of God history — from the early years and right up to the present!

Articles in this issue are listed below:

From the Editor: Global, Diverse, and Growing
By Darrin J. Rodgers

Fully Committed: 100 Years of the Assemblies of God
By Darrin J. Rodgers
A survey of 100 years of Assemblies of God history.

Thomas King Leonard: A Truly Indispensible Man
By P. Douglas Chapman
The neglected story of an Assemblies of God founder and leader.

Who’s Who at Hot Springs
By Glenn W. Gohr
A detailed account of the participants at the first general council.

The American Mission Field: Intercultural Ministries
By William J. Molenaar
The Assemblies of God has been ministering to ethnic minorities since its founding.

“Silent No More”: Latino Assemblies of God Leadership under Demetrio Bazan and José Girón
By Gastón Espinosa
These men led the Latin American District from 1939 through 1971.

Christian Unity: A Founding Principle of the Assemblies of God
By William J. Molenaar
Assemblies of God founders prophetically called for Christian unity.

What Made Them Think They Could?
By Rosemarie Daher Kowalski
The stories of ten early Assemblies of God female missionaries.

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John W. Welch: From Sunday School Organizer to Assemblies of God Chairman


This Week in AG History–July 29, 1939
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 29 Jul 2014 – 3:17 PM CST.

John W. Welch (1858-1939), a senior statesman in the Assemblies of God during its first quarter century, went to be with the Lord 75 years ago. He served as chairman (1915-1920 and 1923-1925) and secretary (1920-1923) of the young Fellowship.

Welch accepted Christ at about age 25 and almost immediately launched out into full-time ministry. He worked with the American Sunday School Union, a non-denominational organization dedicated to establishing Sunday Schools in every community. Many of these Sunday Schools worked with the destitute and taught young people without formal educations how to read and write by studying the Bible. Welch proved to be a good organizer and was recognized for opening a large number of Sunday Schools in Virginia.

Despite this success, Welch did not feel worthy to be in the ministry. He left the American Sunday School Union to take a job with General Electric in Schenectady, New York. Welch could not shake God’s call on his life, however. He led numerous people to the Lord during his day job at General Electric, and during the evenings and weekends he and his wife found themselves drawn to the slums and the street corners, where they preached the gospel and helped the needy.

Welch’s call to the ministry did not go unnoticed. When he was 41 years old, Welch was surprised by Christian and Missionary Alliance leaders, who insisted upon ordaining him. They told him, “Brother Welch, you are fully qualified for ordination, and we are going to ordain you.” He consented and, in 1910, he was named superintendent of the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Oklahoma. Since there were not yet any in that state, it was up to him to start them. He crisscrossed Oklahoma, holding tent meetings, revival services, and organizing churches.

Welch still felt that he lacked something for the ministry. He had encountered Pentecostals who testified to an experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit which gave them power for ministry. Welch studied scriptures and became convinced that he too needed this Pentecostal baptism. In 1911, he received the experience and became a prominent Pentecostal preacher. Welch became a founding member of the Assemblies of God in 1914.

Upon Welch’s death in 1939, General Superintendent E. S. Williams offered the following eulogy: “In the promotion of Brother Welch we have lost a foundation stone upon which the General Council was founded, a father in the Lord, one blessed with keen judicial sense, a man of clear cut experience and conviction, a proved pillar in times of crisis.”

Read tributes to Welch published in the July 29, 1939, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Inner Spirit of the Cross,” by George D. Watson

* “Now’s Your Chance, Lord,” by Mrs. Howard Taylor

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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