Certain segments within early Pentecostalism – most prominently the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, California – promoted a vision of “brotherly love” across the racial divides. However, this interracial vision was quickly eclipsed as Pentecostals set out to organize churches and did so largely along cultural and racial lines. When the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America – an umbrella organization for Pentecostal denominations – was formed in 1948, its founding members were all mostly-white denominations.
Recognizing the need to heal the racial divisions within Pentecostalism, church leaders came together in Memphis on October 18, 1994 and dissolved the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America. The next day the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) was formed by both white and black denominations. The meetings surrounding this monumental act of racial reconciliation came to a climax when, on October 18, a white Assemblies of God pastor, Donald Evans, approached the platform. He tearfully explained that he felt God’s leading to wash the feet of Church of God in Christ Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, while begging forgiveness for the sins of the whites against their black brothers and sisters. A wave of weeping swept over the auditorium. Participants sensed that this was the final seal of the Holy Spirit’s approval from the heart of God over the proceedings. This event, which became known as the “Memphis Miracle,” is a significant milestone in the annals of Pentecostal history. Continue reading