Tag Archives: History

AG name change in 1927?

General-Council-1927_P23332
Description: A group in front of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield, Missouri, for the 1927 General Council. Some identified. Noel and Ora Perkin (front, 5th & 6th from right, with 3 children); Lillian Riggs (3rd row, 2nd from left); Ralph Riggs (3rd row, 3rd from left); J. J. Mueller (3rd row, 4th from left); Jennie Mueller (3rd row, 5th from left); H. B. Garlock (3rd row, 6th from left); Rachel Doney (front, 3rd from right); C. W. Doney (front, 4th from right).

This Week in AG History — October 8, 1927

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 07 Oct 2013 – 3:24 PM CST

Should the Assemblies of God change its name? That question dominated much of the 1927 General Council. “The Pentecostal Evangelical Church” was the leading contender as the Fellowship’s new name.  The October 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel detailed many of the opinions voiced during the extended debate on the General Council floor. The issue was tabled until the 1929 General Council meeting, where it was voted down.

Read what early church leaders liked and disliked about the name “Assemblies of God” in the report of the twelfth General Council meeting on pages 2 to 10 of the October 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “God’s Call to Pentecostal Saints” by Sara Coxe

* “Answered Prayer in China,” by L. M. Anglin

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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Review: U.S. Missions 75th Anniversary

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U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2012.

The Assemblies of God USA has always been dedicated to the mission of God, domestic and abroad, since its founding in 1914. While Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) was created in 1919, it was not until 1937 that Assemblies of God U.S. Missions (AGUSM) was created to bring greater organization to home mission efforts. This full-color, lavishly-illustrated coffee table book celebrates the 75th anniversary of AGUSM. This volume provides an overview of the history of U.S. Missions, as well as its seven departments, and is a wonderful tribute and memoir to Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries and their efforts to reach America with the gospel, that none perish.

Chapter 1, “Highlights of 75 Years of U.S. Missions,” is an adapted and edited from A History of Home Missions of the Assemblies of God (1992) by Ruth Lyon.

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In Chapter 2, Kirk Noonan provides an overview of Chaplaincy Ministries, which includes industrial/occupational chaplains, prison chaplains, and military/VA chaplains. The Chaplaincy Ministries Department was started in 1973. Noonan reports, “Chaplains minister to service personnel, prisoners, the sick, dying people in crisis and trauma, athletes, truckers, bikers, cowboys, law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, factory workers, retirees, people involved in human trafficking, politicians, etc. To put it simply, where there is someone in need, there is a chaplain” (p. 21).

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Sarah Malcolm traces the history of Chi Alpha in chapter 3. Chi Alpha is the national ministry of the Assemblies of God USA to reach students, including over 700,000 international students, who are attending colleges and universities in the U.S. Founded in 1953, Chi Alpha is currently the fourth largest evangelical campus ministry in the U.S. Malcolm states, “Chi Alpha is not just a program, it is a culture of disciple making. The transformed students and committed missionaries of Chi Alpha are laying the ground work for the next generation of the Assemblies of God and its leaders” (p. 50).

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Chapter 4, written by William Molenaar, explores the history of Intercultural Ministries. While intercultural ministries and evangelism have been a part of the Assemblies of God since its founding, the Home Missions Department was tasked with overseeing intercultural ministries in 1937. Later in 1945, the Intercultural Ministries Department was created within AGUSM. America’s multicultural past, present, and future creates both a great evangelistic challenge and a great evangelistic opportunity for the Assemblies of God USA. Molenaar focuses on five of the earliest and historic ministries: Jewish ministries, Native American ministry, ministry to the Blind, ministry to the Deaf, Alaskan ministry, and the various ethnic-language branches, districts and fellowships of the Assemblies of God USA.

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Joshua R. Ziefle wrote Chapter 5, which covers the history of Missionary Church Planters and Developers (MCPD). Originally founded in 1947, MCPD is tasked with identifying, supporting and resourcing church planting and development missionaries appointed by U.S. Missions. Ziefle notes, “For almost a century, the Assemblies of God has been a leader in church planting. Early Pentecostals were visionaries and entrepreneurs, buoyed by a vision to save the world and anchored by a deep commitment to Christ and God’s Word” (p. 71).

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Chapter 6 features a history of Teen Challenge International, U.S.A., written by David Batty, Ethan Campbell, and Patty Baker. The authors trace the inspiring story of David Wilkerson’s ministry in New York City to the global growth of the Teen Challenge. It is widely held that Teen Challenge is “one of the world’s largest and most successful drug recovery programs” (p. 89). Teen Challenge has been running over 50 years now with more than 1000 centers in 93 countries around the world.

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William Molenaar wrote chapter 7 regarding the U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) Department. U.S. MAPS “is the ministry within Assemblies of God U.S. Missions that assists churches, schools and ministries by coordinating volunteers with construction and evangelism projects” (p. 99). MAPS originated in 1967 as an inter-departmental effort of the Assemblies of God National Office to mobilize laity to participate in the mission of God both home and abroad, and today has a thriving RV volunteer ministry.

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Finally, Chapter 8, written by Kevin Dawson, traces the development of the Youth Alive Department. Dawson explains, “Youth Alive is a missionary movement dedicated to equipping and releasing students to reach the middle school and high school campuses of the United States” (p. 118). Youth Alive not only develops campus clubs, but it mobilizes young people to be missionaries to their schools. Today, Youth Alive is in 15 percent of the middle schools and high schools in the U.S.

Readers will enjoy reading the substantive histories of U.S. Missions, as well as browsing the historical photographs throughout the book. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center staff provided images and significant editorial assistance in the production of the book: William Molenaar authored two chapters, Glenn Gohr checked facts and citations, and Gohr and Darrin Rodgers provided extensive editorial work. Few books are both attractive and add to the body of scholarly literature. This book achieves both. U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry will be warmly received by both scholars and those who lived the history.  This commemorative volume should be added to your personal library and is also ideal for your coffee table, waiting room, or as a gift.

Hardcover, 128 pages. $25.00 retail. Order from: Gospel Publishing House.

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1980 Interview with Alice Reynolds Flower



Dr. Delbert H. Tarr interviews “Mother” Alice Reynolds Flower, widow of J. Roswell Flower, at the Assemblies of God Graduate School, Springfield, Missouri, May 7, 1980. She tells about the early Pentecostal movement and the founding of the Assemblies of God.
ID: V008

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2009 SPS Tribute to Stanley Horton



The audio above is the session “Honoring Stanley Horton” at the Society for Pentecostal Studies meeting held at Eugene Bible College (Eugene, OR) on March 26, 2009.  The Participants included:

  • George O. Wood, Chair
  • Lois Olena, Panelist
  • Russell Spittler, Panelist (by video)
  • Stan Burgess, Panelist
  • Marty Mittelstadt, Panelist
  • Lemuel Thuston, Panelist
  • Ken Horn, Panelist
  • Stanely M. Horton, Respondent

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Seize the Moment

How will the current economic troubles affect the Assemblies of God? According to common wisdom, economic downturns bring spiritual upturns. As the theory goes, when people discover they cannot be self-sufficient, they look for spiritual solutions to their problems.

But is this really the case? History reveals that the Assemblies of God grew significantly during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but its growth was a deviation from the norm. Most churches suffered great setbacks. What really happened during the Great Depression? What lessons can this history provide for the Assemblies of God of the twenty-first century?

Mainline Decline
The Great Depression of the 1930s devastated many segments of American Christianity. Historian Mark Noll noted that mainline Protestants not only faced economic uncertainties, but also theological uncertainties as liberal theology had begun to replace historic Christian beliefs. Many mainline congregations, schools, and ministries had to close or drastically cut back. Their institutions, funded by endowments that disappeared with the Wall Street crash, were running off the fumes of the past.

However, there was a noticeable exception to the decline of religious institutions in the 1930s: evangelical and Pentecostal churches made significant gains. According to Noll, these “sectarian” churches “knew better how to redeem the times.”

Pentecostal Growth
In September 1929, the AG reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members in the US. By 1944, this tally increased to 5,055 churches with 227,349 members. During that 15-year period, the number of AG churches tripled and membership almost tripled.

This growth didn’t happen by accident. Our forefathers and foremothers during the Great Depression laid a foundation for the expansion of the Assemblies of God, often at a tremendous cost. Of today’s seven largest AG colleges and universities, four were started during the Great Depression: North Central University (1930); Northwest University (1934); Southeastern University (1935); and Valley Forge Christian College (1939).

Myer Pearlman was a prolific writer during the Great Depression.

It was during these hard times that AG scholarship blossomed. Myer Pearlman (1898-1943), P. C. Nelson (1868-1942), and E. S. Williams (1885-1981) wrote many of their influential theological books in the midst of the Great Depression. Pearlman and Nelson literally worked themselves to death, their health breaking under the strain of constant writing, teaching, and preaching.

The AG’s foreign missions enterprise was centralized and strengthened during the Depression. This change encouraged coordination of efforts and accountability. The AG published its first Missionary Manual in 1931 and in 1933 the AG began providing funding for a missions staff at Headquarters. While the Great Depression made finances tight, in 1933 the Foreign Missions Department trumpeted that it did not have to recall any missionaries because of shortage of funds. Indeed, from 1930 to 1939, AG world missions giving increased by 47 percent, the number of world missionaries increased by 25 percent, and the constituency outside the US increased by 132 percent. When other denominations were retreating, the AG was making significant advances in missions.

While Pentecostals decried the Social Gospel movement, which they viewed as caring for physical needs while neglecting spiritual needs, many churches strove to evangelize in both word and deed. One of the best-known churches engaged in social outreach during the Depression was Pentecostal — Angelus Temple, the Los Angeles congregation founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. The congregation operated numerous soup kitchens and free clinics in the 1930s. Countless smaller storefront rescue missions dotted the Pentecostal landscape of that era.

Large-scale population migrations forced by the economic upheaval of the 1930s resulted in the unplanned evangelization of new regions. Pentecostals who left the Midwest during the Dustbowl established numerous Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Holiness, and Pentecostal Church of God congregations in the western states. African-American Pentecostals from the rural South migrated to northern cities and started Church of God in Christ congregations in almost every major city. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the U.S. returned to Mexico, including many new Pentecostal believers who, in effect, became indigenous missionaries to their homeland. In the providence of God, the painful social dislocation of the 1930s helped bring about the rapid spread of Pentecostalism. Like pollen scattered by a strong wind, Pentecostal refugees planted churches wherever they happened to land.

In raw economic terms, an economic downturn offers a great opportunity for churches to expand their base. Finances will be tight in the meantime, but once the economy turns around, the churches will be much better off than they had been previously, with a larger and more committed membership.

Despair or Desperation?
Some Pentecostals actually seemed to celebrate the challenges of the Depression. The monthly magazine of The Stone Church (an AG congregation in Chicago) published this editorial note: “Our chief difficulty is that we have been bitten by the luxury bug. Nations can stand almost any adversity better than that of the debilitating, enervating, calamity of prosperity. The Word of God declares that, ‘In prosperity the destroyer shall come’” (Job 15:21). One can almost hear the writer saying, “Bring it on, financial struggles will only make us stronger.”

C. M. Ward and his wife, Dorothy, were married just after the stock market crashed in 1929.

C. M. Ward, the voice of the Revivaltime radio broadcast from 1953 to 1978, echoed this sentiment. He and his fiancée, Dorothy, set their wedding date for Christmas Day, 1929. Of course, one month before their wedding, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Ward couldn’t afford to buy a wedding ring, much less presents, for their first Christmas. He later learned that times of deprivation like this birthed one of two things: either despair or desperation. Despair caused people to simply give up, but desperation spurred people to work hard and be creative.

Need for Vision
Churches, however, are not guaranteed to grow during bad times. Indeed, AG evangelist Christine Kerr Peirce observed in 1935, “Instead of the depression driving people to God, there has developed an apathy and indifference which has not characterized previous periods of distress, when men have turned to God for help.”

Peirce’s lament for the church in 1935 could easily describe the condition of the American church in 2009: “Our modern methods are fast wearing out. That which a few years ago attracted the great crowds, attracts them no more. We have worn out every spectacular appeal we could make and while a few are reached here and there, yet the truth stares us plainly in the face that nowhere are we doing more than just scratching the surface, in comparison with the great number of unchurched and unsaved that should be reached.”

Why was the church in such a state of spiritual stupor? According to Peirce, “The backslidden, apathetic, lethargic condition of the pew today is due largely to the fact that this work [evangelism] has been left in the hands of the pulpit.” Instead, she averred, every Christian is called to be a witness.

How can the church remedy this problem? Peirce dismissed the idea that the church needs methods that are even “more spectacular.” Instead, she propounded, “The need of the present moment is Men and Women of Vision!” Christians first “must see God Himself,” and then must have a “vision of others.” She elaborated, “A true vision of the lost world will prostrate us on our face with a burden of intercession.”

According to Peirce, then, the visionary church must be worshipful and missional. While Peirce’s critique was aimed at the American church in general, she recognized that Assemblies of God members could very easily lose their vision and replace their passion for God and for souls with a reliance on modern methods. However, visionary Assemblies of God leaders viewed the economic crisis as an opportunity, leading the Fellowship to engage in ardent prayer and great personal sacrifice to advance a cause that was much bigger than any one person.

Seize the Moment
The history of the Assemblies of God illustrates the Fellowship’s compelling vision of world evangelization through voluntary cooperation to accomplish what individual Pentecostal believers or churches could not do alone. Hopefully, these testimonies will encourage readers to likewise see the current economic turmoil as an opportunity to reassess priorities, to love those who are hurting, and to lay a broader foundation for the future of the Assemblies of God. Even as we look back at the heroes of the faith who grabbed hold of big ideas and sacrificed greatly to bring them to fruition, I pray that we, the inheritors of this legacy, will seize this moment and invest in the future of our faith.

To learn more about the history of the Assemblies of God, visit the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center’s Web site.

Written by Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin J. Rodgers, this editorial was published in the 2009 Assemblies of God Heritage magazine.

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Congregational Holiness Church

We BelieveThe Life Story of Rev. B. F. DuncanMy Earthly PilgrimageVision Caster

We Believe [2nd ed.]. Griffin, GA: Congregational Holiness Church, 2003.

The Life Story of Rev. B. F. Duncan, 1874-1949 [rev. ed.]. Griffin, GA: Congregational Holiness Church, 2004.

My Earthly Pilgrimage, by Cullen L. Hicks. Augusta, GA: Augusta Printing Center, 2004.

Vision Caster: The Story of Hugh B. Skelton, by E. Amelia Billingsley. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2000.

The Congregational Holiness Church (CHC) (www.CHChurch.com) made its entrance onto the Pentecostal scene in 1921, resulting from a disagreement within the Pentecostal Holiness Church (PHC) over the role of medicine in divine healing. Many early Pentecostals, including PHC leaders, eschewed human remedies (such as physicians or medicine) and instead encouraged believers to seek divine healing, which they taught was provided for in Christ’s atonement. This rejection of modern medicine was not universally held in the PHC. When evangelist Watson Sorrow and Hugh Bowling disagreed with the PHC on this and other issues, they were forced to leave the PHC in 1920. They — along with a handful of other ministers and churches — organized the CHC in High Shoals, Georgia in 1921. The CHC was organized along congregational lines, differing from the PHC’s episcopal polity, in an attempt to democratize church governance.

The CHC has grown from 12 churches in 1921 to over 5,200 churches in 12 states and 19 countries in 2007. The CHC’s growth reflects the growing importance of the emerging Pentecostal movement in non-Western contexts. Like the Assemblies of God, fewer than five percent of CHC churches and members are located in the United States. The CHC claims 25,000 adherents in 225 churches in the U.S. and almost one million adherents in about 5,000 churches outside the U.S. (primarily in Central and South America). Continue reading

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Grandview Church, Elk City, Oklahoma

From Boom to Bust and Back

From Boom to Bust and Back: The Story of Elk City, Oklahoma and Grandview Church, by Bob Burke and Marcia Shottenkirk with Mark Little. Oklahoma City, OK: Commonwealth Press, 2006.

Times were great in Elk City in 1982, when the oil and gas flowed freely, as did the prosperity in this western Oklahoma town. God was at work, creating a church called Grandview Assembly of God, bringing hundreds of believers into His flock. But, by the winter of 1983, the good times were gone. The oil and gas boom went bust — decimating the town’s economy and crushing the spirits of its people. This story, of how the faith of Grandview’s staff and members was tested during this difficult time, is an inspiring one — full of trial and triumph and the power of God’s faithfulness and grace. Featuring dozens of testimonies of transformed lives — including Pastor Mark Little and members of Grandview Assembly who, through God’s grace, overcame addictions, poverty, sickness, and loneliness — this book shows that God does truly offer hope in today’s complex world.

Adapted from cover

Paperback, 206 pages, illustrated. $10.00. Order from: Mark Little Ministries, P.O. Box 1145, Elk City, OK 73648.
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Review: Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza (The Pentecostal Church of Lithuania: Historical Sketch), edited by Rimantas Kupstys, et al. Vilnius, Lithuania: Apyausris, 2002.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza, published in 2002 upon the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Pentecostal church in Lithuania, provides a detailed grassroots account in the Lithuanian language of the development of Pentecostalism across the Baltic nation. The volume was assembled by an editorial committee headed by Rimantas Kupstys, Bishop of the Union of Pentecostal Churches of Lithuania.

The publisher notes the volume is not an exhaustive scientific study. However, this historical sketch is a valuable written account of a national history that, until now, was largely available only in scattered documents or in oral form. The work was based on archival materials, memories of eyewitnesses, published articles, and government documents.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia begins by tracing Pentecostalism’s roots in the trans-Atlantic revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in a significant evangelical and Holiness movement in England and America. The traditional version of Pentecostal origins is retold, identifying Charles Parham and the Azusa Street revival as central to the emerging movement. Thomas Ball Barratt, the Methodist minister from Oslo who received the Pentecostal message while visiting New York in 1906, is commended for, upon his return to Norway, helping to nurture Pentecostal leaders across Europe. Continue reading

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Review: Pentecostalism in Germany

Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung in Deutschland

Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung in Deutschland: Innenansichten 1945-1985 (Pentecostal Free Churches in Germany: Inside Story, 1945-1985), by Ludwig David Eisenlöffel. Kirche–Konfession–Religion Band 50. Göttingen, Germany: V&R Unipress, 2006.

Freikirchliche Pfingstbewegung in Deutschland: Innenansichten 1945-1985, an important study of the evolution of the Pentecostal movement in Germany, is one of the latest additions to the prestigious Kirche-Konfession-Religion series produced by Konfessionskundliches Institut des Evangelischen Bundes and Evangelischer Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen. Portions of the publication originally were submitted as the author’s doctoral work at Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida, which was completed in 2004.

The author, Ludwig Eisenlöffel, served as longtime director of the Beröa Bible School and Theological Seminary (an institution associated with the Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden, a German denomination which works with the Assemblies of God) and also was managing director of the Forums Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (FFP). Furthermore, he has a considerable history with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Christengemeinden (ACD), which was renamed Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden (BFP) in 1982. Continue reading

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