Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Review: Voices of Pentecost

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Voices of Pentecost: Testimonies of Lives Touched by the Holy Spirit, by Vinson Synan. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2003.

Images of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostalism have historically been associated with that of the ministries of William J. Seymour, Charles Parham, and the Azusa Street Revival. These revivals recorded the emergence of glossalalia to the Church and became widely acknowledged as the beginnings of Pentecost. While Seymour, Parham, and Azusa Street demonstrated the overflow of the Spirit upon the 20th century, they alone are simply a portion of the Pentecostal movement which has spread throughout history in a variety of avenues. Within Vinson Synan’s, Voices of Pentecost, a sampling of firsthand accounts of the charismatic movement is provided, addressing lesser-known personages and denominations to Pentecostalism. Faiths including Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Methodism are included with their spiritual lineage and unique Pentecostal perspective.

Synan approaches this historical overview by submitting 2-3 page testimonies or eyewitness accounts of various men and women who have influenced Pentecostalism. At the very beginning of the work, Synan breaks the traditional mold to present a spiritual event within the Catholic account of St. Augustine and his eyewitness description of spiritual prayer. Synan continues his collection with other renowned names including Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, and Charles Finney while incorporating many lesser known names. Even foreign spiritual encounters such as the revival within the Methodist Episcopal Church of Chile in 1909 are retold in the testimonies of its participants. This collection spans hundreds of years to create a vivid representation of Pentecostal history.

Included with the individual epithets are theological principles that have helped shape the Pentecostal church. For instance, descriptions of miraculous healings, unification of the races, missions inspiration, along with traditional church prayers and protocol are included. Personal descriptions of the baptism of the Holy Spirit create a tangible image of this most holy gift. The ease at which Synan writes is exceptional, and his emphasis upon primary sources are quite useful in painting a stunning image of each account.

For the benefit of those familiar with the Pentecostal historical timeline, a chronological system would have offered a more systematic layout for this book. It is important to note the significance of pre-Azusa street Pentecostal encounters such as John Wesley (1703-1791), Charles Finney (1792-1875), and Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924), which would differ greatly from modern-day contributors like Mark Rutland, Pat Robertson, etc.

In an age of scarce historical acknowledgement, Synan’s work, Voices of Pentecost, contributes a much needed overview of the major contributors to the Pentecostal movement. The readability and intrigue of this work makes it accessible to audiences of various ages with the assurance of building faith. It is a significant contribution to the Church to have all these testimonies collected in one solitary place.

Reviewed by Krista Ridley, Evangel University student

Paperback, 180 pages. $10.99 list price. Order from amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com

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Days of destiny

Rev. Ronald Wilson, General Superintendent of the Congregational Holiness Church, wrote an article in the June/July 2008 issue of The Gospel Messenger that is worth sharing. Wilson reminded readers that Pentecostals must be careful to not despise small things – including our humble roots where God transformed the lowliest of sinners into the unlikeliest of Gospel messengers. Importantly, Wilson also called for a revival of evangelism and holiness — encouraging believers to set aside personal agendas so that souls might be won. Thank you for helping to keep what is most important in focus, Rev. Wilson!

Days of Destiny
by Ronald Wilson, General Superintendent of the Congregational Holiness Church

I recently came across a quote from Leonard Ravenhill that I want to share with you this month. It really stirred my heart, and I believe it should cause each of us to pause and think. He said, “Do the Pentecostals look back with shame as they remember when they dwelt across the theological tracks, but with the glory of God in their midst? When they had a normal church life, which meant nights of prayers followed by signs and wonders, and diverse miracles, and genuine gifts of the Holy Ghost? When they were not clock watchers and their meetings lasted for hours, saturated with holy power? Have we no tears for these memories or shame that our children know nothing of such power?”

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Review: Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar: The Sacraments in Pentecostal Worship, by Daniel Tomberlin. Cleveland, TN: Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, 2006.

Since the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, experiencing the Spirit of God has been central to Pentecostals in both private and corporate worship. When it comes to congregational worship, Pentecostals have critiqued what they deem to be dead ritualism devoid of a personal experience of the Holy Spirit. As a result, Pentecostals have questioned many traditional practices relating to the sacraments (often viewed as theologically or historically suspect because of their relation to the Roman Catholic Church) and have opted for the term “ordinances” instead. The latter is often seen to be more of a faith-based means rather then a works-based means of experiencing the Spirit.

Daniel Tomberlin, pastor of Bainbridge Church of God (Bainbridge, GA) and chairman of Ministerial Development for the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) in South Georgia, has authored a book that will raise some eyebrows. In it, Tomberlin claims that Pentecostalism and sacramental worship are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he provides a stimulating discussion of how he believes Pentecostal worship is sacramental. This volume, which aims to provide an introduction to the subject for Pentecostal church leaders, is possibly one of the first educational resources of its kind published by a classical Pentecostal denomination.

Encountering God at the Altar touches on topics such as Pentecostal worship and spirituality. Tomberlin develops a Pentecostal theology of the sacraments and also explores the practice of the sacraments in Pentecostal worship.In following Church of God theologian Kenneth Archer, Tomberlin argues for the retrieval of the term sacrament over the term ordinance, claiming that the ordinances are sacramental — a “means of grace” where one encounters the Holy Spirit (p. 24). The author rightly points out that Pentecostal spirituality is centered on encountering the Holy Spirit. “Therefore,” Tomberlin states, “the center and focus of Pentecostal worship is the altar” (p. 19).

When addressing whether life in the church and the sacraments are essential to salvation, Tomberlin identifies the church and sacraments as “secondary salvific gifts,” compared to the Son and Spirit as “primary salvific gifts” from the Father. At the same time he ultimately admits “that participation in the sacramental life of the church may not be absolutely essential to salvation due to God’s prevenient grace” (p. 27). Continue reading

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Amanda Benedict remembered after 82 years

Amanda Benedict Memorial Service

Participants at the Amanda Benedict memorial service (l-r): Assistant Archivist Glenn Gohr; Rev. Hubert Morris of Central Assembly; FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers; Dr. James Bradford, pastor of Central Assembly; General Secretary George Wood; Jewell Woodward, adminstrative assistant to George Wood; National Prayer Center Director John Maempa; and Archivist Joyce Lee.

Benedict Grave Stone 1

Front of marker

Benedict Grave Stone 2

Back of marker

Photographs by Sharon Rasnake


As part of the celebration of 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Central Assembly chose to honor one of the early leaders in the church, Miss Amanda Benedict, who is remembered as a fervent prayer warrior.

Educated in New York, her home state, she later conducted a rescue home for girls in Chicago and was connected with a faith home for children in Iowa. She moved to Springfield, Missouri, sometime before 1910 and met Mrs. Lillie Corum while working as a door-to-door salesperson. The two ladies and others began praying together regularly, and soon Amanda Benedict received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had a burden for lost souls and that God might bless the gospel work in Springfield, Missouri.

Sister Benedict would fast and pray for days on end, until a burden was lifted or victory came. Often, like Napoleon, she would say, “There shall be no Alps!” She had a tremendous burden that God would make Springfield a center from which his blessings would flow to the ends of the earth. At one point she felt led to fast and pray for Springfield for one entire year — living only on bread and water.

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Review: The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain, by Fred T. Corum and Hazel E. Bakewell. Windsor, OH: Corum & Associates, Inc., 1989, c1983.

The Sparkling Fountain is a 278-page book with eyewitness accounts of the beginning of Pentecostalism in the Ozarks. The book was started by Fred T. Corum and his sister Hazel E. Bakewell. Then James and Kenneth Corum, sons of Fred Corum, helped to preserve this slice of history and see it through to production. First marketed in 1983, it is offered again on the 100th anniversary of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri.

The Azusa Street Mission story is recapped in beginning chapters, but for our purpose here the story begins in 1905 when Fred and Hazel moved to the Ozarks from Oklahoma with their parents, James and Lillie Harper Corum.

James and Lillie were never credentialed ministers but are considered the pioneers of Pentecost in Springfield — holding together a nucleus for several years until a church was set in order. I have an idea many other lay people throughout our history deserve special recognition for beginning and/or keeping local congregations together (including unfortunate splits) until a pastor assumed the leadership.

The Corums soon became active in a Baptist church where Mr. Corum served as Sunday school superintendent. But in the fall of 1906 they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring and became interested. Then in May 1907 they were introduced to this new experience which would dramatically put their lives on a new course. Continue reading

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Celebrating 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri

Corum Farmhouse


Farmhouse where Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit in 1907

June 1, 2007 marks 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri.

Just after the Azusa Street revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, Evangelist Rachel Harper Sizelove began writing glowing reports to her sister, Lillie Corum, who lived in Springfield, Missouri. Mrs. Corum started reading copies of William Seymour’s Apostolic Faith paper, and she earnestly began seeking and praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The next May, Rachel Sizelove traveled from Azusa Street to Springfield to visit her sister and family. And in an all-night prayer meeting, Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit at her farmhouse in the wee hours of June 1, 1907. She is credited with being the first person in Springfield to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And soon afterwards, the Corum family, rejected by their Baptist pastor, began holding prayer meetings in their home. This was the beginning of Central Assembly of God, the mother church in Springfield, Missouri.

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Review: The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy


Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy

The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy, edited by Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2006.

The Azusa Street Centennial (Los Angeles, 2006) brought together approximately 45,000 Pentecostal pilgrims who traveled from all corners of the globe to celebrate, worship and reflect on the paths that led them to where they are in their spiritual journeys. Right in the heart of the celebration, historians gathered in an academic track where they presented a series of papers highlighting the most up-to-date scholarship on the history and legacy of the Azusa Street revival. Two leading Pentecostal historians, Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., assembled the majority of these papers, now available in The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy. Continue reading

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