Stanley Frodsham: Assemblies of God Founders United Around Mission; Refused to be “Sectarians or Insectarians”

This Week in AG History —April 15, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 15 April 2021

On the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Assemblies of God, Stanley H. Frodsham recounted the first General Council and its legacy. According to Frodsham, the longtime editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, Assemblies of God founders in 1914 were opposed to “sectarianism and denominationalism.” However, they also recognized that they had much in common and desired to “unite together on a voluntary cooperative basis” for “the furtherance of the gospel ministry in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Frodsham recalled that J. W. Welch, an early chairman, described missions as the reason-for-being of the Assemblies of God: “We simply recognized ourselves as a missionary society, and we saw the whole world as the field in which to labor.”

This vision for cooperation in order to achieve the evangelization of the world, Frodsham noted, still remained strong in 1944. To illustrate this continuing vision for cooperation, he pointed to the unanimous decision at the 1943 General Council for the Assemblies of God to become a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Frodsham explained that the Assemblies of God desired a sweet spirit of fellowship, rather than a harsh spirit of condemnation of other faithful Christians who may not see eye to eye on everything. He quoted evangelist Gipsy Smith: “I refuse to be sectarian or insectarian.” Frodsham humorously explained, “Many insects have stings. So have many sectarians. We as a people refuse to be sectarians or insectarians.”

Today, 107 years after its founding, the Assemblies of God continues to be a fellowship that is united around a vision of cooperation in world evangelism.

Read the entire article by Stanley H. Frodsham, “These Thirty Years,” on page 4 of the April 15, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “My Soul Desireth First-Ripe Fruit,” by Zelma Argue

• “Thirty Years Ago,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “How God Saved a Communist Chieftain,” by Lester Sumrall

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Marguerite Flint: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary to India

This Week in AG History —April 7, 1934

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 08 April 2021

Marguerite Flint (1892-1963) once stated, “there are three reasons why I am a missionary. First, for my sake (because when we fail to hear the cry of the needy, we die); second, for their sakes (because millions of people in India are without Christ); third, for His sake (because Jesus died for India). There is every reason why I should be a missionary; there is no reason why I should not be.” Flint served Jesus and the people of India, faithfully, for more than 40 years, from 1915 to 1958.

Born on a farm in Ohio, Flint was raised in a strong Methodist home with a mother who dedicated her to God’s service before birth, asking God for a son that would become a minister. There was a bit of disappointment when the baby was a girl, and Flint was raised with the knowledge that “my life was planned for me, I must either be a deaconess or a Methodist preacher’s wife.” Her mother often whispered to her, “Remember always, I have given you to God. You must not be like the other girls, you are HIS.”

Although the family was Methodist, at age 8, Flint was converted in a Baptist evangelistic service and felt an earnest conviction to work for Jesus. As a young teen, she felt the need for more than she was receiving in her Methodist church and began to attend the Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Cleveland, where D. W. Kerr was the pastor. In 1912, A. B. Simpson spoke at a meeting and Flint felt a definite call to missionary work in India. In the spring of 1913 she experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit and left Ohio to attend Rochester Bible Training School in New York. It was there that she had a vision of Indian children, and the dream of building a Bible school for them was born.

In 1915, Flint was ordained by D. W. Kerr, who had by that time become a leader in the newly formed Assemblies of God. She was the first Pentecostal missionary to go out from their church, arriving in Uska Bazar, India, in the fall of that year. After language study in Hindi, she was asked to take care of 10 orphans at Bettiah. While praying to know God’s will for this decision, the words of Exodus 2:9 became clear to her: “Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.” Out of this beginning, an orphanage and school for more than 200 girls was begun in Bettiah. In 1919, Flint received her official appointment as an Assemblies of God missionary.

At the close of her second missionary term, Flint felt a clear calling to begin a Pentecostal Bible Training School for girls and women. The Assemblies of God purchased property for a school in Hardoi and Flint developed its curriculum and served as its principal, remaining there for 24 years.

In the April 7, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Flint gives report of a great revival taking place at the girls school. There had been a flood and an earthquake in the region that had caused many to pray for God’s help. During these days of prayer, Flint writes that “the Bible school this week has been the nearest thing to heaven I have seen in a long time … there were girls on their faces before God, girls alone in corners standing with the radiance of the holy place on their faces, girls in groups praying with the seekers, some singing in ‘other tongues’ and some groaning alone, but each pressing on to new blessing and new glory.” Classes were cancelled as the teachers and students sought God for a fresh renewal in the Spirit. Flint finished the report with the statement, “Oh, the transforming power of the Holy Ghost! How glad I am for Pentecost. We have a Pentecostal Bible school in very truth now and He is in our midst.”

When Marguerite Flint returned to the United States in 1958, the students told her, “remember that we, whom you have trained, are going to carry on.” Hundreds of girls and women (and later boys) were trained for ministry and sent out into the cities and villages of northern India to fulfill the vision of their teacher.

In a brief sketch of her life written in 1951, Flint wrote of her mother: “My dear mother went to be with the Lord when I was 18 and grieved that her early plans for my life seemed futile. I have often wondered, does she know now that the daughter she gave to God as a baby has seen 36 years on missionary service for the great land of India? I am sure heaven will be even sweeter for her, if that be possible, for the knowledge.” Heaven is certainly sweeter, not just for Flint’s mother, but for scores of Indians whose lives have been changed for eternity because of the faithful service of an early Assemblies of God missionary who was given to God’s service in the womb of her mother.

Read the report, “Glorious Revival in India,” on page 6 of the April 7, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “The Spirit of Christ” by E.S. Williams

• “Clouds Without Rain” by Donald Gee

• “The Man with the Withered Hand” by Lilian Yeomans

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Clement Le Cossec: The French Pentecostal Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History —March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 01 April 2021

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the [Roma, also known as] Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.” 

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies. 

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell. 

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing. 

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!” 

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you. 

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958, more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’” 

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps. 

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’” 

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

Also featured in this issue:

• “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

• “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

• “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more! 

Click here read this issue now

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Budding Assemblies of God Missionary, Paul Weidman, Jr., Died in Burkina Faso at Age 7

Pastor Quaysom and missionaries Virginia and Paul Weidman, Accra, Gold Coast, 1951.

This Week in AG History —March 26, 1938

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 25 March 2021

Paul and Virginia Weidman, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, traveled in 1937 to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), where they worked among the Mossi people. One of their sons, Paul Jr., learned the Mossi language quickly and was able to interpret for his missionary father. The Mossi loved this little boy, who played with their children and who became a bridge across the cultural and linguistic divides.

Little Paul’s budding missionary career was cut short when he contracted blackwater fever and died on Feb. 8, 1938. Paul Jr., who was just under 7 years of age, was buried in a dirt cemetery near the town of Tenkodogo.

Eighty-three years ago, the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared Virginia Weidman’s account of this tragedy:

“Saturday afternoon he lay in his bed and sang with all his heart (in the More language) “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.” Then he preached, as he so often did, saying, “Do not follow Satan’s road but follow God’s road, for it alone leads to heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a short time extreme pain started. How we did call unto God for deliverance; yet He gave us grace to say, ‘Not my will but Thine be done.’ What a ray of sunshine he has been in our home! Only God can fill the vacancy. In times like this we are made to know that our Redeemer liveth.”

Paul Jr.’s death was the first of several tragedies to befall the Weidmans as they pioneered the Assemblies of God in Upper Volta. Was this suffering worth it? Forty years later the Weidmans, who had retired from mission work, returned to Burkina Faso for a visit. An elderly Mossi pastor, who decades earlier had witnessed the death of Paul Jr., assured them, “It was not in vain, missionary. There are now churches everywhere.”

Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant denomination in Burkina Faso, with more than 1,100,000 members and adherents and almost 5,000 churches and preaching points.

Read the article, “Little One Called Home,” by Virginia Weidman on page 7 of the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Former General Superintendent George O. Wood, the nephew of Paul and Virginia Weidman, recounted the story of their missionary work in Burkina Faso in the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, which is accessible for free by clicking here.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Not Debarred from our Priestly Service,” by T. J. Jones

• “Setting the Oppressed Free,” by Arthur W. Frodsham

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Assemblies of God Evangelist Bob Watters Held the First National Evangelistic Crusade in Belgium in 1970

Evangelist Bob Watters (left) and interpreter Henri Lepczynski (right) during the Belgian Good News Crusade.

This Week in AG History — March 14, 1971

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 18 March 2021

Over the years, Assemblies of God missionaries have become adept at evangelism and training national leaders. One effective evangelistic tool has been Good News Crusades, which was launched in 1959. The Assemblies of God sponsored and organized large city-wide evangelistic campaigns in various mission areas around the globe, with follow-up and church planting afterwards. Many of these campaigns were held in large auditoriums or tents. Assemblies of God missionaries and national ministers worked together to help fulfill the Great Commission. The goals were to win converts, plant local churches, and stimulate existing congregations. Intense follow-up campaigns were also planned, and contacts were channeled into local Assemblies of God churches. Similar evangelistic meetings are still conducted by missionaries today.

Fifty years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel featured a report of a Good News Crusade held in Congress Hall in Brussels, Belgium. The evangelist was Bob Watters.

A group of Assemblies of God ministers of Belgium met with evangelist Bob Watters in June 1968 and invited him to conduct a series of revival meetings in their country. Much planning and promotion preceded these meetings. National leaders of the Belgium Assemblies of God and Melvin E. Jorgenson, representative of the American Assemblies of God, made the arrangements. The famed Congress Hall at Brussels was secured, and the Ohio District Men’s Fellowship provided literature through Light for the Lost. Continental Bible College (now Continental Theological Seminary) in Brussels chose students to serve as counselors.

In May 1970, Watters conducted what was termed “the first national evangelistic crusade in the history of the nation of Belgium.” The crusade was a cooperative interdenominational endeavor with widespread participation. Assemblies of God and other leading Protestant clergymen sat on the platform and participated in the revival services. Attendees came from 35 Belgian cities.

The gospel was preached in three languages simultaneously during the Good News Crusade. Watters spoke in English. The platform interpreter spoke in French for those people from the south. And the Flemish interpreter used a closed unit-to-earphones sound system for those coming from the north.

Special music complemented the evangelistic messages. Watters played sacred hymns on the organ, and the Protestant Choir of Belgium ministered in song. A converted European nightclub entertainer also presented the gospel to the audience.

Each night after the meetings, people stood in line to speak to the evangelist and his interpreter, Henri Lepczynski, receiving counsel, encouragement, and prayer. Counselors recorded more than 100 first-time conversions.

A number of dramatic conversions took place. Afterwards, a young man wrote to Watters: “After my father died, I felt all alone. I am not alone anymore because now I have Christ.” This man was also reunited with his mother who had become separated from him because of his former life of rebellion.

Pastor and Mrs. Bernard Coviaux, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Brussels, became drawn to the messages they heard. They opened their home to Watters and asked him many questions about the new birth and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Both of them began seeking a deeper relationship to Christ as well as the Pentecostal experience.

At the conclusion of the campaign, Alfred Amitie, superintendent of the Belgium Assemblies of God, was invited to join the Brussels Protestant Ministers Fellowship. “This 1970 National Belgian Crusade will never be forgotten,” wrote Amitie to Watters. “For all the churches … with all our hearts … I thank you for leading this Good News Crusade.”

Watters began preaching in 1950 at the age of 19 and ministered in music and evangelism, along with his wife, Lillian Overstreet Watters, for many years. She passed away in 1985. In addition to Brussels, Bob Watters held evangelistic campaigns in 64 countries of the world. As a result of Watters’ preaching campaigns in Europe, church leaders reported a dramatic increase in church attendance, as well as several new congregations being established. Watters also has written a number of gospel songs, including “Jesus Is The Answer,” “Lord Send Me Into My World,” and “There’s a Difference.”

Bob Watters is still living and currently resides in Springfield, Missouri. He celebrates his 90th birthday on March 21, 2021.

Read more in “National Belgian Crusade” on pages 20-21 of the March 14, 1971, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Lord Your Healer,” by Robert C. Cunningham

• “Pinedale [New Mexico] Gets A New Church.”

• “The Spirit’s Perpetual Work,” by Andrew T. Floris

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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The Azusa Street Revival: Frank Bartleman’s Eyewitness Account and the Worldview of Early Pentecostals

This Week in AG History —March 11, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 11 March 2021

It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Critics attacked the congregation because its mild-mannered Black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The Azusa Street Revival, as it became known, soon became a local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.

The spiritual intensity of the revival was red hot for more than three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early 20th century. Just over 115 years later, the Pentecostal movement, broadly construed, now claims over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

Frank Bartleman, one of the participants at Azusa Street, wrote down his account of the revival and the precipitating events. In 1916, Bartleman wrote an article with his recollections of the revival that was published in the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). He later wrote a book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (1925), which became a widely read portrayal of the Azusa Street Revival. Bartleman’s eyewitness account captured fascinating details about the revival, which give insight into the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals.

Bartleman noted that the Azusa Street Revival did not occur in a vacuum. The immediate catalyst for the revival happened in the summer of 1905, when Joseph Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.” Bartleman was among those who gathered at Smale’s church. He experienced a burden for “soul travail” – he sensed that God was calling him to win lost souls to Christ.

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Bartleman offered some cautionary advice regarding the history surrounding Azusa Street. “It would be a great mistake,” he wrote, “to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man.” Bartleman stressed that the early Pentecostal revival was a sovereign move of God that had developed over time. He wrote, “Pentecost did not drop down suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”

Still, Bartleman reserved a special place in Pentecostal history for the Azusa Street Mission. He observed that the Pentecostal revival began “in earnest” under Seymour’s leadership at the humble, run-down location on Azusa Street.

Bartleman noted multiple ironies regarding the revival. The Azusa Street Mission, he wrote, took place in a dilapidated building and was led by “a quiet colored man, very unassuming.” Yet the revival attracted people from across the racial divides and news of the outpouring quickly spread across the world. Bartleman also noted that Seymour initially preached about the gift of speaking in tongues without having had the experience himself. Seymour did not receive the gift until several weeks into the Azusa Street Revival. Finally, Bartleman observed that many respectable Christian leaders looked down upon the revival because of its humble origins and interracial character. However, many of these critics ended up losing their own church members to the Azusa Street Revival.

The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own 21st century egalitarian assumptions.

However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals. The early Pentecostal worldview, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission. The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Testimonies from the iconic Azusa Street Revival provide insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these testimonies will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.

Read Frank Bartleman’s article, “The Pentecostal or ‘Latter Rain’ Outpouring in Los Angeles,” on pages 4, 5, and 8 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Five Judgments,” by S. A. Jamieson

• “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Gospel Publishing House has republished Frank Bartleman’s classic 1925 book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles. It is available here.

Weekly Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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The Spiritual and Social Vision of T. K. Leonard: An Assemblies of God Founder’s Forgotten Legacy

First executive presbytery of the Assemblies of God in front of a stone wall at the First General Council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 12, 1914. Seated in front (left – right): T.K. Leonard, E.N. Bell, and Cyrus Fockler. Standing in back (left – right): John W. Welch, J. Roswell Flower, D.C.O. Opperman, Howard A. Goss, and M.M. Pinson.

This Week in AG History —March 2, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 04 March 2021

Thomas King Leonard (1861-1946), an evangelical pastor from Ohio, was among the earliest to accept the Pentecostal message from the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909). As a Pentecostal, Leonard pioneered an interracial congregation in a former bar and brothel. Importantly, the congregation provided the first home for the newly formed Assemblies of God national office from 1914 to 1915. 

Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, called Leonard a “truly indispensable man” at the organizational General Council in 1914. According to Revivaltime radio host C.M. Ward, Leonard “dominated the scene until his retirement in 1941 … a great man.” Yet few Assemblies of God members today probably recall the name of T.K. Leonard. 

Leonard started in the ministry with a small denomination called Christian Union. A bivocational pastor, he owned a prosperous farm outside of McComb, Ohio. In September 1906, he believed that God was pressing upon him to “sell my possessions, consecrate myself, spirit, soul, and body to the ministry of the Lord Jesus.” 

It was during this same time that reports began to spread about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a little mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Some Christians in Ohio who heard about the revival began to desire more of God. When Claude McKinney began to preach the Pentecostal message in Akron, Leonard went to the meetings and was convinced of the reality of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. 

In January 1907, Leonard took the proceeds from the sale of his farm and purchased an old hotel at 406 Sandusky in Findlay, Ohio. This two-story hotel and tavern, which had doubled as a brothel, seemed the appropriate place to begin a mission to reach those who were most in need of his message of salvation and deliverance. He renovated the building and called it “The Apostolic Temple.” 

The only thing from the old tavern that seemed useful for the new church was the bar rail, which Leonard “converted” to an altar rail. The bar rail was not the last of the conversions. Before long many who used to drink at the old bar and make use of the “house of ill-repute” were kneeling in repentance at the altar rail and finding love that was pure and lasting.  

Significantly, Leonard’s congregation was interracial and was committed to caring for the poor. From the church’s founding, Leonard had determined that his work would include persons of every race and economic class. Feeling that the word “church” carried a negative connotation, he searched for another word that expressed their mission to “call out” a group of people from all walks of life. He finally fell on the Greek word “ekklesia” (the called-out assembly) and changed the name of his church to “The Assembly of God” and began issuing credentials under that name in 1912. 

Feeling strongly that education for those called into ministry was vital, he opened “The Gospel School” for the training of ministers. He also started up a print shop that he christened “The Gospel Publishing House.” 

When the call was issued in 1914 for a gathering of Pentecostal believers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the purpose of bringing greater unity to this fledgling movement, Leonard served on the conference committee and was elected one of the executive presbyters. It was T.K. Leonard who wrote the constitutional preamble which established the term “Assemblies of God” as the name for the new Fellowship.  

When discussion turned to the need for a headquarters for the Fellowship, Leonard offered his facilities. The newly formed Assemblies of God set up its first headquarters in his converted tavern and brothel in Findlay, Ohio, and began using Gospel Publishing House to print materials. The arrangement was short-lived due to inadequate space, and the headquarters moved to St. Louis in 1915. 

By 1916, the Assemblies of God was facing doctrinal challenges, and the need became apparent for a formal statement of faith. Leonard served on the committee that drafted the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which remains the authoritative theological statement for the Assemblies of God to this day. 

Leonard settled into his pastoral role at the Findlay church, which he led until his retirement in 1941 at age 80. He intended to continue preaching and teaching; however, his health deteriorated and he spent his last years in quiet retirement. 

A death notice printed in the March 2, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel stated, “Brother Leonard will be remembered as the author of the original declaration on constitution which was adopted at the first General Council…which declaration shaped the course of the Assemblies of God fellowship.” In fact, it was Thomas King Leonard who gave the Assemblies of God its first constitutional preamble and resolution, its official name, and the name of its publishing house, all of which form a legacy that has endured to this day.

See the notice for T.K. Leonard’s death on page 12 of the March 2, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. 

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Day with a Palestine Shepherd” by Frances Stephens

• “How God Provided a Christmas Dinner” by Missionary to Japan Jessie Wengler

• “Our Missionary Advance in India”

And many more! 

Click here to read this issue now.  

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Beulah Buchwalter: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary and Linguist in the Gold Coast, Africa

This Week in AG History —February 26, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 25 February 2021

Beulah Buchwalter (1907-1942), an Assemblies of God missionary in Gold Coast (now Ghana), served from a place of weakness made perfect in God’s strength. Despite needing rest, she volunteered during World War II to stay an additional term without furlough since no one was able to travel to take her place in Africa. When she died at age 34, she left behind the resources needed for an entire people group to read the Bible in their own language.

Born into a minister’s home in the early days of the Pentecostal revival, Buchwalter grew to love both the work of God and the Word of God. She helped her parents in pioneering an Assembly of God church in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, through teaching Sunday School and learning new skills to meet emerging needs around her.

In April of 1931, Assemblies of God missionary Lloyd Shirer came to their church and presented the need for help in his mission. Before the services were over, 23-year-old Beulah said “yes” to the call. Because of the urgency of the need, it was only a few short months from her call to her arrival on the field. A busy summer of raising funds to pay for her trip enabled her to sail in September 1931.

The first word her family received by cablegram was that Buchwalter was critically ill in Kumasi with typhoid fever. After a period of rest, she was able to begin her first term of missionary service at Yendi, home of the Dagomba tribe. The first order of business was to learn to communicate. After learning enough of the language, an alphabet needed to be created, the language written down, a dictionary compiled for use in translation, and then the people taught to read. The Dagomba people proved very receptive to the gospel message and needed discipleship.

Growing up in a minister’s home, Buchwalter was accustomed to learning new skills to meet needs as they arose. Her diary documents the mental strain of concentrating for hours at a typewriter, translating, and proofreading papers in a language she was just learning herself. Buchwalter also felt that it was vital for the people, who loved to sing, to have joyful songs about the Christian faith in their own language. So along with language work in the Gospels, she added the translation of choruses and hymns, and began to hold literacy classes for the boys of the village.

However, the climate, change in diet, and the demanding work began to take its toll on her health. After three years, her body was so weak that she wrote in her diary, “I do not understand what is happening to me, but I am trusting in the Heavenly Father.” Doctors finally diagnosed her with pellagra, a disease caused by lack of certain vitamins that causes inflammation and temporary dementia. She was told that if she ever wanted to work in Africa, she must return to the United States for treatment. Her heart was set on finishing a Dagbane songbook and she worked feverishly to complete it before her sailing date of Feb. 16, 1935.

While in the United States, her health improved and Buchwalter finished two years of study at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. The Feb. 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried the announcement that Beulah Buchwalter, along with Florence Blossom, was sailing again for the Gold Coast. Buchwalter’s first letter home after arriving stated, “Oh the joy of returning … my heart was thrilled when I landed at Accra on Sunday, March 27, 1938. Even with all the tropical heat … excitement reigned within me.”

After traveling over 500 miles on difficult roads, Buchwalther and Blossom arrived in Kumbungu. The two single women moved into a small hut and began to reach out to their new neighbors. Soon they were having daily prayer with their cook in the More language, the cook’s wife in the Ga dialect, their carpenter in Basari, and their errand boy in Dagbane. Within two years, these two women traveled to 50 of the outlying villages sharing the first gospel message, working with the words they knew in whatever language they encountered.

Again, Buchwalters’s passion to see the people read and sing in their own language consumed her. Although her parents asked her to consider coming home after the outbreak of World War II, Buchwalter decided to stay put. She felt the need was too great and that no one would be able to take her place, writing, “If the soldier boys can die for their country, why should we be afraid to carry on the work of the Lord?”

In February 1942, Buchwalter began work on a new primer in the Dagbani language, using Bible text to teach the people to read. Though struggling with weakness, she worked tirelessly until, finally, in September, she traveled to Tamale for printing. A few days after her return, she was confined to bed with a burning fever, drifting in and out of delirium. In her lucid moments, she sang and left messages for her newly converted friends.

On Nov. 15, 1942, Beulah Buchwalter slipped away quietly to be with her Lord. Her funeral was held in three languages with more than 300 people in attendance. She was buried at the mission station she founded, which is now the home of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary of Ghana, where men and women are still being taught the Word of God in their own language.

Read the announcement of Buchwalter’s sailing, “Missionaries Sailing,” on page 9 of the Feb. 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Need of Vision” by Archibald Cooper

• “Much Blessing at Egyptian Council”

• “Separation and Revelation” by Stanley Frodsham

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel
archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Marvin Buck and Larry Christenson: Methodist and Lutheran Pastors Refreshed by the Charismatic Movement

Larry Christenson

This Week in AG History — February 18, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 18 February 2021

In the late 1950s, Pentecostal revival began breaking out in places where Pentecostals least expected — mainline churches. This revival, which became known as the charismatic renewal, caused some confusion among Pentecostals, who were uncertain how to react.

Many expected these new charismatics to join Pentecostal congregations. Some did, and the Assemblies of God more than doubled in membership during the 1960s and 1970s, partly because of an influx of charismatics. However, many charismatics decided to stay put and worked to bring a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches.

The Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel featured two articles about mainline ministers who had been touched by the Holy Spirit in the charismatic renewal.

The first article, by Methodist pastor Marvin Buck, described how he had been hungering for “the evidence of God’s power” in his life and ministry. He was grieved that the services in his small church in Beach, North Dakota, “had been dead and dry for so long.” His church members did not seem the least bit interested in prayer or evangelism. He was desperate for spiritual life, yet he did not know how to find it.

Buck went to hear an Episcopalian lay minister, Mrs. Jean Stone, who spoke in a neighboring town about a revival that was bringing new life to mainline churches. Stone, a prominent early leader within the charismatic renewal, encouraged those in attendance to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Buck went to the altar at the end of the meeting, eager to have more of God. He prayed and, for the first time in his life, he “sensed the reality of the Holy Spirit.” He described his body as being “flooded with a glow of warmth,” and he received the gift of speaking in tongues.

The next night, Buck shared what had experienced with the Sunday school superintendent at his Methodist church. He said that he experienced the love, joy, and peace of God in a profound way, and she responded, “This is what we all need.”

Buck reported that many members of the Beach Methodist Church became involved in the charismatic renewal. Some experienced healings, the Bible study doubled in attendance, and prayer meetings started again.

Larry Christenson authored the second Pentecostal Evangel article by a mainline charismatic minister. Christenson, a Lutheran, had a longstanding interest in the gift of healing. He read voraciously on the subject, he taught about healing in his Lutheran parish in San Pedro, California, and many church members experienced healings.

Christenson began to wonder about other spiritual manifestations found in scripture. Were they also for today?  He came into contact with an elderly lady — “a true saint of God” — who was a former Lutheran. She had begun attending a congregation associated with a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She invited Christenson to her church, where he heard a message on the gifts of the Spirit. This piqued Christenson’s interest, and a week later he attended special services with David du Plessis at the Assembly of God in San Pedro. He went forward to the altar for prayer and was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Buck and Christenson, both baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1961, were pioneers of the charismatic renewal in mainline churches. Their testimonies were widely published, inspiring countless others to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What happened to them? Buck ended up transferring his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1965, while Christenson remained in the Lutheran church and became one of the most prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal.

Read the two articles in the Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Marvin Buck, “This is What Happened When the Holy Spirit Came to a Methodist Church” (pages 6-7, 23)

Larry Christenson, “How a Lutheran Pastor Was Baptized with the Holy Spirit” (page 25)

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Dynamics of Twentieth-Century Pentecost,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Ralph M. Riggs

• “What Pentecost Means to Me,” by James L. McQueen

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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Scholars of the Spirit: 50th Anniversary of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Founding officers of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (l to r): Edward Wood, treasurer; William Menzies, president; Hollis Gause, vice president; and Vinson Synan, secretary.

This Week in AG History — February 7, 1971

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 12 February 2021

Pentecostals have been noted for their success in evangelism and missions. They have also left their mark on academia. The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS), an organization for Pentecostal scholars, was launched a little over 50 years ago. A notice in the Pentecostal Evangel reported on the organizational meeting, held in conjunction with the 9th Pentecostal World Conference in Dallas.

SPS was the brainchild of three Pentecostal educators representing different schools and denominations — William Menzies (Evangel College/Assemblies of God), Vinson Synan (Emmanuel College/Pentecostal Holiness Church), and Horace Ward (Lee College/Church of God). With the blessing of Pentecostal World Conference leader Yonggi Cho, they invited attendees to an organizational meeting held on Nov. 6, 1970. Klaude Kendrick, former president of Evangel College, spoke about Pentecostal scholarship, and the theme of the meeting was “Following the Spirit of Truth.”

Pentecostal leaders from a variety of backgrounds attended this first meeting, including U.S. AG General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman, Yonggi Cho, and David du Plessis (an Assemblies of God evangelist who built bridges with charismatics and mainline denominations), as well as Roman Catholic priest Kilian McDonnell, who was a noted scholar of the charismatic movement.

At the founding meeting, 139 individuals who identified with the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions gathered to discuss organizing a society to promote the study of Pentecostalism. In anticipation of the meeting, Synan wrote a draft constitution and bylaws based on the existing constitutions of the Wesleyan Theological Society and the Evangelical Theological Society. Bishop D. E. Underwood (Pentecostal Holiness Church) chaired the constitutional meeting. The SPS constitution included the classical Pentecostal statement of faith held by the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America.

The society was formed with the intent “to serve the church world by providing an authoritative interpretation of the Pentecostal Movement.” Later this was clarified by identifying this group as “a scholarly forum to interpret the Pentecostal movement.”

The original name that was considered was the Society of Pentecostal Scholars, but after some discussion, the name Society for Pentecostal Studies was approved. Scholars came from a variety of backgrounds, including Trinitarians, Oneness Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Charismatics, members of classical Pentecostal denominations, and independent scholars, as well as African Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups. In 1979 the society adopted the World Pentecostal Fellowship statement of purpose as the basis for full membership.

The society began with 108 charter members, and the membership has increased through the years. Since 1979, the society has published Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The society holds an annual conference which includes lectures on various topics related to Pentecostalism. These have been held in various localities in North America, including one conference held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

This year, in 2021, the Society for Pentecostal Studies will return to Dallas for its annual meeting and to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Read more in “Society for Pentecostal Studies Launched at Dallas Conference” on page 14 of the Feb. 7, 1971, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Springs Still Flow,” by R. L. Cox

• “Baptized With the Spirit,” by Robert C. Cunningham

• “It Happened 60 Years Ago,” by William F. P. Burton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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 archives and research center 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
Website: http://www.iFPHC.org

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