The Female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal Missionary Who Became the Primary Shaper of Early Assemblies of God Missiology

This Week in AG History — January 22, 1921

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 January 2021

Alice E. Luce (1873-1955), a British-born Anglican missionary, learned of the emerging Pentecostal movement when she was engaged in ministry in India. After hearing about two women in India who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, she visited them in order to learn more. After Luce became convinced that their experience was biblical, she also was Spirit-baptized in about 1910. Luce identified with the Pentecostal movement and, in 1915, she transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God.

Luce became the most prominent missiologist (theologian of missions) in the Assemblies of God in its early decades. Luce authored a series of three articles, titled “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1921. In these articles, Luce endeavored to show that the Apostle Paul taught that missionaries should aim to build indigenous churches — churches that were self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing. Importantly, this indigenous church principle differed from the majority of mainline Christian missions agencies, which equated Westernization with Christianization. The Apostle Paul, according to Luce, preached Christ, not culture.

The Pentecostal Evangel editor commended Luce as “an experienced missionary” who wrote the articles “with the express purpose of helping our Pentecostal missionaries to get a clear vision of Paul’s methods of evangelization.” The editor furthermore stated that these methods were applicable not just overseas, but also “to every town and community and district in the homeland.” The editor also affirmed the centrality of missions in the young Pentecostal movement: “The Pentecostal people are peculiarly missionary, and the growth of the Pentecostal movement is due largely to this missionary spirit.”

It is well known that missions has been a primary focus of the Assemblies of God since its earliest years. Many may not realize, however, that it was a female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal missionary, Alice Luce, who was the primary shaper of early Assemblies of God missiology.  

Read the series of three articles by Alice E. Luce, “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel (click the following links):

Jan. 8, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Jan. 22, 1921 (pages 6 and 11).

Feb. 5, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Call to Prayer,” by J. W. Welch

• “Some Last Things,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

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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The 1937 New Year’s Message for the Assemblies of God

This Week in AG History — January 16, 1937

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 14 January 2021

While much has changed in the past 84 years, Ernest S. Williams’ New Year’s admonition to the Assemblies of God in 1937 remains strikingly relevant. Williams was the only veteran of the Azusa Street Revival to serve as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949). Known for his spiritual depth, he led the Fellowship during a period of significant numerical growth.

Williams took the helm of the Fellowship the same year as the Great Depression began. In 1929, the Assemblies of God reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members. By 1937 those tallies had approximately doubled to 3,473 churches with 175,362 members.

“God has blessed our Fellowship of Spirit-filled redeemed people with a phenomenal growth,” Williams acknowledged. However, he warned readers of “danger” that accompanied growth. With the increase in numbers, Williams cautioned, comes the temptation to rely on “human ideas and human methods, not all of which are sanctified to the glory of God.”

Christians are called to live and worship “in spirit and in truth” and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” Williams wrote. Any substitute would cause the Assemblies of God to suffer “grievous loss.” He suggested that “prayerful watchfulness and entire consecration” were required to maintain this spiritual calling.

Williams encouraged believers to seek unity. He expressed his belief that the Pentecostal movement “would be a far greater service to God were it all united.” It may not be God’s will, he clarified, that this unity be expressed organizationally. In his view, believers should be united “in one spirit and Christian fellowship” and in “Christian love and worship.”

While Williams opposed divisions due to “sectarian causes,” he acknowledged that true Christian unity could only develop among believers who embraced solid doctrine and morals. “Let us therefore show Christian love and Christian fellowship to all of God’s children who love and do the truth, wherever they may be,” Williams wrote, “but let us continue an uncompromising stand against tolerance of evil wherever it is found.”

Williams concluded his New Year’s message with a missionary call. “The uttermost parts of the earth is our motto,” he propounded. “May the coming year be one of rich harvests in souls and in personal soul development.” This dual concern for deep spirituality and sharing the gospel continues to be central to Assemblies of God identity.

Read Williams’ article, “The Task That Is Before Us,” on page 4 of the Jan. 16, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Leaving the Choice with the Lord,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Power, Love and a Sound Mind,” by Donald Gee

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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Phil Kerr: Pentecostal Musician and Evangelist

This Week in AG History — January 8, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 07 January 2021

Phillip Stanley “Phil” Kerr (1906-1960), a noted musical evangelist, composed over 3,000 published songs and choruses. Among them are “Melody Divine,” “I’m Glad I’m a Christian,” “This is Why I Sing,” and “I’m in Love With the Lover of My Soul.”

He was also the brother of Esther (Kerr) Rusthoi, who was married to Howard Rusthoi, who was a military chaplain in the armed forces. Esther was a composer, singer, and evangelist and was an associate pastor at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. She is best known for her hymn, “It Will be Worth it All, When We See Jesus.”

The Pentecostal Evangel published a tribute to Kerr following his death in 1960. Born of parents who did missionary work in Arizona, Old Mexico, and also in rescue missions in San Pedro, California, Phil Kerr was able to witness firsthand the cost of true discipleship. During his life and ministry he tried to model this same principle.

Traveling as a musical evangelist, Kerr, who was also an ordained minister, went many places. In 1936, for instance, he assisted Assemblies of God evangelist Raymond T. Richey in a revival at the city auditorium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His music ministry at that campaign focused people to Jesus, and many lives were changed.

During the war years, Kerr and Wendell St. Clair toured military bases throughout the U.S. They also participated in crusades and sang at churches and conventions in many cities and states. They worked together on a number of gospel songs. Sixteen of these were included in the book, Phil Kerr’s Gospel Songs. This collection of popular gospel songs was reprinted multiple times, and over a million copies were sold.

One time Kerr and St. Clair had an invitation to sing in the meetings of boy evangelist Marjoe Gortner. On another occasion the two were featured musicians at the Christ for Greater Los Angeles Crusade. The year was 1949, and a huge tent was erected on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles for that event. This was evangelist Billy Graham’s first big crusade, and it launched him into many decades of worldwide evangelism.

Living in Southern California and having a love for music, Kerr took a special interest in musicians who had answered the call of God to leave the entertainment field and use their talents for Christ.

For several years he was the manager of KFSG radio station in Los Angeles, which was owned and operated by Angelus Temple.

In 1945 Kerr started the Monday Musicals, a multitalented musical show with Audrey Mieir in Pasadena, California, which he directed for 16 years. These were first held in the Shakespeare Club in Pasadena, and later in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The show featured a wide range of Christian vocalists and instrumentalists.

Kerr’s plan for the program was based on the following objectives: “First, to bring inspiration and spiritual ‘lift’ to Christians; second, that non-Christians may hear a positive witness for Christ; third, that talented young people may be encouraged to utilize their abilities in Christian service.”

He tried to pattern these Monday night concerts after his own family times together with his mom, dad, and siblings. In addition to morning devotions, a few neighbors would drop by in the evenings, and Kerr’s mother would “emcee” a program of music, games, and Scripture quizzes. She was able to blend these evenings of fellowship into unforgettable times when all present were aware of Christ’s presence. In similar fashion, Kerr’s Monday-night musicals proved to be a weekly highlight in Southern California for Christian people of many denominations.

Kerr was a brilliant pianist and conductor and also recorded sacred music and wrote several books on the ministry of music. One of his books, Music in Evangelism, was first published in 1939 and went through several printings. It was widely used as a textbook in the music departments of Bible schools.

Kerr passed away in Laguna Beach, California, in 1960. His friend, Wendell St. Clair, said, “Phil’s musical ministry was exceptionally unique, and his songs were light and lilty — he was another pacesetter in the gospel music field.”

Read more in “The Passing of Phil Kerr” on page 30 of the Jan. 8, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Signs of the End Time,” by C. M. Ward

• “The School of Elisha,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Spontaneous Revival Sweeps Northwestern Burma,” by Glenn D. Stafford

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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2020 Statistics: Archiving the Global Pentecostal Movement at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) has become the largest Pentecostal archives in the world – a world class repository of materials documenting the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal movement. Church leaders, scholars, students, and other researchers around the world depend on the FPHC’s resources and services.

Several of the new acquisitions at the FPHC in 2020

This has been possible because of the behind-the-scenes work by FPHC staff of collecting, preserving, and making accessible these treasures of the faith. In 2020, FPHC staff created 8,349 new catalog records. Each record represents an item or a collection that has been processed and that is now in the FPHC online database, which allows end-users to search, do research, and place orders for materials.

The Assemblies of God is diverse (44% of AG USA adherents are non-Anglo) and global (95% of AG adherents live outside the US). This is reflective of the incredible growth and diversity of the broader Pentecostal movement. Importantly, the FPHC seeks to document this diverse and global constituency, so that we can better understand how God has been working through the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal movement.

The growth of the FPHC’s collection has been remarkable. The number of catalog records has grown by 237% in the last 13 years from 58,760 to 139,466. The number of non-English catalog records has grown by an amazing 1387% from 673 to 9,334. The FPHC has cataloged materials in 153 languages.

The following tables illustrate the growth and breadth of the FPHC’s collection: 1) the number of catalog records cataloged each year; 2) the number of catalog records by language (listed by number of records); and 3) the number of catalog records by language (listed alphabetically).

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Year

 New RecordsTotal Records
Prior to 2008 58760
2008686765627
2009533670963
2010603176994
2011910786101
2012511391214
2013589297106
20145100102206
20156039108245
20166399114644
20174107118751
20186052124803
20196314131117
20208349139466

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Language

Sorted by Number of Records

LanguageAs of Dec 31, 2007As of Dec 31, 2019As of Dec 31, 2020
Total58760131117139466
English58087123343130132
Spanish26221532983
Norwegian1111831274
Swedish13784848
Finnish3717740
French31635683
German105534559
Braille English3256257
Portuguese15229245
Russian18201225
Chinese23150201
Korean12145178
Italian30132157
Dutch9118149
Romanian1054127
Japanese138099
Amharic738383
Polish102480
Ukrainian387277
Indonesian72870
Afrikaans63469
Hungarian35164
Danish25961
Czech25360
Arabic34348
Bulgarian113546
Greek54042
Jugoslav03737
Hindi72929
Tagalog02829
Swahili02228
Tamil22327
Moore22526
Tonga02525
Croatian21422
Estonian01020
Efik01818
Malayalam11717
Ilocano01515
Hebrew1814
Telugu01213
Sinhalese21112
Filipino01111
Vietnamese11011
Chinyanja01010
Thai0310
Dagbani199
Duala099
Konkani099
Yoruba099
Bangala088
Burmese088
Slovak058
Zulu278
Armenian067
Bemba077
Moba077
Modern Syriac077
Bengali146
Chichewa066
Popo066
Fijian055
Hausa045
Icelandic035
Kannada055
Khasi055
Marathi055
Samoan055
Albanian244
Batak044
Georgian024
Goan Konkani044
Ibo044
Romany244
Slovenian014
Tchien444
Tibetan144
Twi044
Urdu044
Igbo033
Kasem033
Latvian033
Lingala033
Apache122
Baroba122
Citonga022
Creole012
Fon022
Gourma022
Kikuyu022
Kinyarwanda002
Lithuanian122
Navajo122
Oriya122
Papiamento022
Serbian112
Simalungun022
Sindebele022
Sotho122
Turkish012
Alada011
Baoule011
Basuto011
Bislama111
Cebuano011
Chibemba011
Farsi111
Gbeapo011
Hawaiian011
Inupiaq011
Kazakh011
Kesakata011
Kikamba011
Korafe011
Kru011
Kusaal011
Kwakiutl111
Lao001
Lozi011
Lukiga011
Luo011
Maasai001
Mampruli111
Manipuri011
Maori011
Mapuche011
Marshallese011
Mesem011
Mongolian001
Montagnais011
Nagamese001
Ndebele011
Nepali111
Nupe011
Nzema011
Oromo011
Pakpak011
Persian011
Ponpei111
Quechua011
Safwa011
Sanne011
Sioux011
Siriac011
Somali111
Tatar111
Themne111
Tigrigna111
Tsonga111
Uzbek011
Venda011
Xhosa011
Yiddish111

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Language

Sorted Alphabetically

LanguageAs of Dec 31, 2007As of Dec 31, 2019As of Dec 31, 2020
Total58760131117139466
Afrikaans63469
Alada011
Albanian244
Amharic738383
Apache122
Arabic34348
Armenian067
Bangala088
Baoule011
Baroba122
Basuto011
Batak044
Bemba077
Bengali146
Bislama111
Braille English3256257
Bulgarian113546
Burmese088
Cebuano011
Chibemba011
Chichewa066
Chinese23150201
Chinyanja01010
Citonga022
Creole012
Croatian21422
Czech25360
Dagbani199
Danish25961
Duala099
Dutch9118149
Efik01818
English58087123343130132
Estonian01020
Farsi111
Fijian055
Filipino01111
Finnish3717740
Fon022
French31635683
Gbeapo011
Georgian024
German105534559
Goan Konkani044
Gourma022
Greek54042
Hausa045
Hawaiian011
Hebrew1814
Hindi72929
Hungarian35164
Ibo044
Icelandic035
Igbo033
Ilocano01515
Indonesian72870
Inupiaq011
Italian30132157
Japanese138099
Jugoslav03737
Kannada055
Kasem033
Kazakh011
Kesakata011
Khasi055
Kikamba011
Kikuyu022
Kinyarwanda002
Konkani099
Korafe011
Korean12145178
Kru011
Kusaal011
Kwakiutl111
Lao001
Latvian033
Lingala033
Lithuanian122
Lozi011
Lukiga011
Luo011
Maasai001
Malayalam11717
Mampruli111
Manipuri011
Maori011
Mapuche011
Marathi055
Marshallese011
Mesem011
Moba077
Modern Syriac077
Mongolian001
Montagnais011
Moore22526
Nagamese001
Navajo122
Ndebele011
Nepali111
Norwegian1111831274
Nupe011
Nzema011
Oriya122
Oromo011
Pakpak011
Papiamento022
Persian011
Polish102480
Ponpei111
Popo066
Portuguese15229245
Quechua011
Romanian1054127
Romany244
Russian18201225
Safwa011
Samoan055
Sanne011
Serbian112
Simalungun022
Sindebele022
Sinhalese21112
Sioux011
Siriac011
Slovak058
Slovenian014
Somali111
Sotho122
Spanish26221532983
Swahili02228
Swedish13784848
Tagalog02829
Tamil22327
Tatar111
Tchien444
Telugu01213
Thai0310
Themne111
Tibetan144
Tigrigna111
Tonga02525
Tsonga111
Turkish012
Twi044
Ukrainian387277
Urdu044
Uzbek011
Venda011
Vietnamese11011
Xhosa011
Yiddish111
Yoruba099
Zulu278

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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How a Vision to Help Mexican Refugees Changed the Assemblies of God

El Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas with Josue Cruz, H. C. Ball, and an unidentified man; circa 1940.

This Week in AG History — December 28, 1918

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 31 December 2020

The first organization for Hispanic Assemblies of God churches and ministers in the United States was formed in 1918. At the time, the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics was in its infancy and consisted primarily of scattered, unorganized missions along the U.S.-Mexican border. Two Assemblies of God conventions were held in Texas in 1918 — one in January and a second in November. These conventions united Hispanic Pentecostals and laid the foundation for one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the Assemblies of God.

Hispanics forged their own Assemblies of God identity — developing indigenous leaders, schools, and governance structures — which gave believers a voice in a society where they were often marginalized. Asambleas de Dios congregations now dot the American landscape. In 2019, 22.4% of U.S. Assemblies of God adherents (739,001) were Hispanic.

The January 1918 convention was organized by Isabel Flores (a male Mexican-American pastor) and Henry C. Ball (an Anglo missionary to Mexicans). They ministered among the 300,000 refugees from the Mexican Revolution who lived along the borderlands in Texas. These refugees, uprooted from their families and their native land, often lived in squalid conditions. They had an uncertain legal status and, in the eyes of many observers, not much of a future.

While the broader American society often rejected the Mexican refugees, Pentecostals reacted differently. Flores, Ball, and other Pentecostal ministers fanned out, offering food, shelter, and medical assistance to those who were hurting. They viewed the refugees as a heaven-sent opportunity to share the gospel, which they did in both word and deed.

The first superintendent of the newly organized Hispanic work was Ball — probably chosen because as an Anglo he was able to navigate the difficult legal and cultural issues facing the Mexican refugees. On at least one occasion, he helped free a refugee pastor who had been imprisoned on false charges. Ball was himself imprisoned on suspicion of being a German spy during World War I because of his work with the refugees, who were viewed as a national threat during war time.

Despite legal, political, and economic tensions, Ball maintained his focus on helping the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics to mature and grow. He stressed the importance of developing indigenous leaders who could serve as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries to Hispanics in the United States and across Latin America.

Ball developed these themes in an article in the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. In the article, Ball reported on the November 1918 convention, noting that the Hispanic believers were united in doctrine, that there was a spirit of “sweet cooperation,” and that the churches aimed to be self-supporting and to ultimately send missionaries to their countries of origin. This vision for indigenous leadership was more fully realized in 1939, when Demetrio Bazan succeeded Ball as the first Hispanic leader of the Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God.

The vision to bring the gospel to suffering Mexican refugees ultimately helped to transform the American church. Those refugees became the seeds from which a resilient Hispanic Pentecostal movement was birthed. Today, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities are helping to fuel the continuing growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States.

Read H. C. Ball’s article, “A Report of the Spanish Pentecostal Convention,” on page 7 of the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Unity,” by A. P. Collins

• “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men,” by Raymond T. Richey

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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Donald Gee: Christ is the Perfect Interpreter between God and Man

This Week in AG History —December 24, 1949

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 December 2020

In the 1949 Christmas Eve issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, noted British theologian and church leader Donald Gee gifted readers with a word picture of the mystery of the Incarnation. Sharing his vast experience of speaking through an interpreter, Gee illustrated the value of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, speaking the native language of both divinity and humanity.

Any speaker addressing an audience in a language unfamiliar to them will need a qualified interpreter to make sure that his message is accurately and adequately communicated to his hearers. After sharing some embarrassing and humorous incidents with interpreters in his own speaking career, Gee says that the best two interpreters with whom he worked shared the same distinction: a French father and an English mother. Both languages were spoken natively throughout their upbringing and, thus, they were equally at ease with either tongue.

Gee masterfully weaves this experience into an illustration of Jesus Christ in his article “An Interpreter is Born.” As the Son of God, Jesus spoke the language of heaven with the ease of a native son. Yet as the Son of Man, Jesus also spoke the language of earth with the same native ease. Jesus, therefore, was “the perfect Interpreter between God and man, for He — and He alone — speaks both languages perfectly.” With equal authority He could say “My Father in heaven” and my “mother and brethren” from Nazareth. He interpreted Heaven’s message of love to mankind and, in turn, can interpret the “feelings of our infirmities” at the right hand of God. In this sense, the Interpreter becomes the “one mediator between God and Man” — being born of both in Bethlehem. As the soul of man craves an explanation of the things of God, God has, in His redemptive plan, provided an Interpreter.

Gee takes the illustration one step further. Not only has Christ come to reveal the language of heaven to earth; He has equipped His followers to continue this task of interpretation. After providing for mankind to be “born from above” through salvation and, consequently, filled with the Holy Spirit, they become interpreters to others of the language of heaven. “Men wholly of this world cannot readily understand the things of God; they need interpreters — literally, ‘those who explain.’” Such interpretation “needs familiarity with the languages of heaven and of earth.” The interpreter cannot have a worldly mindedness that is unable to grasp the depth of meaning of the deep things of God nor yet can he or she have a “mistaken monasticism” that has lost touch with the language and experience of humanity.

The author then takes the illustration even one step further. While the task of interpretation is the duty of every Christian, it is especially relevant to the Pentecostal believer. “The Pentecostal gift of ‘interpretation of tongues’ in its own supernatural realm invites the same longing for the divine ability to bring the unknown into the realm of understanding … the language of ecstasy has its heavenly place, but happy is he who can translate it for our good into our more mundane speech.” We still need supernatural interpreters who, like Daniel, can explain the handwriting of God when He has a message for mankind.

Without the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, there would be no satisfying revelation — or interpretation — of God to man and no adequate representative of man to God. Unto us an Interpreter is born; Emmanuel, “God with us,” who was born to bring understanding where confusion had reigned.

Gee invites us to accompany the shepherds to “even now go unto Bethlehem” and give thanks that an Interpreter has come — who will begin to unravel the mysteries of God and then “ever live to make intercession for us.”

Read “An Interpreter is Born” by Donald Gee on pages 2 and 13 of the Dec. 24, 1949, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Immanuel – Christ Jesus” by P. C. Nelson

• “The Incarnation – Why Was it Necessary” by F. J. Lindquist

• “Christmas at Rupaidiha” by Hattie Hammond

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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Joseph Conlee: From Methodist Pastor to Drunken Beggar to Pentecostal Educator

This Week in AG History — December 19, 1936

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 17 December 2020

Old Joe Conlee (1853-1929) was a dirty, ragged drunk. He spent every penny on liquor and begged on the street corners in Los Angeles for money to feed his addiction. Then, in 1897, a man from Conlee’s past recognized the emaciated beggar with the matted beard and invited him to his home. That encounter changed Conlee’s life.

Joseph Conlee didn’t start out on the streets. He was born into an evangelical Methodist family and was brought up in church and Sunday School on the prairies of Iowa. His parents encouraged him to enter the ministry, and he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from a Methodist seminary. He married a lovely Christian woman, Hattie, and accepted a small parish in Iowa. Conlee was a brilliant thinker and orator and soon moved up in the ministerial ranks.

Despite the outward appearance of spiritual maturity and success, Conlee’s heart was far from where it should have been. In seminary, his professors taught him that much within the Bible is mere superstition, encouraging him to read modern theologians who denigrated the authority of Scripture. He drifted away from the faith of his youth, even while pastoring a succession of growing Methodist churches in the Midwest and in California. He rejected what he called the “emotionalism” of his Methodist upbringing, instead opting to view things from a more “balanced” approach that would allow him to “see both sides of the question.” Instead of professing faith, he essentially became a neutral observer of faith.

Finally, when Conlee was pastor of the Methodist Church in Pomona, California, he told his wife that he could no longer stand his own hypocrisy. He had already denied that the virgin birth of Christ and the miracles in the Bible could have occurred. One Sunday, in the pulpit, he resigned his pastorate and told his congregation that he no longer believed the Bible.

The gifted writer transitioned easily to secular employment. He became the editor of the Santa Ana Herald and proceeded to establish his own newspapers, the East Los Angeles Exponent and the Covina Argus Independent. He sold these papers for a small fortune and became an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Examiner.

However, Conlee soon lost his newfound wealth and employment due to his growing dependence upon alcohol. The celebrated pastor, publisher, and journalist descended into inebriation, shuffling around in smelly rags. He became president of the Free Thinkers Association of California, an organization that promoted atheism. He gave lectures in which he would hold up his hand and challenge God to strike him dead. When nothing happened, he declared, “You see, friends, there is no God.”

But Conlee’s wife was a woman of prayer. She raised their five children without his love or support, and she prayed daily that her fallen husband would return to God. Then, in 1897 on a street corner in Los Angeles, Conlee encountered the man from his past who recognized him and invited him to his home. That man, a Christian doctor who had previously been a member of Conlee’s church, convinced Conlee that he needed a change in environment. Conlee agreed, and he ventured to Alaska, hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike Gold Rush.

In Alaska, Conlee discovered that life in the cabin “on the forty mile” — which described his location — was very lonely. He shared the small cabin with two other men — a Catholic and a spiritualist medium from San Francisco. Out of boredom, they began reading the small Bible that one of Conlee’s daughters had given to him. The medium became fascinated by the stories in the Bible, saying, “I had no idea there were things like that in the Bible.”

As they read the Bible more, their cursing and drunkenness became less frequent. Finally, after several months of Bible reading, the three men confessed to each other that they desperately wanted God to help them. They got on their knees and prayed loudly for hours, until they felt something happen on the inside of them. They then jumped up and started shouting, “Glory!”

Conlee returned to California in 1898, which was an answer to his wife’s prayers. He identified with the Pentecostal movement and ultimately became dean of the Bible college operated by the Bible Standard Church (now New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon). Conlee’s testimony was widely distributed in the form of a tract, The Lonely Cabin on the 40 Mile, which was published by Gospel Publishing House.

What does the life of Joseph Conlee teach Christians today? Theological liberalism, which undermines the authority of Scripture, led Conlee to reject Christ, which resulted in the loss of his family, fortune, and career. Theological liberalism naturally leads to spiritual death and the decline of families and culture. The same forces are at work in the world today, attempting to infiltrate evangelical and Pentecostal churches, just as they did in many Methodist and other churches over 100 years ago. However, Scripture is God-breathed and continues to offer new life. Just as reading his Bible prompted Conlee to repent and regain his life, the gospel continues to offer hope and new life to those who have faith, repent, and cast their burdens on Christ.

Conlee’s story was published in the Dec. 19, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Read the article, “Christmas and Valentine’s Day in a Lonely Cabin,” by Charles S. Price, on pages 2-3 and 5 of the Dec. 19, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tidings of Great Joy,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “How Far is Bethlehem,” by John Wright Follette

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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Eddie Driver, Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ, and the Interracial Nature of Early Pentecostalism

This Week in AG History — December 2, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 December 2020

A small notice about an ongoing revival at the Saints’ Home Church in Los Angeles might have escaped the attention of readers of the Dec. 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel (the magazine of the Assemblies of God and the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). Unless the reader was familiar with the pastor and the congregation, the revival report would have been indistinguishable from countless similar articles. The congregation’s pastor, Eddie R. Driver, reported spiritual progress: “God is blessing these meetings with a full house, souls are being saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost, the sick are being healed, and there is a great outpouring of God’s choicest blessings accompanying every service.”

The pastor, Eddie Driver (1868-1944), was an African-American businessman and attorney (he was licensed to practice general and corporation law in Memphis in 1892). He accepted the call to preach in 1893 and became a Baptist pastor. Several years later he became friends with Charles H. Mason, the influential African-American Holiness Baptist pastor who went on to found the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Driver joined Mason’s organization, became Chairman of the COGIC Council of Elders, and drafted the COGIC’s original articles of incorporation.

In 1914, Mason asked Driver to move from Memphis to Los Angeles to establish a COGIC congregation. Driver complied and became pastor of an existing Pentecostal congregation, the Apostolic Mission at 14th and Woodson Streets. The congregation had roots in the interracial Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which had been a focal point in the emerging Pentecostal movement. As the Azusa Street revival fires grew dim, numerous small Pentecostal missions popped up across the City of Angels. The Apostolic Mission was one of those new congregations.

Driver organized the congregation as Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ in 1914, the first COGIC located in the western states. Driver personified the interracial nature of early Los Angeles Pentecostalism. He had a mixed ethnic heritage and could pass as an African-American, a Mexican, or a Filipino. The congregation’s leadership consisted of Blacks, whites, Mexicans, and Filipinos.

Something else about the 1916 article in the Weekly Evangel merits attention. Driver was promoting the ministry of a white evangelist, Thomas Griffin, who had been holding services at Saints’ Home Church. Griffin, an Irish Catholic who immigrated to the United States, accepted Christ and became a prominent Pentecostal evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Large portions of early issues of the Weekly Evangel were dedicated to small revival reports such as the one submitted by Driver. What was the racial makeup of these early congregations that promoted their activities in the Evangel? No one knows. It would require significant research to discover the identities of these early Pentecostal leaders and congregations. What we can know, as this article demonstrates, was that the early Pentecostal revival crossed the racial and ethnic divides.

Read the article, “Notes from the Field,” on page 14 of the Dec. 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Faith in Action in the Mission Field,” by Paul Bettex

• “God’s Prayer House,” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Three Christian Soldiers,” by C. W. Doney

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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Anne Eberhardt: Assemblies of God Missionary Educator in India

This Week in AG History — November 29, 1930

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 03 December 2020

Anne Eberhardt (1904-1995), Assemblies of God missionary to North India for 43 years, has a rich testimony of coming from a Catholic background, receiving salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, attending Bible school, and serving on the mission field.

Born in a small village in Austria-Hungary called Obesenyo, Anne Eberhardt and her family were Catholics. The town only had one church and one school, and both were Catholic. When Anne was about six, her parents, her aunt and uncle, and another couple decided to travel to the United States in search of a better life. Anne’s mother became so seasick on the journey that she decided that she would never go back to her homeland.

The family settled in Cleveland where Anne was raised Catholic, attended a Catholic school, and was confirmed in that faith. She had a love for the things of God, and one of the nuns said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you would become a nun when you grow up.” But God had another plan.

When the influenza epidemic was raging around 1918, Anne’s aunt got sick with the flu and was given up to die. She remembered meeting some Nazarene people who had a strong faith in God, and she had seen a real change in their lives. This kindled faith inside her. Lying on her deathbed, the aunt prayed, “Lord, if You will heal my body, and let me live for one year, I will live that year for You.”

God answered her prayer. She felt the power of God come upon her, and she was instantly saved and healed. Then she prayed again, “Now, Lord, lead me to the people that live closest to the Bible.” Soon after this the aunt saw an advertisement for a Pentecostal church on East 57th and White Avenue called First Assembly of God, and she began attending.

Through her aunt’s testimony of healing and reports of the Pentecostal church meetings, Anne, at age 15 also began attending First Assembly of God. She was inspired by the ministry of J. Narver Gortner, who pastored First Assembly during the early 1920s.

Anne visited her aunt’s church and was saved during a campaign the visiting Argue family of Canada held in Cleveland in 1921 where she answered the altar call. That was almost 100 years ago. At a service the next day, Anne was baptized in the Holy Spirit and immediately began sharing her faith, although her parents did not approve of her newfound religion. She was not allowed to go back to the church.

However, Anne made friends with Elizabeth Weidman (later Elizabeth Weidman Wood), who became a missionary to China. Elizabeth worked in an office across the street from Anne, and met her for lunch each day as they talked about the Lord. Finally, after about six months, Anne decided to go back to the church, against her parents’ wishes. Her father said she would have to leave if she was going to attend the Pentecostal church, but before she headed out the door, he changed his mind, allowing her to stay at home and allowing her to attend the church of her choice.

About a year later, Marie Juergensen, missionary to Japan, spoke to the young people of First Assembly, urging them to consecrate their lives to God. After this, Anne earnestly prayed, saying she was “willing to be made willing to do His will.”

For a few years, Anne worked as a stenographer, secretary, and bookkeeper. Then she had an opportunity to attend Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri, and began to feel a call to missionary work. One Friday afternoon, A.G. Ward spoke to all the missionary prayer groups on campus about the leper work in North India. After that meeting, Anne thought, It would take a lot of consecration to go and work among the lepers. She never imagined that God would ask her to do just that.

Missionary Blanche Appleby spoke at the Bible school that evening and encouraged the students to offer themselves as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Anne felt the Lord asking her if she would be willing to go anywhere with the gospel. She replied, “Yes, Lord, anywhere.” However, when the Lord asked to her to go to North India a struggle followed.

After earnestly praying all that evening and the next day, Anne felt a strong calling and peace that she was to go as a missionary to India. She joyfully completed the rest of her Bible school studies, keeping in mind that God had a plan for her life.

After graduating from CBI, Anne worked for one year in the editorial department of the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri, and then pastored a church at Breckenridge, Missouri, for six months. She was approved for missionary service and sailed for India in February 1931.

Her first term of missionary service was spent assisting the Harry Waggoner family with a leper colony and orphanage in Uska Bazar. Next came a time of evangelistic work in the Kheri District, where she also edited the North India Field News, a periodical published by Assemblies of God missionaries. This was followed by 13 years of teaching at the Hardoi Bible Training School in United Province where Marguerite Flint was the principal. Next she was asked to start a night Bible school in Jabalpur and was there for nine years.

After years of missionary work in India, Anne said, “I have never been sorry I said ‘Yes’ to the Lord. That was my greatest decision up to that time; an experience as real as the day I was saved and the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

After retiring from missions work, Anne moved back to Cleveland and again attended her home church of First Assembly of God in Lyndhurst. She continued to be a wonderful encourager to many and guided some to also enter the mission field. She recorded much of her life story in a booklet called For the Glory of God, published in 1985. She passed away in 1995.

Anne Eberhardt obeyed God and dedicated her life to His service. Read more about her story in “From Catholicism to Pentecost” on pages 2-3 of the Nov. 29, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Three Phases of Sanctification,” by Donald Gee

• “Seven ‘Conventions,’” by Arthur H. Graves

• “Is It Possible to Be Happy?” by J. Narver Gortner

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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Stanford E. Linzey, Jr. Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (U.S. Navy Photo: 1974)

Dr. Stanford Eugene Linzey, Jr. (1920-2010) holds the distinction of being the first Assemblies of God minister to serve as an active duty Navy chaplain. During his 65 years of active ministry, during which he served as a pastor, chaplain, educator, author, and evangelist, Linzey became well known in the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

Linzey’s son, Chaplain (MAJOR) James F. Linzey, USA (Ret.), has deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center a collection of books, sermons, photographs, and other materials documenting his father’s life and ministry.

Linzey was born on October 13, 1920, in Houston, Texas to Stanford Linzey and Eva Fay Westphal Linzey. Linzey first accepted Christ as Lord and Savior at 10 years of age and was reared Southern Baptist. However, as a teenager he strayed from his Christian upbringing and became, according to James F. Linzey, “a smoking train hopper.” In 1938, when he was 18 years old, Linzey’s misconduct landed him before a judge, who ordered that he go to jail or join the Navy. He enlisted in the Navy in 1938.

Linzey served aboard the USS Yorktown, which was homeported in San Diego, California. It was there that he met a young Pentecostal evangelist named Verna Hall in 1940. She invited him to attend her church, First Assembly of God in National City, California. He recommitted his life to Christ, joined her church, and they married on July 13, 1941 in McAllen, Texas.

Verna played a significant role in discipling Linzey. Verna’s step-father (Rev. Francis L. Doyle), mother (Alice Hall Doyle), and brother (Pentecostal evangelist Franklin Hall) lived in San Diego and also mentored Linzey. Linzey did office work for Franklin Hall and also preached in San Diego on the streets, in rescue missions, and in parks under his tutelage. Linzey, influenced by his wife’s teaching, received the baptism with the Holy Spirit on July 29, 1942, in Los Angeles at the church pastored by Raymond Harms.

Linzey was an enlisted sailor with the rate of Musician First Class, serving as First Clarinetist in the U.S. Navy Band aboard the USS Yorktown. He also served as a Radioman on the third deck. He became a World War II hero when the Yorktown was bombed, torpedoed, and sank during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Had it not been for the Yorktown, the war on the Pacific front would have been lost. Aboard the Yorktown, Stanford was nicknamed “The Deacon” for conducting Bible studies, witnessing among the sailors and officers, and teaching the Pentecostal message, which he learned from his wife, Verna.  

After the war, President Harry Truman sent Musician First Class Linzey a letter, stating, “As one of the Nation’s finest, you undertook the most severe task one can be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.” Also, General Omar N. Bradley, USA (Ret.), sent a letter to Stanford, stating, “I congratulate you upon completion of your service in the armed forces and for your part in bringing to a conclusion a two-front war which resulted in the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers.”

Pentecostal ministers who influenced Linzey’s early ministry, in addition to Verna and her family, included Raymond T. Richey and Raymond Harms. Stanford and Verna received ministerial credentials from the Assemblies of God in 1945. The following year, they pioneered the El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle, an Assemblies of God congregation in El Cajon, California, which they co-pastored.

Verna and Stanford Linzey, co-pastors of El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle (Assembly of God), El Cajon, California, circa late 1940s.

When Linzey re-entered the U.S. Navy as a chaplain in 1954, it was natural that he would ask for the endorsement of the Assemblies of God. He became not only the first active duty Navy Assemblies of God chaplain, but also the first active duty Pentecostal Navy chaplain. Further, he was the first Pentecostal Navy chaplain to attain the rank of Navy captain. He served as a Navy chaplain for 21 years, retiring in 1974.

Linzey received a B.A. and a Th.B. degree from Linda Vista Baptist College and Seminary (now Southern California Seminary) in El Cajon, California, a Master of Divinity degree from American Baptist Seminary of the West in Covina, California (now Berkley School of Theology in Berkley, California), and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He also studied at Harvard Divinity School as a resident graduate. He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in Religion, International Men of Achievement, and 5000 Personalities of the World.

Linzey and his wife, Verna, were an impressive couple. Verna, a pastor, crusade evangelist, television evangelist, songwriter, and author, was accomplished in her own right. Together, they had ten children, three of whom followed in their father’s footsteps and became military chaplains.

During his 20 years as a chaplain and afterward as an evangelist, Linzey taught widely on the Pentecostal message – in North America, Europe, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Venues included media outlets such as radio and television (including Trinity Broadcasting Network); Assemblies of God churches throughout the United States and some mainline Protestant churches; colleges such as Evangel College (now Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri), Southern California College (now Vanguard University of Southern California in Costa Mesa, California), Bethany Bible College (Santa Cruz, California); Bethel Bible Institute (Manilla, Philippines), and Far East Advanced School of Theology (now Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio, Philippines).

Linzey also guest lectured on various leadership topics at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN), Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA), California State University (Fullerton, CA), California State University (Long Beach, CA), the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa), Prairie Bible Institute (now Prairie Bible College, Three Hills, Alberta, Canada), and Asia Pacific Military Retreats in the Far East.

Linzey also spread the Pentecostal message as the keynote speaker for various civic organizations, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, Business Men’s Fellowship International, the Fellowship of Full Gospel Churches and Ministries International, Christian Servicemen’s Centers, and in the Navy as an enlisted sailor and as a chaplain. Due to his Pentecostal ministry as the Senior Chaplain of the USS Coral Sea, the Coral Sea was dubbed “The Pentecostal Ship.”

A prolific author, he wrote on the baptism with the Holy Spirit in his books: Pentecost in the Pentagon, The Holy Spirit in the Third Millennium, Baptism in the Spirit, and God Wat at Midway (later published under the title USS Yorktown at Midway); his pamphlet, Why I Believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit; and numerous articles published in Pentecostal Evangel, Pentecostal Messenger, Voice, Link, C.A. Herald, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Christian Times. Various articles on leadership were also published in such publications as Readers Digest, Sunday School Counselor, At Ease, Filling Your Boots (a leadership pamphlet he wrote), and Call to Prayer.

Chaplain Stanford Linzey delivers the invocation at Coronado Naval Base at the 60th Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender in World War II before President George W. Bush speaks. Photo taken by Chaplain (MAJ) James F. Linzey, USA (Ret.), August 28, 2005.

When Stanford Linzey, Jr. joined the Navy in 1938, he could not have imagined how his life would unfold. After his recommitment to Christ and marriage to Verna Hall, ministry became his primary focus. He broke new ground as the first Assemblies of God active duty Navy chaplain, he ministered as a chaplain and as an evangelist around the world, and he produced numerous written works. Now, with the Stanford Eugene Linzey, Jr. Collection accessible at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, future generations will be able to study his life, ministry, and legacy.

_________________

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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