Billy Bray: The Lively Methodist Preacher With a Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

This Week in AG History — November 24, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 25 November 2020

Billy Bray (1794-1868), the fiery English Methodist preacher, spent the first 10 years of his adult life far away from God. A miner by trade, he was a drunkard and lived a riotous life. After narrowly escaping death in a mining accident in 1823, he began to think about eternal matters. After reading John Bunyan’s Visions of Heaven and Hell, he accepted Christ as his Lord, left behind his destructive ways, and became active in a Methodist church.

Billy Bray was an earnest young convert. He aimed to tell everyone he met about the gospel and how God changed his life. He soon became an evangelist and was known for his spontaneous outbursts of singing and dancing during his sermons. Few preachers of his era could equal his reputation for genuine joy and thanksgiving to God.

It was quite fitting, then, that the Pentecostal Evangel would publish an article about Bray for Thanksgiving in 1957. The article’s author, Raymond L. Cox (a noted educator with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel), used Bray’s testimony to illustrate why Christians should praise the Lord:

“Someone asked, ‘Billy Bray, why do you praise the Lord so much?’ The Cornish coal miner who had turned preacher eyed his questioner incredulously. Bray was astonished that such an inquiry should escape the lips of a Christian brother. ‘I bless the Lord constantly,’ he replied, ‘because my whole life is brightened by praising God.’ ‘But why must you do it aloud?’ queried the man. Billy answered, ‘I can’t help praising Him aloud. As I walk down the street. I lift up one foot, and it seems to say, ‘Glory!’ Then I lift up the other, and it seems to say, ‘Amen!’ And they keep on like that all the time I walk.’”

Cox recounted that Bray brought “his cheerful Christianity into the most desperate and dismal places.” He comforted those who were suffering and dying and spoke words of faith into situations that seemed hopeless. “The former Cornish coal miner was indeed a chronic praiser,” according to Cox. “The bells of blessing chimed constantly in the steeple of his soul. And often, although his voice was far from beautiful according to concert standards, Bray would be found going his way singing some hymn joyously and heartily.”

Billy Bray started life in a non-descript family of miners in England, but he ended life as a down-to-earth preacher who is remembered for bringing a joyful gospel message to countless thousands. The catalyst for his life-change was a near-death experience, which caused him to reassess his life priorities. He accepted Christ and spent the rest of his life cultivating a thankful heart that overflowed with praise.

Why should Christians praise the Lord? Cox suggested that the answer to this question is illustrated in the life of Billy Bray: “Praising God for our blessings extends them, Praising God for our troubles will end them.”

Read the article, “Why Praise the Lord?” by Raymond L. Cox, on pages 4 and 5 of the Nov. 24, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Elijah in a Cave,” by Ruth Stewart

• “A Lesson in Thanksgiving,” by Robert W. Cummings

• “The Greatest Gift,” by David W. Plank

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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Pinellas Park, Florida: First Home for Retired Assemblies of God Ministers

Residents at the Pinellas Park Home, circa 1950.

This Week in AG History —November 20, 1955

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 19 November 2020

Many are familiar with Maranatha Village Retirement Community in Springfield, Missouri, established in 1973. However, this was not the first time the Assemblies of God responded to the need to provide care for its retired ministers and missionaries.

In the early years of the Pentecostal movement, a strong belief in the imminent return of Christ sent ministers and missionaries into difficult places in the United States and around the world with the Pentecostal gospel message. Many of these ministers lived entirely by faith, with only enough to meet their daily needs. Their lives were spent for God with little thought to laying up materials things for their old age. Even for those who were in a position to prepare for retirement, their conviction that they were living in the last days led many of them to enter their later years with little life savings, investments, or death benefit insurance.

As early as 1933, the General Council recognized the need to provide assistance for aging ministers and widows of ministers who died without insurance or savings. A committee on pensions for retired ministers was formed and reported recommendations back to the 1935 General Council in session, which included the creation of a fellowship fund for retired ministers and a voluntary death benefit program. The retired ministers fund would be supported by donations and earnings from Gospel Publishing House and would be available to “needy ministers or their widows who have engaged in an active and approved ministry in the General Council fellowship for a period of 10 or more years.”

In 1946 it was recommended to the General Presbytery that the Assemblies of God establish a home for aged ministers who “have spent their strength and lives in the gospel ministry and now face their declining years with no place to go or without anyone to care for them.” This home became a reality in 1948 when the Pinellas Park Hotel was purchased. The hotel had 29 rooms, each equipped with two twin beds, and two furnished parlors in the warm and pleasant climate near St. Petersburg, Florida. Former General Secretary-Treasurer J. R. Evans, age 79, and his wife became the first residents.

An article, “Meet This Happy Family,” published in the Nov. 20, 1955, Pentecostal Evangel, introduced readers to some of the residents of the Pinellas Park Home. “They are pioneers of Pentecost, representing the first generation of full gospel ministers. They were mature men and women in the days when the Spirit was outpoured in Topeka, Los Angeles, and all around the world. They represent the evangelists who first brought the message of Acts 2:4 to the cities of America, the pastors who stuck it out through thick and thin to establish Pentecostal churches, the first missionaries our struggling Assemblies sponsored on the field.”

Residents at Pinellas Park were retired from the professional duties of the ministry, but not from ministry itself. They taught Sunday School in local churches, led Bible studies, provided for one another’s needs, and provided much of the maintenance of the home. On any given day, one could find missionaries who had once opened up nations for the Pentecostal message passing out tracts and witnessing in the community of St. Petersburg.

It was not long before a larger facility was needed and construction began on a new facility in Lakeland, Florida, adjacent to the campus of Southeastern Bible College (now Southeastern University). Bethany Retirement Home was dedicated in 1960 and served the needs of retired ministers and laypeople until 1972, when Southeastern needed the property for expansion.

Forty acres was purchased next to Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, for the construction of Maranatha Manor (now Maranatha Village Retirement Community). Residents, who all their lives had been on the move for the gospel, packed up and moved one more time. College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, provided private air transportation from Lakeland to Springfield, and the new residents of Maranatha Village arrived in May 1973.

The Pentecostal Evangel article, “Meet This Happy Family!” reminded readers that Sunday, Nov. 20, had been designated “Aged Ministers Assistance Sunday,” a time when Assemblies of God churches were asked to remember the aged ministers, missionaries, and their widows with a special offering.

Mothers and fathers of the faith taught many the way of salvation and Spirit-filled living, knowing that in their time of need, God would not fail them. Today that need remains. Aged Ministers Assistance (AMA) continues to provide a monthly stipend for those in need and Maranatha Village is now a 100-acre home for both ministers and laypeople living in Christian community.

Read the article “Meet This Happy Family!” on page 6 of the Nov. 20, 1955, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “This is God’s Will for You” by E.M. Wadsworth

• “Some Day We’ll Understand” by J.J. Krimmer

• “It Brings Miracles” by Zelma Argue

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 Second General Council and the Story Behind the Assemblies of God’s Commitment to Missions

Stone Church, Chicago, Illinois

This Week in AG History — November 14, 1914

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 12 November 2020

One hundred and six years ago, hundreds of Assemblies of God pastors, evangelists, and missionaries traveled to Chicago to attend the second General Council. Held Nov. 15-29, 1914, at the Stone Church, this meeting’s stated purpose was “to lay a firm foundation upon which to build the Assemblies of God.”

The Assemblies of God had been organized just seven months earlier in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The young Fellowship grew quickly as existing independent ministers joined its ranks. They appreciated the vision for fellowship, accountability, and structure, while maintaining the autonomy of the local congregation. This growth caused founding chairman E. N. Bell to call for a second meeting, in order to make urgent decisions about the future of the new organization.

The Stone Church, one of the largest Pentecostal congregations in America, could easily accommodate the expected 1,000 participants. Delegates to the meeting made several important structural changes. They decided to move the headquarters from Findlay, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, which would provide a more central location in a larger city. Delegates voted to expand the number of executive presbyters from 12 to 16, making the leadership more representative of the constituency. New leadership was also elected and Gospel Publishing House was authorized to expand its operations.

But the most far-reaching decision at the second General Council was one that was not on the original agenda. Assemblies of God leaders planned to take a missionary offering at the conclusion of the General Council. They had written articles encouraging people to bring money to give to missions. But the pastor of the Stone Church decided that the final offering should instead go to his own church, to help defray expenses related to hosting the council. Assemblies of God leaders, although frustrated with this turn of events, did not oppose the pastor’s request. Instead, they decided to issue a strongly-worded resolution in which they committed the Assemblies of God, from that point forward, to the cause of world evangelization. L. C. Hall drafted the resolution, which read:

“As a Council, we hereby express our gratitude to God for His great blessing upon the Movement in the past. We are grateful to Him for the results attending this forward Movement and we commit ourselves and the Movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen. We pledge our hearty cooperation, prayers, and help to this end.”

This iconic resolution, unanimously adopted by the delegates, has been widely quoted as illustrating how support for missions is part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God.

There is more to the story. In the spring of 1915, something shocking was discovered about the Stone Church pastor, R. L. Erickson, who had refused to let the offering go to missions. The May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel alerted readers that Erickson had been removed from the ministerial list due to moral failure. In a lengthy article, E. N. Bell detailed how Erickson’s “greed” was evidence of poor moral character, which also manifested itself in other harmful ways in his life and ministry. In Bell’s estimation, Erickson’s greed led him to take the offering meant for missions, which led to the adoption of the strong statement in support of missions. What Satan meant for harm, Bell wrote, God could turn into good. And 106 years later, the Assemblies of God remains committed to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”

Read the Nov. 14, 1914, issue of the Christian Evangel, which published the minutes from the first General Council and encouraged readers to attend the second General Council.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Work in Africa and Egypt,” by Frank M. Moll

• “The Unanswered Prayer,” by Harry Morse

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Also read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Outlook,” in which he details the events surrounding the adoption of the resolution regarding missions, on pages 3 and 4 of the May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

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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Kiyoma Yumiyama: Japan Assemblies of God Pioneer

Kiyoma Yumiyama and Thomas F. Zimmerman in the 1960s.

This Week in AG History — November 01, 1970

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 05 November 2020

Kiyoma Yumiyama (1900-2002) is one of the early heroes of the faith in Japan. He lived for more than a century, and he was one of the few people who witnessed the formational years when the American Assemblies of God (AG) began evangelizing in Japan before World War II. He also was a vibrant part of the founding and growth of the Japan AG after the war.

Carl F. Juergensen and his wife, Frederike, were the first American AG missionaries to Japan. They arrived in Japan in 1913, worked with existing Pentecostals, and soon joined the newly organized Fellowship. The Juergensens opened a gospel mission in Tokyo. Other AG missionaries, including their son, John Juergensen, and Barney Moore, Jessie Wengler, and Florence Byers, arrived a few years later.

Marie Juergesen, the oldest daughter of Carl and Frederike Juergensen, wrote a tribute to Kiyoma Yumiyama in the Pentecostal Evangel in November 1970. She reported that more than 50 years previously [now over 100 years ago], a man was selling New Testaments and Gospel portions in the streets and villages of the island of Shikoku in Japan. He also visited a prosperous-looking farmhouse, but the family refused the books. Noticing a high school boy in the home, he said: “I have an English Book here; would you like to study it?’ The young man, Kiyoma Yumiyama, purchased the Bible and read it earnestly.

Shortly after this, one of Yumiyama’s friends gathered his classmates on the high school grounds and “preached Christ” to them. This happened on several occasions, and Yumiyama was an attentive listener.

Several years later, Yumiyama was called to the bedside of his sister, who was dying. This caused him to ponder about what happens after death. Then he remembered the “Book.” He began reading it again and carried it with him as he walked the streets where he was attending medical college.

One day he noticed a sign that said, “Gospel Mission.” He went inside and found answers to his questioning heart. He gave his heart to Christ. Afterwards he read through the Bible several times and grew in his faith. He moved to Tokyo and continued his medical studies, but soon felt he needed to drop out to answer a call to ministry. When he did this, his family disowned him.

In 1923, Yumiyama visited the Tokyo Gospel Hall. He wanted to know what “Pentecost” meant. John and Esther Juergensen invited him to their home where they could talk more freely. He shared with them that he was a young Christian from the island of Shikoku who had recently come to Tokyo. He had left medical school against the wishes of his parents, and now he wanted to obey the call of God to preach the gospel.

Because of his questions about Pentecostalism, John and Esther showed him in the Bible about the promise of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He accepted this truth, and while praying, he was filled with the Holy Spirit in their living room. From that time on he remained at the forefront of Japan’s Pentecostal circle.

John and Esther Juergensen mentored him in his Christian walk. He spent days and months with them studying the Word of God and preaching the gospel. From 1925 to 1940, Yumiyama worked with Carl Juergensen. When the first Assemblies of God church was established in Japan in 1927, Kiyoma Yumiyama became its first pastor. He remained as pastor for 25 years, and the church was spared from destruction during the war when much of Tokyo was destroyed by bombs and fire.

When the Japan Assemblies of God was organized in 1949, he was a charter member and a key leader. He served for more than two decades as general superintendent (1949-1973) and was the first president of Central Bible College in Tokyo, a position he held for more than four decades (1950-1992).

Through his many years of service as a pastor, superintendent of the Japan Assemblies of God, and president of Central Bible College, Kiyoma Yumiyama made a lasting positive impact in Japan.

Read “A Man Chosen of God” on pages 8-9 of the Nov. 1, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Harvest in View,” by Judith Bacon

• “The Man of Sin and His Woman,” by C. M. Ward

• “A Mixed Multitude in the Church,” by Bond P. Bowman

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 Wannenmacher’s Healing: How a Gifted Violinist became an Assemblies of God Pioneer

This Week in AG History — October 29, 1949

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 29 October 2020

As a young man, Joseph P. Wannenmacher (1895-1989) was a rising star in the Milwaukee musical scene. But a miraculous healing in a small storefront mission in 1917 forever changed his life, and he went on to become a well-loved Assemblies of God pioneer pastor. He shared his powerful testimony in the Oct. 29, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Like many other Milwaukee residents, Wannenmacher was an immigrant. He was born in Buzias, Hungary, to a family that was ethnically German and Hungarian. The Wannenmachers moved to Milwaukee in 1903, but his father was unable to adapt to American ways so they returned to Hungary after 10 months. In 1909, they returned to Milwaukee to stay.

From an early age, music helped define Joseph Wannenmacher’s life. In Hungary, he was surrounded by some of the nation’s best musicians and became a noted violinist. In Milwaukee, at age 18 he organized and conducted the Hungarian Royal Gypsy Orchestra (named after a similar group in his homeland), which performed at many of the region’s top entertainment venues.

Wannenmacher seemed to have it all. He could afford fashionable clothing, a gold watch, and diamond-studded jewelry. But underneath his successful veneer, Wannenmacher was haunted by his own human frailties.

Wannenmacher knew that he was dying a slow, painful death. His flesh would swell, develop blisters, and rot. Doctors diagnosed his condition as bone consumption. His sister had already died of the same malady. Anger boiled up in Wannenmacher as he grappled with the unfairness of life. He developed a sharp temper and, try as he might, he could not find peace.

Wannenmacher was raised in a devout Catholic home, so he turned to his faith to help him deal with his physical pain and bitterness. He frequently attended church and offered penance, but these practices did not seem to help.

He then turned to Luther’s German translation of the Bible, which someone had given to him, and began reading it voraciously. In its pages he discovered things he had never heard before. He read about Christ’s second coming, salvation by faith, and Christ’s power to heal. Perhaps most importantly, he learned that God is love. Up until that point, he had conceived of God as “Someone away up there with a long beard and a big club just waiting to beat me up.” But then, at age 18, he began to discover the gospel for himself.

In the midst of this spiritual awakening, Wannenmacher’s health was weakening. He could barely hold his violin bow in his hand, and the pain was almost unbearable. Then one morning in 1917 he heard about a group of German-speaking Pentecostals who prayed for the sick. The next service was scheduled for that afternoon, and Wannenmacher made a beeline for it. He wrote, “It was a dilapidated place, but the sweet presence of God was there.”

The small band of believers had been fasting and praying that God would send someone who was in need of salvation and healing. The service was unlike anything Wannenmacher had ever seen before. He watched the people get on their knees and cry out to God. Their outpouring of genuine faith moved Joseph’s heart.

The pastor, Hugo Ulrich, preached that sinners could be saved simply by trusting in Christ. It seemed too good to be true, Wannenmacher thought. Faith then came into his heart, and he started laughing for joy. The pastor thought Wannenmacher was mocking him, but Wannenmacher didn’t care. At the end of the service, Wannenmacher came forward to the altar and experienced a powerful encounter with God.

Wannenmacher described his time at the altar: “the power of God just struck me and shook for fully half an hour…the more His Spirit operated through my bones, through my muscles, through my being, the hotter I became. The more God’s power surged through me, the more I perspired. The Lord simply operated on that poor, diseased body of mine.”

He described this experience as being in the “operating room” of God. Later in the service, as he knelt at the altar rail in silent prayer, it seemed like heaven came down. He recalled, “As I waited there in God’s presence … [God’s] hands went down my body from head to toe, and every spirit of infirmity had to go. I got up, and I was a new man.”

A few days later, Wannenmacher was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He soon launched into gospel ministry and shared his testimony wherever he went. He played his violin and sang gospel songs during the lunch hour at the Harley Davidson plant, where he sometimes worked. He testified about his healing in hospitals, street corners, and other places. Everywhere he went, he prayed with people, and many accepted Christ and were healed. Wannenmacher’s family jokingly referred to his violin as the “healing violin,” because numerous people experienced healing as he played songs such as “The Heavenly City.”

In 1921 he married Helen Innes and started Full Gospel Church in Milwaukee. He went on to found six additional daughter churches in the area. He also served as the first superintendent of the Hungarian Branch of the Assemblies of God, which was organized in 1944 for Hungarian immigrants to America. After pastoring Full Gospel Church (renamed Calvary Assembly of God in 1944) for 39 years, he retired in 1960.

Throughout his ministry, Wannenmacher emphasized the importance of the Word of God. In his Pentecostal Evangel article, Wannenmacher compared reading the Bible to the mastery of music. “You have to practice and play music over and over again before you have mastered it,” he wrote, “and you have to apply yourself to those wonderful teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, too, in order to make them yours.”

While Joseph Wannenmacher went to be with the Lord in 1989, his legacy lives on in the churches he founded and in the people whose lives he touched. Calvary AG is continuing to reach people in the Milwaukee area and was renamed Honey Creek Church in 2015. Joseph and Helen’s three children, John, Philip, and Lois (Graber), were involved in Assemblies of God ministries. Philip served as pastor of Central Assembly of God (Springfield, Missouri) from 1970 to 1995. Philip’s daughter, Beth Carroll, serves as director of Human Resources at the Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center. On the floor just above Beth’s office, Joseph’s “healing violin” is on display in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center museum.

Joseph Wannenmacher’s story reminds believers that history never really disappears. People, events, and themes from the past tend to resurface in the present, but it often takes discernment to see them. God radically transformed Joseph Wannenmacher’s heart and healed his body, and the world has never been the same.

Read Joseph P. Wannenmacher’s article, “When God’s Love Came In,” on pages 2-3 and 11-13 of the Oct. 29, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Life’s Supreme Objective,” by D. M. Carlson

• “Ministering to the Needy,” by J. H. Boyce

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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Cordas C. Burnett: Pioneer Assemblies of God Educator

Cordas C. Burnett, Wesley R. Steelberg, and J. Roswell Flower, circa 1950s.

This Week in AG History — October 21, 1951

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 2 October 2020

Cordas C. Burnett (1917-1975) served the Assemblies of God as an evangelist and pastor; however, he is most remembered for his passion for the education of the ministers and constituents of the Movement.

After graduating from high school in Granite City, Illinois, Burnett felt that he needed more education to serve God and his church. He began preaching while still in high school and served as a pastor in Carrollton, Illinois, while only 18 years old. Knowing his skills needed honing, he enrolled at Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri, in 1936 and sought his ordination with the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God in 1937.

After completing a year at CBI, Burnett returned to the pastorate in Illinois and took classes at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, finally completing his bachelor’s degree cum laude at DePaul University in Chicago. He later did graduate work at Washington University in St. Louis.

While pastoring in Chicago, Burnett received an invitation to return to CBI in 1948 as an instructor and later as vice president from 1954 to 1958. In 1959, he was appointed to serve as secretary of education for the Assemblies of God. When the position of president at Bethany Bible College in Santa Cruz became open, Burnett and his wife, Dorothy, received the call to move to California.

Along with his work in the pastorate and educational institutions, Burnett also served the larger evangelical movement in influential leadership positions, including 25 years as field secretary for the American Bible Society and 17 years as convention chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals.

When the Assemblies of God created its first solely post-graduate institution, the Assemblies of God Graduate School (now Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) in Springfield, Missouri, the executive presbytery called on Burnett in 1972 to return to Springfield to provide leadership for the new school as executive vice president. He provided a guiding influence to this work until his death in 1975 at age 58.

In 1951, during his tenure as an instructor at CBI, Burnett addressed the General Council held in Atlanta, Georgia. He shared his concern that young Pentecostals, in their academic pursuits, were facing questions arising from theological modernism, including higher criticism, theological liberalism, and neo-orthodoxy. His address, titled “Four Foundations for our Faith,” was published in the Oct. 21, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Burnett told the leaders of the Assemblies of God that “young people have gone out from our assemblies to attend some institutions of higher learning and have come back dazed and uncertain as to where they stand and what they believe. We must have an answer for them.”

Burnett proposed that the answer these students needed was “found in a living Pentecostal faith which, undergirded by four tremendous foundation stones, stands tonight for all to see.” A vibrant Pentecostal testimony, he asserted, provides an alternative to atheism, theological liberalism, and neo-orthodoxy, which were prevalent in theological training schools through the writings of thinkers like Bertrand Russell, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Julian Huxley.

Addressing the preachers, pastors, and educators of the Assemblies of God, Burnett insisted that Pentecostal young people must be grounded with sound arguments in these four areas: the inviolability of the human soul (man is more than just a physical combination of chemicals and that death is not the end of life); the infallibility of the Bible (a refusal to make the Bible a simple fetish, but to reasonably defend it as the authoritative rule of faith and conduct); the irrefutability of Christ’s deity (the logical reasonableness of Jesus’ claim to divinity); and the incontestability of His resurrection (a defense of the literal bodily resurrection of Christ). Burnett believed that Pentecostal churches must teach these four points to their students in order to prepare them with an answer to the questions of the age.

Burnett’s commitment to these theological foundations led General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman to say, upon Burnett’s death, that “through his efforts many significant steps of advancement have been made, both innovative and substantial in meeting the educational needs of the many ministers who have attended Assemblies of God educational institutions.”

Today his name is memorialized at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary through the Cordas C. Burnett Center for Biblical Preaching and the Burnett Library, which provides more than 130,000 scholarly resources for its students.

Read C. C. Burnett’s address, “Four Foundations for our Faith,” on page 3 of the Oct. 21, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Making True Disciples” by Robert W. Cummings
• “Thousands – then Twelve” by Donald Gee
• “Has the Cuban Revival Been a ‘Mushroom’ Revival?” by James W. Nicholson

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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Maria Woodworth-Etter and the Salt Lake City Revival of 1916

This Week in AG History — October 14, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 15 October 2020

Few early Pentecostal evangelists were as widely known as Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924). She traversed North America, holding services in large churches, auditoriums, and tents. Reports of revivals, including souls saved and bodies healed, regularly followed her ministry. People from a variety of backgrounds, including many non-Pentecostals, crowded into her meetings. Many heard about her reputation and sought to be healed.

Woodworth-Etter held an evangelistic campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 1916. The Pentecostal Evangel issue dated Oct. 7 and 14 promoted the campaign, which began on Oct. 6 and which was expected to continue three weeks or longer. Campaign planners rented an auditorium that seated 1,100, expecting to draw attendees from as far away as Denver, San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles.

The article noted that the Assembly of God mission in Salt Lake City was small. It had been opened just two years earlier, in August 1914. Several Assemblies of God evangelists, including Samuel and Sadie Finley, Robert Lowe, and Philip and Catherine Stokeley, helped develop the fledgling flock. Their hearts were drawn toward establishing a ministry of compassion. According to an Oct. 24, 1914, Pentecostal Evangel article, they desired to start a “Rescue Home for fallen girls.” They were unaware of the existence of any similar ministry in the city.

It was with the help of these local leaders in Salt Lake City that Woodworth-Etter began her 1916 campaign. Several weeks into the campaign, Woodworth-Etter’s associate August Feick reported that “there is much interest over a good part of this city.” According to Feick, “Many people are under deep conviction, and people surrender daily to God and get saved. Others again get healed and baptized with the Spirit.” The meetings were held in an auditorium that was a regular venue for boxing matches. Feick wrote, “On the same mat where prize fights are staged — stained with blood — sinners weep their way through to God, and saints receive their baptism.”

Feick reported a deeply spiritual atmosphere, noting that some participants could sense the glory of God present in the auditorium. Others saw a “peculiar mist” in the building, and several had visions of Jesus and angels. Bodily healings convinced many of the reality of the Pentecostal message. Feick explained that these healings were “proof” of the gospel that could not be denied.

These early meetings, over 100 years ago, helped to lay the foundation for the 15 Assemblies of God churches that today share the gospel in Salt Lake City.

Read reports of Maria Woodworth-Etter’s evangelistic 1916 campaign in Salt Lake City in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

October 7-14, 1916 (page 13).

November 4, 1916 (page 15).

Also featured in these issues:

• “Putting the Enemy to Flight,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “What it Costs to be a Missionary,” by Jessie Hertslet

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Charles Elmo Robinson: Early Assemblies of God Lawyer, Minister, and Author

This Week in AG History — October 09, 1926

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 08 October 2020

Charles Elmo Robinson (1867-1954) is one of the unsung leaders of the early Pentecostal movement. He was a minister, a lawyer, and for 22 years (1925-1947) the associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Born in Adrian, Michigan, and raised near Lamar, Missouri, Charles Elmo Robinson was converted at age 17 and began preaching in local Methodist churches. He attended law school in Washington, D.C., and passed the bar when he was 21. He practiced law with his father in Kansas City for several years before going into full-time gospel ministry. He married Mollie Cole in 1889, and they had several children.

Robinson’s wife contracted tuberculosis in 1899 and was not expected to live. After Robinson read testimonies of healing in the Leaves of Healing publication, he convinced her to go to Zion, Illinois, where she received healing through the ministry of John Alexander Dowie. The next year, Robinson decided to move with his family to Zion, where he was ordained by Dowie in 1902. In about 1905 his first wife died, and then he married Daisy Woolery in 1907, who also had been a member of Dowie’s church.

Robinson received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and became an Assemblies of God minister, pastoring a number of churches in Arkansas. He was ordained by the Arkansas District Council of the Assemblies of God in 1922.

He was serving as secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas district when he accepted a call to move to Springfield, Missouri, to become associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. In addition to his duties in the Evangel office, he served as a consulting attorney at the Assemblies of God national offices.

Robinson was highly respected for his sweet humility and simple faith. He loved people and was a friend to the poor and a support to the weak. His coworkers at the Gospel Publishing House called him “Daddy” Robinson. He seldom shouted, but he had a very close relationship with Christ and would speak to God in prayer as if he was speaking to a friend across the desk. One friend said, “You could not be around ‘Daddy’ Robinson for five minutes without knowing he was a real Christian.”

His prolific writings, in addition to articles in the Pentecostal Evangel and other publications, included books on Christian living, children’s books, tracts, etc.

He wrote a at least 17 books, of which Praying to Change Things is probably the best known. He also wrote Broken Ties, God and His Bible, God’s Mysteries Made Known, His Glorious Church, Guided Hearts, The Governor’s Choice (a historical romance), Lifted Shadows, The Marital Relation, A Modern Pentecost, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, The Winning of Aliene, and Victory! Significantly, evangelical publisher Zondervan published several of his books in the 1930s and 1940s, at a time when it was unusual for major evangelical publishers to promote Pentecostal authors.

His children’s books, such as The Adventures of Keo the Colt, have likewise had a wide circulation. Other children’s books he wrote include: The Adventures of Blacky the Wasp, The Adventures of Hush-Wing the Owl, The Adventures of Sally Cottontail, The Gnat’s Lifeboat and Other Stories, The Hilly Billy, and The Not-Ashamed Club.

He also wrote a number of gospel tracts, including “Are You Sick?” “How God Heals,” “Is Pentecost a New Religion?” etc. In addition, he wrote several articles in Sunday School literature and Christ’s Ambassadors Herald under the pen name of “Rajoma.”

After his retirement as associate editor in 1947, Robinson continued in Bible-teaching ministry in local Assemblies in various parts of the nation until ill health kept him from traveling. His wife, known as “Mother” Robinson, had a successful ministry as a prison chaplain and evangelist. She had a “near-death” experience where she felt the Lord speak to her to begin ministering to prisoners. In about 1931 she began holding services for inmates in the county jail in Springfield, Missouri. She was assisted by students from Central Bible Institute. She also ministered to prisoners at the Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City for many years before retiring. Charles Elmo Robinson and his wife are buried in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri.

Robinson wrote a series of articles in the Pentecostal Evangel called “Homely Things from a Pastor’s Diary” in which he shared personal aspects of his life in a diary format. Most of these columns he wrote for the Pentecostal Evangel were later published in another book he wrote called A Pastor’s Diary (1937). In these pastor’s sketches, Robinson gives a picture of what it is like to be a pastor. Daily activities for a pastor can include counseling, personal prayer, prayer for the sick, and answers to prayer. A pastor may also deal with personal struggles as well as conflicts in general.

Read “Homely Things from a Pastor’s Diary” on page 6 of the Oct. 9, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Resurrection of the Roman Empire,” by D. M. Panton

• “Division Among Them,” by Robert A. Brown

• “Missionary Value of Gospel Literature,” by William M. Faux

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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Chi Alpha: Birthed with a Vision for Student-Led Spiritual Renewal

This Week in AG History — October 2, 1955

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 01 October 2020

College campuses birthed many of the world’s great Christian revival and reform movements. This fact was not lost on J. Calvin Holsinger, who pioneered Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God ministry to college students.

In a Pentecostal Evangel article published 65 years ago, Holsinger recounted how Martin Luther, a professor at Wittenberg University, helped to spark the 16th century Protestant Reformation. He also noted that the great Methodist revival of the 18th and 19th centuries began when John Wesley, an Oxford University professor, gathered students for prayer and Bible study. The students in this “Holy Club,” as it came to be called, helped to spread revival across England and, ultimately, around the world.

Even the 20th century Pentecostal movement, Holsinger observed, had origins on a college campus. When students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, gathered in 1900 to study the Book of Acts, they experienced a profound spiritual outpouring that helped to birth the worldwide Pentecostal movement.

Why should the Assemblies of God support ministries to college students? To Holsinger, the answer to this question was obvious: history shows that students led many of the greatest revival movements. He asked, “It has been true in the past; why not today?”

Holsinger, at the time, was a professor at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, and served as campus adviser for the National Christ’s Ambassadors Department, which was the youth organization of the Assemblies of God. He also led a college ministry at Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University), one of a handful of AG campus ministries at non-Assemblies of God schools around the nation.

In 1953, Holsinger began developing plans for a national AG campus ministry at non-Assemblies of God schools. He developed manuals that defined the new organization’s purpose and mission, and he conceived a name — Chi Alpha. In 1955, the fledgling national campus ministry featured three services to college students: a Campus Ambassador magazine offered free to all Assemblies of God college students; local chapters on college campuses; and college chaplains.

By 2020, Chi Alpha had grown to 296 active chapters on campuses in the United States, served by over 1,500 affiliated staff. Chi Alpha is now the fourth-largest evangelical campus organization in the United States, after Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Read the article by J. Calvin Holsinger, “A Campus Witness,” on pages 17 and 20 of the Oct. 2, 1955, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Witnessing of the Acts 1:8 Variety,” by Robert L. Brandt

• “Witch Doctor Saved!” by John L. Franklin.

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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William Upshaw’s Healing: Former Congressman and Presidential Candidate Discards Crutches After 59 Years

This Week in AG History — September 23, 1951

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 24 September 2020

U.S. Congressman William D. Upshaw (1866-1952), one of the best-known physically disabled American politicians of his era, was healed in a 1951 Pentecostal revival meeting.

Upshaw was a well-known figure in American politics. The Georgia Democrat served four terms in Congress (1919-1927) and was a leading proponent of the temperance movement. He even ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932. His inability to walk without crutches did not prevent him from a life of public service.

Then, near the end of his life, something amazing happened. Upshaw testified that, at age 84, he was miraculously healed on Feb. 8, 1951, in a revival service conducted by Pentecostal evangelists William Branham and Ern Baxter. He was able to walk unassisted for the first time in 59 years, discarding his crutches. His testimony of healing was published 65 years ago in the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Upshaw related the story of the accident that led to his spinal injury and years of disability: “When I was 18 years old I fell on a crosspiece in a wagon frame, fracturing my spine.” After the accident, he was bedridden for seven years, and then for the next 59 years he was able to walk with the aid of crutches.

He longed to be instantly healed. “Every time I prayed to be immediately healed,” he wrote, “the Lord seemed to say to me, ‘Not yet! I am going to do something through you in this condition that could not be done otherwise — leave it to Me!’”

Throughout the years, Upshaw made this his motto: “Let nothing discourage you — never give up.” And he didn’t.

In an era when people with physical disabilities often had very limited opportunities, he became a noted politician and public speaker. When he ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932, he received 81,869 votes. Interestingly, he lost to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also physically disabled. While Roosevelt hid his inability to walk from the public, Upshaw did not.

Moving to California later in life, Upshaw became vice president and a faculty member of Linda Vista Bible College in San Diego. At age 72, he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he continued to speak and preach across the nation.

In his 1951 testimony, Upshaw wrote that two years earlier he was healed of cancer on his face after Assemblies of God evangelist Wilbur Ogilvie had prayed for him. With his faith inspired, Upshaw continued to pray for faith to walk unassisted.

Upshaw noted that when he walked into the 1951 Pentecostal meeting where he was healed, he was “leaning on my crutches that had been my ‘buddies,’ my inseparable companions, for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple.” During concerted prayer at the end of the service, the evangelist declared: “the Congressman is healed.” Upshaw recalled that, after the service, “I walked out that night leaving my crutches on the platform, a song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the shouts of victory from those who thronged about me.”

After 66 years, William Upshaw was healed!

Read the article, “84-Year Old Cripple Discards Crutches,” on page 12 of the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ministry of Tears,” by Arne Vick

• “Tested but Triumphant,” by J. A. Synan

• “The General Council at a Glance”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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