The Sparkling Fountain, by Fred T. Corum and Hazel E. Bakewell. Windsor, OH: Corum & Associates, Inc., 1989, c1983.
The Sparkling Fountain is a 278-page book with eyewitness accounts of the beginning of Pentecostalism in the Ozarks. The book was started by Fred T. Corum and his sister Hazel E. Bakewell. Then James and Kenneth Corum, sons of Fred Corum, helped to preserve this slice of history and see it through to production. First marketed in 1983, it is offered again on the 100th anniversary of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri.
The Azusa Street Mission story is recapped in beginning chapters, but for our purpose here the story begins in 1905 when Fred and Hazel moved to the Ozarks from Oklahoma with their parents, James and Lillie Harper Corum.
James and Lillie were never credentialed ministers but are considered the pioneers of Pentecost in Springfield — holding together a nucleus for several years until a church was set in order. I have an idea many other lay people throughout our history deserve special recognition for beginning and/or keeping local congregations together (including unfortunate splits) until a pastor assumed the leadership.
The Corums soon became active in a Baptist church where Mr. Corum served as Sunday school superintendent. But in the fall of 1906 they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring and became interested. Then in May 1907 they were introduced to this new experience which would dramatically put their lives on a new course.
It all started when a former Free Methodist evangelist, Rachel Sizelove — who was Mrs. Corum’s sister — dropped a bombshell in the Corum home when she came calling, straight from the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles.
Fred, who was 7 years old at the time, remembered it well. “I saw my Aunt Rachel step through our doorway. Her face was aglow and her countenance was radiant. Her hands were uplifted, and she was speaking in a heavenly language.” Later that night the Los Angeles visitor began telling the Corums and several curious neighbors about the revival fires in California. Rachel Sizelove was no stranger to the Ozarks since she and her husband had ministered here with the Free Methodists. Now her dynamic Pentecostal testimony and intense Bible study sent several people to their knees in an old-fashioned tarrying meeting.
In the wee hours of the next morning Fred and Hazel were startled to hear their mother’s voice rise above the others in singing and praising God — in tongues.
Lillie Corum had just become the first known Springfieldian to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
And she was certain her Baptist pastor would be no less excited than she when he would hear about God’s moving in the Corum house on East Division Street. The Baptist church would probably call a tarrying meeting.
How disappointed she became.
The pastor scoffed at Lillie’s experience and instructed her to remain quiet about this Pentecostal “heresy.” Ten-year-old Hazel, who sat through the discussion, would never forget her mother’s pained expression at the pastor’s cruel reaction.
Standing with his wife on the matter, Mr. Corum resigned as Sunday school superintendent, and the family left the church.
There were no established Pentecostal congregations within 75 miles (by this time Charles Parham, the Topeka leader had established his home base in Baxter Springs, Kansas, just across the Missouri border). Consequently, a small group of believers began meeting at the Corum house.
It was anything but easy, what with opposition from the organized churches and persecution from unbelievers. But the Corums and a “despised few” doggedly held to their convictions.
They didn’t know it then, but this little band was planting the seeds for what is now Central Assembly, the mother church in Springfield.
A vision, which later became well known and associated with the Assemblies of God, was reported in Rachel Sizelove’s return to Springfield in 1913, some 7 months before the AG organized in Hot Springs. While waiting in prayer, Rachel saw a fountain in Springfield which “sprang up gradually but irresistibly” toward all four points of the compass.
Later when the AG moved its headquarters and the Gospel Publishing House to Springfield, in the minds of church members Rachel Sizelove’s vision had “Assemblies of God” written all over it.
The Sparkling Fountain not only records the Springfield Pentecostal history through memories of two eyewitnesses but also relates happenings such as the mighty Thayer, Missouri, revival in 1909.
And there are vignettes, along with many photographs, of some of the people God used: Mother Mary Barnes, Harry Bowley, Bennett Lawrence, E. N. Bell, Joe Duke (who was raised from the dead), Bert Edward Williams, Sister Amanda Benedict, Frank Bartleman, Martha Childers Humbard, numerous evangelists, and many others.
It is well worth the money.
Reviewed by Wayne Warner
Paperback, 278 pages, illustrated. $12.00 plus shipping. To order, contact the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center by phone: 877-840-5200 (toll-free), or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book Review, Pentecostalism, Biography, History, Evangelists, Assemblies of God, Azusa Street, Thayer Revival, Fred T. Corum, Hazel E. Bakewell