Early Assemblies of God Schools: Training for Life and Service

Pages from 1917_11_17
This Week in AG History–November 17, 1917
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 18 Nov 2014 – 10:13 AM CST

From the outset, the Assemblies of God promoted the development of educational institutions. The fifth purpose of the “Call to Hot Springs” (the open invitation to Pentecostals to organize what became the Assemblies of God) was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries and roughly corresponds to a “liberal arts school” today. The Assemblies of God was formed, in part, to encourage both ministerial training and liberal arts education.

Initially, the Assemblies of God endorsed several small regional schools. Delegates to the first general council in April 1914 unanimously adopted a resolution that endorsed two schools – one Bible school (The Gospel School, Findlay, Ohio) and one literary school (Neshoba Holiness School, Union, Mississippi). The Ohio school trained ministers and the Mississippi school was a high school that included both liberal arts and technical education.

Assemblies of God leaders recognized the need to train their young people for life and service. In a September 1915 Word and Witness article encouraging parents to send their children to Ozark Bible and Literary School, D. C. O. Opperman wrote:

“Parents! Think of getting your Children out of the corruption of the public schools into a clean good school where God is honored, under teachers, who not only are real instructors, but who love and serve God, are consecrated, Spirit-filled and are thoroughly in love with their work. The teachers that God is sending are not the cheap, shoddy, no account class, they are able, gifted, college bred, experienced, and sent of God. Praise Him! The school itself, we believe is a plan of God, and is a part of His eternal purpose.”

Both the Ohio and Mississippi schools were short-lived. The Assemblies of God endorsement of the Neshoba Holiness School lasted until 1915, when its principal, R. B. Chisolm, left to start a new school, Ozark Bible and Literary School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The endorsement of The Gospel School lasted until 1917, when that school merged into Mount Tabor Bible Training School, located in Chicago. The Assemblies of God endorsed each of the successor institutions, which it encouraged its young people to attend.

The November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel published an article about Mount Tabor Bible Training School, which was sponsored by Bethel Temple, a large Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago. A photograph of the church’s impressive stone edifice accompanied the article, noting that the school’s urban location provided numerous opportunities for employment and ministry. Practical ministry opportunities abounded: “Missions, Bible Classes in private homes, teaching in Sunday Schools, street work, hospitals, prisons and other institutions, rescue work, visiting the sick and others in need, and in any other ministry to which a door may be opened.”

Mount Tabor was “a school where the entire Bible is believed and taught,” according to the article. Furthermore, “No fads, nor new issues” were welcome at the school. This was a clear to reference to the anti-Trinitarian teachings (also called “New Issue” or Oneness) that caused a large number of ministers to leave the Assemblies of God the previous year. Assemblies of God schools, from the earliest years of the Fellowship, provided young people and budding ministers with balanced biblical education and practical experience in ministry.

Read the article, ” Mount Tabor Bible Training School” on pages 15 and 16 of the November 17, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Sad Effects of the War on the Persian Pentecostal Saints,” by Andrew Urshan

* “Open Doors in Mexico,” by Alice E. Luce

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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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