From Azusa Street to Phoenix: The Methodist Pastor Who Pioneered Pentecost in Arizona

Samuel Scull (center), 1956

Samuel Scull (center), 1956

This Week in AG History — September 6, 1947
By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 September 2015

Samuel S. Scull (1863-1964), sometimes called “the father of Pentecost in Arizona,” recounted the early days of the Pentecostal revival in the September 6, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Scull, born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania in 1863, was ordained by the Methodist Church in Iowa in 1895. His pastoral ministry was cut short, however, when he became afflicted with tuberculosis. Upon the advice of his doctor, in 1903 he moved to Arizona, where he supported his family by selling fruit.

Despite his sickness, Scull felt he could not abandon his call to ministry. He became a leader at the Life Line Mission, a small Holiness congregation in Phoenix, when he heard reports in the summer of 1906 of the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles.

According to Scull, the news generated “great interest among spiritual people in Phoenix and vicinity.” In the summer of 1907, Scull made a pilgrimage to the Arroyo Seco camp meeting in Los Angeles to check out the emerging Pentecostal revival.

Recalling his visit, Scull wrote: “I was much prejudiced at first and disposed to be critical, and saw much that I did not like.” However, “the overwhelming sense of the presence of God” at the Pentecostal meetings caused him to overcome his initial skepticism. He wrote, “The very atmosphere seemed charged and the awe of God overshadowed all.” He continued, “I had never heard such raptured praise. I heard praise in many strange tongues, some interpreted by people who knew the language, but most in an unknown tongue interpreted in the same way as they were given; that is, by Spirit utterance. Soon I was thoroughly convinced of the genuineness of the work and realized that God was bringing us back to Pentecost of the upper room, and, as far as possible, renewing the power as of the early church.”

Scull witnessed miracles, which caused him to cast his lot with the Pentecostals: “The sick were healed, devils cast out, the lame walked, the blind received their sight. I saw that God was going that way and resolved to gladly follow Him, though I knew it would cost me much.”

Scull returned to Phoenix and shared what he had seen. Some at the mission did not want anything to do with the Pentecostal revival, and the mission soon disbanded. Ironically, Scull had not yet personally experienced Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

In December 1907, he traveled to Denver, where he met Maria Woodworth-Etter, the Holiness healing evangelist who would later embrace the Pentecostal message. She agreed to hold services for Scull in Phoenix. The meetings with Woodworth-Etter established the Pentecostal movement in Phoenix.

Scull recalled, “The meeting opened January 2, 1908, with about 75 present. The situation was peculiar. The pastor had not received the Pentecostal baptism, neither had the evangelist, and yet we were holding a Pentecostal meeting.” Scull continued, “The first Wednesday night a little girl fell under the power and lay for two hours lost to her surroundings. She came out speaking in one of the most beautiful tongues I ever heard. She had been in heaven and had wonderful things to tell of her experiences there. We needed no other advertising; they packed the house, standing room and all, and filled the street outside. For eight weeks the tide ran high. From 75 to 100 were saved and an equal number received the Pentecostal baptism, so wonderfully God wrought.”

According to Scull, “a great number of people were healed of all manner of diseases and infirmities; and Phoenix, then a small town, was profoundly moved. Our halls were filled with sinners and our altars drew many to seek the Lord.”

These spiritual victories brought opposition. Scull wrote, “Friends whom I had thought be tried and true, refused even to shake hands with me. The Methodist church, of which I was an official member, being an ordained elder, dropped me from its membership … we were egged at the altar and had to put heavy screen wire over the windows to keep from being maimed or killed by rocks weighing four or five pounds which were thrown through the windows. But the power and glory of God made these things seem of small concern.”

What can later generations learn from early Pentecostals in Arizona? Writing 40 years after the Azusa Street revival, Scull warned that the church will lose its “glory and power” unless it gets a “vision of a mightier Pentecost” and prays for a “fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

Read Scull’s article, “Pentecost Comes to Arizona,” in the September 6, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Holy Fire,” by John Wright Follette

• “A Divided House,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “The Last Prayer Meeting,” by Seth C. Rees

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

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