Category Archives: Church

Edith Mae Pennington: The Beauty Queen Who Traded Hollywood for a Pentecostal Pulpit

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This Week in AG History–July 4 and 11, 1931
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 02 July 2015

Edith Mae Pennington (1902-1970) traded the glamour and fame of Hollywood for a Pentecostal pulpit. Her testimony, published in 1931 in the Pentecostal Evangel, shared her journey from small town America to Hollywood and back again.

Reared in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Edith had accepted Christ at a young age in her family’s evangelical church. By high school, she had become a ravishing young woman and lost interest in spiritual things. She enjoyed popularity and, she wrote, “the love of the world gripped my heart.” She spent her youth going to dances and engaging in the frivolities of the world. She did not intentionally reject God but nonetheless drifted away from her faith.

After high school, Edith attended college. She intended to become a teacher but soon found herself on another path. She entered a beauty pageant in 1921 and beat out 7,000 other young women to capture the title, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States.”

Edith’s life would never be the same. Gifts and money were showered upon her, and she received numerous invitations to speak at luncheons and christen buildings and public works projects. “I was dined and feted, flattered and honored,” she recalled. She wore expensive clothing, had a car and chauffeur, and regularly made guest appearances at theaters.

Even though Edith seemed to have everything, she felt empty on the inside. “It was very exciting, alluring, inviting — yet it did not satisfy,” she wrote. During her travels across America, she decided to try the screen rather than the stage. She settled in Hollywood, hoping for a change.

Edith’s mother was her constant companion, helping to protect her and line up events. But her mother’s most important work, perhaps, was accomplished in the prayer closet. Edith noted, “Mother would be behind the curtain praying for me at my request and her desire — for God to help me and not let me make any mistakes.”

These prayers were soon answered, but not before witnessing the depravity of Hollywood. Edith appeared in several motion pictures, but became increasingly “shocked” at the “wicked world” surrounding her. “I was horrified at the immorality and the things I witnessed,” she wrote, noting that she had “several narrow escapes which frightened me.” She realized that her hopes for fame and fortune had been misplaced. “My air castles shattered at my feet,” she cried.

In her despair, Edith turned to God. She began attending church and heard the gospel preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. She felt conviction for her sins and “awakened to the startling realization that I was a sinner, lost and undone.” She began to read the Bible, which seemed to make everything “brighter” and her “soul lighter.” However, she hesitated to make the decision to become a true follower of Christ.

Edith knew that she would have to leave her lifestyle behind if she recommitted herself to Christ. She understood that there would need to be a parting of ways: “One way led to a career, fame, and fortune, but there was sin, the world, and a lost soul at the end. The other way revealed the Cross, and Jesus the Saviour who had died for me that peace, joy, and forgiveness might be mine.”

Initially, Edith tried to have both God and the world. She went to church and also went to theaters and parties where sin abounded and where God was dishonored. She was miserable and ultimately recognized that she needed “deliverance from the bondage of the world.”

She visited churches that she described as “nominal,” and they were unable to help her find victory from her bondage to sin. She knew she wanted to live for the Lord, but she could not seem to separate herself from the destructive paths of the world. She experienced painful cognitive dissonance. She liked dressing like a Hollywood starlet, but deep inside she knew that she could not serve both God and flesh.

Finally, Edith decided to visit a Pentecostal church. She had heard that Pentecostal churches believed in the power of God. And Edith knew that she needed God’s power. She attended several Sunday evening services at a Pentecostal church in Los Angeles in October 1925. One evening, after a message in tongues seemed to be a direct rebuke from God, she ran to the altar and fully surrendered her life to God. She began to weep uncontrollably and then experienced unexplainable peace and quietness. She recalled, “I was happy, and felt so free, so light, so clean.”

The next night Edith returned to church. This time, she decided not to wear her characteristically gaudy jewelry. She received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and felt God call her to preach the gospel. Edith returned to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where, in 1930, she became the pastor of the Assemblies of God congregation.

Edith Mae Pennington spent the rest of her life in ministry as a pastor and noted evangelist. Throngs of people would come to hear “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States” share how she left the lights of Hollywood for the light of the cross. Edith’s decision to forsake the world and to follow Christ changed the course of not only her life, but thousands of others.

Read the article by Edith Mae Pennington, “From the Footlights to the Light of the Cross,” published serially in the July 4, 1931, and July 11, 1931, issues of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in the July 4, 1931, issue:

• “The Overflowing Stream,” by P. C. Nelson

• “Is Life Worth Living?” by Myer Pearlman

And many more!

Click these links to read the July 4th and July 11th issues 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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How Compassion Ministries and Miracles Fueled Growth in the Assemblies of God in India

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This Week in AG History–June 20, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 18 June 2015

The Assemblies of God, from its earliest years, has been ministering the gospel in word and deed around the world. The June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the work of an early Assemblies of God mission located in Nawabganj, a city in northern India near the border of Nepal, which operated ministries to help the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged of India.

A boys’ school at the Nawabganj mission rescued street children and nourished their souls, bodies, and minds. The school, equipped with modern living quarters for about seventy boys, provided a safe, healthy environment and “intellectual and practical training.” Technical training included weaving, carpentry and machine work in the school’s “industrial department.”

The mission also ministered to those affected by the contagious, skin-eating disease of leprosy. While the broader society often rejected lepers, the mission attempted to affirm their dignity as humans and provided them with physical comfort and the hope of eternal life with Christ.

The mission’s work among women was termed “zenana” — an Urdu word referring to women. Women missionaries ministered to women, often widows or those who had experienced extreme poverty or suffering. The mission, according to the article, provided a home for society’s “most unfortunate victims.” Many of these women became Christians, and prayer became an important part of their lives.

In addition to these works of compassion, the mission was home to a vibrant evangelistic ministry. Indian Christians went into the surrounding villages and preached the gospel. Persecution against those preachers, according to the article, was “beyond endurance and almost unbelievable.” However, the preaching of the word was not in vain. As these indigenous Christians ministered in the face of incredible opposition, the truth of the gospel was confirmed by acts of compassion and by miracles of deliverance and healing. One by one, people repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

The mission at Nawabganj demonstrates how the Assemblies of God, since its inception, has encouraged holistic ministry to spiritual, intellectual, and physical needs. The Nawabganj mission built its institutions to meet the needs of the community’s most impoverished — those who had been rejected by the broader society. These works of compassion, coupled with miracles and prayer, gave credibility to the gospel, which allowed Indian Christians to successfully plant churches across northern India despite stiff opposition.

Read the entire article, “More about the India Mission Stations,” by William M. Faux, on page 10 of the June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Second Coming of Christ,” by Finis J. Dake
• “Mexican Border Work Prospers,” by H. C. Ball
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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Hans Nielsen Hauge: The Persecuted Lay Preacher Who Saved Christianity in Norway

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This Week in AG History–June 14, 1947
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 11 June 2015

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), a lay preacher who spent decades promoting revival in Norway, helped to transform the religious and social landscape of his homeland. Hauge’s story was featured in the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hauge’s testimony demonstrated that Pentecostals’ emphasis on reform and spiritual renewal had firm roots in the broader Christian tradition.

In 1796, Hauge experienced a spiritual awakening (which he termed “spirit baptism”) while he was ploughing his father’s farm. This experience with God transformed Hauge’s life. He began studying the Bible and shared the gospel and his testimony wherever he found an audience. He preached with great power and insisted that each person should have “living faith.”

According to Hauge, church membership alone did not make a person a Christian. At the time, exceedingly few people attended State churches. In the capital city of Christiania, which had a population of about 10,000, evidence shows that only about 20 people attended regular services in the State church.

Hauge inspired a large movement which revived Christianity in Norway. It is estimated that half of Norwegians experienced salvation under the ministry of Hauge and his fellow evangelists. Hauge not only promoted lay ministry, he also encouraged women to share the gospel. The first female preacher in the Haugean movement, Sara Oust, began preaching in 1799. For the next 100 years, Norway became known as “a land of revivals.”

Hauge not only brought a spiritual rebirth to Norway, but also an economic revival. He established numerous factories and mills and is credited with bringing the industrial revolution to his nation.

The informal network of Christians developed by Hauge challenged the authority of the Lutheran State church. Norway did not have freedom of religious assembly, and it was illegal to hold a religious meeting without a licensed minister present. Although he never departed from Lutheran theology, Hauge was arrested at least fourteen times and endured great suffering in jail. His health failed in prison, resulting in Hauge’s premature death.

Hauge’s legacy, in many ways, lives on in the Pentecostal movement. Just as the Haugean movement began to die down, Pentecostalism emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. In Norway, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the revival tradition of Hauge.

Hauge’s influence also extended to America. Followers of Hauge who had settled in Minnesota and the Dakotas experienced a revival in the 1890s and early 1900s that included healings and speaking in tongues. When various revival movements coalesced in the early 1900s to form what is now known as the Pentecostal movement, many of these Scandinavian immigrants became leaders within the Pentecostal movement. G. Raymond Carlson (1918-1999), for instance, came from a Norwegian Haugean background in North Dakota and ultimately served as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1986-1993).

The Pentecostal Evangel article lauded Hauge as “God’s firebrand” and a “martyr at the early age of 53.” But Hauge’s death did not signal the end to the revival movement he started. Rather, the article noted, “It was the beginning of a new day, a new church and a new Christianity throughout the land.”

Read the entire article, “Beginnings in Norway,” by Armin Gesswein, on page 12 of the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Old-Time Methodist Sermon,” by J. Narver Gortner
• “Neglected Duty,” by Arvid Ohrnell
• “Delivering the Demon-Bound,” by Ernest S. Williams
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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Elizabeth Sisson’s 1905 Vision of a Worldwide Revival


This Week in AG History–May 30, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 28 May 2015

Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934), a prominent evangelist, church planter, and writer, recalled that she “wept for joy” after reading reports in both secular and religious newspapers about the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905.

Twenty years later, Sisson recounted her memories of the revival in Wales in a Pentecostal Evangel article. She was ministering in San Francisco in 1905 when she first learned about the revival. Friends from London mailed her daily newspaper headlines that carried news of a powerful move of God that filled churches across the small nation located adjacent to England. She wrote that “God had captured the English press” and had “taken possession of the church buildings irrespective of denomination.”

Sisson soon sensed that the Welsh Revival was part of a much larger movement. She recalled, “One day God spoke through my whole being, ‘This is not a Welsh revival; this is the beginning of a world-wide revival.'”

Before the Welsh Revival, Sisson had never before heard of a worldwide revival. In her estimation, previous revivals had been largely regional phenomena. She wrote, “The phrase ‘world-wide revival’ staggered me.”

Sisson opened up an atlas and ran her finger over every country on the maps. She prayed over each nation and felt impressed that she needed to be prepared to take part in the great harvest of souls. She wrote that she sobbed with joy when she realized that she would be privileged to participate in “the immensity of God’s harvest plan of Pentecost.” She anticipated that millions of people would accept Christ in the coming revival.

This prediction came true; the Welsh Revival was one of a series of overlapping revival movements that rapidly spread across the national divides. The revival in Wales helped to spark the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which became one of the focal points of the global Pentecostal movement.

Sisson recognized that missions was an essential aspect of this coming revival. How would this great harvest of souls occur? She wrote that “the provision of the fullness of His Spirit” was meant “for all believers,” so that each Christian “might disciple other disciples.”

Sisson went on to become a respected leader in the Pentecostal movement and transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1917. Her admonition to the readers of the Pentecostal Evangel in 1925 still rings true today: “every blood-washed soul that hears these words” is called to be a part of this “world-wide revival.”

Read Sisson’s entire article, “Reminiscences,” on pages 4-5 of the May 30, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Also featured in this issue:

• “Rising into the Heavenlies,” by Smith Wigglesworth

• “Love Triumphant,” by Violet Schoonmaker

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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Evangelism is not Optional: Christians will either Evangelize or Apostatize

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This Week in AG History–May 23, 1954
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 21 May 2015

Could there be a task that is more important or more daunting than the evangelization of the world? James Stewart, in a 1954 Pentecostal Evangel article, challenged readers to creatively and proactively fulfill the Great Commission. He wrote, “The magnitude of the unfinished task forces us to witness in unconventional places, at unconventional times, with an unconventional approach. It is our duty to go to the unsaved with the Gospel and not wait until they come to us.”

Stewart appealed to the testimonies of believers from centuries past to inspire the current generation to reach the lost for Christ. He noted that many heralded evangelists ministered outside the walls of church buildings. John Wesley preached in a cemetery, atop his father’s tombstone. The Apostle Paul preached Christ on Mars Hill among the pagan temples and Greek philosophers. Dwight L. Moody accepted Christ in a shoe shop.Stewart implored readers to think of the church not as a building, but as a body of believers. Past revivals, he noted, occurred when Christians shared the gospel “in the market squares, circus tents, village greens, prisons, public houses, and everywhere the unsaved frequented.”

While holding large evangelistic services in public areas has long been important in evangelical and Pentecostal churches, Stewart admonished that evangelism must also be personal. “Mass evangelism,” he wrote, “will never be a substitute for personal evangelism.”

Personal evangelism, according to Stewart, required the involvement of “ordinary, common believers.” The great revivals of the past involved carpenters, farmers, miners, street cleaners, teachers, and men and women from all walks of life who “went forth with flaming fire.” The Bible and church history teach that professional clergy alone cannot bring revival; a true move of God must catch fire at the grassroots.

Evangelism is not optional for Christians. Stewart wrote that Christians will “either evangelize or apostatize.” His concluding remarks encouraged believers to consecrate themselves to God and to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He wrote, “Let us dedicate our lives, talents, possessions, and time to the sacred task of world-wide witness. We are couriers of the Cross. The task is great but not impossible. The Holy Ghost is here to empower us. Without the baptism of power our ministry is in vain.”

Read the article, “The Church is Challenged!” by James Stewart, on pages 4, 10 and 11 of the May 23, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Honor the Holy Spirit!” by P. S. Jones
• “How Spurgeon Found Christ”
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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What is the Secret to a Successful Pentecostal Church? Read this Pastor’s Answer from 1946!

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This Week in AG History–May 18, 1946
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 14 May 2015

What is the distinctive feature in a Pentecostal worship service? The answer, according to a 1946 Pentecostal Evangel article by P. S. Jones, is “the prominence given to the prayer room.”

Early Pentecostal churches usually dedicated a room to prayer, where earnest believers would intercede during the preaching service and where prayer would continue long after the benediction had been pronounced. Jones asserted, “Pentecostal prayer rooms are truly the power-houses of the assemblies. Everything else can be counted of secondary importance in the church’s program.”

According to Jones, the success of a ministry is proportionate to the prayer life of those involved in the ministry. The “urgent necessity” of every pastor, he wrote, “is to see that the prayer life of his people is maintained at white heat.”

Jones described how an active private prayer life is essential if Christians are to effectively engage in spiritual warfare. The “treasures of heaven,” he wrote, are often only gained by spending hours in “hot, animated, boiling-over prayer.”

What happens when a church neglects prayer? Jones warned, “When the thrill and throb of the Holy Ghost are lost through prayerlessness, all kinds of substitutes will be tried,” including social functions, entertaining preaching, and other amusements. He described these as mere “camouflages” that attempt to hide “the fact that the real thing has been lost.”

According to Jones, “Pentecost can very well do without the carnal decorations and the tinsel of this pleasure-crazed world, but it can never do without its prayer room, its prayer-loving pastor, and its prayer warriors.”

Read Jones’ article, “A Unique Pentecostal Feature,” in the May 18, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “A Hidden Power Now Revealed: Lessons from the Discovery of the Atomic Bomb,” by Leslie Barrowcliff
• “The Pentecostal Movement,” by Howard Carter
• “A Russian Jew’s Testimony,” by Moses Prostchansky

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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Frodsham: Prophecy Fulfilled by Pentecostal Participation in National Association of Evangelicals

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This Week in AG History–May 10, 1947
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 7 May 2015

Pentecostals were relatively isolated from mainstream Protestantism in the early twentieth century. When the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches were invited to become founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942, it was a watershed event that paved the way for increased cooperation between Pentecostals and other theologically conservative evangelical churches.

In 1947, Pentecostal Evangel Editor Stanley H. Frodsham recounted how participation in the NAE seemed to be a fulfillment of prophecy. Frodsham recalled that, years earlier, “a mature Pentecostal saint” made the following prediction: “The time will assuredly come when God will unite all true children of God in real heart fellowship, and will break down all the barriers that are now separating us from one another.”

The early Pentecostals who heard this prediction, according to Frodsham, discerned that it was in accordance with Scripture: “In our hearts we were convinced that this was a true prophecy, for did not our Lord Jesus pray that they (all His children) may be one?”

While the Bible admonished believers to exhibit unity, such unity was elusive. Frodsham lamented that “the saints have been busy through the centuries building denominational and sectarian walls of partition between themselves and other saints.”

Tearing down these walls of division among believers was one of the reasons why the Assemblies of God formed, Frodsham reminded readers. He wrote, “At the first Council of the Assemblies of God, held at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914, the ministers who attended all came with one mind, determined to oppose the raising of walls that would separate us as a Pentecostal people from other children of God.”

Frodsham believed the formation of the NAE helped to achieve the vision of unity promoted in the Bible and by early Pentecostals. He noted that the NAE brought together different strands within the broader evangelical family: “When the National Association of Evangelicals came into being five years ago, those who called for the convention did what no other group of Fundamentalist believers had done before – they invited the brethren of both the Holiness and the Pentecostal groups.”

Moreover, the NAE helped usher Pentecostals into the evangelical mainstream and also provided opportunities for interaction between the churches: “They recognized us as a people outstandingly aggressive in evangelism and missionary vision, and acknowledged that our coming together with others who are true to the fundamentals of the faith could mean mutual blessing,” Frodsham stated.

Today the Assemblies of God is the largest of the 39 denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Read Stanley Frodsham’s entire article, “Fifth Annual Convention of the NAE,” on pages 6 and 7 of the May 10, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “When Mother Looked!” by John Wright Follette
• “Divine Rules for Parents,” by S. M. Padgett
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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