Category Archives: Church

Mexican Americans and Pentecostal Growth During the Great Depression

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This Week in AG History–February 12, 1932
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 12 February 2015

While the Great Depression (beginning in 1929) affected everyone in the United States, it was particularly devastating to refugees who had fled the Mexican Revolution. Over one million people left the violence and poverty of Mexico and moved to the United States between 1910 and 1920. By 1932, about 200,000 of those refugees had returned to Mexico because they were unable to find shelter or food in the United States.

It was during this economic downturn that great growth occurred in the Assemblies of God among Mexicans in the United States and in Mexico. H. C. Ball, the legendary Assemblies of God missionary to Hispanics, wrote about these struggles and growth in an article published in the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Ball noted that most Mexican-American Pentecostals were poor laborers who had experienced significant hardship. Even the children of refugees who had been born in America “have been discriminated against most unjustly,” Ball noted. But in the midst of this cultural and economic chaos, he reported that “[t]he poor, hungry, perplexed Mexican people are turning to God.”

Assemblies of God Mexican missions in San Antonio and El Paso had capacity crowds. Students from Latin America Bible Institute were fanning out among the Mexican communities, witnessing of Christ’s saving and healing power. “While material blessings seem to be taken from [Mexican-Americans]”, Ball recounted, “spiritual blessings have surely taken their place.”

New converts spread the Pentecostal message in their homeland when they returned to Mexico. They led family members to Christ and started churches, despite laws that restricted the number of religious workers and buildings. Ball wrote, “The gospel must be preached in Mexico, it may mean martyrdom and prison, but it must be preached.”

The odds were stacked against the Mexican-American Pentecostals. They were a marginalized ethnic minority in the United States and a persecuted religious minority in Mexico. But they displayed uncommon strength, which they drew from their close relationship with God. “We don’t feel like getting discouraged because of the hard times,” Ball wrote, “for we feel that the Lord is near.”

Read the article, “Great Blessing at Latin American Council,” by H. C. Ball, on page 11 of the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Vital Need: A Forward Movement in Pentecost,” by W. E. Moody

• “What the Pentecostal People Believe and Teach,” by R. E. McAlister

• “Faith for Desperate Days,” by S. Chadwick

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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Successful Church Planting in the Assemblies of God: Cumberland, Maryland in the 1940s and 1950s

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This Week in AG History–January 31, 1954
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 29 January 2015

Church planting has always been part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God. While specific programs and personnel come and go, each new generation of leaders has emphasized the importance of starting new churches. In the 1950s, the National Home Missions Department (now U.S. Missions) promoted the “Mother Church Plan.” This program encouraged each Assembly of God congregation to start a “daughter church.”

The January 31, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted how one historic congregation, Central Assembly of God in Cumberland, Maryland, had started four churches in neighboring communities in the previous five years. Central Assembly of God, established in 1915, experienced a revival in 1939. As a result of this revival, young people in the church felt stirred to action and began holding prayer meetings in small towns without Assemblies of God churches. The prayer meetings developed into “outstations,” where small groups gathered for services in rented buildings, schoolhouses, or homes. Each outstation had a superintendent and was under the oversight of the “mother church.” A carload of people from Central Assembly of God, including speakers and musicians, would travel to the outstations to help with the services. The mother church financially and spiritually assisted its daughter churches in this manner until the new congregations grew and could become self-sustaining.

Central Assembly of God’s first daughter church to become self-sustaining was in Bedford Valley, Pennsylvania. By 1954 the Bedford Valley Assembly had an average attendance of 140 people. The Bedford Valley congregation soon mothered its own church in Rainesburg, Pennsylvania. The mother church, according to the Pentecostal Evangel article, had become a grandparent! Central Assembly of God planted two additional churches, in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, and Carpenter’s Addition, West Virginia.

Initially, some members of the Cumberland church were concerned that sending some of its best members to other communities to plant churches would weaken the mother church. However, the opposite proved true. The daughter churches broadened the mother church’s sphere of influence, and new leaders stepped up to fill the open ministry positions. The mother church became a ministry hub for a broader geographic region. In 1940, approximately 100 people attended Central Assembly of God’s Sunday School. By 1953, this number had risen to 342. The combined Sunday School attendance of the mother church and the daughter churches was about 700 people.

While the National Home Missions Department began promoting the “Mother Church Plan” in the 1950s, the concept had already been tried and found successful across the Fellowship. The 2009 General Council approved a similar program, whereby a church would be able to register its outreaches, which are distinct from the parent church, as “Parent Affiliated Churches.”

Read the article, “They Exist to Evangelize!” on pages 10-11 of the January 31, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Marvelous Healing,” by Mrs. Lee Jones

• “Miraculous Healing and Conversion,” by John C. Jackson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangelarchived 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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“Make Way for the Holy Ghost” : A Timely Warning from Pentecostal Pioneer James Menzie

James D. Menzie and family at his home in Gary, Indiana, January 1933.


This Week in AG History–January 23, 1943
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 22 January 2015

James Menzie (1899-1986) helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in the Upper Midwest in the 1920s. In a 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article, he recounted his early days as a Pentecostal pioneer and also offered a warning of what he called “a crisis in Pentecost.”

The Pentecostal movement, according to Menzie, “was born of the Holy Spirit.” He described the Pentecostal revival at the turn of the twentieth century as a sovereign move of God and not orchestrated by any one founder. At first, small groups of people would gather in homes to pray. God’s power was manifested and people accepted Christ, were healed, and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Believers organized churches that, despite opposition, grew to constitute one of the fastest-growing segments within American Christianity.

Menzie expressed concern over what he perceived to be a decline in spiritual fervor in some quarters of the Pentecostal movement. He recalled in earlier years that people went to church with great expectation, wondering what God would do in the service. He lamented that some churches had become too “formal” and no longer seemed to have room for unexpected manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

This spiritual decline, in Menzie’s estimation, was the unfortunate result of “fanaticism.” Fanatics, he wrote, are often otherwise godly people who allow their zeal to justify “foolish things that hurt rather than further the cause of Jesus Christ.” Some Pentecostals, in rejecting foolish behavior, also rejected genuine moves of the Holy Spirit.

Menzie concluded his article with this admonition: “Let the Holy Ghost be unhampered in our lives and our meetings. I do not mean, for a moment, to give any leeway to fanaticism…I believe that God wants to manifest Himself in our midst and in our lives, and if we have ears to hear, we will hear His voice.”

Read the article, “Make Way for the Holy Ghost,” by James Menzie, on pages 2-3 of the January 23, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Encourage Him,” by Zelma Argue

• “Praying in the Holy Ghost,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “The Healing of G. W. Hardcastle, Jr.”

And many more!

Click here to read this historic edition of the Pentecostal Evangel 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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E. S. Williams: 1937 New Year’s Message for the Assemblies of God


This Week in AG History–January 16, 1937
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 14 January 2015

While much has changed in the past 78 years, Ernest S. William’s New Year’s admonition to the Assemblies of God in 1937 remains strikingly relevant. Williams was the only veteran of the Azusa Street Revival to serve as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949). Known for his spiritual depth, he led the Fellowship during a period of significant numerical growth.

Williams took the helm of the Fellowship the same year as the Great Depression began. In 1929, the Assemblies of God reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members. By 1937 those tallies had approximately doubled to 3,473 churches with 175,362 members.

“God has blessed our fellowship of Spirit-filled redeemed people with a phenomenal growth,” Williams acknowledged. However, he warned readers of “danger” that accompanied growth. With the increase in numbers, Williams cautioned, comes the temptation to rely on “human ideas and human methods, not all of which are sanctified to the glory of God.”

Christians are called to live and worship “in spirit and in truth” and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” Williams wrote. Any substitute would cause the Assemblies of God to suffer “grievous loss.” He suggested that “prayerful watchfulness and entire consecration” were required to maintain this spiritual calling.

Williams encouraged believers to seek unity. He expressed his belief that the Pentecostal movement “would be a far greater service to God were it all united.” It may not be God’s will, he clarified, that this unity be expressed organizationally. In his view, believers should be united “in one spirit and Christian fellowship” and in “Christian love and worship.”

While Williams opposed divisions due to “sectarian causes,” he acknowledged that true Christian unity could only develop among believers who embraced solid doctrine and morals. “Let us therefore show Christian love and Christian fellowship to all of God’s children who love and do the truth, wherever they may be,” Williams wrote, “but let us continue an uncompromising stand against tolerance of evil wherever it is found.”

Williams concluded his New Year’s message with a missionary call. “The uttermost parts of the earth is our motto,” he propounded. “May the coming year be one of rich harvests in souls and in personal soul development.” This dual concern for deep spirituality and sharing the gospel continues to be central to Assemblies of God identity.

Read Williams’ article, “The Task That Is Before Us,” on page 4 of the January 16, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Leaving the Choice with the Lord,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Power, Love and a Sound Mind,” by Donald Gee

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

– See more at: http://www.penews.org/Article/This-Week-in-AG-History-%E2%80%94-January-16,-1937/#sthash.uNUNChh6.dpuf

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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Looking Toward the New Year


This Week in AG History–December 29, 1934
By William Molenaar

Also published in PE News, 31 December 2014

“Looking Toward the New Year,” by E. S. Williams was published in the Pentecostal Evangel on December 29, 1934. Williams wrote this article during the Great Depression, and noted how people felt uncertain in regards to the next year ahead. However, he encouraged readers saying, “It is a time for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to trim afresh her lamps, to replenish her vessels with spiritual oil, to look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble and defile us.”

Ernest Swing Williams (1885-1981), was a participant in the Azusa Street revival in 1906, and ordained with the AG in 1914. Later he became the general superintendent between 1929 and 1949. During his tenure he brought great stability to the Assemblies of God fellowship in the United States, during which the United States faced the Great Depression and WWII.

In the beginning of his article Williams asked, “If we have injured, or wronged any, may we at the beginning of the New Year make restitution?” To begin the New Year right, Williams quoted Matthew 5:23-24, pointing out the need for reconciliation in our relationships.

Williams also mentioned the need for the teaching of sound doctrine and going back to the Bible. He noticed that “many new and strange doctrines are abroad and some of God’s children are sorely perplexed by them.” He also noted that some were seeking some new way or novel path, but he assured his readers that, “We need no new gospel, we need no strange or startling novelty.” He goes on to say that, “While we should not despise prophesying, we should regard the holy Scriptures as of greater importance than all else for building and establishing the soul.”

Looking to the future, Williams was pleased to see the Assemblies of God moving forward and reminded readers that we are pilgrims and strangers on a journey toward “the Celestial City.” Williams said we must look beyond the enemy, temptations, and all hindrances to “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, seeing in Him our sufficiency even when our faith and our strength seem small.” Williams also casted vision for the Assemblies of God to advance evangelism at home, as well as in the foreign fields for the coming year. “This will require, not only desire, but money, strength, and purpose. No doubt each assembly can establish some new work during the year,” said Williams.

Williams’ final encouragement reads, “The World plunges madly into darkness and despair. To us has been given the light of life. May the New Year take us leagues ahead of where we have ever been before. The blessing of God be with you.”

Read the article, “Looking Toward the New Year,” on pages 1, 6, and 7 of the December 29, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Communion with God: New Year’s Message,” by an unknown author.

* “The Editor’s Notebook,” by Stanley H. Frodsham.

* “The Passing and the Permanent,” by an unknown author.

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.

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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The Founding of the Latin American Conference in 1918


This Week in AG History–December 8, 1917
By Glenn Gohr

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 08 Dec 2014 – 4:49 PM CST

From the outset, the Assemblies of God has evangelized and ministered to Hispanics, as well as other ethnic groups. H. C. Ball had been ministering to Hispanics along the Texas-Mexico border for a number of years, and he felt the need for organization. After speaking with a number of the Hispanic workers and pastors, the decision was made to have a convention in Kingsville in 1917.

The December 8, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel published an important notice regarding this historic first convention. H. C. Ball was then living in Kingsville, Texas, and he announced: “There will be a special gathering of the Mexican preachers and workers, also missionaries, in Kingsville, Kleber County, Texas, January 13-21 inclusive.”

Ball went on to proclaim: “We expect to have a representative body from all parts of the State and are looking to God for a time of spiritual blessings. The work has so grown as to necessitate a season of council together.”

The planned first convention was not held until January of 1918. At this convention, H. C. Ball was authorized to organize the Assemblies of God work among the Spanish-speaking people. This led to a second convention of Hispanic ministers, which was held in the spring of 1918 in San Antonio, Texas. Soon after this convention, H. C. Ball became pastor of Templo Cristiano, the Spanish congregation in San Antonio, founded by M. M. Pinson and R. F. Baker.

These early Hispanic conventions spawned the “Latin American Conference” of the Texas District in 1918, which in turn led to the founding of the Latin American District Council in 1929 with H. C. Ball as its first superintendent. Ball’s move to San Antonio also led to the founding of the Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio in 1926, as well as the establishment of a publishing house for Spanish language materials called Casa Evangelica de Publicaciones.

Today the Assemblies of God in the U.S. has grown to 14 Hispanic Districts, which all trace back to the historic first convention announced to be held in Kingsville, Texas.

Read the article, “Mexican Meeting” on page 13 of the December 8, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Call to Love,” by F. F. Bosworth

* “An Interesting Letter From the Congo,” by James Salter

* “Galatians Applied,” a sermon by E. N. Bell

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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Elder Eddie R. Driver and Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ (Los Angeles, CA)

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This Week in AG History–December 2, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 01 Dec 2014 – 4:42 PM CST

A small notice about an ongoing revival at the Saints’ Home Church in Los Angeles might have escaped the attention of readers of the December 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). Unless the reader was familiar with the pastor and the congregation, the revival report would have been indistinguishable from countless similar articles. The congregation’s pastor, Eddie R. Driver, reported spiritual progress: “God is blessing these meetings with a full house, souls are being saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost, the sick are being healed, and there is a great outpouring of God’s choicest blessings accompanying every service.”

The pastor, Eddie Driver (1869-1929), was an African-American businessman and attorney (he was licensed to practice general and corporation law in Memphis in 1892). He accepted the call to preach in 1893 and became a Baptist pastor. Several years later he became friends with Charles H. Mason, the influential African-American Holiness Baptist pastor who went on to found the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Driver joined Mason’s organization, became Chairman of the COGIC Council of Elders, and drafted the COGIC’s original articles of incorporation.

In 1914, Mason asked Driver to move from Memphis to Los Angeles to establish a COGIC congregation. Driver complied and became pastor of an existing Pentecostal congregation, the Apostolic Mission at 14th and Woodson Streets. The congregation had roots in the interracial Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which had been a focal point in the emerging Pentecostal movement. As the Azusa Street revival fires grew dim, numerous small Pentecostal missions popped up across the City of Angels. The Apostolic Mission was one of those new congregations.

Driver organized the congregation as Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ in 1914, the first COGIC located in the western states. Driver personified the interracial nature of early Los Angeles Pentecostalism. He had a mixed ethnic heritage and could pass as an African-American, a Mexican, or a Filipino. The congregation’s leadership consisted of blacks, whites, Mexicans, and Filipinos.

Something else about the 1916 article in the Weekly Evangel merits attention. Driver was promoting the ministry of a white evangelist, Thomas Griffin, who had been holding services at Saints’ Home Church. Griffin, an Irish Catholic who immigrated to the United States, accepted Christ and became a prominent Pentecostal evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Large portions of early issues of the Weekly Evangel were dedicated to small revival reports such as the one submitted by Driver. What was the racial makeup of these early congregations that promoted their activities in the Evangel? No one knows. It would require significant research to the identities of these early Pentecostal leaders and congregations. What we can know, as this article demonstrates, was that the early Pentecostal revival crossed the racial and ethnic divides.

Read the article, “Notes from the Field,” on page 14 of the December 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Faith in Action in the Mission Field,” by Paul Bettex

* “God’s Prayer House,” by Elizabeth Sisson

* “Three Christian Soldiers,” by C. W. Doney

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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