Category Archives: Education

97 Years Ago: Central Bible Institute Opened in Springfield, Missouri

CBC

Faculty and students of Central Bible Institute, second class, 1923-1924, in front of Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri; spring 1924

This Week in AG History — September 30, 1922

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 03 October 2019

The founding of the Assemblies of God in 1914 was marked by an emphasis upon the need for the training of ministers and missionaries. Eight years later, the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the opening of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, to address that need.

Local efforts to establish ministerial training schools had been undertaken in various parts of the country. However, it was soon determined that individual effort could never hope to achieve the results possible through united endeavors.

The first ministerial training school owned and operated by the General Council of the Assemblies of God opened its doors in 1920 in the small town of Auburn, Nebraska. Midwest Bible School remained open for only one year. The school’s remote location made it difficult to attract faculty or to provide jobs for students.

Assemblies of God leaders sought a more suitable location to establish a new school. In the summer of 1922, they decided to locate the school in Springfield. D. W. Kerr and his son-in-law, Willard Peirce, offered themselves for this work. Just six years earlier, Kerr served as the primary drafter of the Statement of Fundamental Truths. Kerr and Peirce had a track record of stabilizing educational institutions and had set Assemblies of God schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco on sure footing. They moved to Springfield to form the nucleus of the faculty and management of CBI.

It was felt that the move to Springfield, the new headquarters city of the General Council, afforded this new school several advantages. Close proximity to the executive leadership would provide counsel and oversight. The Fellowship’s paper, the Pentecostal Evangel, would offer information and publicity. Ministers and missionaries traveling to the area would be available for encouragement and example for the student body.

Outside of those advantages there were few other expedient assets to offer to the fledgling school. There were no buildings or dormitories available. The Fellowship had followed a “pay as you go” policy and there was little willingness to shoulder debt for new buildings. All there was to offer to Kerr was the basement of a local church, Central Assembly of God on the corner of Campbell and Calhoun Streets, and the homes of church members who were willing to house students.

Kerr and his team set about plastering and painting the basement rooms to prepare for the influx of the first class of students, numbering about 50. They fitted out one classroom, a kitchen, a dining area, and office. Kerr admitted in the Evangel’s announcement, “While we are necessarily crowded and handicapped in our limited temporary quarters, yet we are sure of the continued blessings of God on these humble beginnings … great oaks from little acorns grow.” Kerr encouraged contributions for the young people studying for ministry as “two hundred and fifty dollars will support a student for one school year, meeting all expenses.”

Two years later, 15 acres on the northern outskirts of the city had been secured through the generous donations of local businessmen. Three of the leaders, Kerr, J. W. Welch, and E. N. Bell, knelt in prayer on this tract of land at North Grant Avenue, consecrating it to God for the “training of ministers and missionaries.”

With the funds in hand and further offerings received in response to appeals made through the Pentecostal Evangel, the first building was erected in 1924 and a student body of 106 moved onto the new campus. Adding to its growth was the merging of other smaller schools, such as Bethel Bible Training Institute of Newark, New Jersey, in 1929, with the Springfield school.

Kerr later testified that he had some misgivings whether the project would be successful, given its meager beginnings in 1922, but he felt the Lord ask him as He did Moses, “What has thou in thine hand?” He responded, “Just a basement, Lord!” He felt the assurance that the same Lord who wrought wonders with Moses’ staff would be faithful to do great things with that tiny basement school at Central Assembly of God.

The history of the Pentecostal movement can testify to God’s faithfulness as the graduates of Central Bible Institute and Central Bible College (now consolidated with Evangel University and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) continue to provide the Assemblies of God with thousands of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers impacting the world with the Pentecostal message they were taught in the classrooms of the basement at Central Assembly, the campus at 3000 North Grant, and the current university on North Glenstone.

Read Kerr’s announcement about CBI on page 4 of the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Be Filled with the Spirit” by W.T. Gaston

• “Questions and Answers” by E.N. Bell

• “A New Heavens and A New Earth” by S.A. Jamieson

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
Website: iFPHC.org

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Introducing HECHOS, a New Scholarly Online Pentecostal Journal in Spanish

hechosOn January 1, 2019, Miguel Alvarez (Honduras) and Geir Lie (Norway) launched a new online journal in the Spanish language, HECHOS.

HECHOS aims to publish scholarly articles pertaining to Pentecostalism, particularly from theological, historical, social and missiological angles.

Miguel Alvarez graduated from the Oxford Center for Mission Studies in England and is a professor at Regent University. He is the author of several books, including Integral Mission: A New Paradigm for Latin American Pentecostals (Wipf & Stock, 2016) and Beyond Borders: New Contexts of Mission in Latin America (CPT Press, 2017).

Geir Lie is a graduate of the Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society in Norway. He is one of the foremost historians of Norwegian Pentecostalism and has authored seven books in Norwegian, English, and Spanish. He founded a scholarly journal, Refleks, which published 11 issues from 2002 to 2009. Issues of Refleks are accessible on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website. In recent years, Lie has focused his scholarly interests on Spanish and Portuguese speaking Pentecostals.   His most recent volume is Entiendes lo que Lees? Una Introduccion al Nuevo Testamento (Publicaciones Kerigma, 2018).

The inaugural issue of HECHOS is accessible on the Akademia forlag website. The table of contents is below:

“Editorial”, 1.

Miguel Álvarez, “Contextualización en la hermenéutica latina”, 3-16.

Bernardo Campos, “Aspectos fundamentales en la teología pentecostal”, 17-29.

Geir Lie, “T.B. Barratt y el origen de su concepto de ‘lenguas misioneras’”, 31-45.

Daniel Orlando Álvarez, “Integridad de las Escrituras: Transformando las futuras generaciones”, 47-64.

Darío López Rodríguez, “Pentecostalismo y espacio público: Vida en el Espíritu. Política, Ciudanía e Incidencia Pública”, 65-80.

Carmelo E. Álvarez, “Ecumenismo del Espíritu: Voces pentecostales latinoamericanas y caribeñas”, 81-97.

UPDATE (Jan 16, 2019): HECHOS is now also available in hard copy from amazon.com.

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American Indian College: New Campus Dedicated 50 Years Ago

AIBCThis Week in AG History — April 28, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 26 April 2018 

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) American Indian College was founded Sept. 23, 1957, by Alta M. Washburn and her husband Clarence, under the name All Tribes Indian Bible School. They saw a great need to prepare Native Americans for church ministry. Classes first met on the church campus of All Tribes Assembly of God in downtown Phoenix. In 1967 the school was renamed American Indian Bible Institute (AIBI) and became a regional school of the Assemblies of God.

The school dedicated its current 10-acre site in a north Phoenix neighborhood in 1968. The Pentecostal Evangel reported that a number of district and national officials as well as staff members and students of the school, home missionaries, and friends from several states gathered for the dedication service.

It was an outdoor convocation held near the base of a towering lava hill in northeast Phoenix. Curtis W. Ringness, national secretary of the Home Missions Department, was master of ceremonies. The all-Indian AIBI choir sang several special songs for the dedication, and each member gave a brief, inspiring testimony. Eleven North American tribes from six states were represented in the school’s choir.

Charles W. H. Scott, executive director of Home Missions and chairman of the board of directors of the school, was the guest speaker. In his message titled “Vision and Task,” he challenged those in attendance “to believe God for the erection of needed buildings on the new site.” He reminded the audience that both vision and task was necessary to carry the building program through to completion. “A vision is but a fleeting dream without undertaking actual labor,” said Scott. “The task is just drudgery without a real vision.

Scott said he was anxious to see a classroom building constructed on the very place where the dedication was being held. He appealed to those in attendance to pray with him for the fulfillment of that desire. He reported on the progress of the Institute, mentioning among other things that an architect had been appointed by the school board to prepare the first blueprints for construction. Two dormitories, a dining hall-kitchen complex, and a classroom building were planned for the first phase of the relocation. Additional funds were needed to pay for the property as well as the new construction. A group called Friends of Indian Missions was dedicated to help with the fundraising efforts

The move to the new campus was completed in 1970. Just as Scott had envisioned, the main building for the school was erected in front of the towering lava hill, where the dedication service had been held two years earlier.

The school changed its name from AIBI to American Indian Bible College in 1982. The college received regional accreditation in 1988 and later changed its name to American Indian College of the Assemblies of God (AIC) in 1994. In 2016, AIC partnered with SAGU, Waxahachie, Texas, becoming SAGU American Indian College. It is one of 17 endorsed schools of higher education in the Assemblies of God.

Read the article, “New Campus Site for Indian Bible School Dedication,” on pages 14-15 of the April 28, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Verdict,” by Revivaltime Evangelist C. M. Ward

• “God Is for Squares,” by David Wilkerson

• “Strong Crying and Tears,” by Evangelist Arne Vick

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Ruthie Oberg on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation


Reformation Day Chapel from Assemblies of God USA on Vimeo.

Rev. Ruthie Oberg was the featured speaker for a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation at the Assemblies of God National Office chapel in Springfield, Missouri, on October 31, 2017. Watch her rousing history lesson above.

Ruthie Oberg, an events speaker with the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, is available to speak at your church or district function. Ruthie’s sermons and presentations about Pentecostal history are educational, entertaining, inspirational, and convicting.

Ruthie is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and has served in senior and associate pastoral roles for 25 years. She speaks at national conferences and has also produced a daily radio program. Her articles have appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel, Enrichment, and Assemblies of God Heritage, and she is a regular contributor to “This Week in AG History” for AG News.

Invite Ruthie Oberg for a Sunday service, weekend training event, or special historical celebration.  Schedule a service by calling the Heritage Center at 877-840-5200 or emailing roberg@ag.org.

____________________________

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

 

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Henry H. Ness: The Norwegian Immigrant Who Became an Influential Assemblies of God Pastor and Educator

Ness

Henry H. Ness (right) and Ed Eliason traveled together as Assemblies of God evangelists in the 1920s. They were called the ‘Banjo Twins.’

This Week in AG History — March 22, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 22 March 2018

Henry H. Ness (1894-1970) immigrated to America in search of wealth and opportunity. When he dedicated his life to Christ in the 1920s, however, his focus changed from accumulation of wealth to sharing the gospel. He followed God’s call into the ministry and became an influential Assemblies of God pastor and educator.

Ness was born in Kristiania (Oslo), the capital city of Norway. His parents were devout Christians and were members of the Filadelfia Church, the first Pentecostal congregation in that country. Ness knew the power of God from firsthand experience. He grew up in the midst of the emerging Pentecostal revival, and he spent much of his free time during his teenage years in prayer meetings and church services.

Like many of his friends, Ness felt the lure of America. From 1820 to 1920, about 720,000 Norwegians immigrated to the United States. That was a sizeable portion of the nation, as Norway had a population of 2,653,024 in 1920. In 1911, when Ness was only 17 years old, he left Norway and set sail for America.

Ness initially settled in Chicago and then moved to Minneapolis, where he operated his own drug store. After several years, he sold the business and took a job with Standard Oil Company, where he was promoted several times and held a good position. In 1919, Ness married a young Danish immigrant, Anna, and they began a family together. They were living the American dream.

In his rush to achieve success, Ness neglected his spiritual life. He replaced the heart-felt Christian faith of his Norwegian upbringing with American materialism. Deep inside, he knew that he needed to get right with God, but he suppressed the sense of conviction he felt from the Holy Spirit. He became consumed with the daily activities of life and did not have time for God.

One Sunday evening in the early 1920s, Anna attended a Pentecostal service in Minneapolis and committed herself to God. She came home with a radiant countenance, exclaiming to her husband, “I am saved! Oh, I am saved! You too must be saved. It is so wonderful!” Ness could tell that she had a genuine conversion experience. Anna’s newfound faith brought back memories of the early Pentecostal revival in Norway. Two weeks later, Ness knelt down in his home and consecrated himself to the Lord.

Ness felt called to the ministry and, in 1925, he accepted the pastorate of a small Assemblies of God church in Brainerd, Minnesota. The following year, he moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where he pioneered Fargo Gospel Tabernacle (later First Assembly of God). Ness related well to the city’s large population of Scandinavian immigrants. During the seven years of his Fargo pastorate, the church grew to 500 members. He united several groups of Pentecostals in the region, including a group of former members of the Swedish Free Mission in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, where people began experiencing the gift of speaking in tongues in the 1890s. Ness documented the story of this early Scandinavian-American Pentecostal revival in his book, Demonstration of the Holy Spirit.

In 1933, Ness accepted a call to pastor another congregation of Scandinavian immigrants – Hollywood Temple, located in Seattle, Washington. The congregation emerged from a Pentecostal revival among Baptist churches in Seattle in the early 1920s. Founded in 1927 by former members of Elim Swedish Baptist Church, the new congregation was initially called Hollywood Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church (now Calvary Christian Assembly).

Ness led the congregation to affiliate with the Assemblies of God in January 1934. Later that year, he founded Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University), which was initially located on the church property. The college flourished, and the church planted several daughter congregations across the area. He served as pastor and college president until 1948, when he was appointed by the Governor to be chairman of the Washington State Board of Prison Terms and Paroles, a position he held for six years. Ness was a respected minister and community leader. He authored several books, including the widely-read Dunamis and the Church (GPH, 1968).

Ness parlayed his background as an immigrant into a platform for building bridges across the religious and national divides. Following World War II, he made frequent trips to other nations and met with religious and political leaders. His obituary in the Pentecostal Evangel noted that Ness had a 30-minute private audience with Pope Pius XII, which helped win religious freedom for the Assemblies of God in Italy.

When Henry H. Ness went to be with the Lord in 1970, he left behind numerous institutions and countless people impacted by his extensive ministry. The young Norwegian immigrant had turned from a life of materialism, consecrating himself to God. Instead of building his own kingdom, Ness helped to build the kingdom of God.

Read Henry H. Ness’s obituary on page 28 of the March 22, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Corn of Wheat Must Die,” by William F. P. Burton

• “Pressures on the Church,” by C. M. Ward

• “What Chi Alpha Means,” by Johnny Davidson

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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American Indian College: Training Native Americans for Pentecostal Ministry for 60 Years

AIC

American Indian College, 1980.

This Week in AG History — September 9, 1973

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 7 September 2017

American Indian College was pioneered 60 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, by a white female Assemblies of God missionary, Alta Washburn, who recognized the urgent need to train Native American leaders.

At the time, the U.S. census reported about 500,000 Native Americans living in the nation. Many were migrating from rural reservations to urban areas, and various denominations started “Indian missions,” mostly led by white missionaries.

Alta Washburn and her husband began serving the Apache Indians on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona in 1946. They understood firsthand the importance of developing indigenous leaders. As whites, their ministry on the reservation was limited. But Native American migration to the cities opened new ministry opportunities. They moved to Phoenix in 1948 and started All Tribes Assembly of God, which became an important spiritual and social refuge for Native Americans from various tribal backgrounds who often felt out of place in their new surroundings.

Washburn believed that she was called to empower Native Americans to become pastors and leaders in their own communities and tribes. She had a vision to plant Native American churches throughout Arizona. An important part of this vision was the establishment of a Bible school to train pastors. The school she founded, initially called All Tribes Indian Bible Training School, opened its doors on Sept. 23, 1957. Washburn remained as president of the school until 1965.

The Sept. 9, 1973, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the history of the school. The article noted that the school emphasized study of the Word of God and training in practical ministry. One of the most visible student ministries was the Tribalaires, a traveling group of students who sang and ministered in churches across the nation.

Simon Peter, a Choctaw, became the school’s first Native American president in 1978. The school changed its name several times over the years — American Indian Bible Institute (1967), American Indian Bible College (1982), and American Indian College (1994). In 2016, American Indian College became a campus of Southwestern Assemblies of God University, retaining its name and mission, while benefiting from the resources and faculty of the larger school.

Since its origins 60 years ago, American Indian College has grown significantly and now serves nearly 25 tribes as well as other ethnicities. Alta Washburn’s vision for a school to train Native American leaders has made a lasting mark, not only on the deserts of Arizona, but across the nation, wherever its graduates have served as pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and church workers.

Read “Indian Youth Train for Ministry,” on pages 14 and 15 of the Sept. 9, 1973, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What We can do for our Colleges,” by Albert W. Earle

• “I Like My Problems” by Ralph Cimino

• “Jesus is Always in Vogue,” by J. Robert Ashcroft

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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J. Robert Ashcroft’s Remarkable Warning from 1957 about Secularism, Statism, and Paganism

Ashcroft1This Week in AG History — July 14, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 13 July 2017

Sixty years ago, J. Robert Ashcroft delivered a remarkable address that encouraged the Assemblies of God to invest in Christian higher education. Pentecostals must train the next generation of “thinkers and doers,” he surmised, or lose their young to the forces of “selfism, secularism, (and) scientism.”

Ashcroft’s message, delivered at the 1957 commencement for Evangel College (now Evangel University), warned that family, church, and freedom were threatened by three emerging trends in society: secularism, statism, and paganism. All Americans, he noted, are subject to these societal pressures. It will be difficult, he predicted, for Christians to remain true to biblical values.

Secularism, the first trend that Ashcroft identified, results in the compartmentalization of religious beliefs from other daily activities. This runs counter to the Christian faith because, he noted, Christianity is concerned with “the whole of life.” While Ashcroft recognized a distinction between the secular and the sacred, he expressed concern that making the distinction “too severe” would harm both the secular and sacred elements.

A society that dispels the influence of religion impairs its ability to reflect deeply about morality and human need. Ashcroft noted that a society that jettisons religion ends up “sinking in a quagmire of immorality.” Ashcroft was quite clear: “Secularism leads to depravity.”

Statism, the second trend identified by Ashcroft, is when the state takes over most or all spheres of life, leaving little room for freedom of conscience. The state becomes the ultimate authority and the arbiter of morality. Ashcroft pointed to communism as typifying the statist approach. Statism undermines human dignity and freedom. “The individual must rise above statism,” he asserted, noting that Christians schools are an important bulwark for freedom.

Ashcroft identified paganism, the third trend, as “de-centered religion” — spirituality that de-emphasizes the person of Christ and biblical truths. “Orthodoxy and old-fashioned holiness,” Ashcroft noted, “are held up to ridicule while paganism and superficial religion are receiving the plaudits of men.”

How can Christians promote biblical values in a society that has drifted from its Christian roots? Ashcroft noted that many colleges and universities began as Christian institutions but over time drifted from their founding values and mission. A Christian heritage does not guarantee a Christian future. Christians must not reject higher education as ungodly, Ashcroft advised, and should instead work to develop institutions that reflect their values.

In his address, Ashcroft expressed a high calling for Evangel College — that it become “a true fountainhead of spiritual leadership, Christian character, and devoted orthodoxy.” This mission — that Assemblies of God schools serve as a training ground for reflective, faithful Christian leaders — remains a focus for the Fellowship 60 years later.

Read J. Robert Ashcroft’s commencement address, “A Call to Christian Service,” on pages 4-5 and 20-21 of the July 14, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Let the Fire Fall!” by Bert Webb

* “Should Christians Drink? Smoke?” by Betty Stirling

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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