Category Archives: Native Americans

Indian Revival Church: Bridging Tribal Divides in Los Angeles for Sixty Years

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Indian Revival Center, Bell Gardens, California, 1962.

This Week in AG History — December 1, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 1 December 2016

During the past century, countless Native Americans have been moving from reservations and rural areas to the urban centers of America. One of the top destinations has been Los Angeles, where over 250,000 people of Native American descent now live.

In 1956, Assemblies of God evangelist Arthur Stoneking recognized this demographic shift and pioneered Indian Revival Center (now Indian Revival Church), a congregation for Native Americans in Bell Gardens, which is located in Los Angeles County. Stoneking, a member of the Winnebago tribe, had remarkable success in bringing together people from various tribes. Started as a home bible study, the congregation soon became the largest Native American congregation in Los Angeles.

By 1964, several hundred Native Americans originating from over 30 tribes had joined Indian Revival Center. This diversity could have pulled the congregation apart. However, Stoneking emphasized similarities within various Indian cultures, creating a vibrant community for people who had been removed from their familial or tribal networks. Importantly, he also taught that earthly allegiances should pale in comparison to one’s heavenly citizenship, and that the bonds between Christians should be greater than tribal differences.

One of Indian Revival Center’s most successful ministries was its choir, which traveled across America. Choir members sang and testified in a variety of Native American languages and recorded a popular LP record. Stoneking also started a radio program that featured church members preaching in Native American languages, along with translation of the sermons into English.

Stoneking wrote an article about his fledgling flock in the Dec. 1, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He noted that salvation “wrought many miracles” in the lives of his church members, including the restoration of broken families and freedom from addictions to alcohol and drugs. One of the miracles, he noted, was “happy fellowship” among members of different tribes who would not ordinarily mix. Sixty years later, Indian Revival Church continues to build bridges across the ethnic divides, providing a welcoming home to people from Native American and numerous other ethnic backgrounds.

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Rev. Irving Terry (left), a convert of Arthur Stoneking, is a member of the Elders Council of the Native American Fellowship of the Assemblies of God. He is pictured here with Rev. Rodger Cree, 2008.

Read Arthur Stoneking’s article, “Indians in Los Angeles,” on pages 12-13 of the Dec. 1, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Holy Quest,” by Leonard Palmer

• “Even So I Send You,” by Paul E. Lowenberg

• “We Are His Workmanship,” by David McKee

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived edition 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Filed under History, Missions, Native Americans

How Summer Camps Helped Ministry among Native Americans to Flourish in the Assemblies of God

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James F. Pepper, Assemblies of God evangelist and member of the Cherokee Nation. Circa 1960s.

This Week in AG History — October 06, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 06 October 2016

Native Americans were among the founders of the Assemblies of God. Two Cherokee ministers, William H. Boyles and Watt Walker, traveled from Oklahoma to attend the first General Council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914.

Early Assemblies of God ministry among Native Americans was largely uncoordinated, consisting of individual evangelists and missionaries who went wherever they felt called to go. By the late 1930s, the newly formed Department of Home Missions began to give direction to these efforts to reach Native Americans with the gospel.

Ministry among Native Americans flourished. By 1945, the Assemblies of God supported 58 missionaries who worked in 37 mission stations, mostly on reservations. One of the most effective forms of large-scale evangelism was the development of “summer Indian camps.” The first camp specifically for Native Americans was held in 1948 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. By the 1950s, the Assemblies of God regularly sponsored Native American camps across the nation. These camps served both spiritual and social functions, helping to evangelize non-believers and to network believers.

Victor Trimmer, Assemblies of God National Home Missions secretary, wrote about five Native American camps he had visited in an article published in the Oct. 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He described the “spirited singing, fervent prayer, and wholehearted worship” that he witnessed at the camps. Over 700 people attended one of the camps, the Apache Indian Camp at Carrizo, Arizona. Attendees camped in tepees, wick-i-ups, shades, and cowboy tents. While most Anglo camps of the era generally featured a cafeteria, which served as a commons for campers, the Native American campers cooked traditional food for themselves over an open campfire.

At a camp in Norris, South Dakota, Trimmer reported that God transformed many lives at the altar. He wrote, “Many sought God for salvation with tears. The hand of the Lord was stretched forth to heal, and I witnessed the greatest miracles of healing that I have ever seen in my life. Deaf, crippled, and sick were healed as these hungry, believing people looked to God for His help.”

At the end of his summer tour of the Indian camps, Trimmer expressed gratitude for the 100 Assemblies of God missionaries to Native Americans. He remarked, “Their consecration and willingness to deny themselves challenged me.”

The Assemblies of God has continued to flourish among Native Americans. In 2015, the Assemblies of God reported 47,212 Native American adherents in the United States. This represented a 38 percent increase since 2001. The districts with the largest numbers of Native American adherents in 2015 were: Arizona (7,291), Oklahoma (6,832), Northwest (4,348), North Carolina (2,860), New Mexico (2,748), Alaska (2,399), Northern California-Nevada (1,976), Southern California (1,562), South Dakota (1,444), Montana (1,421), Minnesota (1,294), and North Dakota (1,228). It is fitting that Native Americans, who are often called First Peoples, were among the first pioneers in the Assemblies of God. The strong foundation they laid now supports an important and growing segment of the Fellowship.

Read the entire article, “Summer Indian Camps” by Victor Trimmer, on pages 14 and 15 of the Oct. 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Christ’s Message to a Fallen Church,” by Frank J. Lindquist

• “The Ministry of Books,” by G. M. Strombeck

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

The photo of James F. Pepper is part of the James F. Pepper Collection, deposited at the Heritage Center by his granddaughter, evangelist Becky Fischer.

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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Filed under History, Missions, Native Americans