Category Archives: News

James F. Linzey Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

SONY DSCJames Franklin Linzey, namesake of his uncle, Pentecostal evangelist Franklin Hall, and son of Assemblies of God ministers Chaplain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr. and Dr. Verna M. (Hall) Linzey, has deposited his personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

James F. Linzey has spent his life in service to God and country. He served as a Pentecostal chaplain for 24 years in both the Air Force and the Army with high honors, retiring in 2009 with an Honorable Discharge. He is a prolific author, he has hosted numerous Christian television broadcasts, and he served as manager of Verna Linzey Ministries during his mother’s final decades of evangelistic ministry. Linzey’s most significant contribution to the Christian church, however, is likely his Biblical scholarship that resulted in two new Bible translations: the Modern English Version and the New Tyndale Version.

Linzey served side by side with Assemblies of God educator Stanley M. Horton, Th.D., as the Chief Editor of the Modern English Version Bible translation, now used in the Fire Bible, and General Editor of the New Tyndale Version Bible translation, also with Dr. Horton, Dr. Verna Linzey, and their committee of other reputable Bible scholars, which is scheduled to be released sometime before 2025, the 500th Anniversary of the Tyndale Bible.

The Modern English Version, published by Passio (an imprint of Charisma Media), has become a prominent Bible translation since its debut in 2014. The Modern English Version retains the style and feel of the King James Version, and yet uses the most modern English allowed within the parameters of the Formal Equivalence approach, and is based on the Textus Receptus. The New Tyndale Version differs from the Modern English Version in that it will be based on the eclectic Nestle-Aland/UBS text of the Greek New Testament.

Dr. Linzey hosted his own worldwide television broadcasts, titled “Operation Freedom,” which emphasized the classical Pentecostal doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He was invited by the Vision Chanel in the United Kingdom to host these programs, which aired to 400 million people in Europe, Russia, North Africa, and hundreds of millions more around the world. His broadcasts aired in the United States on God’s Learning Chanel (GLC), and Angel One in the Far East. Additionally, he has spoken on the baptism in the Holy Spirit on ‘Behind the Scenes’ with Paul Crouch, Sr., and ‘Praise the Lord’ on Trinity Broadcasting Network worldwide, Daystar Television Network with Marcus and Joni Lamb, and SON Broadcasting Network, and Hosanna Broadcasting Network as a guest of Dr. Verna Linzey and Dr. Terry Warren. He has spread the Pentecostal message on American Voice Radio throughout North, Central and South America.

Chaplain Jim Linzey and Dr. Paul Crouch on Behind the Scenes, TBN Sep 7, 2004

Jim Linzey and Paul Crouch, on the “Behind the Scenes” television program, Trinity Broadcasting Network, September 7, 2004

Other media appearances included ABC News, CBS News, CNN News, FOX news, NBC News, Christian Broadcasting Network, and “Glenn Beck” on FOX.

Dr. Linzey has disseminated the Pentecostal message through his books The Holy Spirit, A Divine Appointment in Washington, DC, and his tract How to Pray for People to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. He has also written a number of articles on the Holy Spirit, published by Pneuma Review.

A professionally trained actor, Jim had a role in the major feature film Iniquity, in which he was cast as a military chaplain in a court scene along with Dr. Verna Linzey who was the lead juror. The film was an update of the Bible story of David and Bathsheba. He also sang on the soundtrack, harmonizing with Verna Linzey on her rendition of ‘The Rose’ by Bette Middler.

In 2018 Sony Provident Films which produced the major feature film ‘Indivisible’ invited Dr. Linzey to write two of the Indivisible Devotionals for the movie.

Additionally, he is the general editor for The Military Bible and The Presidents’ Bible, both edited by Military Chaplains and published by Military Bible Association, Inc., which he and Verna Linzey co-founded.

Dr. Linzey has preached the Pentecostal message in his own crusades in Ukraine, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and also participated in Verna Linzey Crusades. The latter reached 80,000 people in Haiti in 2013, and hundreds of pastors as part of Verna Linzey’s ministry team at the Singaporean Pastors’ Convention in Singapore in June 26-29, 2014. Additionally, he has taught the Pentecostal message at various schools, including Regent University, Oral Roberts University, Christ for the Nations Institute, and Asia Pacific Theological Seminary.

Dr. Linzey did promotional work for Franklin Hall. He officiated at Mrs. Franklin Hall’s funeral at the International Healing Cathedral in January of 2010 and conducted the World Believer’s Convention there in 2010. He provided administrative support for and ministered with his parents, Stanford and Verna Linzey.

Jim Linzey on The Word with Dr. Verna Linzey Television program August 2012

Jim Linzey, on “The Word with Dr. Verna Linzey” television program, August 2012

As a Pentecostal chaplain, Dr. Linzey has laid hands on many airman and soldiers to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Serving with distinction for 24 years, his more notable positions were as supervising chaplain for the largest mobilization and demobilization mission in the continental United States at Fort Bliss, Texas in 2003-2004; and also as the first full time chaplain for the Leader’s Training Course under the U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 2006.

Dr. Linzey received a BA at Southern California College in 1979; an M.Div. at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1983, received an honorary D.D. at Kingsway Theological Seminary in 2000. Dr. Linzey mastered New Testament Greek at Fuller Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary.

Over the course of his ministry, Linzey collected a substantial archive of materials documenting his own ministry, as well as that of his uncle and parents. Linzey earlier deposited the Franklin Hall Collection, the Verna Linzey Collection, and the Stanford Linzey Collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The James F. Linzey Collection includes publications, photographs, sermons, audio-visual materials, correspondence, MEV Bibles and NTV New Testaments, and other historical materials. The collection provides insight into the life and ministry of a Pentecostal military chaplain whose passion for the Bible and for the Pentecostal experience has made a lasting contribution to the Pentecostal Movement and the Church overall.

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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 archives and research center 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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Charles Price Jones/Anita Bingham Jefferson Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

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Charles Price Jones

By Darrin J. Rodgers

Charles Price Jones (1865-1949) was a prominent African American church leader, composer, educator, theologian, and poet. He founded the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., an African American Holiness denomination that shares a common history with the Church of God in Christ. He composed over 1,000 songs, many of which continue to be sung in churches across the denominational and racial divides. The songs for which Price is possibly best known are “Deeper, Deeper” and “Come Unto Me.”

Jones was licensed to preach as a Baptist minister in 1885. Jones was concerned that many Christians of his day seemed unconcerned with spiritual disciplines and godly living. He identified with the Holiness movement, seeking to bring spiritual renewal to black Baptist churches. He served as a pastor and an evangelist throughout the South. He also served as editor of the Baptist Vanguard newspaper, published by Arkansas Baptist College.

In 1895, Jones became pastor of the prominent Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church, which was the oldest African American church in Jackson, Mississippi. In the same year, Jones befriended another young Baptist minister, Charles Harrison Mason. A growing Holiness movement coalesced as Mason and like-minded ministerial colleagues joined Jones in a quest for holy living.

The emergence of the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) resulted in a split within the Holiness association led by Jones. While Jones and Mason both acknowledged that the gift of speaking in tongues had not ceased, they differed on whether it was the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Mason accepted the Pentecostal view of evidentiary tongues, while Jones did not. The led to the 1907 organization of the Pentecostal group, over which Mason was selected as overseer. Both groups went by the name Church of God in Christ. After several years of legal battles over the use of the name, Mason’s group won the right to call itself Church of God in Christ. Those who followed Jones incorporated in 1920 as Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.

During the first half of the twentieth century, Jones was a well-known figure in African American Holiness and Pentecostal circles. However, in recent decades Jones and his remarkable achievements have faded from the memory of many Christians. This may be partly due to the relative growth of the two groups. The Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. reported 12,960 members in 139 churches in the United States in 2012. The Church of God in Christ, however, in 1991 reported 5,499,875 members in 15,300 churches (these statistics apparently include worldwide members and churches).

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Dr. Anita Bingham Jefferson

Dr. Anita Bingham Jefferson, Christian educator and women’s leader in the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., has sought to educate new generations about Jones and his legacy by preserving and promoting his writings and life story. Over the past forty years, she has gathered historical materials. Since 1981, she has written or published seventeen books about Jones and the history of the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.  Several of Jefferson’s books about Charles Price Jones are still in print and are available on amazon.com.

Jefferson has deposited copies of her books, as well as some of her research materials, at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). These materials shed important light on Jones and the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., as well as more broadly on African American hymnody and the African American Holiness movement.

Pentecostal historians will find the collection indispensable in their efforts to better understand Charles Harrison Mason and the origins of the Church of God in Christ, which cannot be understood apart from the history of the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A.

Interestingly, the denominations led by Jones and Mason identify differing origin stories. The Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. originated in 1897. In 1896, after an extended period of prayer, Jones felt impressed by God to call for a Holiness convention. The convention was held the following year, in June 1897, at Mt. Helm Missionary Baptist Church.

The Church of God in Christ has identified two dates as its origin: 1897 and 1907. Two significant events relating to Mason occurred in 1897: he established a congregation in Lexington, Mississippi, and he received a revelation that the church should be named “Church of God in Christ.” The 1907 date refers to the Church of God in Christ’s organization as a Pentecostal denomination under Mason’s leadership.

Following the 1907 separation, the two groups grew and formed new churches across the United States. The Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. established its headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, and the Church of God in Christ established its headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.

CPJonesBook

One of Dr. Jefferson’s books about C. P. Jones

Dr. Anita B. Jefferson deposited the collection at the FPHC with encouragement from Mother Mary P. Patterson, widow of J. O. Patterson, Sr., who served as Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop (1968-1989). Patterson, through her company, the Pentecostal Heritage Connection, has spent over 12 years raising awareness of the Charles Harrison Mason’s formative ministry years in Mississippi. She organized tour groups of Lexington, she built relationships with community leaders, church leaders, and academics, and she spearheaded the placement of two official State Historical Markers in Lexington. Patterson deposited her husband’s papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in 2012.

The Charles Price Jones/Anita Bingham Jefferson Collection takes its place alongside other significant African-American Pentecostal collections deposited at the FPHC in recent years, including:

  • Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. Collection (Patterson served as Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, 1968-1989)
  • Mother Lizzie Robinson/Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection (Robinson was the founder of the Church of God in Christ Women’s Department)
  • James L. Tyson Collection (Tyson is the historian of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, which is the largest African-American Oneness Pentecostal denomination)
  • Alexander C. Stewart Collection (Stewart is the historian of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., the second largest African American Oneness Pentecostal denomination)
  • Robert James McGoings, Jr. Collection (McGoings was a prominent African-American Oneness Pentecostal from Baltimore, Maryland)

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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 archives and research center 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: http://www.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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Franklin Hall Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

58 Franklin Hall 1937

Franklin Hall, 1937

Franklin Hall (1909-1994), a prominent Pentecostal evangelist, was best-known for his emphasis on prayer and fasting. Hall had roots in the Assemblies of God, and his later worldwide ministry made an impact on the broader Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

Hall’s nephew, Chaplain (MAJ) James F, Linzey, USA (Ret.), recently deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center a large collection of books, tracts, periodicals, photographs, and audio/visual footage documenting Franklin Hall’s life and ministry. The Franklin Hall Collection, which provides valuable insight into segments of the Pentecostal movement that have not been sufficiently documented, will be a boon to researchers.

Franklin was born in 1909 in the mid-western town of Coffeyville, Kansas, the first of six children, to Carey F. Hall and Alice M. Hall. He was Methodist Episcopal from birth. At age 12, deeply distraught that his father passed away, and with many business responsibilities that he took on to help his mother and siblings, he sought a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit. He received permission from his mother to attend the newly-formed Pentecostal church in Coffeyville, founded by Francis L. Doyle. Franklin’s mother and siblings eventually joined him and also began attending the Pentecostal church.

Doyle was a widower, and he married Franklin’s mother, Alice. They became ministry partners. Under Doyle’s leadership, the congregation voted to join the Assemblies of God. Doyle ultimately transferred his ordination to the Pentecostal Church of God, which also ordained Alice.

Upon graduating from Coffeyville High School, Franklin attended Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri. After leaving CBI, he began conducting river baptismal services and “Hallelujah Parades” in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He gained a following as an independent Pentecostal evangelist.

Franklin Hall collection

A few publications by Franklin Hall

In the 1940s, Franklin moved his ministerial headquarters to San Diego. In 1946, Franklin founded Miracle Temple, where he established the Fasting and Prayer Daily Revival Center with the help of Burroughs Waltrip (Kathryn Kuhlman’s husband), Stanley Comstock, Earl Ivy, Tommy Baird, Myrtle Page, and Franklin’s brothers, Harold, Virgil, and Delbert. Delbert and his wife Florence were co-pastors. Franklin’s sister, Burnena Van Horn, assisted with music, and his other sister, Verna Linzey, occasionally spoke. Under his leadership, assisted by Jack Walker, the teaching of fasting as a means of bringing about revival and the restoration of the Church spread throughout the Pentecostal world.

In 1946 Franklin and his wife, Helen, sold some assets and borrowed against their home to finance the printing of millions of pieces of literature to send to people all over the world. His best-known book, Atomic Power with God by Fasting and Prayer, was widely circulated in Pentecostal circles.

Franklin Hall and his teachings were influential in the Latter Rain movement in the late 1940s and in the salvation and healing revivals of the late 1940s and early 1950s. However, some of Hall’s teachings – including his views on fasting and demons – were critiqued by both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals as being extreme.

Franklin Hall Posters at Meeting Location

Posters at Franklin Hall meeting location, circa 1940s.

Believers from many denominations came to Miracle Temple to hear Franklin’s teaching concerning prayer and fasting. Many went on consecration fasts of only water, some for twenty to more than sixty days. They prayed for worldwide revival. They wanted to see salvation and healing, and the restoration of the gifts of the Spirit.

Christians from around the world reported significant results from prayer and fasting: demons were cast out, the mentally ill were healed, people with cancer were healed, the blind received their sight, and the crippled were healed. People with stomach ulcers, palsy, tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis were healed. People with smoking and drinking addictions were instantly set free. Many received Christ as Saviour and were baptized in water and in the Spirit.

It is reported that one thousand people received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour during the first year at Miracle Temple. Most were military men from across America stationed in San Diego. They carried the message of the Gospel around the world in their travels with the U.S. Navy. One sailor who did office work for Franklin Hall, and whom Franklin mentored, was Stanford Linzey. He married Franklin’s sister, Verna, and went on to become the first active duty Assemblies of God Navy chaplain.

Franklin conducted crusades throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and West Africa. His crusades attracted large crowds and he had a significant worldwide following.

Franklin Hall Set to begin in Ghana in 1960s

Franklin Hall crusade in Ghana, 1960s

In 1956 Franklin moved his headquarters to Phoenix, Arizona, where he founded the Hall Deliverance Foundation, and later built the International Healing Cathedral. In 1970 Hall’s ministry included thirty-two affiliated churches and two thousand members. After publishing Healing Word News with great success, he began publishing Miracle Word Magazine in 1965, which eventually reached a peak circulation of 24,000.

Franklin passed away in 1994. In 2010, Helen passed away. Franklin Hall was a prominent member of a generation of Pentecostal healing evangelists, few of whom remain alive today.

Scholars are increasingly interested in evangelists, including Hall, who helped lay the foundation for Pentecostalism’s significant growth worldwide. One such scholar, Matthews A. Ojo, documented Franklin Hall’s influence in Africa, which until recent has received very little scholarly attention. Ojo’s book, The End-Time Army (Africa World Press, 2006), documented Franklin Hall’s contribution to charismatic student movements in Nigeria in the 1970s.

Another scholar, Laura Premack, Lecturer in Global Religion & Politics at Lancaster University in England, has built upon Ojo’s research, finding that Franklin Hall had influence in Nigeria as early as the 1940s. In a recent article, “Prophets, Evangelists, and Missionaries: Trans-Atlantic Interactions in the Emergence of Nigerian Pentecostalism” (Journal of Religion, 2015), she reported, “Hall published prolifically from the 1940s through the 1970s, and a primary focus of his ministry was to print and ship his newsletters, books, and pamphlets around the world. They circulated in the United States and West Africa, influencing both American healing evangelists and Nigerian Christians.”

When Premack was informed that Franklin Hall’s archival collection was deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, she responded, “It’s fantastic that the FPHC is archiving this collection! There is currently no straightforward way to access sources on Franklin Hall, who deserves a lot more scholarly attention than he’s received.”

Now, with the Franklin Hall Collection accessible at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, it will be easier than ever to study the life, ministry, and worldwide impact of this fascinating evangelist who encouraged Christians to pray, fast, and believe God for great things.

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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 archives and research center 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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Church Stats, 1975-2015: Charts Show Decline of Mainline Protestants and Growth of Pentecostals

Stats 2015 1

Stats 2015 2

The numbers are in! The annual statistics for 2015 have now been released by the following eight major Christian denominations: Assemblies of God, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.

Over the past 40 years, the number of adherents of mainline Protestant denominations has declined significantly. The Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention both show modest increases, although their growth has plateaued in recent years. The Assemblies of God, like many Pentecostal groups, has experienced significant growth over the past four decades.

Sources for charts:
Assemblies of God
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Roman Catholic Church
Southern Baptist Convention
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church

Notes:
ELCA: Formed in 1987 by a merger of three bodies: American Lutheran Church (1960-1987); Lutheran Church in America (LCA) (1962-1987); and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) (1976-1987). Tallies for 1975, 1980, and 1985 include stats of predecessor bodies. The AELC was a split from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1976. The 1975 tally does not include stats for LCMS churches which later formed the AELC, which has the effect of understating the ELCA’s loss from 1975 to the present.
PC(USA): Formed in 1983 by a merger of United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Tallies for 1975 and 1980 include stats of predecessor bodies.

_________________

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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Alexander C. Stewart Deposits Important African-American Pentecostal Collection at FPHC

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William L. Bonner (left), Chief Apostle of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., with Alexander C. and Shirlene Stewart on their wedding day, June 22, 1985, at Solomon’s Temple, Detroit, Michigan.

Alexander C. Stewart, the respected historian of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc. (COOLJC), has deposited an important African-American Pentecostal collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC).

Stewart has a long history in both Trinitarian and Oneness African-American churches. He was raised in Bethel Gospel Assembly, the large Harlem congregation affiliated with the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God. In 1974, while still in high school, he accepted the Oneness message and became a member of Greater Refuge Temple, the COOLJC headquarters church located in Harlem. Immediately upon joining his new church, he began collecting historical materials relating to African-American Oneness Pentecostalism.

Stewart described his passion for preserving Pentecostal history: “My life was changed, and I wanted to ensure the preservation of the legacy, heritage and contributions of African Americans and African-Caribbean Americans to Pentecostalism and American religion. As denominations and religious movements mature, generations become disconnected from the values, struggles and sacrifices of their founders. We must remember where we came from, and we must know our roots, so we can shape the future for this generation and the next.”

Alexander Stewart has served the COOLJC in various capacities. In 1988, he was appointed Chairman of the Church History Committee for the Greater Refuge Temple Board of Youth Education. He was editor of the Board’s periodical, Educationally Speaking. In 1991, he was appointed Assistant Historian, serving under Dr. Robert C. Spellman. Stewart and his wife, Shirlene, moved in 1993 to Columbia, South Carolina, and assisted Chief Apostle William L. Bonner in planting a new congregation. When the W. L. Bonner School of Theology (now W. L. Bonner College) was established in Columbia in 1995, Alexander and Shirlene were founding faculty members. He holds a Masters of Theology (Parkerburg Bible College, 2002) and a Masters of Theological Studies (Regent University, 2014).

A careful researcher and writer, Stewart has edited or written for numerous scholarly and church-related publications. His first book, The Silent Spokesman: Bishop Robert Clarence Lawson (1994), was co-authored with Sherry Sherrod DuPree. He also served as editorial and research consultant for the 1999 biography of Presiding Bishop William L. Bonner, And the High Places I’ll Bring Down. He also wrote three articles in The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (Blackwell, 2011), edited by Dr. George Thomas Kurian. He is a longtime member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and he has presented three papers at the society’s annual meetings.

Stewart

A few publications from the Alexander C. Stewart Collection.

The Alexander C. Stewart Collection consists of 6 linear feet of publications, newspaper clippings, and correspondence, primarily relating to the COOLJC, other African-American Oneness Pentecostal churches, and Bethel Gospel Assembly. The bulk of the collection documents the development of the COOLJC over the past 30 years, with special attention to denominational publications and W. L. Bonner College.

Stewart began depositing materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center over 20 years ago and has continued to add items over the years. Due to the collection’s size and importance, the items have been brought together and recataloged as a special collection, which will aid researchers. Stewart has placed additional collections of materials at the following repositories: the United Pentecostal Historical Center (Hazelwood, MO), Schomburg Center for Black Research (New York Public Library), and Pan-African Archive of the William Seymour College (Bowie, MD).

The Alexander C. Stewart Collection is important, as it provides researchers access to materials that may otherwise be difficult to find. African-Americans, other than the iconic figures of William J. Seymour and Charles H. Mason, are often neglected in standard Pentecostal history books. This is ironic, as African-Americans played leading roles in the origins and development of Pentecostalism in America. In concentrating on the development of certain white segments of the movement, historians often have under-represented the stories of ethnic minorities and those in the plethora of smaller Pentecostal denominations. In recent years, the FPHC has attempted to remedy this problem by building bridges across the racial, linguistic, national, and denominational divides, intentionally collecting materials from the broader Pentecostal movement.

The Alexander C. Stewart collection fills in important gaps in the FPHC’s collections by making accessible a large amount of primary and secondary source materials on the COOLJC, which is the second largest African-American Oneness Pentecostal denomination in the United States. The Alexander C. Stewart Collection takes its place alongside other significant African-American Pentecostal collections deposited at the FPHC in recent years, including:

_________________

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 archives and research center 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: http://www.iFPHC.org

 

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Assemblies of God 2015 Statistics Released, Growth Spurred by Ethnic Transformation

Samoan District Council 2013 -2

The Assemblies of God is one of the few major denominations in the United States to show continuing growth. But the real story is the ethnic transformation of the Assemblies of God. It is becoming less white and more reflective of the ethnic, linguistic and social diversity that exists in the global church.

When the Assemblies of God (AG) released its 2015 statistical reports this month, the press release noted that the denomination’s number of U.S. adherents had grown for 26 consecutive years. In 2015, the AG showed growth of 1.4% to 3,192,112 U.S. adherents. This was almost double the growth rate of the U.S. population, which increased by 0.77%.

The number of U.S. churches also showed growth (from 12,849 to 12,897, up 0.4%), as did the numbers of members (up 0.3%), ministers (up 0.5%), and major worship service attendance (up 1.7%). Statistics for other key indicators of church health–including conversions, Spirit baptisms, and water baptisms–have not yet been released.

Much of the numerical growth in the Assemblies of God in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. From 2001 to 2015, the number of AG adherents increased by 21.5%. During this period, the number of white adherents decreased by 1.6% and the number of non-white adherents increased by 76.8%. From 2014 to 2015, the percentage of white adherents dropped from 57.6% to 57.2%. It should be noted that the number of white adherents in the U.S. includes quickly-growing constituencies of immigrants from places such as the former Soviet Union and Romania. Without these new white immigrants, the white constituency in the Assemblies of God would be falling even more quickly.

The growth of the Assemblies of God is in marked contrast to most mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S., which have witnessed significant numerical declines in recent decades. From 1975 to 2015, the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost 56% of members; United Church of Christ lost 48%; The Episcopal Church lost 36%; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 30%; and the United Methodist Church lost 27%. Others showed increases, including the Southern Baptist Convention (20%) and the Roman Catholic Church (42%). During the same period, the Assemblies of God grew by 158%, from 1,239,197 adherents in 1975.

While mainline denominations have been declining for decades, in recent years some evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), have also begun to decline. SBC membership has decreased for nine straight years, prompting some pundits to predict the slow death of evangelicalism. Others have pointed out that Pentecostal and non-denominational churches show continuing growth. Faith trends expert Ed Stetzer has argued that American Christianity is undergoing “evangelicalization,” noting that the percentage of Americans who identify as evangelical or born-again is increasing. And much of that growth can be attributed to soaring numbers of ethnic minorities in churches.

In 2015, over 42% of U.S. Assemblies of God adherents were non-white. This is comparable to the ethnic diversity in the U.S. Catholic Church. According to a recent Pew study, 41% of U.S. Catholics are now racial and ethnic minorities (up from 35% in 2007). The study also revealed that 24% of evangelical Protestants (up from 19%) and 14% of mainline Protestants (up from 9%) are also racial and ethnic minorities.

The ethnic breakdown of the AG in 2015 showed significant diversity: Asian/Pacific Islander (4.8%); Black (9.7%); Hispanic (23.0%); Native American (1.5%); White (57.2%); and Other/Mixed (3.9%). These stats suggest that the AG closely mirrors the ethnic makeup of the U.S. population as a whole. The 2010 U.S. census revealed the following racial breakdown of the U.S. population: Asian/Pacific Islander (5%); Black (12.6%); Hispanic (16.3%); Native American (0.9%); White (63.7%); and Other /Mixed (6.2%).

The AG districts with the greatest percentage growth in the number of adherents from 2010 to 2015 are as follows: National Slavic (152%), Midwest Latin American (58%), North Dakota (56%), Minnesota (55%), German (51%), Korean (33%), Texas Louisiana Hispanic (29%), Hawaii (29%), South Texas (26%), and Brazilian (24%). Due to the changing borders of the Hispanic districts, which doubled from seven to fourteen in the past six years, data for most of these districts was unavailable for purposes of comparison.

The AG’s growth in America is partly due to immigration. The Assemblies of God is a global church. The Assemblies of God reported 67,992,330 adherents worldwide in 2015. About 1% of the world’s population is AG. Fewer than 5% of AG adherents worldwide live in the U.S. Pentecostals who move to America from other regions of the world often bring with them a faith, burnished by persecution and deprivation, that is an important part of their identity. Pentecostal refugees who move to America are like pollen scattered by a strong wind — they plant churches wherever they happen to land. Strong African, Slavic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic AG churches are taking root in American soil, and their congregations sing, preach, and testify in the tongues of their native countries.

Interestingly, this demographic shift is also helping to usher in a global re-alignment of Christianity. Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are generally evangelical in belief, if not Pentecostal in worship, and often have much more in common with their brothers and sisters in the Assemblies of God than they do with liberal members of their own denominations in the West.

The Assemblies of God is growing in America, due largely to a transformative demographic shift that has been underway for decades. The founding fathers and mothers of the Assemblies of God laid the foundation for this ethnic shift when they committed the Assemblies of God in November 1914 to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” In 1921 the Assemblies of God adopted the indigenous church principle as its official missions strategy, in order to better carry out world evangelism. The implementation of this strategy — which recognizes that each national church is autonomous and not controlled by Western interests — resulted in the development of strong national churches and leaders. And now, in a fitting turn of events, those churches are sending missionaries to America.

By Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D.
Director, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Photo: Scott Temple (Director of Ethnic Relations for the Assemblies of God) and Bill Welch (Alaska District Superintendent) pray over elected officials of the newly-formed Samoan District Council, in a meeting at Anchorage, Alaska, September 2013. By 2015, the Samoan District Council, which serves Samoans in the United States, had grown to 54 churches with 5,444 adherents.

Stats 2016 chart1Stats 2016 chart2

Sources for charts:
Assemblies of God
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Roman Catholic Church
Southern Baptist Convention
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church

Notes:
ELCA: Formed in 1987 by a merger of three bodies: American Lutheran Church (1960-1987); Lutheran Church in America (LCA) (1962-1987); and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) (1976-1987). Tallies for 1975, 1980, and 1985 include stats of predecessor bodies. The AELC was a split from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1976. The 1975 tally does not include stats for LCMS churches which later formed the AELC, which has the effect of understating the ELCA’s loss from 1975 to the present.
PC(USA): Formed in 1983 by a merger of United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Tallies for 1975 and 1980 include stats of predecessor bodies.

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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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