Category Archives: News

Pentecostal Evangel Celebrates 102nd Anniversary – First Issue Featured Interracial Content and Called for Unity

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This Week in AG History — July 19, 1913

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 16 Jul 2015

The Pentecostal Evangel, now known as PE News, is 102 years old this week. The magazine, launched as the Christian Evangel in 1913, transitioned from print to a digital platform at the beginning of 2015.

Over the years, PE News witnessed numerous changes. The title changed six times, and the place of publication changed three times. Publishing the weekly magazine was quite an undertaking. To lessen the cost and workload, the magazine was only published every other week from 1918 to 1923.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower established the Christian Evangel to report on revivals and missions activities and published it out of their home in Plainfield, Indiana. The first issue, dated July 19, 1913, featured interracial content. Three articles were by or about G. T. Haywood, the African-American pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis. The Flowers selected a masthead that remains relevant 102 years later: “The simplicity of the Gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith.” Their call to unity implicitly recognized that their readers did not yet have “unity of the faith” — that disagreement existed on some matters. In the meantime, they affirmed that believers should aim for “unity of the Spirit.”

This language recognizing spiritual unity amidst diversity was included in the preamble of the constitution adopted by the first General Council of the Assemblies of God in April 1914. At that same meeting, J. Roswell Flower was elected to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. The Flowers gave their magazine to the newly formed Assemblies of God. E. N. Bell, the first chairman, also gave his magazine, Word and Witness, to the new organization. The two periodicals merged in January 1916. The title changed in 1919 to Pentecostal Evangel, and under that name the periodical became one of the most prominent publications in the Pentecostal movement.

Today, PE News is the official news agency for the Assemblies of God and continues to network believers around the world.

Click here to read the first issue of the Christian Evangel.

Click here to read an engaging history of the Pentecostal Evangel, published in the 2013 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage.

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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Early Church of God of Prophecy Periodical Now Online – White Wing Messenger (1923-1954)

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The early history of the Church of God of Prophecy (COGOP) is now easier to access than ever! The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center recently completed digitization of the COGOP’s flagship periodical, the White Wing Messenger, from 1923 to 1954. These years (consisting of 765 issues) are now accessible on the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives website.

The COGOP is a significant classical Pentecostal denomination with over one million members in over 130 countries worldwide. Established in 1903 and with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee, the COGOP shares a common history with another classical Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). In recent years, the COGOP has been forging closer relationships with its sister Pentecostal fellowships.

The digitization of the White Wing Messenger was itself a cooperative effort across the denominational divides. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (the archives of the Assemblies of God) completed the digitization of the project. The idea for the project originated with Tim Carter, Director of the Arise Shine Pentecostal Historical Center. Carter suggested to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers that the White Wing Messenger needed to be digitized. The Arise Shine Pentecostal Historical Center is the archives of the [Ephesus] Church of God, a small denomination which has its roots in the COGOP. Rodgers approached Dr. David Roebuck, Director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center (the archives of the Church of God [Cleveland, TN]), and asked him if he could make contact with the appropriate person within the COGOP to secure permission. Roebuck contacted Paul Holt, who serves as Executive Director of Finance and Administration for the COGOP, who agreed to allow the magazine to be digitized. Through Roebuck’s encouragement, the COGOP became a member of the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives (CPA), a cooperative effort of Pentecostal archives, denominations, and publishing houses. Other CPA members include the denominational archives of the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The digitized issues of the White Wing Messenger are now accessible and text-searchable on the CPA website.

The years of the White Wing Messenger that have been digitized (1923-1954) are important because of the rarity of those issues and their importance to the formation of the COGOP. During these early years, the White Wing Messenger was published in a large newspaper format and very few copies survived. Starting in 1955, the magazine changed to a magazine format, and the denomination began selling annual bound volumes of the magazine. Bound volumes of these later years are located in various libraries and archives and are accessible to researchers. However, the years 1923 to 1954 were not very accessible to researchers.

Paul Holt expressed gratitude for the assistance in preserving and promoting the COGOP’s heritage. He stated, “we are deeply appreciative to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center for their willingness to digitize this historic material.  We are also pleased to join hands with our friends in the Pentecostal movement to celebrate our rich heritage while also moving forward to touch the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.” Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Digital Archivist William Molenaar supervised the digitization project and was assisted by Archives Specialists Michelle Rahmoeller and Caleb Whitlow.

Announcement of the digitized periodicals in the June 2015 issue of the White White Messenger

Announcement of the digitized periodicals in the June 2015 issue of the White White Messenger

Selected issues of the White Wing Messenger are linked below:

September 15, 1923

March 27, 1926

February 1, 1936

October 16, 1943

September 1, 1951

December 18, 1954

All 765 digitized issues of the White Wing Messenger are accessible on the CPA website: www.pentecostalarchives.org

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Patten University Archives Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center


Patten University, founded as Oakland Bible Institute in 1944 by noted female evangelist Dr. Bebe H. Patten (1913-2004), has long been an important part of the landscape of Oakland, California. Patten started in the ministry as a girl evangelist, graduated from L.I.F.E. Bible College in 1933, and was ordained by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1934. She was later ordained by a Wesleyan Holiness denomination and subsequently by another Pentecostal denomination. A successful revival crusade in Oakland in 1944 resulted in the formation of the Oakland Bible Institute, Patten Academy of Christian Education, and Christian Cathedral. She also formed Christian Evangelical Churches of America (CECA), which ordained graduates of the university and is a member denomination of the National Association of Evangelicals.

After severe financial difficulties led Patten University to be acquired by UniversityNow, a for-profit educational company in 2013, the school’s Christian mission was changed to a secular one. Following the acquisition, the University’s archives were placed at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri. In recent years the archives have been developed by long-time Patten educator and administrator Dr. Abraham Ruelas. He is also author of No Room for Doubt: The Life and Ministry of Bebe Patten (Seymour Press, 2012).

The Patten collection includes college yearbooks, catalogs, and periodicals; extensive correspondence relating to Patten and her husband, Carl Thomas Patten; photograph albums and scrapbooks; and other publications and materials. Bebe Patten was a larger-than-life personality, and the bulk of the collection relates to her and her family.

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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

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AG Superintendent to be Keynote Speaker at COGIC Symposium Honoring Bishop Mason’s 150th Birthday

Charles H. Mason (1864-1961), founding bishop of the Church of God in Christ.

Charles H. Mason (1864-1961), founding bishop of the Church of God in Christ.

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God USA, is slated to be keynote speaker at a symposium honoring Church of God in Christ founder Bishop Charles H. Mason on his 150th birthday.

In an official press release, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake is quoted as stating, “The Church of God in Christ is honored and elated to have Dr. George Wood as the keynote speaker during the C.H. Mason Heritage Symposium & Celebration. The Church of God in Christ and the Assemblies of God have a long history together that dates back to the late 1800s. I am personally looking forward to this time of sharing and fellowship.”

Dr. Wood will speak at the C.H. Mason Heritage Symposium & Celebration on Monday, September 8, 2014, 7 p.m., to be held at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. The event will be held September 8-10, 2014. The public is invited to attend.

The invitation to Dr. Wood to speak comes on the heels of another important milestone in the history of the relationship between the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ. Executive leaders from both denominations came together for two days of meetings in November 2013, during which they forged personal relationships, prayed, and discussed how the two churches might cooperate. Bishop Blake spoke at the Assemblies of God National Office chapel service on November 26, 2013.

AG General Superintendent George O. Wood and COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, November 26, 2013, at the Assemblies of God National Office chapel.

AG General Superintendent George O. Wood and COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, November 26, 2013, at the Assemblies of God National Office chapel.

The November 2013 meeting was preceded by a symposium in honor of the 100th birthday of former Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. The symposium, held in Springfield, Missouri, drew 1,000 people to events over September 17-18, 2012. The highlight of the symposium was the dedication of the Bishop J. O. Patterson Collection, consisting of the former presiding bishop’s personal papers, which his widow, Mother Mary P. Patterson, deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is located in the Assemblies of God National Office.

According to the Mason symposium press release, the Church of God in Christ has nearly 6.5 million adherents in 63 countries. While the number of adherents in the U.S. is not provided, it is widely believed to be the largest Pentecostal denomination in the nation. The Church of God in Christ is historically black, although from its earliest years it has included ministers and members of other races. The Assemblies of God USA is a multi-ethnic fellowship of over 3.1 million adherents, 41 percent of whom are non-white. In 2013, 9.6 percent of Assemblies of God USA adherents were black. The Assemblies of God USA is a constituent member of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, which claims over 67 million adherents.

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Dr. Stanley M. Horton (1916-2014), Bridge Builder and Servant

Horton COGIC

This photo shows Dr. Stanley M. Horton at Timmons Temple COGIC (Springfield, MO) in 2009 telling the story of his mother’s Spirit-baptism at the interracial Azusa Street Mission as a little girl. I was present and can testify that everyone was listening with rapt attention. The service, part of a three-day event, “A House No Longer Divided,” brought black and white Pentecostals together on April 13-15, 2009, remembering the unlikely dual anniversary of the beginning of the Azusa Street Revival and the Springfield Lynching. Both happened on April 14, 1906. This is one of my favorite pictures of Dr. Horton, because it captures his Pentecostal identity, rooted in the iconic Azusa Street Revival, and it shows his calling to teach, not just in the academy, but to those in the pew.

Dr. Stanley M. Horton (1916-2014), who went to be with the Lord yesterday at age 98, was a bridge builder. He built bridges across the racial, denominational, and academic divides. He was one of the Pentecostal movement’s most revered scholars, one of its most prolific authors, and one its most respected educators. His theological writings shaped generations of Pentecostals. But Stanley, to those of us who knew him, possessed something much greater than his Harvard degree. He was a gentle, humble, loving Christian man. He was a man of impeccable integrity. He loved his wife, Evelyn, and his children. He loved his students. He took time for everyone.

I am grateful that he poured himself into countless thousands of students who are now pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and educators. I am grateful for the late evenings he spent for 25 years, authoring the Adult Sunday School curriculum for the Assemblies of God. I am grateful for his numerous theological volumes. Stanley went home to be with the Lord, but his influence continues to be profound through the lives of those he discipled — in person and through the printed word.

Just seven weeks ago, Dr. Horton deposited his personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The collection consists of correspondence, class notes as a student and as a professor, his writings, and other materials related to his leadership in the church and the academy. Future researchers, students, and church leaders will have access to his thoughts for years to come.

Dr. Horton’s obituary is accessible on the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary website. Please take time to leave a personal note for the family. Dr. Horton was a giant, not because of his impressive achievements, but because he embodied what it meant to have a servant’s heart. I pray that his legacy of godliness and servanthood will live on in future generations of Pentecostal scholars.

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

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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

 

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Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released

Water baptism, 2013. Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

This water baptism was performed in 2013 by the pastors of Bread of Life Christian Church (Rogersville, Missouri), a growing Slavic congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

The Assemblies of God (AG) is one of the few major denominations in the United States to show continuing growth. The AG has now experienced 24 consecutive years of growth in the number of U.S. adherents, according to a press release from the AG National Leadership and Resource Center in Springfield, Missouri. The article compares the AG’s growth to the “declining attendance for many other North American evangelical denominations.”

The 2013 Full Statistical Report was not posted on the AG website as of today (6/16/14), but the article provided the following notable statistics for calendar year 2013. For comparative purposes, statistics from 2008 and 2012 are also provided here.

U.S. Stats             2008             2012            2013     2012-13 Growth

Adherents                   2,899,702       3,095,717        3,127,857        1.0%

Churches                     12,377              12,722               12,792               0.6%

Membership              1,662,632        1,780,468        1,805,381        1.4%

Major Worship

Service Attendance  1,799,987       1,880,269      1,918,686        2.0%

Water baptisms          114,091           131,713           137,375           4.3%

Spirit baptisms            85,667             81,345             83,731             2.9%

Conversions                 441,377           453,496          456,395         0.6%

Credentialed ministers34,178           35,867             36,434           1.6%

Worldwide Stats       

Adherents                   61,550,938      66,383,778      67,512,302      1.7%

Preaching Points         332,411           362,791           366,105           0.9%

The AG is growing at a faster rate than the U.S. population, which increased by 0.7% in 2013. The number of U.S. adherents has been increasing at a relatively steady pace — at an average of 1.6% per year since 1989, and 1.5% per year since 2008.

In recent decades, most mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have witnessed significant numerical declines. From 1960 to 2011, the United Church of Christ lost 48% of adherents; The Episcopal Church lost 43%; the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost 35%; the United Methodist Church lost 29%; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 19%. Others showed increases, including the Southern Baptist Convention (66%) and the Roman Catholic Church (62%). During the same period, the Assemblies of God grew by 498%, from 508,602 members in 1960.

While mainline denominations have been declining for decades, in the past few years some evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), have also begun to decline. SBC leaders recently have shown alarm over deceasing numbers of baptisms and conversions. The number of SBC baptisms has declined for seven straight years.  This demographic decline has caused some pundits to predict the slow death of evangelicalism.

Robust growth of Pentecostal churches, including the Assemblies of God, shows a different story. All statistics released in the article — water baptisms, Spirit baptisms, membership, attendance, conversions, and numbers of adherents, churches, and ministers — increased last year in the AG. Other categories, including attendance at Sunday evening and midweek services, were not included in the article and presumably declined. The AG press release attributes much of the growth to increases in ethnic minority churches and young people: “The impact is especially evident among Latino adherents, who now make up 20 percent of the Fellowship (more than 40 percent of total adherents are ethnic minorities), and Millennials (ages 18-34), who contributed 21 percent of the growth from 2001-2013.”

The breakdown of the 2013 numbers will be available in the yet-to-be-released Full Statistical Report. But the 2012 report shows the AG’s significant ethnic diversity: Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%); Black (9.8%); Hispanic (21.7%); Native American (1.4%); White (59.2%); and Other /Mixed (3.5%). 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%).

Much of the numerical growth in the Assemblies of God in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. From 2007 to 2012, the number of AG adherents increased by 8.1%. During this period, the number of white adherents increased by 1.6% and the number of non-white adherents increased by 19.2%. This demographic shift continued from 2011 to 2012, and the percentage of white adherents dropped from 59.6% to 59.2%. When the 2013 Full Statistical Report is released, it is likely to reveal that this demographic shift continued apace in 2013.

The AG’s growth in America is partly due to immigration. The Assemblies of God is a global church. About 1% of the world’s population is AG. Only 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, 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. 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. 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.

–Darrin J. Rodgers

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In 1934 Charles Robinson Foresaw and Condemned the Coming Jewish Holocaust

CE-Robinson

This Week in AG History — January 27, 1934

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 27 Jan 2014 – 4:20 PM CST

The year was 1934, and a rising tide of anti-semitism seemed to be sweeping the Western world. Adolph Hitler had recently ascended to power in Germany and strident voices in America were blaming Jews for the Great Depression.

Responding to this anti-semitism, Pentecostal Evangel associate editor Charles E. Robinson wrote an article “as a solemn warning to all Christians” to avoid playing any role in the persecution of the Jews. In his article, “A Lawyer Examines Evidence,” Robinson invoked his professional training to demonstrate that a widely-disseminated book purporting to be a secret Jewish manual for world domination was, in fact, a hoax. “The Jews are in for a bad time,” Robinson predicted. “That they will suffer every unspeakable villainy that godless men can devise is no doubt true.”

Charles E. Robinson (1867-1954) had stature in the professional and Christian communities. He began preaching in the Methodist church at age 17, graduated from law school, and practiced law with his father in Kansas City before entering the full time ministry. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1922 and quickly rose to prominence as a district leader in Arkansas. From 1925 until 1947 he served as an associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. He authored about 20 books, which were published by Gospel Publishing House, Zondervan, and various British publishers, among others.

Robinson was not alone in his sensitivity to the plight of persecuted Jews. The other associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, Myer Pearlman, was a British-born Jew who had accepted Christ and who became the most prominent Assemblies of God systematic theologian of the 1920s through the 1940s. Stanley Frodsham, the editor, was also from Britain and regularly alerted readers to the difficulties faced by Jews across Europe.

Read the entire article by Charles E. Robinson, “A Lawyer Examines Evidence,” on page 3 of the January 27, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Way of an Eagle,” by Tinnie Wheeler

* “Preach Faith,” by E. S. Williams

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 Evangelclick 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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