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Beulah Buchwalter: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary and Linguist in the Gold Coast, Africa

This Week in AG History —February 26, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 25 February 2021

Beulah Buchwalter (1907-1942), an Assemblies of God missionary in Gold Coast (now Ghana), served from a place of weakness made perfect in God’s strength. Despite needing rest, she volunteered during World War II to stay an additional term without furlough since no one was able to travel to take her place in Africa. When she died at age 34, she left behind the resources needed for an entire people group to read the Bible in their own language.

Born into a minister’s home in the early days of the Pentecostal revival, Buchwalter grew to love both the work of God and the Word of God. She helped her parents in pioneering an Assembly of God church in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, through teaching Sunday School and learning new skills to meet emerging needs around her.

In April of 1931, Assemblies of God missionary Lloyd Shirer came to their church and presented the need for help in his mission. Before the services were over, 23-year-old Beulah said “yes” to the call. Because of the urgency of the need, it was only a few short months from her call to her arrival on the field. A busy summer of raising funds to pay for her trip enabled her to sail in September 1931.

The first word her family received by cablegram was that Buchwalter was critically ill in Kumasi with typhoid fever. After a period of rest, she was able to begin her first term of missionary service at Yendi, home of the Dagomba tribe. The first order of business was to learn to communicate. After learning enough of the language, an alphabet needed to be created, the language written down, a dictionary compiled for use in translation, and then the people taught to read. The Dagomba people proved very receptive to the gospel message and needed discipleship.

Growing up in a minister’s home, Buchwalter was accustomed to learning new skills to meet needs as they arose. Her diary documents the mental strain of concentrating for hours at a typewriter, translating, and proofreading papers in a language she was just learning herself. Buchwalter also felt that it was vital for the people, who loved to sing, to have joyful songs about the Christian faith in their own language. So along with language work in the Gospels, she added the translation of choruses and hymns, and began to hold literacy classes for the boys of the village.

However, the climate, change in diet, and the demanding work began to take its toll on her health. After three years, her body was so weak that she wrote in her diary, “I do not understand what is happening to me, but I am trusting in the Heavenly Father.” Doctors finally diagnosed her with pellagra, a disease caused by lack of certain vitamins that causes inflammation and temporary dementia. She was told that if she ever wanted to work in Africa, she must return to the United States for treatment. Her heart was set on finishing a Dagbane songbook and she worked feverishly to complete it before her sailing date of Feb. 16, 1935.

While in the United States, her health improved and Buchwalter finished two years of study at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. The Feb. 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried the announcement that Beulah Buchwalter, along with Florence Blossom, was sailing again for the Gold Coast. Buchwalter’s first letter home after arriving stated, “Oh the joy of returning … my heart was thrilled when I landed at Accra on Sunday, March 27, 1938. Even with all the tropical heat … excitement reigned within me.”

After traveling over 500 miles on difficult roads, Buchwalther and Blossom arrived in Kumbungu. The two single women moved into a small hut and began to reach out to their new neighbors. Soon they were having daily prayer with their cook in the More language, the cook’s wife in the Ga dialect, their carpenter in Basari, and their errand boy in Dagbane. Within two years, these two women traveled to 50 of the outlying villages sharing the first gospel message, working with the words they knew in whatever language they encountered.

Again, Buchwalters’s passion to see the people read and sing in their own language consumed her. Although her parents asked her to consider coming home after the outbreak of World War II, Buchwalter decided to stay put. She felt the need was too great and that no one would be able to take her place, writing, “If the soldier boys can die for their country, why should we be afraid to carry on the work of the Lord?”

In February 1942, Buchwalter began work on a new primer in the Dagbani language, using Bible text to teach the people to read. Though struggling with weakness, she worked tirelessly until, finally, in September, she traveled to Tamale for printing. A few days after her return, she was confined to bed with a burning fever, drifting in and out of delirium. In her lucid moments, she sang and left messages for her newly converted friends.

On Nov. 15, 1942, Beulah Buchwalter slipped away quietly to be with her Lord. Her funeral was held in three languages with more than 300 people in attendance. She was buried at the mission station she founded, which is now the home of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary of Ghana, where men and women are still being taught the Word of God in their own language.

Read the announcement of Buckwalter’s sailing, “Missionaries Sailing,” on page 9 of the Feb. 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Need of Vision” by Archibald Cooper

• “Much Blessing at Egyptian Council”

• “Separation and Revelation” by Stanley Frodsham

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Marvin Buck and Larry Christenson: Methodist and Lutheran Pastors Refreshed by the Charismatic Movement

Larry Christenson

This Week in AG History — February 18, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 18 February 2021

In the late 1950s, Pentecostal revival began breaking out in places where Pentecostals least expected — mainline churches. This revival, which became known as the charismatic renewal, caused some confusion among Pentecostals, who were uncertain how to react.

Many expected these new charismatics to join Pentecostal congregations. Some did, and the Assemblies of God more than doubled in membership during the 1960s and 1970s, partly because of an influx of charismatics. However, many charismatics decided to stay put and worked to bring a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches.

The Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel featured two articles about mainline ministers who had been touched by the Holy Spirit in the charismatic renewal.

The first article, by Methodist pastor Marvin Buck, described how he had been hungering for “the evidence of God’s power” in his life and ministry. He was grieved that the services in his small church in Beach, North Dakota, “had been dead and dry for so long.” His church members did not seem the least bit interested in prayer or evangelism. He was desperate for spiritual life, yet he did not know how to find it.

Buck went to hear an Episcopalian lay minister, Mrs. Jean Stone, who spoke in a neighboring town about a revival that was bringing new life to mainline churches. Stone, a prominent early leader within the charismatic renewal, encouraged those in attendance to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Buck went to the altar at the end of the meeting, eager to have more of God. He prayed and, for the first time in his life, he “sensed the reality of the Holy Spirit.” He described his body as being “flooded with a glow of warmth,” and he received the gift of speaking in tongues.

The next night, Buck shared what had experienced with the Sunday school superintendent at his Methodist church. He said that he experienced the love, joy, and peace of God in a profound way, and she responded, “This is what we all need.”

Buck reported that many members of the Beach Methodist Church became involved in the charismatic renewal. Some experienced healings, the Bible study doubled in attendance, and prayer meetings started again.

Larry Christenson authored the second Pentecostal Evangel article by a mainline charismatic minister. Christenson, a Lutheran, had a longstanding interest in the gift of healing. He read voraciously on the subject, he taught about healing in his Lutheran parish in San Pedro, California, and many church members experienced healings.

Christenson began to wonder about other spiritual manifestations found in scripture. Were they also for today?  He came into contact with an elderly lady — “a true saint of God” — who was a former Lutheran. She had begun attending a congregation associated with a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She invited Christenson to her church, where he heard a message on the gifts of the Spirit. This piqued Christenson’s interest, and a week later he attended special services with David du Plessis at the Assembly of God in San Pedro. He went forward to the altar for prayer and was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Buck and Christenson, both baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1961, were pioneers of the charismatic renewal in mainline churches. Their testimonies were widely published, inspiring countless others to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What happened to them? Buck ended up transferring his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1965, while Christenson remained in the Lutheran church and became one of the most prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal.

Read the two articles in the Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Marvin Buck, “This is What Happened When the Holy Spirit Came to a Methodist Church” (pages 6-7, 23)

Larry Christenson, “How a Lutheran Pastor Was Baptized with the Holy Spirit” (page 25)

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Dynamics of Twentieth-Century Pentecost,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Ralph M. Riggs

• “What Pentecost Means to Me,” by James L. McQueen

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Scholars of the Spirit: 50th Anniversary of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Founding officers of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (l to r): Edward Wood, treasurer; William Menzies, president; Hollis Gause, vice president; and Vinson Synan, secretary.

This Week in AG History — February 7, 1971

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 12 February 2021

Pentecostals have been noted for their success in evangelism and missions. They have also left their mark on academia. The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS), an organization for Pentecostal scholars, was launched a little over 50 years ago. A notice in the Pentecostal Evangel reported on the organizational meeting, held in conjunction with the 9th Pentecostal World Conference in Dallas.

SPS was the brainchild of three Pentecostal educators representing different schools and denominations — William Menzies (Evangel College/Assemblies of God), Vinson Synan (Emmanuel College/Pentecostal Holiness Church), and Horace Ward (Lee College/Church of God). With the blessing of Pentecostal World Conference leader Yonggi Cho, they invited attendees to an organizational meeting held on Nov. 6, 1970. Klaude Kendrick, former president of Evangel College, spoke about Pentecostal scholarship, and the theme of the meeting was “Following the Spirit of Truth.”

Pentecostal leaders from a variety of backgrounds attended this first meeting, including U.S. AG General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman, Yonggi Cho, and David du Plessis (an Assemblies of God evangelist who built bridges with charismatics and mainline denominations), as well as Roman Catholic priest Kilian McDonnell, who was a noted scholar of the charismatic movement.

At the founding meeting, 139 individuals who identified with the Pentecostal and charismatic traditions gathered to discuss organizing a society to promote the study of Pentecostalism. In anticipation of the meeting, Synan wrote a draft constitution and bylaws based on the existing constitutions of the Wesleyan Theological Society and the Evangelical Theological Society. Bishop D. E. Underwood (Pentecostal Holiness Church) chaired the constitutional meeting. The SPS constitution included the classical Pentecostal statement of faith held by the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America.

The society was formed with the intent “to serve the church world by providing an authoritative interpretation of the Pentecostal Movement.” Later this was clarified by identifying this group as “a scholarly forum to interpret the Pentecostal movement.”

The original name that was considered was the Society of Pentecostal Scholars, but after some discussion, the name Society for Pentecostal Studies was approved. Scholars came from a variety of backgrounds, including Trinitarians, Oneness Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Charismatics, members of classical Pentecostal denominations, and independent scholars, as well as African Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups. In 1979 the society adopted the World Pentecostal Fellowship statement of purpose as the basis for full membership.

The society began with 108 charter members, and the membership has increased through the years. Since 1979, the society has published Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The society holds an annual conference which includes lectures on various topics related to Pentecostalism. These have been held in various localities in North America, including one conference held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

This year, in 2021, the Society for Pentecostal Studies will return to Dallas for its annual meeting and to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Read more in “Society for Pentecostal Studies Launched at Dallas Conference” on page 14 of the Feb. 7, 1971, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Springs Still Flow,” by R. L. Cox

• “Baptized With the Spirit,” by Robert C. Cunningham

• “It Happened 60 Years Ago,” by William F. P. Burton

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 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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J. T. Boddy’s Deathbed Message from 1931: Holiness and Heaven

J. T. Boddy with his wife and daughter, Macie. Circa 1915.

This Week in AG History — February 6, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 04 February 2021

A person’s last words often reveal what was in his or her heart.

John Thomas Boddy, former editor of the Pentecostal Evangel (1919-1921), was a poet and a deep theological thinker. He was ordained by the Free Methodist Church in 1901 and transferred his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1917. When he passed away on Nov. 6, 1931, he left behind a message that he wanted those still alive to carefully consider. 

What was Boddy’s message from his deathbed?

Boddy’s daughter, Macie Lucas, wrote that her father meditated constantly on the Word of God while ill during the last two months of his life. She recounted that he preached for hours at a time while on required bedrest, and that he sensed an urgency to share, above all else, biblical truths about the holiness of God. She received so many inquiries about his last words that she preserved them in an article in the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

According to Lucas, during his last weeks, Boddy repeatedly quoted Hebrews 12:14: “Without holiness no man shall see God.” Boddy knew he was dying, so it is understandable that he was meditating on Scripture verses about heaven. But Boddy emphasized the link between heaven and holiness.

Critics sometimes accuse early Pentecostals of promoting “works righteousness” in their emphasis on holiness. But Boddy explained that people cannot be holy by their own efforts. “God desires to impart His holiness to us,” he noted. This imparted holiness prepares the believer for heaven. He said: “There is no evil in heaven. There is no mixture in heaven. If you expect to go to heaven you must have a measure (the essence) of heaven in you here.”

Lucas recounted that, as Boddy was sharing about holiness, “his face would be radiant with the glory of God and he would burst forth in praises. Often he wept in the presence of God as he contemplated the glories of heaven.” 

What does a life of holiness look like? Boddy echoed John Welsey, who taught that holiness meant loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and fleeing from sin. 

Boddy was a prince of preachers, and in his final opportunity to share what was on his heart, Boddy encouraged people toward holiness and heaven.

Read about Boddy’s last words in the article, “A Revelation of Heaven,” by Macie M. Lucas, on page 6 of the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

 • “Standing True to Scriptural Principles,” by Robert McClay

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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James E. Hamill and Memphis First Assembly of God

Memphis First Assembly of God, circa 1952

This Week in AG History —January 27, 1952

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 28 January 2021

James E. Hamill (1913-1994) never graced the cover of the Pentecostal Evangel even though his work was extremely influential in his community and in the Assemblies of God. However, his life’s work was featured on the cover of the Jan. 27, 1952, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel — in the form of the church he pastored for 37 years. In the 114-year history of First Assembly of Memphis, Tennessee, the congregation has had only 10 pastors, seven of them in the first 25 years.

While the church was Hamill’s life work, its history traces to the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement. The congregation was formed in 1907 when L. P. Adams, a well-educated attorney in Memphis, received the Pentecostal message from G.B. Cashwell. At the time, Adams pastored an independent Holiness church. Adams affiliated with the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a largely African-American Pentecostal organization led by Charles H. Mason and headquartered in Memphis. The name of Adams’ congregation was Grace and Truth Church of God in Christ. Adams participated in the organizational meeting of the Assemblies of God in 1914 but did not join the Fellowship nor did he bring his church into it, preferring to remain in fellowship with Mason’s group.

In 1919, Adams resigned from the pastorate and the congregation separated from the COGIC and was renamed Pentecostal Mission. H.E. Schoettley served as pastor from 1919 until 1923, when church joined the Arkansas District Council of the Assemblies of God. Thirty-seven households signed the initial charter, bringing the church into the Assemblies of God. In 1926, the new pastor, Ira Smith, helped to form the Tennessee District Council, separating it from Arkansas, and was later elected district superintendent of the new district.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the church experienced two splits over pastoral leadership, and found itself unable to pay a pastor. A 23-year-old student from Glad Tidings Bible Institute (San Francisco, California), named William Pickthorn, offered to lead the church without salary in 1934. Under his ministry, the church splits came back together into one congregation, which was rechristened, “First Assembly of God.” In 1943, when Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri) extended an invitation to Pickthorn to serve as instructor, the church was advancing toward 500 in Sunday School attendance.

An interim filled the pulpit for the next year and attendance dropped dramatically due to the lapse in leadership. The church extended an invitation to a young man from Mississippi who, at 31 years of age, already had experience pastoring in Columbia, Tennessee; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Hope, Arkansas. On Dec. 31, 1944, pastor James E. Hamill looked out at his new congregation and cast a vision for the coming years. Little did anyone know that it would be almost 40 years before he would step down from that pulpit.

Seven years later, the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the church in the Jan. 27, 1952, issue. The article reports that under Hamill’s capable leadership the church had grown to nearly 1,400 in Sunday School and was running over a thousand in the morning services. Hamill stated in the article that the key to the church’s growth was, “spirituality, good organization, consecrated personnel, the consistent improvement of facilities, sound and sensible promotion of the program, and hard work!”

Hamill also involved the church in cutting edge media promotions. Besides their involvement in the publication of a weekly community newspaper, The Memphis Mirror, the church began a local radio program, Words of Life, and in 1955, Hamill became the first preacher in the mid-south to have a regular television program, Christ is the Answer, which enjoyed a 25-year run.

First Assembly also became widely known for its music program under the capable direction of Hamill’s wife, Katheryne. As the home church of both the southern gospel quartet, The Blackwood Brothers, and Elvis Presley, the church experienced influence in the broader musical environment. When Katheryne retired from the church’s music ministry, she was followed by Paul Ferrin, who later went on to become the national music director for the Assemblies of God and for the PTL Television Network.

Hamill’s creative leadership often set new standards for Assemblies of God church organization. He was one of the first to ask a congregation to “subscribe” to the church’s operational and outreach budget, making monthly commitments of giving. This format saw the giving at First Assembly more than double in the 1960s. He was also one of the first to be intentional in hiring multiple staff and in 1972 founded one of the earliest Pentecostal private Christian day schools, First Assembly Christian School, still in operation.

Hamill’s service to the local community and the national body of the Assemblies of God as general presbyter and executive presbyter helped to set the tone for pastoral ministry up until his retirement in the early 1980s. He was followed at Memphis First by Frank Martin, who served as pastor until taking appointment to Russia with Assemblies of God World Missions after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The current pastor, Thomas Lindberg, has been with the church since 1994.

While local pastors rarely grace the covers of high-profile magazines, their influence on communities through the local church will only be measured in eternity. James Hamill and the nine other pastors who led First Assembly of God in Memphis, Tennessee, over 114 years discipled a general superintendent (Ralph Riggs), many national and district leaders, and scores of local influencers. They are also likely the only church that has hosted the national conference of two major Pentecostal bodies, hosting the Fifth Annual Convocation of the Church of God in Christ in 1917 and serving as host church for the 30th General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1963.

Read the article on Memphis First Assembly, “On the Cover Page,” on page 4 of the Jan. 27, 1952, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Escape from Sodom” by E.T. Quanabush

• “The Healer of Mental Sickness” by Robert Cummings

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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The Female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal Missionary Who Became the Primary Shaper of Early Assemblies of God Missiology

This Week in AG History — January 22, 1921

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 January 2021

Alice E. Luce (1873-1955), a British-born Anglican missionary, learned of the emerging Pentecostal movement when she was engaged in ministry in India. After hearing about two women in India who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, she visited them in order to learn more. After Luce became convinced that their experience was biblical, she also was Spirit-baptized in about 1910. Luce identified with the Pentecostal movement and, in 1915, she transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God.

Luce became the most prominent missiologist (theologian of missions) in the Assemblies of God in its early decades. Luce authored a series of three articles, titled “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1921. In these articles, Luce endeavored to show that the Apostle Paul taught that missionaries should aim to build indigenous churches — churches that were self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing. Importantly, this indigenous church principle differed from the majority of mainline Christian missions agencies, which equated Westernization with Christianization. The Apostle Paul, according to Luce, preached Christ, not culture.

The Pentecostal Evangel editor commended Luce as “an experienced missionary” who wrote the articles “with the express purpose of helping our Pentecostal missionaries to get a clear vision of Paul’s methods of evangelization.” The editor furthermore stated that these methods were applicable not just overseas, but also “to every town and community and district in the homeland.” The editor also affirmed the centrality of missions in the young Pentecostal movement: “The Pentecostal people are peculiarly missionary, and the growth of the Pentecostal movement is due largely to this missionary spirit.”

It is well known that missions has been a primary focus of the Assemblies of God since its earliest years. Many may not realize, however, that it was a female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal missionary, Alice Luce, who was the primary shaper of early Assemblies of God missiology.  

Read the series of three articles by Alice E. Luce, “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel (click the following links):

Jan. 8, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Jan. 22, 1921 (pages 6 and 11).

Feb. 5, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Call to Prayer,” by J. W. Welch

• “Some Last Things,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

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

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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The 1937 New Year’s Message for the Assemblies of God

This Week in AG History — January 16, 1937

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 14 January 2021

While much has changed in the past 84 years, Ernest S. Williams’ New Year’s admonition to the Assemblies of God in 1937 remains strikingly relevant. Williams was the only veteran of the Azusa Street Revival to serve as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949). Known for his spiritual depth, he led the Fellowship during a period of significant numerical growth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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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Phil Kerr: Pentecostal Musician and Evangelist

This Week in AG History — January 8, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 07 January 2021

Phillip Stanley “Phil” Kerr (1906-1960), a noted musical evangelist, composed over 3,000 published songs and choruses. Among them are “Melody Divine,” “I’m Glad I’m a Christian,” “This is Why I Sing,” and “I’m in Love With the Lover of My Soul.”

He was also the brother of Esther (Kerr) Rusthoi, who was married to Howard Rusthoi, who was a military chaplain in the armed forces. Esther was a composer, singer, and evangelist and was an associate pastor at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. She is best known for her hymn, “It Will be Worth it All, When We See Jesus.”

The Pentecostal Evangel published a tribute to Kerr following his death in 1960. Born of parents who did missionary work in Arizona, Old Mexico, and also in rescue missions in San Pedro, California, Phil Kerr was able to witness firsthand the cost of true discipleship. During his life and ministry he tried to model this same principle.

Traveling as a musical evangelist, Kerr, who was also an ordained minister, went many places. In 1936, for instance, he assisted Assemblies of God evangelist Raymond T. Richey in a revival at the city auditorium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His music ministry at that campaign focused people to Jesus, and many lives were changed.

During the war years, Kerr and Wendell St. Clair toured military bases throughout the U.S. They also participated in crusades and sang at churches and conventions in many cities and states. They worked together on a number of gospel songs. Sixteen of these were included in the book, Phil Kerr’s Gospel Songs. This collection of popular gospel songs was reprinted multiple times, and over a million copies were sold.

One time Kerr and St. Clair had an invitation to sing in the meetings of boy evangelist Marjoe Gortner. On another occasion the two were featured musicians at the Christ for Greater Los Angeles Crusade. The year was 1949, and a huge tent was erected on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles for that event. This was evangelist Billy Graham’s first big crusade, and it launched him into many decades of worldwide evangelism.

Living in Southern California and having a love for music, Kerr took a special interest in musicians who had answered the call of God to leave the entertainment field and use their talents for Christ.

For several years he was the manager of KFSG radio station in Los Angeles, which was owned and operated by Angelus Temple.

In 1945 Kerr started the Monday Musicals, a multitalented musical show with Audrey Mieir in Pasadena, California, which he directed for 16 years. These were first held in the Shakespeare Club in Pasadena, and later in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The show featured a wide range of Christian vocalists and instrumentalists.

Kerr’s plan for the program was based on the following objectives: “First, to bring inspiration and spiritual ‘lift’ to Christians; second, that non-Christians may hear a positive witness for Christ; third, that talented young people may be encouraged to utilize their abilities in Christian service.”

He tried to pattern these Monday night concerts after his own family times together with his mom, dad, and siblings. In addition to morning devotions, a few neighbors would drop by in the evenings, and Kerr’s mother would “emcee” a program of music, games, and Scripture quizzes. She was able to blend these evenings of fellowship into unforgettable times when all present were aware of Christ’s presence. In similar fashion, Kerr’s Monday-night musicals proved to be a weekly highlight in Southern California for Christian people of many denominations.

Kerr was a brilliant pianist and conductor and also recorded sacred music and wrote several books on the ministry of music. One of his books, Music in Evangelism, was first published in 1939 and went through several printings. It was widely used as a textbook in the music departments of Bible schools.

Kerr passed away in Laguna Beach, California, in 1960. His friend, Wendell St. Clair, said, “Phil’s musical ministry was exceptionally unique, and his songs were light and lilty — he was another pacesetter in the gospel music field.”

Read more in “The Passing of Phil Kerr” on page 30 of the Jan. 8, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Signs of the End Time,” by C. M. Ward

• “The School of Elisha,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Spontaneous Revival Sweeps Northwestern Burma,” by Glenn D. Stafford

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 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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2020 Statistics: Archiving the Global Pentecostal Movement at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) has become the largest Pentecostal archives in the world – a world class repository of materials documenting the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal movement. Church leaders, scholars, students, and other researchers around the world depend on the FPHC’s resources and services.

Several of the new acquisitions at the FPHC in 2020

This has been possible because of the behind-the-scenes work by FPHC staff of collecting, preserving, and making accessible these treasures of the faith. In 2020, FPHC staff created 8,349 new catalog records. Each record represents an item or a collection that has been processed and that is now in the FPHC online database, which allows end-users to search, do research, and place orders for materials.

The Assemblies of God is diverse (44% of AG USA adherents are non-Anglo) and global (95% of AG adherents live outside the US). This is reflective of the incredible growth and diversity of the broader Pentecostal movement. Importantly, the FPHC seeks to document this diverse and global constituency, so that we can better understand how God has been working through the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal movement.

The growth of the FPHC’s collection has been remarkable. The number of catalog records has grown by 237% in the last 13 years from 58,760 to 139,466. The number of non-English catalog records has grown by an amazing 1387% from 673 to 9,334. The FPHC has cataloged materials in 153 languages.

The following tables illustrate the growth and breadth of the FPHC’s collection: 1) the number of catalog records cataloged each year; 2) the number of catalog records by language (listed by number of records); and 3) the number of catalog records by language (listed alphabetically).

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Year

 New RecordsTotal Records
Prior to 2008 58760
2008686765627
2009533670963
2010603176994
2011910786101
2012511391214
2013589297106
20145100102206
20156039108245
20166399114644
20174107118751
20186052124803
20196314131117
20208349139466

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Language

Sorted by Number of Records

LanguageAs of Dec 31, 2007As of Dec 31, 2019As of Dec 31, 2020
Total58760131117139466
English58087123343130132
Spanish26221532983
Norwegian1111831274
Swedish13784848
Finnish3717740
French31635683
German105534559
Braille English3256257
Portuguese15229245
Russian18201225
Chinese23150201
Korean12145178
Italian30132157
Dutch9118149
Romanian1054127
Japanese138099
Amharic738383
Polish102480
Ukrainian387277
Indonesian72870
Afrikaans63469
Hungarian35164
Danish25961
Czech25360
Arabic34348
Bulgarian113546
Greek54042
Jugoslav03737
Hindi72929
Tagalog02829
Swahili02228
Tamil22327
Moore22526
Tonga02525
Croatian21422
Estonian01020
Efik01818
Malayalam11717
Ilocano01515
Hebrew1814
Telugu01213
Sinhalese21112
Filipino01111
Vietnamese11011
Chinyanja01010
Thai0310
Dagbani199
Duala099
Konkani099
Yoruba099
Bangala088
Burmese088
Slovak058
Zulu278
Armenian067
Bemba077
Moba077
Modern Syriac077
Bengali146
Chichewa066
Popo066
Fijian055
Hausa045
Icelandic035
Kannada055
Khasi055
Marathi055
Samoan055
Albanian244
Batak044
Georgian024
Goan Konkani044
Ibo044
Romany244
Slovenian014
Tchien444
Tibetan144
Twi044
Urdu044
Igbo033
Kasem033
Latvian033
Lingala033
Apache122
Baroba122
Citonga022
Creole012
Fon022
Gourma022
Kikuyu022
Kinyarwanda002
Lithuanian122
Navajo122
Oriya122
Papiamento022
Serbian112
Simalungun022
Sindebele022
Sotho122
Turkish012
Alada011
Baoule011
Basuto011
Bislama111
Cebuano011
Chibemba011
Farsi111
Gbeapo011
Hawaiian011
Inupiaq011
Kazakh011
Kesakata011
Kikamba011
Korafe011
Kru011
Kusaal011
Kwakiutl111
Lao001
Lozi011
Lukiga011
Luo011
Maasai001
Mampruli111
Manipuri011
Maori011
Mapuche011
Marshallese011
Mesem011
Mongolian001
Montagnais011
Nagamese001
Ndebele011
Nepali111
Nupe011
Nzema011
Oromo011
Pakpak011
Persian011
Ponpei111
Quechua011
Safwa011
Sanne011
Sioux011
Siriac011
Somali111
Tatar111
Themne111
Tigrigna111
Tsonga111
Uzbek011
Venda011
Xhosa011
Yiddish111

FPHC Catalog Records Listed by Language

Sorted Alphabetically

LanguageAs of Dec 31, 2007As of Dec 31, 2019As of Dec 31, 2020
Total58760131117139466
Afrikaans63469
Alada011
Albanian244
Amharic738383
Apache122
Arabic34348
Armenian067
Bangala088
Baoule011
Baroba122
Basuto011
Batak044
Bemba077
Bengali146
Bislama111
Braille English3256257
Bulgarian113546
Burmese088
Cebuano011
Chibemba011
Chichewa066
Chinese23150201
Chinyanja01010
Citonga022
Creole012
Croatian21422
Czech25360
Dagbani199
Danish25961
Duala099
Dutch9118149
Efik01818
English58087123343130132
Estonian01020
Farsi111
Fijian055
Filipino01111
Finnish3717740
Fon022
French31635683
Gbeapo011
Georgian024
German105534559
Goan Konkani044
Gourma022
Greek54042
Hausa045
Hawaiian011
Hebrew1814
Hindi72929
Hungarian35164
Ibo044
Icelandic035
Igbo033
Ilocano01515
Indonesian72870
Inupiaq011
Italian30132157
Japanese138099
Jugoslav03737
Kannada055
Kasem033
Kazakh011
Kesakata011
Khasi055
Kikamba011
Kikuyu022
Kinyarwanda002
Konkani099
Korafe011
Korean12145178
Kru011
Kusaal011
Kwakiutl111
Lao001
Latvian033
Lingala033
Lithuanian122
Lozi011
Lukiga011
Luo011
Maasai001
Malayalam11717
Mampruli111
Manipuri011
Maori011
Mapuche011
Marathi055
Marshallese011
Mesem011
Moba077
Modern Syriac077
Mongolian001
Montagnais011
Moore22526
Nagamese001
Navajo122
Ndebele011
Nepali111
Norwegian1111831274
Nupe011
Nzema011
Oriya122
Oromo011
Pakpak011
Papiamento022
Persian011
Polish102480
Ponpei111
Popo066
Portuguese15229245
Quechua011
Romanian1054127
Romany244
Russian18201225
Safwa011
Samoan055
Sanne011
Serbian112
Simalungun022
Sindebele022
Sinhalese21112
Sioux011
Siriac011
Slovak058
Slovenian014
Somali111
Sotho122
Spanish26221532983
Swahili02228
Swedish13784848
Tagalog02829
Tamil22327
Tatar111
Tchien444
Telugu01213
Thai0310
Themne111
Tibetan144
Tigrigna111
Tonga02525
Tsonga111
Turkish012
Twi044
Ukrainian387277
Urdu044
Uzbek011
Venda011
Vietnamese11011
Xhosa011
Yiddish111
Yoruba099
Zulu278

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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How a Vision to Help Mexican Refugees Changed the Assemblies of God

El Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas with Josue Cruz, H. C. Ball, and an unidentified man; circa 1940.

This Week in AG History — December 28, 1918

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 31 December 2020

The first organization for Hispanic Assemblies of God churches and ministers in the United States was formed in 1918. At the time, the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics was in its infancy and consisted primarily of scattered, unorganized missions along the U.S.-Mexican border. Two Assemblies of God conventions were held in Texas in 1918 — one in January and a second in November. These conventions united Hispanic Pentecostals and laid the foundation for one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the Assemblies of God.

Hispanics forged their own Assemblies of God identity — developing indigenous leaders, schools, and governance structures — which gave believers a voice in a society where they were often marginalized. Asambleas de Dios congregations now dot the American landscape. In 2019, 22.4% of U.S. Assemblies of God adherents (739,001) were Hispanic.

The January 1918 convention was organized by Isabel Flores (a male Mexican-American pastor) and Henry C. Ball (an Anglo missionary to Mexicans). They ministered among the 300,000 refugees from the Mexican Revolution who lived along the borderlands in Texas. These refugees, uprooted from their families and their native land, often lived in squalid conditions. They had an uncertain legal status and, in the eyes of many observers, not much of a future.

While the broader American society often rejected the Mexican refugees, Pentecostals reacted differently. Flores, Ball, and other Pentecostal ministers fanned out, offering food, shelter, and medical assistance to those who were hurting. They viewed the refugees as a heaven-sent opportunity to share the gospel, which they did in both word and deed.

The first superintendent of the newly organized Hispanic work was Ball — probably chosen because as an Anglo he was able to navigate the difficult legal and cultural issues facing the Mexican refugees. On at least one occasion, he helped free a refugee pastor who had been imprisoned on false charges. Ball was himself imprisoned on suspicion of being a German spy during World War I because of his work with the refugees, who were viewed as a national threat during war time.

Despite legal, political, and economic tensions, Ball maintained his focus on helping the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics to mature and grow. He stressed the importance of developing indigenous leaders who could serve as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries to Hispanics in the United States and across Latin America.

Ball developed these themes in an article in the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. In the article, Ball reported on the November 1918 convention, noting that the Hispanic believers were united in doctrine, that there was a spirit of “sweet cooperation,” and that the churches aimed to be self-supporting and to ultimately send missionaries to their countries of origin. This vision for indigenous leadership was more fully realized in 1939, when Demetrio Bazan succeeded Ball as the first Hispanic leader of the Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God.

The vision to bring the gospel to suffering Mexican refugees ultimately helped to transform the American church. Those refugees became the seeds from which a resilient Hispanic Pentecostal movement was birthed. Today, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities are helping to fuel the continuing growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States.

Read H. C. Ball’s article, “A Report of the Spanish Pentecostal Convention,” on page 7 of the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Unity,” by A. P. Collins

• “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men,” by Raymond T. Richey

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

Leave a comment

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