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Elmer F. Muir: A Baptist Pastor Discovers the Power of the Holy Spirit

Elmer F. Muir

Elmer F. Muir

This Week in AG History–April 25, 1925

By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 23 April 2015

A Pentecostal revival in the 1920s touched numerous Baptist ministers and churches, resulting in the cross-pollination of the two traditions. High-profile Baptists who became Pentecostal included Mae Eleanor Frey, an evangelist and author ordained by the National Baptist Convention in 1905, and William Keeney Towner, pastor of First Baptist Church in San Jose, California.

Many lesser-known Baptist ministers also embraced the Pentecostal movement, but their stories have been largely forgotten. Among these was Elmer F. Muir, a pastor who had experienced great discouragement in his ministry. He was spiritually refreshed by the winds of Pentecostal revival. He received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and testified that he experienced “the deep things of God.” Muir’s testimony was published in the April 25, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Elmer Ferguson Muir (1890-1947), the son of Scottish immigrants, was born in Dubuque, Iowa. He received a call to the ministry at age 21 while attending a revival campaign held by legendary evangelist Billy Sunday. Muir quickly discovered that the road to the ministry would be challenging. Muir had dropped out of high school, but his Presbyterian denomination required that ministers have a college degree. He enrolled at Coe College, a Presbyterian school in Iowa, where he recalled “burning the candle at both ends” both day and night for five years. He graduated from Coe College in 1917 and became a Baptist pastor.

Muir served as pastor of the Baptist church in Arkansas City, Kansas, in the early 1920s. He sometimes found the work of the ministry overwhelming. He described a revival campaign at his church: “It was one that was worked up instead of prayed down.” The experience wore him out. He wrote, “I never want to go through one again, it was dental work from beginning to end.”

Muir received a fine theological education. However, he came to realize that he needed more than mere knowledge “to bring about this great, wonderful program of God.” What did he need? He was uncertain. He recalled, “But how [the program of God] was to be brought about I had no conception.”

To add to his problems, a lady in Muir’s congregation kept asking him if he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was not sure how to answer. At first, he responded that the experience was only for the early church. She kept pestering Muir for over two years until he relented. Finally, he agreed to preach one Wednesday night on the subject of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He titled the sermon, “Has the Church Lost Its Power?” But as Muir studied the Word of God, he came to realize that the lady in his congregation had been right – the baptism in the Holy Spirit was for him, and it could empower him in ministry.

Muir and his wife both sought and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. At first, Muir was hesitant to tell his congregation. What would people say? Ultimately, he shared his Pentecostal testimony and was forced to resign from the church. He transferred his ministerial credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1925 and started a small congregation (now known as First Assembly of God, Arkansas City, Kansas). In 1927 he moved to San Diego, California, where he pastored Full Gospel Tabernacle. He also edited a book of articles by Pentecostal missionary Cornelia Nuzum, The Life of Faith. The book, originally published by Gospel Published House in 1928, remains in print 87 years later.

Elmer F. Muir decided to transfer his credentials back to the Baptist church in 1929. He resigned from the Assemblies of God in good standing and spent the rest of his ministry in Baptist churches. Muir’s ministry in the Assemblies of God lasted only four years, but it demonstrates the porous borders between the Assemblies of God and other evangelical denominations. The Pentecostal movement has helped to refresh many ministers and laypersons from other denominations, some of whom ultimately returned to their former churches. This cross-pollination between the Assemblies of God and other churches helped to build bridges across the denominational divides, laying the foundation for future generations who would be more concerned with building the kingdom of God rather than a particular denomination.

Read Elmer F. Muir’s powerful testimony, “Why I Am No Longer a Baptist Preacher,” on pages 2 and 3 of the April 25, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Great Equipment,” by A. H. Argue

• “A Notable Miracle,” by Amelia De Franchi

• “Healed of Paralysis,” by G. E. Wolfe

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Click here to order a copy of Cornelia Nuzum’s classic book, The Life of Faith, which was edited by Elmer F. Muir.

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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Rev. George W. Southwick Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

George W. Southwick (1918-2006) was a well-known figure in Pentecostal churches in southern California. He held ordination, at various times, in four different bodies: International Church of the Foursquare Gospel; Assemblies of God; Whosoever Will; and Apostolic Holiness. A graduate of L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, he went on to become a Bible teacher and collector of theological books and periodicals. In 1975, he and his wife, Leona, founded The Bible Educator Ministry, which sent his teaching tapes around the world. He is remembered, among other things, for his sweet spirit and for faithfully teaching the Pentecostal and Anglo-Israel messages.

George W. Southwick, sitting behind the desk in his library

George W. Southwick, sitting behind the desk in the library

Southwick developed a significant collection consisting of 4,000 books, as well as numerous periodicals, tracts, pamphlets, photographs, and other archival materials. After his death, his family gave the collection to Charles Jennings, a pastor in Owasso, Oklahoma. Jennings deposited the collection at the FPHC. Southwick held to Oneness, Anglo-Israel, Calvinist, and Latter Rain beliefs, and much of his collection represented those minor traditions within Pentecostalism. This important collection includes many publications that are not otherwise accessible to researchers. Numerous books not fitting the FPHC collection parameters have been placed in the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary library. An Anglo-Israel collection, designated as non-circulating, will be placed in the library’s Special Collections room, and other volumes have been integrated into the circulating collection.

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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 2012 Statistics Released

The Assemblies of God (AG) is one of the few major denominations in the United States to show continuing growth. In its statistics for calendar year 2012, released this week, the Assemblies of God showed a 1.8% increase in the number of adherents, and a 1% increase in the number of churches. From 2011 to 2012, the number of U.S. adherents increased from 3,041,957 to 3,095,717, and the number of U.S. churches increased from 12,595 to 12,722. The AG is growing at a faster rate than the U.S. population, which increased by 0.7% in 2011.

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.

Much of the numerical growth in the Assemblies of God in recent decades has been among ethnic minorities. In the past five years (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%. During the past year, this demographic shift continued. The percentage of white adherents dropped from 59.6% to 59.2%.

The racial breakdown of AG adherents in 2012 shows significant 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%).

Worldwide Assemblies of God stats also continue their upward trend. Last year the number of adherents worldwide increased by 1.5% from 65,398,796 to 66,383,778. The number of worldwide adherents reflects numbers reported by churches with which AG (USA) World Missions has a fraternal relationship.

–Darrin J. Rodgers

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Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection Deposited at FPHC

ImageThe Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) has an exciting announcement regarding a new Church of God in Christ (COGIC) collection! Rev. Elijah L. Hill, a COGIC minister, author, historian, and cultural anthropologist, deposited his collection of COGIC historical materials at the FPHC on March 6, 2013. The collection includes the papers of COGIC Women’s Department founder Mother Lizzie Robinson and her daughter Ida F. Baker, as well as other publications collected by Hill. The Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection includes 522 original photographs (circa 1899-1960s), approximately 100 publications, and Hill’s research files on Robinson. The collection is tentatively slated to be dedicated in Springfield, Missouri, in the fall of 2013. The FPHC, the largest Pentecostal archive and research center in the world, collects historically significant materials from across the denominational, ethnic, linguistic, and national divides within the broader Pentecostal and charismatic movements. For more information about the FPHC, go to: http://www.iFPHC.org

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John McConnell, Jr., Pentecostal Founder of Earth Day, Dead at 97

John and Anna McConnell, May 27, 2011, eating brunch in their Denver home with Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers.

John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day, passed away Saturday night, October 20, 2012, in Denver, Colorado. He was 97 years old. A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 700 South Franklin Street, Denver, Colorado, at 10:30 am, Friday, November 2, 2012.

McConnell’s grandfather was at the Azusa Street Revival and his parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God.

Read about McConnell in the article, “John McConnell, Jr. and the Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day,” published in the 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazineFlower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers recorded an oral history interview with McConnell and his wife, Anna, on July 15, 2009, at Timberline Church, Fort Collins, Colorado.

McConnell deposited materials relating to his Pentecostal faith and the lives and ministries of his parents and grandparents at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

The following obituary was posted on the Monarch Society website:

John Saunders McConnell
(March 22, 1915 – October 20, 2012)

Founder of Earth Day

“Peace, Justice and the Care of Earth.”  McConnell, 97, died peacefully on October 20, 2012.  Memorial Service will be Friday, Nov. 2 at 10:30 am at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 700 S. Franklin St., Wash Park, Denver.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests you please consider a donation to Shevet Achim (www.shevet.org), a non-profit in Jerusalem which brings Jews, Muslims, and Christians together in order to give life saving surgery to save children’s lives.  John McConnell is survived by his wife, Anna McConnell, his son, Cary McConnell, and two daughters, Christa Mason and Corenella Keiper.Son of an evangelist, John McConnell has advocated tirelessly for global peace, and care of the Earth.  People all over the globe have responded to his appeals for peace, justice, and Earth care, and to be counted as Earth Trustees.

Following the Kennedy assassination, McConnell’s Minute for Peace gained worldwide attention.  This led to his Earth Day and other initiatives aimed at promoting people and planet.  In this book, he shares the views that garnered support during the environmental movement from 1969 onward, and that have inspired followers for forty years at annual Earth Day ceremonies at the UN and cities across the globe.

John McConnell coined the term Earth Day in 1968, proposed its celebration on the spring equinox to the City of San Francisco in October 1969, and announced it in November at a UNESCO Conference.

The City responded by hosting the first Earth Day on March 21, 1970.  Margaret Mead, UN Secretary-General U Thant, President Ford, and thirty-three Nobel laureates supported McConnell’s Earth Day, and thirty-six worldwide dignitaries signed McConnell’s Earth Day Proclamation, supporting Earth Day on the spring equinox, an annual planetary holiday linking people everywhere without regard to politics, culture, national border, or religion.

John McConnell initiated:  Star of Hope (1957), Minute for Peace (1963), Earth Flag (1969), Earth Day (1970), Earth Trustees (1971), Earth Society Foundation (1976), Earth Charter (1979), Earth Magna Charta (1995).

Accolades from noted persons:

John McConnell is one of the world’s spiritual leaders who had a profound influence on the United Nations. — Kurt Waldheim, former United Nations Secretary-General

John McConnell gave me courage and hope.  — Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Laureate

With John McConnell’s Earth Flag on board my spaceship, I felt like a messenger of peace.  — Anatoly Berezovoi, cosmonaut

John McConnell is an idealist, a visionary, a peacemaker.  Those are the people needed today, for our future.  — George Gallup, Jr., pollster

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Dedication of the Grant Wacker Collection

The public is invited to attend the dedication of the Grant Wacker Collection, to be held at Riggs Hall, Evangel University, on Thursday, October 11, at 3:30 p.m.

Dr. Grant Wacker, one of the most prominent historians of American religion, deposited his Pentecostal research collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The grandson of Assemblies of God General Superintendent Ralph Riggs, Wacker was an Assemblies of God pastor’s kid. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Harvard University and has taught American religious history at Duke University Divinity School since 1992.

Pentecostal history has been one of Wacker’s primary research interests, and his 2001 book, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, has become a standard text on the subject. Few scholars have left a greater mark on the study of Pentecostal history than Grant Wacker.

Wacker is now writing a book on Billy Graham and has put aside his research into Pentecostal histo­ry. Wacker deposited his Pentecostal research materi­als at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Grant Wacker Collection consists of 13.75 linear feet of files plus numerous books, which together constitute the raw materials from which he crafted his scholarly assessments of the Pentecostal movement.

Evangel University President Robert Spence will formally dedicate the collection in Thursday’s ceremony, and Wacker and Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers will also offer remarks.

Wacker will also present a lecture on Friday, October 12, 2012 at 2 p.m. in the William J. Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. His lecture, entitled “Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America,” will reflect his recent research about the famous evangelist for a book of the same title, under contract with Harvard University Press. The public also is invited to attend this lecture at AGTS.

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PTL Club Tapes

Collection of PTL Club Tapes, held by the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (the official archives of the Assemblies of God) is pleased to announce that it is partnering with The Mansion, a theater in Branson, Missouri, to digitize and make accessible music and other programming recorded on the PTL Club television broadcast (1974-1989). The PTL Club, hosted by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, included appearances by notable Pentecostal pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and musicians. The programs were recorded on high-quality film and constitute an unparalleled treasure trove of footage of many heroes of the faith who have since went to be with the Lord.

The Assemblies of God was given legal title to the collection of 20,160 PTL Club tapes following the 1989 bankruptcy proceedings relating to the PTL Club. However, before the Assemblies of God took physical possession of the property, approximately 6,000 tapes from the collection were removed. Anyone who has knowledge of the location of these missing tapes is requested to contact Darrin Rodgers, Director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center:

Darrin Rodgers, J.D.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 N. Boonville Ave.
Springfield, MO 65802
(417) 862-2781, ext. 4400
drodgers@ag.org

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