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

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Charles Price Jones

By Darrin J. Rodgers

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Anita Bingham Jefferson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: http://www.iFPHC.org

 

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The German District Council: 97 Years and Counting

German District

A group of ministers from the German District standing outside a church; circa 1940s. Identified are (l-r): John Koch (independent pastor), 2 unidentified, Mr. Petrat (lay preacher from Detroit, MI), David Hintz (lay minister and printer from Milwaukee), L. W. Drewitz, C. W. Loenser, Henry Scharf, unidentified, and Hugo Ulrich.

This Week in AG History — October 29, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 31 October 2019

The German District Council of the Assemblies of God was organized 97 years ago to serve German-speaking Pentecostals in the United States. The German district (known as the German Branch until 1973) was birthed in the fall of 1922 at a meeting held in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Participants at the organizing meeting came from Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Canada.

General Chairman E. N. Bell praised the formation of a German district. He said, “We should be glad to have a German Branch to recommend Germans for credentials and to encourage you every way possible. God bless and guide you. Door is open.”

August H. Wendt was chosen as the first superintendent and served until his death in 1929. He was succeeded by Hugo A. Ulrich, pastor of Bethel Tabernacle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Other superintendents through the years include Carl W. Loenser, Alvin Sprecher, Raymond Rueb, David D. Rueb, and the current superintendent, Daniel J. Miller.

As the German Branch continued to grow, additional congregations were started among German-speaking families in the northern plains states, primarily among German immigrants from Russia. Most of these new congregations were in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Congregations were also started in Santa Clara, California, and Puyallup, Washington, and other places with a German population. A number of the early German district pastors were bivocational or shepherded multiple congregations.

By the 1950s most German district congregations were holding services in both English and German languages. A majority of the church members were immigrants from German-speaking settlements in Russia, Poland, Germany, Hungary, and other Eastern European countries. They or their parents had fled Germany during wartime, depression, or famine. Although the culture in their new-found land was different, these people felt drawn to churches that ministered to them in their native tongue.

The printed word has also helped to advance the German district. Its publications through the years have included Wort und Zeugnis (“Word and Witness”), Licht und Leben (“Light and Life”), and Lektionsheft (a Sunday School quarterly), Crossroads, and GD Insight.

The German District Council office is located in Saint Joseph, Michigan. The district also operates Bethel Park (Bridgman, Michigan), which serves as the location of the annual German district family camp and other events.

In October 1961, Alvin Sprecher, secretary-treasurer of the German Branch, gave a report of the German Branch, which at that time was one of six non-English language branches of the Assemblies of God in the United States. He reported, “Nearly one hundred more souls were saved in German churches this year than last.” He described several efforts to start new German churches over the past year. He also told of a “profitable camp again this summer” with J. P. Kolenda as the speaker. “We had record attendance,” reported Sprecher, “and a blessed outpouring of the Holy Spirit with souls saved and believers filled.” He also was thankful for a successful youth camp where “a number of children were saved, and some received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

The German district is still planting churches in new locations across the United States. Interestingly, in recent years a number of African-American churches and ministers have affiliated with the German district. The German district is also active in missions work around the globe. In 2018, the German district consisted of 34 churches in the United States with 2,677 adherents.

Read Sprecher’s article, “German Branch Makes Gain” on page 7 of the Oct. 29, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Big Breakthrough,” by E. M. Clark

• “The Time of Great Trouble,” by R. M. Riggs

• “Pentecost Repeated,” by Harley Vail

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

See also: “The German District: Ninety Years and Counting” published in Assemblies of God Heritage in 2012.

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

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

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J. Narver Gortner: The Methodist Pastor Who Became an Assemblies of God Pioneer

Gortner

J. Narver and Della Gortner, with their son, Vernon, circa 1914

This Week in AG History — October 25, 1930

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 24 October 2019

Most people today probably associate the name Gortner with Marjoe Gortner (1944- ), the child evangelist-turned-movie star. Early Assemblies of God members, however, would associate the name with his grandfather, J. Narver Gortner (1874-1961). J. Narver, the son of a Methodist missionary, became a prominent early leader in the Assemblies of God.

J. Narver’s father was an old-fashioned Methodist preacher who taught the importance of holy living and who believed that God still performs miracles. His father yielded to a call to serve as a missionary in Liberia. The Gortner family sailed for Liberia in 1887, but their life as African missionaries was short-lived. J. Narver’s father died in 1888, and his grieving widow and two sons went back to America, where they settled on the family farm in Nebraska.

The sorrowful experience in Liberia might have caused J. Narver to reject the thought of entering the ministry. However, he felt a pull toward the pastorate and enrolled at Garrett Biblical Institute (now Garrett Theological Seminary) in Evanston, Illinois. He began pastoring his first church, a Methodist congregation in Inman, Nebraska, at the age of 19.

Narver pastored several churches in Nebraska, numerous people accepted Christ under his ministry, and he rose in prominence in the Methodist Church. In 1911, his wife, Della, became deathly sick. J. Narver accepted the pastorate of a church in southern California, hoping that the change in climate would bring a measure of relief to Della.

Della did get better, but her healing did not come from the weather. Rather, she attributed her healing to the prayers of several Christians, including Pentecostal pioneer and medical doctor Finis Yoakum. She often testified that before she was healed, she had subsisted for fourteen months primarily on raw eggs and malted milk. After she was healed, she could eat beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and anything else she wanted.

Della’s healing caused the Gortners to view Pentecostals favorably. Pentecostals were generally considered part of the broader Holiness and Wesleyan movements, with which the Gortners also identified. However, Pentecostals also placed an emphasis on the baptism in the Holy Spirit with an evidence of speaking in tongues, which was not emphasized in Gortner’s Methodist church.

In 1914, J. Narver read about a Pentecostal camp meeting slated to be held in Cazadero, in the California Redwoods. Carrie Judd Montgomery, an early Pentecostal healing evangelist, was going to minister at the camp. He had read Montgomery’s periodical, Triumphs of Faith, and wanted to experience a Pentecostal service for himself.

J. Narver attended the camp and received a powerful experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. He also was healed of a long-standing painful spinal condition after evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, another speaker at the camp, prayed for him.

The 40-year-old Methodist pastor was both exhilarated and in a quandary. He wanted to testify about his baptism in the Holy Spirit and his healing.  However, he thought it would likely cost him his position as a Methodist pastor and denominational official.

Gortner went home and next Sunday morning told his Methodist congregation in Arroyo Grande what had happened to him. They listened with interest, Methodist officials did not remove him from the pastorate, and his fears subsided. He remained in the Methodist church until 1919, when he decided to become more involved in the young Pentecostal movement.

Gortner transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God and quickly rose in prominence in his new church. In 1920, he became the first superintendent of the Central District of the Assemblies of God, and the following year he became a member of the Executive Presbytery, a position he kept for 26 years. He also served as a pastor in Oakland, California (1927-1937) and president of Glad Tidings Bible Institute in San Francisco (1941-1947). He authored five books and over 250 articles published in the Pentecostal Evangel.

According to historian Carl Brumback, Gortner was a very influential theologian and church leader in the Assemblies of God from the 1920s through the 1940s. Brumback viewed J. Narver Gortner, Samuel A. Jamieson, and P. C. Nelson as a “doctrinal trio” which had “a great part in molding the conservative nature of the Assemblies of God.” In 1927, Gortner championed the idea of changing the name of the Assemblies of God to The Pentecostal Evangelical Church. Gortner was not ashamed of being Pentecostal and thought the term Pentecostal should be in the name of the Fellowship. He also built bridges across the denominational divides and played a significant role in the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals.

In its early decades, the Assemblies of God benefited significantly from an influx of veteran ministers from other denominations whose lives had been touched by the work of the Holy Spirit. J. Narver Gortner was one such minister, and his influence can still be felt through the countless lives that he touched through his ministry and writings.

Read Gortner’s testimony on pages 6 and 7 of the October 25, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

  • “Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit a Necessity?” by P. C. Nelson
  • “The Initial Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Donald Gee
  • “Was the Apostle Paul a Madman?” by Charles A. Shreve

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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The Assemblies of God and Evangelism: A Priority Since 1914

Gospel carThis Week in AG History — October 18, 1964

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 18 October 2019

How important is evangelism? It is absolutely essential to fulfilling the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Evangelism has always been at the forefront of the Assemblies of God and its mission.

At the second General Council in November 1914, the Assemblies of God delegates approved a resolution to achieve “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” This was quite a goal to set for such a small group. Yet, we could argue that together we have succeeded in reaching that target now with over 69 million people worldwide belonging to an AG church.

What are some of the creative ways that people have done evangelism work? People have used tent meetings, gospel rallies, street witnessing, gospel wagons and cars, tracts dropped from airplanes, gospel ships, various Speed the Light vehicles, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, chalk drawings, ventriloquism puppets, Buddy Barrel, hand puppets, railroad evangelism, motorcycle ministry, rodeo evangelism, etc.

As the AG became more established, it adopted a constitution and bylaws and outlined its purposes as an organization. The first mandate of the four-fold reason for being of the AG is “to seek and to save that which is lost.” Again we see evangelism as paramount to the AG and its mission.

The Assemblies of God has always had ministers, evangelists, missionaries, and lay people actively sharing the gospel. In 1953, a resolution was adopted to create a Department of Evangelism “to emphasize, encourage, and coordinate all phases of evangelism.” This led to the establishment in 1963 of a Spiritual Life Evangelism Commission to help facilitate evangelistic efforts in all areas of the AG. This helped to ensure that individual departments or ministries would have the advancement of evangelism as a main part of their stated purpose.

Today we see evangelistic efforts maintained in every ministry of the AG, especially in such areas as Chi Alpha, Sunday School, church planting, church multiplication efforts, prison ministry, military and institutional chaplaincy, and AG World Missions and U.S. Missions efforts.

Fifty-five years ago, D. V. Hurst, who was coordinator of the Spiritual Life Evangelism Commission, wrote an article called, “It’s Time For Action,” which encouraged everyone to practice personal evangelism. He emphasized that the Early Church was known for action. “In fact,” he said, “the record of its accomplishments is called ‘The Acts.’”

Just as Jesus challenged the disciples to “look to the field,” Hurst admonished Christians to also find a place of harvest, a place of action, to share the gospel.

Hurst said, “The promise of Jesus to the Spirit-filled was not restrictive.” The mandate of “Ye shall be witnesses” was directed to all who experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Hurst exhorted the whole Fellowship: “Use everyone you can enlist. The main business of the church is evangelism.” Calling everyone to action, he declared: “All should be totally involved in reaching others with His gospel.”

Read the article, “It’s Time For Action” on pages 24, 25, and 27 of the Oct. 18, 1964, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Great Things He Hath Done,” by Ralph W. Harris

• “Speeding the Light in Latin America,” by Melvin Hodges

• “NAE Now 22 Years Old,” by Jared F. Gerig

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Joseph Smale and the Lost Sermons that Prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival

Pentecostal BlessingThis Week in AG History — October 7, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 October 2019

The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles and the African-American pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, William Seymour, have become iconic symbols of the Pentecostal movement. However, historians and participants in the revival point to a lesser-known Baptist pastor and graduate of Spurgeon’s College, Joseph Smale, who helped prepare Los Angeles for the revival.

The immediate catalyst for the Azusa Street Revival came in the summer of 1905 when Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival — praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.”

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

Joseph Smale - FBCLAWhen William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches — including Smale’s church — crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Historians have long known that Smale’s sermon series, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” played a pivotal role leading up to the Azusa Street Revival. The sermons were a manifesto on the importance of recovering the spiritual life of the early church. They convicted and persuaded many to seek for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it appeared that Smale’s sermons had been lost to history. No copies apparently survived.

Then the unexpected happened. Several years ago, someone bought a copy of Smale’s sermons at a garage sale in Oklahoma. He was not aware of their significance and showed them to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Darrin Rodgers, who immediately discerned their importance. The sermons were deposited at the Heritage Center, where they are safely preserved for posterity.

Importantly, Gospel Publishing House has republished The Pentecostal Blessing, which was officially released as part of its “Spirit-Empowered Classics” series in 2017. The book includes a series foreword by noted Azusa Street Revival historian Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and a biographical sketch of Smale by his biographer, British Baptist educator Tim Welch.

The sermons that prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival – long thought to be lost – are now available to 21st century readers.

The Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes an article by Stanley Horton about the Azusa Street Revival, which begins by describing Smale’s role in the revival.

Read Stanley Horton’s article, “Pentecostal Explosion: Once the Spirit Fell at Azusa Street the Waves of Pentecostal Power Quickly Spread throughout the Religious World,” on pages 8-9 of the Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Ecumenicity: False and True,” by Frank M. Boyd

• “Tribes, Tongues, and Triumphs,” by Marion E. Craig

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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97 Years Ago: Central Bible Institute Opened in Springfield, Missouri

CBC

Faculty and students of Central Bible Institute, second class, 1923-1924, in front of Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri; spring 1924

This Week in AG History — September 30, 1922

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 03 October 2019

The founding of the Assemblies of God in 1914 was marked by an emphasis upon the need for the training of ministers and missionaries. Eight years later, the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the opening of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, to address that need.

Local efforts to establish ministerial training schools had been undertaken in various parts of the country. However, it was soon determined that individual effort could never hope to achieve the results possible through united endeavors.

The first ministerial training school owned and operated by the General Council of the Assemblies of God opened its doors in 1920 in the small town of Auburn, Nebraska. Midwest Bible School remained open for only one year. The school’s remote location made it difficult to attract faculty or to provide jobs for students.

Assemblies of God leaders sought a more suitable location to establish a new school. In the summer of 1922, they decided to locate the school in Springfield. D. W. Kerr and his son-in-law, Willard Peirce, offered themselves for this work. Just six years earlier, Kerr served as the primary drafter of the Statement of Fundamental Truths. Kerr and Peirce had a track record of stabilizing educational institutions and had set Assemblies of God schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco on sure footing. They moved to Springfield to form the nucleus of the faculty and management of CBI.

It was felt that the move to Springfield, the new headquarters city of the General Council, afforded this new school several advantages. Close proximity to the executive leadership would provide counsel and oversight. The Fellowship’s paper, the Pentecostal Evangel, would offer information and publicity. Ministers and missionaries traveling to the area would be available for encouragement and example for the student body.

Outside of those advantages there were few other expedient assets to offer to the fledgling school. There were no buildings or dormitories available. The Fellowship had followed a “pay as you go” policy and there was little willingness to shoulder debt for new buildings. All there was to offer to Kerr was the basement of a local church, Central Assembly of God on the corner of Campbell and Calhoun Streets, and the homes of church members who were willing to house students.

Kerr and his team set about plastering and painting the basement rooms to prepare for the influx of the first class of students, numbering about 50. They fitted out one classroom, a kitchen, a dining area, and office. Kerr admitted in the Evangel’s announcement, “While we are necessarily crowded and handicapped in our limited temporary quarters, yet we are sure of the continued blessings of God on these humble beginnings … great oaks from little acorns grow.” Kerr encouraged contributions for the young people studying for ministry as “two hundred and fifty dollars will support a student for one school year, meeting all expenses.”

Two years later, 15 acres on the northern outskirts of the city had been secured through the generous donations of local businessmen. Three of the leaders, Kerr, J. W. Welch, and E. N. Bell, knelt in prayer on this tract of land at North Grant Avenue, consecrating it to God for the “training of ministers and missionaries.”

With the funds in hand and further offerings received in response to appeals made through the Pentecostal Evangel, the first building was erected in 1924 and a student body of 106 moved onto the new campus. Adding to its growth was the merging of other smaller schools, such as Bethel Bible Training Institute of Newark, New Jersey, in 1929, with the Springfield school.

Kerr later testified that he had some misgivings whether the project would be successful, given its meager beginnings in 1922, but he felt the Lord ask him as He did Moses, “What has thou in thine hand?” He responded, “Just a basement, Lord!” He felt the assurance that the same Lord who wrought wonders with Moses’ staff would be faithful to do great things with that tiny basement school at Central Assembly of God.

The history of the Pentecostal movement can testify to God’s faithfulness as the graduates of Central Bible Institute and Central Bible College (now consolidated with Evangel University and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) continue to provide the Assemblies of God with thousands of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers impacting the world with the Pentecostal message they were taught in the classrooms of the basement at Central Assembly, the campus at 3000 North Grant, and the current university on North Glenstone.

Read Kerr’s announcement about CBI on page 4 of the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Be Filled with the Spirit” by W.T. Gaston

• “Questions and Answers” by E.N. Bell

• “A New Heavens and A New Earth” by S.A. Jamieson

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
Website: iFPHC.org

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Verna Linzey Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Linzey

Verna Linzey, keynote speaker at the Singaporean Pastors’ Convention, June 29, 2014

Dr. Verna May Hall Linzey (1919-2016), an Assemblies of God minister who served as a pastor, crusade evangelist, television evangelist, songwriter, and author, spent over eighty years in active ministry.

Dr. Linzey’s son, Chaplain (MAJOR) James F. Linzey, USA (Ret.), deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center a collection of books, audio/video footage, photographs, and other materials documenting his mother’s life and ministry. Chaplain Linzey served as her road manager and is currently having her autobiography edited for publication.

Verna was one of six children born to Carey F. Hall and Alice M. Hall in the southeast Kansas town of Coffeyville. After her father passed away, her mother married Rev. Francis L. Doyle, who served in 1928 as pastor of Coffeyville First Assembly of God.

The early Pentecostal movement, with its dual emphases on the Word of God and spiritual renewal, made a significant impact on young Verna. She recalled that, as a young girl, prominent Assemblies of God educator and theologian P.C. Nelson routinely stopped at her family’s home with his ministry team. She received permission from her mother to get out of bed and sit at the kitchen table with other family members who were listening to Nelson and his team share about the meetings they had conducted.

Yielding to a call to the ministry, Linzey matriculated at the school founded by Nelson, Southwestern Bible School (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University), where she studied from 1937 to 1939.

Verna Hall Leads a Hallelujah Parade in San Diego. CA about 1940 Verna is front center with clarinet

Verna Hall leading a Hallelujah Parade in San Diego, California, circa 1940

Linzey participated in evangelism, pastoral ministry, and crusades with her eldest brother, Franklin Hall, in the 1930s and early 1940s in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and California. She eventually conducted her own crusades and ministry. She married Stanford E. Linzey (1920-2010) in 1941. They affiliated with the Assemblies of God and in 1946 planted and co-pastored a church, El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle, in El Cajon, California.

Linzey influenced her husband, Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (Ret.), to become a U.S. Navy chaplain. During his ministry as a Navy chaplain from 1955 to 1974, Verna Linzey continued to preach and teach in churches and at conferences, including at Women’s Aglow. She frequently taught on the Holy Spirit. Stanford sometimes accompanied her in ministry. It is estimated that Verna and Stanford Linzey laid hands on and prayed for 20,000 people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Linzey was given the title “Mother of the Fleet” by Admiral Frederick C. Johnson, USN (Ret.) for her building the Sunday school program at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, which was the largest Sunday school program in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1970. She was also made an honorary U.S. military chaplain by the Coalition of Spirit-Filled Churches.

In addition to her ministry, Linzey had a very active family life. She and Stanford had ten children—five boys and five girls.

Linzey 1958 El Cajon, CA

Verna and Stanford E. Linzey with their children, 1958

Linzey had a deep love for the Word of God. She mastered biblical languages at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. When her husband earned his his Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Seminary (1980), Verna Linzey audited and completed the coursework as well. She received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Kingsway University and Theological Seminary (2001). She served as chief editor of the New Tyndale Version Bible translation (2009) and as one of the translators of the Modern English Version Bible translation (2014).

In her later years, Linzey wrote extensively on the theology of the Holy Spirit, including articles published in various religious periodicals. In 2004, she authored The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, for which she received the Best Non-Fiction of the Year Award (2006) from the San Diego Christian Writers’ Guild. It is a classic restatement of Classical Pentecostal doctrine and was later republished in the Philippines by ICI Ministries and used as a textbook in 100 Bible colleges.

In 2004, following the publication of her book, Linzey received opportunities to preach on television. Her television ministry began when she preached on the baptism with the Holy Spirit on God’s Learning Channel, a satellite network founded by Al and Tommie Cooper. This paved the way for two television series which would later be filmed: “The Holy Spirit Today with Dr. Verna Linzey” and “The Word with Dr. Verna Linzey.”

In 2007, Linzey wrote another book, Spirit Baptism, and recorded a set of teaching CDs and videos titled, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and The Light of the World.

Linzey continued to be remarkably active in ministry until the age of 97, when she passed away. In November 2010, she had a role in a major feature movie, Iniquity, which is an updated version of the story of David and Bathsheba. She sang “The Rose” by Bette Middler for the soundtrack. Linzey was one of the keynote speakers for the 2011 Leadership Summit at the Heritage Foundation, where she received the 2011 Leader of the Year Award. She also received the “National Bible Teacher of the Year Award” at Westminster Theological Seminary in California during National Bible Week in 2011. Her album “Oh Blessed Jesus” went Gold for Best Vocals in Southern Gospel Music, featuring Grammy Award Nominee Triumphant Quartet and the group Sisters as her backup vocals the year after she passed away.

Dr. Linzey’s remarkable life spanned the history of the Pentecostal movement, to which she made significant contributions. She touched countless thousands of people through her pastoral and evangelistic ministry and writings.  Now, with the Verna Linzey Collection accessible at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, future generations will be able to study her life, ministry, and legacy.

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

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: http://www.iFPHC.org

 

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