The Azusa Street Revival: What Frank Bartleman’s Eyewitness Account Reveals about the Worldview of Early Pentecostals

Azusa collageThis Week in AG History —March 11, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 9 March 2017

It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Critics attacked the congregation because its mild-mannered black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The Azusa Street Revival, as it became known, soon became a local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.

The spiritual intensity of the revival was red hot for more than three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early twentieth century. Just over 110 years later, the Pentecostal movement, broadly construed, now claims over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

Frank Bartleman, one of the participants at Azusa Street, wrote down his account of the revival and the precipitating events. In 1916, Bartleman wrote an article with his recollections of the revival that was published in the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). He later wrote a book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (1925), which became a widely-read portrayal of the Azusa Street Revival. Bartleman’s eyewitness account captured fascinating details about the revival, which give insight into the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals.

Bartleman noted that the Azusa Street Revival did not occur in a vacuum. The immediate catalyst for the revival happened in the summer of 1905, when Joseph 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.” Bartleman was among those who gathered at Smale’s church. He experienced a burden for “soul travail” – he sensed that God was calling him to win lost souls to Christ.

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.

When 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.

Bartleman offered some cautionary advice regarding the history surrounding Azusa Street. “It would be a great mistake,” he wrote, “to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man.” Bartleman stressed that the early Pentecostal revival was a sovereign move of God that had developed over time. He wrote, “Pentecost did not drop down suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”

Still, Bartleman reserved a special place in Pentecostal history for the Azusa Street Mission. He observed that the Pentecostal revival began “in earnest” under Seymour’s leadership at the humble, run-down location on Azusa Street.

Bartleman noted multiple ironies regarding the revival. The Azusa Street Mission, he wrote, took place in a dilapidated building and was led by “a quiet colored man, very unassuming.” Yet the revival attracted people from across the racial divides and news of the outpouring quickly spread across the world. Bartleman also noted that Seymour initially preached about the gift of speaking in tongues without having had the experience himself. Seymour did not receive the gift until several weeks into the Azusa Street Revival. Finally, Bartleman observed that many respectable Christian leaders looked down upon the revival because of its humble origins and interracial character. However, many of these critics ended up losing their own church members to the Azusa Street Revival.

The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own twenty-first century egalitarian assumptions.

However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals. The early Pentecostal worldview, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission. The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Testimonies from the iconic Azusa Street Revival provide insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these testimonies will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.

Read Frank Bartleman’s article, “The Pentecostal or ‘Latter Rain’ Outpouring in Los Angeles,” on pages 4, 5 and 8 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Five Judgments,” by S. A. Jamieson

* “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

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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T. K. Leonard’s Spiritual and Social Vision: An Assemblies of God Founder’s Forgotten Legacy

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T. K. Leonard (seated, front left) with church members, converting the Opp Saloon into a Pentecostal church, Findlay, Ohio, March 1907

This Week in AG History — March 2, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 2 March 2017

Thomas King Leonard (1861-1946), an evangelical pastor from Ohio, was among the earliest to accept the Pentecostal message from the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909). As a Pentecostal, Leonard pioneered an interracial congregation in a former bar and brothel. Importantly, the congregation provided the first home for the newly-formed Assemblies of God national office from 1914 to 1915.

Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, called Leonard a “truly indispensable man” at the organizational general council in 1914. According to Revivaltime radio host C.M. Ward, Leonard “dominated the scene until his retirement in 1941 … a great man.” Yet few Assemblies of God members today probably recall the name of T. K. Leonard.

Leonard started in the ministry with a small denomination called Christian Union. A bivocational pastor, he owned a prosperous farm outside of McComb, Ohio. In September 1906, he believed that God was pressing upon him to “sell my possessions, consecrate myself, spirit, soul and body to the ministry of the Lord Jesus.”

It was during this same time that reports began to spread about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a little mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Some Christians in Ohio who heard about the revival began to desire more of God. When Claude McKinney began to preach the Pentecostal message in Akron, Leonard went to the meetings and was convinced of the reality of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

In January 1907, Leonard took the proceeds from the sale of his farm and purchased an old hotel at 406 Sandusky in Findlay, Ohio. This two-story hotel and tavern, which had doubled as a brothel, seemed the appropriate place to begin a mission to reach those who were most in need of his message of salvation and deliverance. He renovated the building and called it “The Apostolic Temple.”

The only thing from the old tavern that seemed useful for the new church was the bar rail, which Leonard “converted” to an altar rail. The bar rail was not the last of the conversions. Before long many who used to drink at the old bar and make use of the “house of ill-repute” were kneeling in repentance at the altar rail and finding love that was pure and lasting.

Significantly, Leonard’s congregation was interracial and was committed to caring for the poor. From the church’s founding, Leonard had determined that his work would include persons of every race and economic class. Feeling that the word “church” carried a negative connotation, he searched for another word that expressed their mission to “call out” a group of people from all walks of life. He finally fell on the Greek word “ekklesia” (the called-out assembly) and changed the name of his church to “The Assembly of God” and began issuing credentials under that name in 1912.

Feeling strongly that education for those called into ministry was vital, he opened “The Gospel School” for the training of ministers. He also started up a print shop that he christened “The Gospel Publishing House.”

When the call was issued in 1914 for a gathering of Pentecostal believers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the purpose of bringing greater unity to this fledgling movement, Leonard served on the conference committee and was elected one of the executive presbyters. It was T.K. Leonard who wrote the constitutional preamble which established the term “Assemblies of God” as the name for the new fellowship.

When discussion turned to the need for a headquarters for the fellowship, Leonard offered his facilities. The newly-formed Assemblies of God set up its first headquarters in his converted tavern and brothel in Findlay, Ohio, and began using Gospel Publishing House to print materials. The arrangement was short-lived due to inadequate space, and the headquarters moved to St. Louis in 1915.

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First executive presbytery of the Assemblies of God, Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 12, 1914.   T. K. Leonard is seated (front left) next to E. N. Bell and Cyrus Fockler.

By 1916, the Assemblies of God was facing doctrinal challenges, and the need became apparent for a formal statement of faith. Leonard served on the committee that drafted the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which remains the authoritative theological statement for the Assemblies of God to this day.

Leonard settled into his pastoral role at the Findlay church, which he led until his retirement in 1941 at age 80. He intended to continue preaching and teaching; however, his health deteriorated and he spent his last years in quiet retirement.

A death notice printed in the March 2, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel stated, “Brother Leonard will be remembered as the author of the original declaration on constitution which was adopted at the first General Council…which declaration shaped the course of the Assemblies of God fellowship.” In fact, it was Thomas King Leonard who gave the Assemblies of God its first constitutional preamble and resolution, its official name, and the name of its publishing house, all of which form a legacy that has endured to this day.

See the notice for T.K. Leonard’s death on page 12 of the March 2, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Day with a Palestine Shepherd” by Frances Stephens

• “How God Provided a Christmas Dinner” by Missionary to Japan Jessie Wengler

• “Our Missionary Advance in India”

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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Albert Norton, Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary to India: Preaching Must be Accompanied by Good Works

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This Week in AG History —February 22, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 23 February 2017

In the early twentieth century, many mainline Protestant churches were in the process of redefining the Christian faith. New academic theories undermined the authority of Scripture, and a faith in science replaced faith in the God of miracles as described in the Bible. These theological liberals pioneered a “Social Gospel” movement defined by doing good works, even as they left behind the seemingly antiquated notion that “Truth” could be found in Scripture.

In America, evangelicals and Pentecostals often responded to the Social Gospel movement by re-asserting biblical truths. Some tried to reform older denominations from within; others formed new, purer churches. Some backed away from social action, concerned that an emphasis on good works could distract from what they believed was the more important duty to preach the Word.

Outside America, missionaries were often surrounded by great suffering and felt compelled to minister in both word and deed. One such missionary was Albert Norton, an early Assemblies of God missionary to India.

In a 1919 Pentecostal Evangel article, Norton wrote the following bold statement, which argues that Christian preaching must be accompanied by works of compassion:

“A Christianity that coldly sits down, and goes on its routine of formal work, and allows its fellowmen to starve, or to be obliged to go through all the hard sufferings and exposure connected with famine, without effort to help them, might as well quit its preaching.”

Norton, who was witnessing an unfolding human tragedy, asked that “all missionaries, Mission Boards and Committees and all Christian Workers to do what they can to save their brothers and sisters in India from dying of starvation or from the kindred train of evils following famine.”

Pentecostal Evangel editor Stanley H. Frodsham responded and devoted the entire front page of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue to the desperate situation in India. He asked readers to send famine relief to Gospel Publishing House, which he promised would “be promptly sent to the field.”

Frodsham provided three justifications for this request to save bodies as well as souls. First, he stated that Scripture required it, quoting Proverbs 19:17 and 24:11-12. Second, he noted that the Methodist church had asked its members to forego luxuries for a few months and to instead provide money for Indian relief. He challenged Pentecostals to do likewise.

Third, he noted that the future of the church depended upon rescuing those who are starving now. He again quoted Norton, “There are young men and women in India today, who were saved as famine orphans several years ago, and now they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and being greatly used in the extension of Christ’s Kingdom.” Meeting the physical needs to the starving today would yield preachers tomorrow. He continued, “How unutterably sad it would have been if they had been allowed to die of starvation.”

Early Pentecostal missionaries such as Norton had very limited physical resources to share, but they still recognized the need to minister in both word and deed. When the Assemblies of God, at its 2009 General Council, added compassion as the fourth element for its reason for being — joining worship, evangelism, and discipleship — this was an affirmation of a long-standing practice.

Read Frodsham’s entire article, “Plague and Famine Raging in India,” on pages 1-2 of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Run to Help the Dying,” by A. E. L.

* “Hints Regarding Divine Healing,” by Florence Burpee

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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Remembering the Assemblies of God’s Black Heritage

By Darrin J. Rodgers

It is well-known that the interracial Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement, was led by an African-American pastor, William J. Seymour. However, the African-American heritage of the Assemblies of God has often been overlooked.

Most of the approximately 300 ministers who organized the Assemblies of God in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914 were white. (At least two were Native American.) However, African-Americans played important roles in the early decades of the Assemblies of God – at the first few general council meetings and as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. They overcame racism (including from fellow believers), they led consecrated lives, and they helped to lay the foundation for the Fellowship. Their stories are our stories. The following vignettes offer a glimpse into the lives and ministries of these sometimes unsung heroes.

  1. William J. Seymour (1870-1922)

seymour-p5606William J. Seymour, a mild-mannered African-American Holiness preacher, is remembered as one of the most important figures in twentieth century American religious history. Just 111 years ago, he founded the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, which became home to the famed Azusa Street Revival. Hundreds of millions of Pentecostals around the world, including those in the Assemblies of God, view Seymour as a spiritual father. He would probably be surprised by the attention, as during his lifetime he was often marginalized, even within Pentecostal circles. But his persistent encouragements toward holiness, humility, racial reconciliation, and evangelism continue to shine as founding ideals of the Pentecostal movement.

  1. Charles H. Mason (1864-1961)

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Few early Pentecostals were as widely respected and admired as Charles H. Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ. While the Church of God in Christ was a largely African-American Pentecostal denomination, Mason also credentialed numerous white ministers, some of whom ended up joining the Assemblies of God. Mason spoke at and blessed the founding general council of the Assemblies of God, and he also brought his black gospel choir from Lexington, Mississippi. E. N. Bell, the founding chairman of the Assemblies of God, called Mason “a real prophet of God.”

  1. Garfield T. Haywood (1880-1931)

Christian OutlookG.T. Haywood was the African-American pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis in the early decades of the twentieth century. He was also a noted theologian, author, songwriter, cartoonist, and inventor. His influence stretched far, and his congregation was racially mixed. The first issue of the Christian Evangel (later Pentecostal Evangel) included three articles by or about Haywood. He was invited to speak on the 1915 general council floor to represent the Oneness position, even though he never held Assemblies of God credentials. Haywood went on to serve as presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, a racially mixed Oneness Pentecostal denomination.

  1. Ellsworth S. Thomas (1866-1936)

Ellsworth S. Thomas holds the distinction of being the first African-American to hold Assemblies of God ministerial credentials. His name was just a footnote in the history books until recently, when new information came to light. His parents, a Civil War veteran and a laundress, were part of a free black community in Binghamton, New York, that pre-existed the Civil War. By 1900, Ellsworth had become an itinerant evangelist, he was ordained in 1913 by a Pentecostal church in Buffalo, New York, and he transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1915. He remained a faithful Assemblies of God minister until his death at age 70.

  1. Isaac S. Neeley (1865-1923) and Martha (Mattie) A. Board Neeley (1866-1940s?)

neeleyp5664Isaac and Martha Neeley were married late in life (in 1905) and became the first African-Americans to serve as Assemblies of God missionaries. They went to Liberia in 1913 under the auspices of Howard A. Goss’s largely-white Pentecostal fellowship, the Church of God in Christ (which was distinct from Charles H. Mason’s group by the same name). They transferred their credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1920 when they were home on furlough and received missionary appointment to Liberia in 1923. Isaac died just before they were set to leave, and Martha proceeded alone to Cape Palmas, where she was in charge of Bethel Home.

  1. Cornelia Jones Robertson (1891-1967)

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Cornelia Jones Robertson, an African American participant at the Azusa Street Revival, was ordained in 1909 and became a popular evangelist and preached at churches across the nation. She transferred her credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1923 and settled in San Francisco, where she became a church planter and evangelist. She ran the Barbary Coast Mission for 14 years and is credited for helping 100,000 people in need. She was one of few African Americans listed in the predecessor to the San Francisco Social Register.

  1. Thoro Harris (1874-1955)

Early Pentecostals loved gospel music, and Thoro Harris was one of their favorite song writers. He published countless songbooks and composed over 500 songs, including “Jesus Loves the Little Children” (1921), “All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus” (1931), and “He’s Coming Soon” (1944). Harris, an African-American, moved seamlessly in both white and black circles, as well as in both Holiness and Pentecostal churches. He made a substantial impact on Assemblies of God hymnody in its early decades.

  1. Lillian Kraeger (1884-1964)

kraegerLillian Kraeger, a young single white woman, felt called to Africa as a missionary. She never made it to Africa, but instead became an unlikely Assemblies of God missionary to African-Americans in Harlem. Lillian was heartbroken when her Assemblies of God church in New York City rejected the membership applications of two young African American girls on account of their skin color. She did not want the girls to fall away from the Lord, so in 1916 she began traveling to Harlem to hold Bible studies. The studied blossomed and grew into Bethel Gospel Assembly, which is now the largest congregation in the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God, the African-American denomination which formed a cooperative alliance with the Assemblies of God in 2014.

  1. Eddie Washington (1916-2008)

Eddie Washington and his twin brother, Billie, were raised in a cruel orphanage in Rhode Island. They hoped for a reprieve when they went to a foster home at age 14. But when they accepted Christ at a Pentecostal church, their occultist foster mother beat them until their heads bled and forbade them to attend church again. They disobeyed, went back to church, and were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their foster mother, now afraid of them because she could tell that they had spiritual power, left them alone. The twins prepared for the ministry at Zion Bible Institute and entered the evangelistic ministry. Eddie and his wife, Ruth, joined the Assemblies of God and became well known African-American evangelists and missionaries.

  1. Bob Harrison (1928-2012)

TWOct22_728When Bob Harrison felt a call to the ministry, he naturally turned to the Assemblies of God. His godmother, Cornelia Jones Robertson, was a pioneer African-American Assemblies of God minister. He graduated from an Assemblies of God Bible college in 1951, but he was denied credentials on account of his race, ironically, by the same district that ordained his godmother. Harrison quickly rose in prominence in evangelical circles. He joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1960 and traveled the world as an evangelist. In 1962, he became the catalyst for overturning a policy, instituted in 1939, that forbade the ordination of African-Americans at the national level. Harrison, in his new role as an ordained Assemblies of God minister, became a visible proponent of working across the racial divides.

These and countless other African-American Pentecostals have made a significant impact on the Assemblies of God. In 2015, almost ten percent of Assemblies of God USA members – 308,520 people – were black. As a whole, ethnic minorities accounted for 43 percent of Assemblies of God adherents in the United States. The Assemblies of God, an heir of the Azusa Street Revival, consists of people from varied racial backgrounds who have come together in the power of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ and to further His Kingdom.

___________

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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Revivaltime’s Global Radio Ministry: Paul Pipkin and the Philippines

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Paul Pipkin on the air at DZAS in the Philippines, 1949

This Week in AG History — February 17, 1957

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 16 February 2017

Revivaltime, the weekly radio broadcast which aired from 1953 to 1995, was one of the best-known Assemblies of God ministries of its era. However, many may not be aware of its substantial global impact.

The Feb. 17, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared how Revivaltime came to the Philippines — one of the countless nations in which the program was rebroadcast.

Assemblies of God missionaries Paul and Violet Pipkin began ministering in the Philippines in December 1948. Soon after they arrived, the president of the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) approached Paul about hosting a radio ministry.  He eventually worked on staff at the FEBC for seven years and worked for more than 50 years in broadcast and evangelistic ministry.

By early 1957, Paul Pipkin was broadcasting Revivaltime at a radio station in Cebu City, Philippines.  He also had a contract with the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) to air Revivaltime at the FEBC station in Manila, Philippines. As one of the directors at FEBC, he oversaw the PM (Portable Missionary) and Extension Department.

In a report to FEBC, Pipkin declared, “Besides our ten broadcasts a week, we have the interesting task of assigning hundreds of portable radios to Filipino families on a loan basis.” Before the days of transistor radios, the PM and Extension Department manufactured battery-operated, pre-tuned radios known as “Portable Missionaries” or “PM’s” and loaned them out to hospitals, prisons, and people in remote villages.  Through these PM’s thousands of people were able to hear the gospel.

Pipkin sent out a questionnaire to members of the PM club he had organized, and asked what they thought about Revivaltime. One member wrote, “Revivaltime is helping us very much. The sermons of Brother [C. M.] Ward are just what we need for our day. We won’t miss it for anything.”

In addition to English messages of C. M. Ward that were broadcast on the radio, Pipkin would translate the messages into the Ilocano dialect for one group of Filipinos who lived in the mountains.

Pipkin reported that “Requests come constantly for Revivaltime to be released on more stations. Who can measure the number of actual homes reached each week as Revivaltime finds its way into the most unlikely places?”

While Revivaltime originated in the United States, its audience members spanned the globe. Creative missionaries and national church leaders adapted the radio broadcast for use in the Philippines and numerous other countries. Revivaltime was a prominent manifestation of the Assemblies of God’s commitment to take “all the gospel to all the world.”

Read “Revivaltime in the Philippines,” on page 20 of the Feb. 17, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Servant of the Church,” by Gayle F. Lewis

• “Hindu Priest Finds Christ,” by E. E. Shaffer

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel achieved 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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O.W. Eubanks: The Highway Patrolman Who Pioneered a Black Church in Rural Mississippi

 

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This Week in AG History —February 8, 1976

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 9 February 2017

Opal W. Eubanks joined the Mississippi Highway Patrol during the race riots of 1964. A large, broad-shouldered white man, he relished the opportunity to strike fear in the hearts of African-Americans who were in trouble with the law. By his own admission, he was a foul-mouthed sinner who liked “rough stuff.”

A radical conversion to Christ in the early 1970s altered the course of Eubanks’ life, and his hardened heart became tender toward African-Americans in his rural community. He and his wife, Thelma, ultimately pioneered an Assemblies of God congregation consisting mostly of African-Americans, which they pastored for 21 years. He shared his story in the Feb. 8, 1976, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Eubanks’ conversion occurred in the midst of deep personal suffering. His 20-year-old daughter had recently been killed in an automobile accident, and he had been experiencing excruciating back pain. He realized that he was far from God, and his father-in-law, a Pentecostal preacher, encouraged him to seek the Lord and repent of his sins.

Eubanks began attending an Assemblies of God church, where he accepted Christ, was healed of his back pain, and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was a new man, and everyone could see the difference.

After being filled with the Holy Spirit, he started witnessing to people. His Bible became his constant companion in his patrol car, and he never grew tired of sharing how the Lord changed his heart and life.

One night, at a roadblock on Interstate 59, he stopped two African-American men who had beer in their car. He had to charge them with illegal possession of liquor, as it was a dry county. He also witnessed to them about the Lord, telling them that “liquor was a tool of the devil.”

One of the men, Joe Pickens, came to see Eubanks several days later. He tearfully confessed that his life was messed up and accepted Christ. Before long, Pickens and his four daughters all had made definite decisions to follow the Lord and had experienced Spirit baptism.

News of the conversions spread through the largely African-American rural community of Bay Springs, Mississippi, where racial segregation still held sway. Patrolman Eubanks had been known for his tough ways, and people took note when he began ministering Christ’s love to African-Americans as brothers in Christ.

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Bay Springs Assembly of God, 1976

In 1974, Eubanks started holding a Bible study, which developed into a thriving congregation. In the first two years, about 45 people accepted Christ under Eubanks’ ministry. The congregation, Bay Springs Assembly of God, was organized in 1975. The Sunday School superintendent was a redeemed bootlegger.

At the time, it was unheard of in that community for a white man to pioneer or pastor a church of African-Americans. Eubanks realized that he was breaking cultural mores. However, he insisted that God’s values must trump cultural values: “If a man is a child of God, then he’s your brother. I don’t care what color he is, you have a duty to witness to him.” Eubanks recounted, “There has been some grumbling and opposition to the church,” but noted that it was “nothing that God couldn’t handle.”

sammy-amos

Sammy Amos and his wife, Debra

Eubanks served as pastor of Bay Springs Assembly of God until 1996. Sammy Amos, an African-American, followed Eubanks and is now in his 20th year as pastor. Amos, in a recent conversation, echoed Eubanks’ vision for the church: “We only care about souls, we don’t judge people according to their color.”

Amos noted that Bay Springs Assembly of God continues to be an interracial lighthouse in the rural community, where most churches are still segregated. The congregation has about 115 adherents, including blacks and whites, and is known for its outreach and deliverance ministries. The largely African-American church started by a white highway patrolman continues to demonstrate to the world that God can indeed change hardened hearts.

Read the entire article by O. W. Eubanks, “Highway Patrolman Pastors New Black Church in Mississippi,” on pages 8-9 of the Feb. 8, 1976, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The New Bedroom Evangelism,” by C. M. Ward

• “Don Argue Named Vice President of A/G Graduate School”

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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Melodies of Praise: 60th Anniversary of a Favorite Assemblies of God Songbook

melodies-of-praise

The Melodies of Praise hymnal and orchestrations made their debut in 1957. Pictured here are Assemblies of God Music Division staff members Lorena Quigley (left), Marie Salisbury (center), and Edwin Anderson.

This Week in AG History — February 10, 1957

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 2 February 2017

Early Pentecostals commonly believed that two books were essential for revival: the Bible and the songbook. Fervent, spiritual singing has been a distinguishing characteristic of the Pentecostal movement from its inception, alongside powerful anointed preaching.

In the few first decades of the movement, Pentecostals used and promoted a great variety of songbooks published by non-Pentecostals, such as R. E. Winsett. However, at the 1920 General Council of the Assemblies of God, a recommendation was made that “in addition to the Sunday School literature … a Pentecostal Song Book, to be used universally throughout the Assemblies of God, be prepared and published.”

When Chairman J. W. Welch asked how many ministers would use a uniquely Pentecostal song collection. nearly all the ministers raised their hands. This recommendation was met with the 1924 release of Songs of Pentecostal Fellowship, the first Assemblies of God effort to produce a songbook that was distinctly Pentecostal.

Songs of Pentecostal Fellowship was followed by other songbooks, such as Spiritual Songs (1930), Songs of Praise (1935), and Assembly Songs (1948). These collections consisted mainly of gospel songs which were popular at camp meetings and revival services. They also featured songs by Assemblies of God authors and began to bring unity to the congregational singing of the churches.

The 1950s brought a “golden era” to Pentecostal music. Quartet conventions began featuring more Pentecostal groups such as the Blackwood Brothers, and the Assemblies of God established the Music Division of Gospel Publishing House. One of the Music Division’s first duties was to produce a songbook for congregational singing that would also encourage the use of orchestrations for instruments. 

This new songbook, Melodies of Praise, made its debut 60 years ago in the Pentecostal Evangel, and it was formally introduced at the General Council later that year. It was the first Assemblies of God music publication to be released in both round note and shaped note editions, giving it a broader appeal for use in the southern singing schools. Melodies of Praise kept the gospel songs that were popular in churches but also incorporated more traditional hymns, such as Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Conversely, the compilers also sought to expose more church members to newer writers, such as Ira Stanphill, with the inclusion of songs like Mansion Over the Hilltop and Suppertime. It also incorporated a newer genre of church music with its introduction of choruses like Everybody Ought to Know, I Shall Not Be Moved, and Isn’t He Wonderful. 

Another change the Music Division made was to release a companion edition with instrumental orchestrations. Most Pentecostals embraced the use of instruments in worship and, for the first time, church instrumentalists could participate in the accompaniment of song services with the aid of properly composed notation.

Melodies of Praise was well received and sold 77,410 copies in its first year. By 1986, almost 2 million copies had been sold. Even after it was replaced in 1969 by the popular Hymns of Glorious Praise, it continued to sell well. Pentecostals have long known the power and importance of good church singing. The songs of the church teach and affirm biblical truth, are a spiritual expression of our affection toward God, and a testimony of His work in our lives. They also serve as a unifying factor. With the publication of a denominational hymnal, an Assemblies of God church member from Kentucky could visit a church in California and instantly feel at home during the congregational singing.

As the 60th anniversary of the release of Melodies of Praise is celebrated, it is a time to recognize the Assemblies of God’s rich history of worshiping through song. Even as times have changed, and many churches have moved to electronic projection of songs rather than printed hymnals, the Assemblies of God is still known as a people who embrace the musical language of worship with fervent passion.

New copies of Melodies of Praise are available through My Healthy Church.

See the original advertisement for Melodies of Praise on page 10 of the Feb. 10, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Prophet’s Shattered Home” by J. E. Harris

* “What is Communism” by Frank W. Smith

*”First Graduating Class at Rhodesian Bible School” by H. B. Garlock

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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Filed under History, Music, Spirituality