The Healing of Joseph Wannenmacher: How a Gifted Violinist became an Assemblies of God Pioneer

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This Week in AG History — October 29, 1949

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 29 October 2015

As a young man, Joseph P. Wannenmacher (1895-1989) was a rising star in the Milwaukee musical scene. But a miraculous healing in a small storefront mission in 1917 forever changed his life, and he went on to become a well-loved Assemblies of God pioneer pastor. He shared his powerful testimony in the October 29, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Like many other Milwaukee residents, Wannenmacher was an immigrant. He was born in Buzias, Hungary, to a family that was ethnically German and Hungarian. The Wannenmachers moved to Milwaukee in 1903, but his father was unable to adapt to American ways so they returned to Hungary after 10 months. In 1909, they returned to Milwaukee to stay.

From an early age, music helped define Joseph Wannenmacher’s life. In Hungary, he was surrounded by some of the nation’s best musicians and became a noted violinist. In Milwaukee, at age 18 he organized and conducted the Hungarian Royal Gypsy Orchestra (named after a similar group in his homeland), which performed at many of the region’s top entertainment venues.

Wannenmacher seemed to have it all. He could afford fashionable clothing, a gold watch, and diamond-studded jewelry. But underneath his successful veneer, Wannenmacher was haunted by his own human frailties.

Wannenmacher knew that he was dying a slow, painful death. His flesh would swell, develop blisters, and rot. Doctors diagnosed his condition as bone consumption. His sister had already died of the same malady. Anger boiled up in Wannenmacher as he grappled with the unfairness of life. He developed a sharp temper and, try as he might, he could not find peace.

Wannenmacher was raised in a devout Catholic home, so he turned to his faith to help him deal with his physical pain and bitterness. He frequently attended church and offered penance, but these practices did not seem to help.

He then turned to Luther’s German translation of the Bible, which someone had given to him, and began reading it voraciously. In its pages he discovered things he had never heard before. He read about Christ’s second coming, salvation by faith, and Christ’s power to heal. Perhaps most importantly, he learned that God is love. Up until that point, he had conceived of God as “Someone away up there with a long beard and a big club just waiting to beat me up.” But then, at age 18, he began to discover the gospel for himself.

In the midst of this spiritual awakening, Wannenmacher’s health was weakening. He could barely hold his violin bow in his hand, and the pain was almost unbearable. Then one morning in 1917 he heard about a group of German-speaking Pentecostals who prayed for the sick. The next service was scheduled for that afternoon, and Wannenmacher made a beeline for it. He wrote, “It was a dilapidated place, but the sweet presence of God was there.”

The small band of believers had been fasting and praying that God would send someone who was in need of salvation and healing. The service was unlike anything Wannenmacher had ever seen before. He watched the people get on their knees and cry out to God. Their outpouring of genuine faith moved Joseph’s heart.

The pastor, Hugo Ulrich, preached that sinners could be saved simply by trusting in Christ. It seemed too good to be true, Wannenmacher thought. Faith then came into his heart, and he started laughing for joy. The pastor thought Wannenmacher was mocking him, but Wannenmacher didn’t care. At the end of the service, Wannenmacher came forward to the altar and experienced a powerful encounter with God.

Wannenmacher described his time at the altar: “the power of God just struck me and shook for fully half an hour…the more His Spirit operated through my bones, through my muscles, through my being, the hotter I became. The more God’s power surged through me, the more I perspired. The Lord simply operated on that poor, diseased body of mine.”

He described this experience as being in the “operating room” of God. Later in the service, as he knelt at the altar rail in silent prayer, it seemed like heaven came down. He recalled, “As I waited there in God’s presence … [God’s] hands went down my body from head to toe, and every spirit of infirmity had to go. I got up, and I was a new man.”

A few days later, Wannenmacher was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He soon launched into gospel ministry and shared his testimony wherever he went. He played his violin and sang gospel songs during the lunch hour at the Harley Davidson plant, where he sometimes worked. He testified about his healing in hospitals, street corners, and other places. Everywhere he went, he prayed with people, and many accepted Christ and were healed. Wannenmacher’s family jokingly referred to his violin as the “healing violin,” because numerous people experienced healing as he played songs such as “The Heavenly City.”

In 1921 he married Helen Innes and started Full Gospel Church in Milwaukee. He went on to found six additional daughter churches in the area. He also served as the first superintendent of the Hungarian Branch of the Assemblies of God, which was organized in 1944 for Hungarian immigrants to America. After pastoring Full Gospel Church (renamed Calvary Assembly of God in 1944) for 39 years, he retired in 1960.

Throughout his ministry, Wannenmacher emphasized the importance of the Word of God. In his Pentecostal Evangel article, Wannenmacher compared reading the Bible to the mastery of music. “You have to practice and play music over and over again before you have mastered it,” he wrote, “and you have to apply yourself to those wonderful teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, too, in order to make them yours.”

While Joseph Wannenmacher went to be with the Lord in 1989, his legacy lives on in the churches he founded and in the people whose lives he touched. Calvary AG is continuing to reach people in the Milwaukee area and was renamed Honey Creek Church in 2015. Joseph and Helen’s three children, John, Philip, and Lois (Graber), were involved in Assemblies of God ministries. Philip served as pastor of Central Assembly of God (Springfield, Missouri) from 1970 to 1995. Philip’s daughter, Beth Carroll, serves as director of Human Resources at the Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center. On the floor just above Beth’s office, Joseph’s “healing violin” is on display in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center museum.

Joseph Wannenmacher’s story reminds believers that history never really disappears. People, events, and themes from the past tend to resurface in the present, but it often takes discernment to see them. God radically transformed Joseph Wannenmacher’s heart and healed his body, and the world has never been the same.

Read Joseph P. Wannenmacher’s article, “When God’s Love Came In,” on pages 2-3 and 11-13 of the October 29, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Life’s Supreme Objective,” by D. M. Carlson

• “Ministering to the Needy,” by J. H. Boyce

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Joseph Wannenmacher's

Joseph Wannenmacher’s “healing violin,” on display at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center museum

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

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

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AG Educator Helps Dedicate Mississippi Historical Marker Where COGIC Bishop Mason Was Jailed in 1918

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Dr. Byron Klaus, retired president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (1999-2015), was a keynote speaker at the dedication of a State Historical Marker honoring the birthplace of the Church of God in Christ. The event, held in Lexington, Mississippi, on October 16, 2015, evidenced the deepening relationship between the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ.

While the Church of God in Christ is the largest predominantly black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, its roots are often overlooked. Few people noticed when Charles H. Mason founded a small Holiness church in 1897 in Lexington. Rejected by his fellow African-American Baptists on account of his Holiness teachings, he represented a marginalized religious group within a marginalized race. But his teachings caught fire among both African-Americans and whites, and his followers soon stretched far beyond the small Mississippi town. When Mason identified with the Pentecostal revival in 1907, he parted ways with ministry colleague Charles P. Jones and reorganized his followers as the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Immediately, the COGIC became one of the largest and most-respected fellowships in the fledgling Pentecostal movement.

Lexington’s role in COGIC history has been largely overshadowed by Memphis, home of COGIC international headquarters. Seeing this inequity, Mother Mary P. Patterson (widow of former Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.) launched a grassroots campaign to encourage COGIC members to rediscover their Lexington roots. Since 2006, Patterson has organized tours of the historic sites through her company, The Pentecostal Heritage Connection, and she built relationships with Lexington officials, church leaders, and historians.

Patterson’s efforts culminated on October 16, 2015, when a State Historical Marker honoring the COGIC’s birthplace was dedicated at the south entrance of the Holmes County Courthouse in Lexington. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History approved the marker, and the Church of God in Christ Board of Bishops, chaired by Bishop John H. Sheard, sponsored and paid for the recognition. David Daniels, chairman of the COGIC Commission on Education, supported the project with historical documentation.

The dedication ceremony, organized by Patterson, featured three keynote speakers: Byron Klaus; Superintendent William Deans, pastor of St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington (the first COGIC congregation); and Dr. Percy Washington, pastor of Sweet Canaan Church of God in Christ, Lexington (the second COGIC congregation). Each speaker provided historical insight into Lexington’s significance in COGIC history.

Two buses of ministers and members from the COGIC’s Tennessee 5th Jurisdiction, located in Memphis, traveled to Lexington, where they supported their bishop, Jerry W. Taylor, who unveiled the marker on behalf of the Board of Bishops. Over 80 young people from Taylor’s jurisdiction attended. Local government officials were in full force, each offering their heartfelt prayers and committing the city to provide hospitality for pilgrims. Speakers frequently drew parallels between Scripture and COGIC history. “If Memphis is the Church of God in Christ’s Jerusalem,” stated Patterson, “then Lexington is its Nazareth.”

Byron Klaus noted that the marker’s location is “is a poignant reminder that following Jesus is not an easy path.” The Holmes County Courthouse, he explained, intersected with COGIC history several times. In 1897 Mason began preaching on the courthouse steps, and then moved services to private homes and an abandoned gin house. While in Lexington, he founded St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the world’s first COGIC congregation. Later, in 1918, Mason was incarcerated in the jail cell in the basement of the courthouse on trumped-up charges that he opposed American involvement in World War I. Other church leaders who opposed the Holiness message tried to sabotage Mason’s ministry by falsely accusing him of treason. The jail cell that once held Mason is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Lexington was also home to Saints Industrial and Literary School, established in 1918 by Sister Pinkie Duncan and Professor James Courts to train African-American children. Under Dr. Arenia Mallory, president of the school from 1926 to 1983, the school became known as Saint’s Academy and was a prominent K-12 school in the community. Dr. Mallory was a leading advocate for civil rights and the poor in Holmes County. The school closed in 2006.

Mason, a bridge builder, was ahead of his time. He worked with both blacks and whites, striving to overcome the color barriers of his day. Klaus recounted that Mason gave his blessing in 1914 to the formation of the Assemblies of God. “I am forever grateful for that blessing from a father in the faith,” Klaus told the crowd.

Patterson believes that God is bringing the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ into closer relationship. She demonstrated her commitment to this in 2011, when she deposited her husband’s personal papers at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national office, is the world’s largest Pentecostal archives. Patterson stated, “I am entrusting the Assemblies of God to help preserve and promote my husband’s materials. I want to send a signal that our two churches can and should cooperate in areas like education and historical archives.”

The heritage of the Church of God in Christ has much to teach the broader church. Its Lexington roots remind believers that great things often germinate from small beginnings, that the way of holiness is often marked by suffering, and that Pentecostalism emerged at the turn of the 20th century with an interracial impulse. These lessons come to life in Lexington, Mississippi.

Originally published 23 October 2015 on PE News

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

State Historical Marker dedicated on the south lawn of the Holmes County Courthouse, October 16, 2015.

State Historical Marker dedicated on the south lawn of the Holmes County Courthouse, October 16, 2015.

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Pictured (L-R): Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center; Mother Mary P. Patterson; Byron Klaus, former president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

About 125 people attended the dedication.

About 125 people attended the dedication.

Lexington

St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the oldest COGIC congregation in the world, was founded in Lexington in 1897.

St. Paul Church of God in Christ, the oldest COGIC congregation in the world, was founded in Lexington in 1897.

Bishop Mason began preaching in 1897 on these steps on the south end of the Holmes County Courthouse.

Bishop Mason began preaching in 1897 on these steps on the south end of the Holmes County Courthouse.

Dr. Byron Klaus, standing in the original pulpit in St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington, MS. Bishop Mason preached from this pulpit.

Dr. Byron Klaus, standing in the original pulpit in St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Lexington, MS. Bishop Mason preached from this pulpit.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

Bishop Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

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Bob Harrison, in the Midst of 1960s Racial Strife, Called for a Counter-Revolution

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This Week in AG History — October 22, 1967

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 22 October 2015

Racial conflict and change dominated the American landscape in the late 1960s. August 1967 epitomized the era. The month began with race riots engulfing Washington, D.C., and ended with the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to serve as the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

In the midst of this racially charged month, the most prominent African-American Assemblies of God minister, Bob Harrison, delivered a message at the 32nd General Council held August 24-29, 1967, in Long Beach, California. Harrison’s sermon, which addressed the racial strife of the day, was published in the October 22, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Harrison was acutely aware of the effects of racial prejudice, as the racist patterns of the world had found their way into the church. In 1939, the Assemblies of God instituted a policy that denied ordination at the national level to African-Americans. African-Americans could still be licensed at the district level. Harrison graduated from Bethany Bible College (an Assemblies of God school in Scotts Valley, California) in 1951 and was eligible for district licensure. However, he was initially denied a license on account of his race. This decision was later revisited and, in 1957, the Northern California-Nevada District granted Harrison a ministerial license.

This injustice was compounded by irony: Harrison’s godmother, Cornelia Jones Robertson, was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1923, before the national policy was instituted. She was one of the earliest African-American females ordained by the Assemblies of God.

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 the policy against ordaining African-Americans. Harrison, in his new role as an ordained Assemblies of God minister, became a visible proponent of working across the racial divides.

In his 1967 General Council sermon, Harrison challenged the notion that racial problems could be cured by political and economic means alone. “Only Christ and His gospel can solve it,” he asserted. Having traveled around the world, Harrison also observed that American segregation provided a poor witness of the Christian faith.

Harrison noted that people “tend to confuse Biblical Christianity with American culture.” He explained that while American culture was influenced by Christianity, “the Church exists as a minority” in America. Harrison furthermore offered a blunt assessment of American morality: “America is long on money and materialism but terribly short on values that count.”

Harrison’s interracial vision was grounded in the Great Commission. His sermon was suffused with admonitions that everyone has the responsibility to accept and serve Christ. He encouraged readers to have “total commitment” to bring “the whole gospel for the whole man and the whole world.” According to Harrison, Christians should think in terms of the “human race,” rather than in terms of black or white. Harrison called for Christians to lead a “counter-revolution,” which he described as “a new era of Bible-based, soul-convicting, sin-blasting evangelism.” This counter-revolution, according to Harrison, “began centuries ago at Pentecost.”

Read Bob Harrison’s article, “These Things Shall Be,” on pages 2-3 of the October 22, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Refugee Problem,” by Robert C. Cunningham

• “Getting God’s Help in These Times,” by H. C. Noah

• “The Triumph of the King,” by W. Glenn West

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Should Pentecostals Reject the Doctrine of the Trinity?

Ernest S. Williams

Ernest S. Williams

This Week in AG History — October 18, 1927

By William Molenaar
Originally published on PE-News, 15 October 2015

Should Pentecostals reject the doctrine of the Trinity? This question — initially called the “New Issue” — divided early Pentecostals and compelled the young Assemblies of God in 1916 to adopt the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which affirmed Trinitarian orthodoxy.

“New Issue” advocates left the Assemblies of God and other Trinitarian Pentecostal churches and coalesced into their own organizations, which became known as the Oneness movement.

Ernest S. Williams, 34-year-old pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Assembly (Newark, New Jersey), wrote an article defending the Trinitarian view of the godhead in the October 18, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. The Oneness movement, apparently, continued to be a point of theological concern.

Williams began the article by demonstrating what he believed to be the faulty logic of the Oneness position. He noted that, according to Scripture, God gave Jesus “a name that was above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Trinitarians interpret this to mean that God the Father gave Jesus a name that is above every name. Williams noted that Oneness advocates have difficulty explaining how this verse could be consistent with their belief that Jesus is God the Father. According to Oneness theology, “God” (Jesus) would have given Jesus the name above all other names. Williams pointed out that one would “conclude that there are two Lord Jesus Christs; one an intelligent Giver, and the other an intelligent Receiver.” He humorously noted, “Thus their own logic would cut their own heads off, since they teach only one personality in the Godhead.”

Williams proceeded to explain the logic of biblically grounded Trinitarian theology, appealing to Scripture, reason, and church history.

What became of the young pastor who carefully taught theology in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel? E. S. Williams went on to serve as a leading Pentecostal systematic theologian and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949).

Read the article by E. S. Williams, “The Godhead,” on page 4 of the Oct. 18, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in the issue:

• “Soul Food for Hungry Saints,” by A. G. Ward

• “Jesus, the Heart of God,” by A. P. Collins

• “The Great Western Camp Meeting at Los Angeles, Cal.,” by T. Anderson

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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Should the Assemblies of God Change Its Name?

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This Week in AG History — October 8, 1927

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 October 2015

At the 1927 General Council, the Assemblies of God considered a possible name change as one of two hot topics covered on the Council floor. Delegates also considered and adopted the formal constitution and bylaws of the Assemblies of God (which included several minor changes to the Statement of Fundamental Truths).

The Oct. 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes lively discussion of the reasons for a name change and, whether the AG is a denomination. Two years earlier, the 1925 General Council had rejected a proposed constitution and bylaws. A Revision Committee was formed to craft changes that would be more acceptable. In the process of making revisions, this committee explored the possibility of a new name.

J. Narver Gortner, the chairman of the committee, reported: “When the Revision Committee was looking for a name, we wanted to find one that would indicate what we are, one in harmony with our real character. And we all agreed that we are Pentecostal people. Then we are evangelical too, we believe in evangelization.”

The committee recommended changing the name “Assemblies of God” to “Pentecostal Evangelical Church.”

“For a long time there has been widespread dissatisfaction concerning the name by which we have been known,” Gortner said. He found precedence for a name change in Scripture, since God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, and several others.

After continued discussion from a number of delegates, Harold Moss interjected. “We as a people are evangelical, that is, we have a worldwide evangelistic program to get men and women saved through the blood of Jesus Christ,” Moss said. “But the name is not sufficient as there are other evangelical churches, so we need another name to draw a clear line of demarcation — Pentecostal Evangelical church. We are Pentecostal, thank God; and I am not ashamed.”

T. K. Leonard, who had originally suggested the name Assemblies of God in 1914, reminded everyone that “after days of meditation and trying to get an undenominational, nonsectarian name” the founders saw this as the “God-given name” for the Fellowship. “When It was read to the audience, by one standing vote, unanimously, the whole body stood there and sang, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow,’ Leonard said. “And the whole house was filled with the power of God.”

The discussion of a possible name change went on for several days. At the close of the discussion, delegates decided to delay the suggested change until the next meeting of the General Council, to allow additional feedback and study on the matter. The constitution was adopted at the 1927 General Council, but not the name change. In the years since its founding, the name Assemblies of God had become familiar to the world at large. So with very little further discussion, when the General Council met two years later in 1929, the name Assemblies of God was retained and continues to be the name of the Fellowship, 101 years after its founding.

More information is available in the article “The Assemblies of God: A Good Name” in the Fall 1994 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.

The Pentecostal Evangel article, “A Suggested Change of Name,” is on pages 5-7, and 9-10 of the Oct. 8, 1927, edition.

Also featured in the issue:

* “Continuous Revival,” by R. E. McAlister

* “A Fine New Church,” by Mae Eleanor Frey

* “God’s Call to Pentecostal Saints,” by Sara Coxe

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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Brazilian Pentecostal Denomination (Igreja de Cristo Pentecostal no Brasil) Triples in Size, Deposits Publications at Heritage Center

A small portion of the collection of Igreja de Cristo Pentecostal no Brasil publications deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

A small portion of the collection of Igreja de Cristo Pentecostal no Brasil publications deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

The International Pentecostal Church of Christ (IPCC) has its roots in America, but its membership outside the US far exceeds its American counterpart. Dr. Clyde Hughes, Missions Director of the IPCC, recently traveled to Brazil, where he spoke at the church’s national convention. The Igreja de Cristo Pentecostal no Brasil has tripled in membership since 1993 and, last year, had 31,111 members. Hughes brought back a large collection of the church’s Brazilian publications and deposited them at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is the largest Pentecostal archives in the world. It is important that voices of Pentecostals around the world be accessible to church leaders, students, and researchers!

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC is located in the Assemblies of God national offices. 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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What do Wittenberg University, Oxford University, and Chi Alpha Have in Common?

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Chi Alpha Chaplain J. Calvin Holsinger (center) conducting Bible study with students at Southwest Missouri State College, 1953.


This Week in AG History — October 2, 1955

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 1 October 2015

College campuses birthed many of the world’s great Christian revival and reform movements. This fact was not lost on J. Calvin Holsinger, who pioneered Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God ministry to college students.

In a Pentecostal Evangel article published 60 years ago, Holsinger recounted how Martin Luther, a professor at Wittenberg University, helped to spark the 16th century Protestant Reformation. He also noted that the great Methodist revival of the 18th and 19th centuries began when John Wesley, an Oxford University professor, gathered students for prayer and Bible study. The students in this “Holy Club,” as it came to be called, helped to spread revival across England and, ultimately, around the world.

Even the 20th century Pentecostal movement, Holsinger observed, had origins on a college campus. When students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, gathered in 1900 to study the Book of Acts, they experienced a profound spiritual outpouring that helped to birth the worldwide Pentecostal movement.

Why should the Assemblies of God support ministries to college students? To Holsinger, the answer to this question was obvious: history shows that students led many of the greatest revival movements. He asked, “It has been true in the past; why not today?”

Holsinger, at the time, was a professor at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, and served as campus adviser for the National Christ’s Ambassadors Department, which was the youth organization of the Assemblies of God. He also led a college ministry at Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University), one of a handful of AG campus ministries at non-Assemblies of God schools around the nation.

In 1953, Holsinger began developing plans for a national AG campus ministry at non-Assemblies of God schools. He developed manuals that defined the new organization’s purpose and mission, and he conceived a name — Chi Alpha. In 1955, the fledgling national campus ministry featured three services to college students: a Campus Ambassador magazine offered free to all Assemblies of God college students; local chapters on college campuses; and college chaplains.

By the 2014-15 school year, Chi Alpha had grown to 314 chapters on campuses in the United States, served by 871 affiliated staff. Chi Alpha is now the fourth-largest evangelical campus organization in the United States, after Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Read the article by J. Calvin Holsinger, “A Campus Witness,” on pages 17 and 20 of the Oct. 2, 1955, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
* “Witnessing of the Acts 1:8 Variety,” by Robert L. Brandt
* “Witch Doctor Saved!” by John L. Franklin.

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
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