Tag Archives: African Americans

How to Serve God in an Era of Social and Racial Unrest: Thurman Faison Speaks Out in 1970

This Week in AG History — August 23, 1970

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, August 25, 2022

Thurman L. Faison (1938- ) was one of the early leaders of the National Black Fellowship of the Assemblies of God and served on various committees with the AG. In 1970, Faison shared his thoughts on how best to serve God in a climate of social unrest.

Faison was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. After serving in the US Air Force, he began preparation for the ministry by studying at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada), from which he graduated in 1963. He returned to the United States and served many years as an AG pastor and evangelist and also ministered on WCFC-TV 38, a Christian television station in Chicago started by AG minister Owen Carr. He received a BA from North Central Bible College in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree from National Louis University (Evanston, Illinois) in 1981.

Faison addressed the 1965 General Council, and he has been a guest speaker at various Assemblies of God colleges. In recent years, he has written a number of books, including: To the Spiritually Inclined, Be Spiritually Bold, The Spirit of Man, and As Far as the East Is From the West.

In 1970, Faison (then pastor of Southside Tabernacle AG in Chicago) addressed the annual convention of the Evangelical Home Missions Association (EHMA) on the subject, “How to Reach the Inner City.” That meeting was held in Kansas City in conjunction with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) convention.

“Climate of Change” was the title of Faison’s message. He did not deal with any specific methods for reaching the inner city. He said, “There are no sure-fire methods of reaching any community.” According to Faison, methods change with the environment. Some things work in Harlem that may not work in Chicago or some other large city.

Faison recognized a changing scene in the Black community, as well as in the rest of the world, with shifting of priorities and the emergence of new concepts. He felt like society was in the midst of “a social renaissance.” People were concerned that they were victims of cultural patterns and preconditioned concepts, a mentality that limited their full participation in society, and which prevented them from taking advantage of certain opportunities in life. He was well aware of cries for change — change in government, change in education, change in religion, and change in relationships.

In light of these challenges, Faison felt the key to reaching the inner city was to deal with the root cause of these problems, which he identified as sin. In a time of riots and civil unrest in America, Faison boldly stated, “The crippling power of any culture is its sin.” He continued: “When you talk about injustice, you mean sin. When you speak of inequality, you mean sin. When you talk about prejudice, you really mean sin.”

He emphasized that in the present crisis, Christians should “view the world in the light of the Scriptures, and not the Scriptures in the light of the world.” He said that one of Jesus’ main objectives was to destroy sin. He gave His life as a ransom for many, that “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Faison asserted that faith is vital to the Black community, and that spiritual priorities must not be obscured by shifting cultural currents. According to Faison, the depravity of man and the effects of sin remain with us to the present day. The real problem is not “the system,” but the sin. Before Jesus could tell a certain man in the Gospel of Mark to “rise up and walk,” He first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

A climate of change cannot occur, Faison said, until society rights the wrongs of the past and seeks forgiveness. He declared, “When sins are forgiven and guilt is removed, futility ceases, and a new life begins.” Faison did not suggest that the Church can undo the effects of centuries of complications. Instead, he suggested that American Christians need to “clean our own house where necessary, adjust our attitudes, and begin anew to be about our Father’s business.”

Read “Climate of Change” on page 14 of the Aug. 23, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Focus on Missions – ’70,” by David Kent Irwin

• “Road to Rehabilitation” (Orange County California Teen Challenge)

• “Circuit Riders of the North” (Arvin & Luana Glandon)

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

IMG_5058

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).

IMG_5056

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.

CPJonesBook

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)

_________________

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, News

Cross-Cultural Ministry in 1922: Mexican Refugees in Texas Reach Out to African Americans

P23628

By the 1930s, Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations had been organized across America. This photo is of a girls Sunday school class, Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas, in June 1930 or 1931.

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 5 July 2017

The small town of Edna, Texas, was home to an early Assemblies of God congregation of Mexican refugees, whose members engaged in evangelistic work to African-Americans, even while their own legal status was uncertain.

This fascinating story of cross-cultural ministry came about because of an emerging social crisis. Over one million refugees from the Mexican Revolution came to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many of the newcomers lived in makeshift camps, rife with disease and crime, located along the borderlands. Overwhelmed by this humanitarian crisis, local residents often did not know how to react. Social and political tensions flared in Texas and elsewhere.

Assemblies of God churches and ministers, seeing the unfolding tragedy, committed themselves to offer physical and spiritual assistance to the newcomers. Many Mexican refugees accepted Christ and formed small Asambleas de Dios congregations across the borderlands.

American Assemblies of God leaders were able to assist refugees who faced significant challenges. In one instance, Isabel Flores, a prominent Pentecostal leader among the Mexican refugees, was arrested in May 1918 and incarcerated in the Jackson County jail in Edna. The reason for the arrest is unknown. An account published in 1966 in La Luz Apostolica simply stated, “It was wartime, and the officer did not speak Spanish and Isabel did not speak English.” Henry C. Ball, an Assemblies of God missionary to the Mexicans, came to the aid of Flores. Ball traveled to Edna, where he spoke with the authorities and secured the prisoner’s release.

This brush with the law demonstrated that it was advantageous for Mexican immigrants to work with Americans. Earlier that year, Flores and Ball together had organized the Latin American Conference (later renamed the Latin American District), which brought existing Mexican Pentecostal congregations into the Assemblies of God.

Ball’s status as a native-born American, however, did not prevent him from encountering problems. The Assemblies of God, like many other premillennial American evangelicals, took a pacifist position during World War I. Ball’s work with Hispanics and his church’s pacifism caused government officials to view him with suspicion. Ball was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, on suspicion of being a German spy, but he was soon released.

As superintendent of the Latin American Conference, Ball traveled extensively and ministered among the Mexican immigrants.

In 1922, Ball returned to Edna, Texas, where he found an unexpected surprise. In a July 8, 1922, article in the Pentecostal Evangel, Ball reported that the Hispanic congregation maintained an active outreach to African-Americans, despite the language barrier.

The congregation met for worship in a private home located about three miles from Edna. Ball noted that about 30 Mexicans gathered for worship in a large room, and that an additional group of African-Americans joined them. The African-Americans, Ball observed, “have learned to sing the Spanish songs with the Mexicans, even though they know very little Spanish.”

Ball stated that the African-Americans “are anxious to hear Pentecost preached in their own language.” He lamented that “a white man could hardly preach to them in this part of the country,” presumably referring to Jim Crow laws that prevented whites and blacks from mixing.

The Mexican refugees could have used their own plight as an excuse to keep to themselves and to concentrate on building up their own community. But this marginalized group instead reached out to others who were likewise excluded from the benefits of mainstream American culture. Instead of dwelling on what they could not do, they found an area of ministry in which they had an advantage over white Americans. The Mexican immigrants were not subject to Jim Crow laws and could freely minister to African-Americans. When the Mexican immigrants sought to share God’s love with others, their seeming cultural disadvantage became an advantage.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Work Prospering on the Mexican Border,” on page 13 of the July 8, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Whose Faith Follow: Important Lessons Learned from a Pentecostal Revival [Irvingites] of Nearly a Hundred Years Ago,” by A. E. Saxby

* “Very Fine Needlework,” by Grace E. Thompson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read about the arrests of Isabel Flores and H. C. Ball in “Historia de los Primeros 50 Años de las Asambleas de Dios Latinas,” on pages 2 and 12 of the April 1966 issue of La Luz Apostolica.

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

4 Comments

Filed under History, Missions

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

eubanks2

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.

eubanks1

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

Leave a comment

Filed under History