Tag Archives: Alice E. Luce

The Female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal Missionary Who Became the Primary Shaper of Early Assemblies of God Missiology

This Week in AG History — January 22, 1921

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 January 2021

Alice E. Luce (1873-1955), a British-born Anglican missionary, learned of the emerging Pentecostal movement when she was engaged in ministry in India. After hearing about two women in India who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, she visited them in order to learn more. After Luce became convinced that their experience was biblical, she also was Spirit-baptized in about 1910. Luce identified with the Pentecostal movement and, in 1915, she transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God.

Luce became the most prominent missiologist (theologian of missions) in the Assemblies of God in its early decades. Luce authored a series of three articles, titled “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1921. In these articles, Luce endeavored to show that the Apostle Paul taught that missionaries should aim to build indigenous churches — churches that were self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing. Importantly, this indigenous church principle differed from the majority of mainline Christian missions agencies, which equated Westernization with Christianization. The Apostle Paul, according to Luce, preached Christ, not culture.

The Pentecostal Evangel editor commended Luce as “an experienced missionary” who wrote the articles “with the express purpose of helping our Pentecostal missionaries to get a clear vision of Paul’s methods of evangelization.” The editor furthermore stated that these methods were applicable not just overseas, but also “to every town and community and district in the homeland.” The editor also affirmed the centrality of missions in the young Pentecostal movement: “The Pentecostal people are peculiarly missionary, and the growth of the Pentecostal movement is due largely to this missionary spirit.”

It is well known that missions has been a primary focus of the Assemblies of God since its earliest years. Many may not realize, however, that it was a female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal missionary, Alice Luce, who was the primary shaper of early Assemblies of God missiology.  

Read the series of three articles by Alice E. Luce, “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel (click the following links):

Jan. 8, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Jan. 22, 1921 (pages 6 and 11).

Feb. 5, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Call to Prayer,” by J. W. Welch

• “Some Last Things,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

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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The Anglican-turned-Pentecostal Missionary Who Became the Primary Shaper of Early Assemblies of God Missiology

ALuce_1400
This Week in AG History — January 22, 1921

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 January 2016

Alice E. Luce (1873-1955), a British-born Anglican missionary, learned of the emerging Pentecostal movement when she was engaged in ministry in India. After hearing about two women in India who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, she visited them in order to learn more. After Luce became convinced that their experience was biblical, she also was Spirit-baptized in about 1910. Luce identified with the Pentecostal movement and, in 1915, she transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God.

Luce became the most prominent missiologist (theologian of missions) in the Assemblies of God in its early decades. Luce authored a series of three articles, titled “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1921. In these articles, Luce endeavored to show that the Apostle Paul taught that missionaries should aim to build indigenous churches — churches that were self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing. Importantly, this indigenous church principle differed from the majority of mainline Christian missions agencies, which equated Westernization with Christianization. The Apostle Paul, according to Luce, preached Christ, not culture.

The Pentecostal Evangel editor commended Luce as “an experienced missionary” who wrote the articles “with the express purpose of helping our Pentecostal missionaries to get a clear vision of Paul’s methods of evangelization.” The editor furthermore stated that these methods were applicable not just overseas, but also “to every town and community and district in the homeland.” The editor also affirmed the centrality of missions in the young Pentecostal movement: “The Pentecostal people are peculiarly missionary, and the growth of the Pentecostal movement is due largely to this missionary spirit.”

It is well known that missions has been a primary focus of the Assemblies of God since its earliest years. Many may not realize, however, that it was a female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal missionary, Alice Luce, who was the primary shaper of early Assemblies of God missiology.

Read the series of three articles by Alice E. Luce, “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel (click the following links):

January 8, 1921 (pages 6-7).

January 22, 1921 (pages 6 and 11).

February 5, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Call to Prayer,” by J. W. Welch

* “Some Last Things,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

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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Review: Portraits of a Generation

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Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, ed. by James R. Goff, Jr. and Grant Wacker. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002.

Portraits of a Generation talks about many of the early Pentecostal leaders. Instead of giving a large, drawn-out list of every leader in the Pentecostal movement, it gives the testimonies and interests of those leaders that maybe weren’t quite as famous. It gives insight into who really had the vision and those who desired seeing those visions put into real life. In this book, they represent leaders from all different walks of life. They differ on areas from ideas about theology, ethnic and social background, and areas of living. There is a common view that Pentecostalism was a movement without structure or leaders, but this book instead shows that the movement had a strong sense of both.

Portraits of a Generation is separated into three sections: “Forerunners,” “Visionaries,” and “Builders.” All of the chapters are about individual early leaders. Many of the contributors are known scholars of Pentecostalism while others aren’t very well known in the academic world.

In the first section, “Forerunners,” the leaders that the editors include are John Alexander Dowie, E. L. Harvey, Charles Price Jones, Frank Sandford, and Alma White. They are all leaders who paved the way toward the formal Pentecostal movement. These leaders were not directly tied with the Pentecostal movement, and some didn’t believe in the same standards that Pentecostals do today, such as speaking in tongues. Though not specifically under the Pentecostal umbrella, they laid out some of the ground beliefs and ideals that were later accepted into Pentecostal doctrines.

In the section on “Visionaries,” there are discussions about Minnie F. Abrams, Frank Bartleman, William H. Durham, Thomas Hampton Gourley, Alice E. Luce, Francisco Olazábal, and Maria B. Woodworth-Etter. These leaders were between the forerunners and the builders. They were the ones who envisioned what the movement eventually became and helped provide for the structure. Francisco Olazábal was one of the main contributors in the growth of Pentecostalism in the Hispanic culture while Minnie F. Abrams, Alice E. Luce, and Maria B. Woodworth-Etter gained popularity in being some of the first female leaders for the Pentecostal movement.

“Builders,” the last section, discusses the leaders Florence Crawford, G. T. Haywood, Charles Harrison Mason, Carrie Judd Montgomery, Antonio Castañeda Nava, Ida B. Robinson, George Floyd Taylor, and A. J. Tomlinson. In this section, Pentecostalism begins to take on the form of classical Pentecostalism. The people included in this section are those who heard and saw what the other leaders were trying to do and started to put their beliefs and ideals into action.

Because the volume is collective, there are some essays that were different in the quality of their sources than others. Some of the arguments had limited sources so are based on suppositions. Overall, the quality of the essays is very professional. All twenty-two chapters looked at Pentecostalism in three different lights: those who came before, those who had the vision, and those who put the vision into action. This gives us a good understanding of the early stages of the Pentecostal movement and how it was viewed by those with whom it began.

Reviewed by Samantha Beck, Evangel University student

Softcover, 430 pages, illustrated. $34.95 plus shipping. Available from amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com

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