Tag Archives: Assemblies of God

50 Years Ago: The Assemblies of God Participated in Key 73, the Interdenominational Evangelism Emphasis

This Week in AG History —January 14, 1973

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 12 January 2023

Fifty years ago, the Assemblies of God participated in Key 73, an interdenominational effort to reach everyone in North America with the gospel.

Evangelism has always been an integral part of the Assemblies of God. In the early years of the Fellowship, traveling evangelists moved from town to town to hold revival meetings in churches, storefront buildings, schoolhouses, brush arbors, tents, and on street corners. Others evangelized door-to-door and through Bible studies, children’s meetings, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and radio programs. Over time, national outreach programs were developed, including Children’s Ministries, Girls Ministries, Royal Rangers, National Youth Ministries, and Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.

From time to time the AG promoted various evangelistic emphases, such as the Council on Evangelism (1968), Council on Spiritual Life (1972), “Nothing’s Too Hard For God” (2007), and localized literature witness campaigns.

Key 73 was one such evangelistic program in which the Assemblies of God participated during the early 1970s. Over 130 denominational groups pledged their support to the common goals of this outreach.

The first planning meeting for this project took place in 1967 when representatives from various denominations gathered near the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Arlington, Virginia, in what was called the “Key Bridge Consultation.” The organizers felt they needed six years of preparation to carry on this wide-scale evangelistic thrust. Thus “Key 73” became the name of the project.

The goal was to actively carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) by reaching every home in North America in 1973 with a witness to Christ. It was hoped that issues like disunity, cynicism, and selfishness would fade away and be replaced with God’s love. Key 73 coincided with other interdenominational spiritual movements, such as the charismatic renewal and the Jesus People movement.

After three years of planning, Theodore A. Raedecke, secretary of evangelism for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, was appointed executive director for the interdenominational project. He said, “We feel that coordinated, concerted focus on evangelism is long overdue.” Key 73 sought to promote Christian witness at individual, congregational, and national levels. The program coincided with the fifth year of the Assemblies of God’s Plan of Advance, another evangelism emphasis which included a five-year plan of intentional soul-winning through the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

Members of the executive committee for Key 73 included Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, Victor Nelson of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, John D. Waldron of the Salvation Army, Thomas F. Zimmerman of the Assemblies of God, and many others.

The Assemblies of God encouraged its churches and members to participate in Key 73 in several specific ways: a week of prayer (Jan. 7-14); Bible readings from God’s Word For Today and the Pentecostal Evangel; a spring community contact campaign called “Try Jesus”; spot TV and radio announcements from the AG Radio-TV Department; Spiritual Life (June 3) and Outreach (Sept. 2) Evangels; Revivaltime promotions; various evangelism and literature witness campaigns across the country; and evangelism outreaches promoted by local churches. Outreach also included ministering to various ethnic groups, people living in inner-cities and in correctional institutions, and people who cannot see or have hearing impairments.

What were the results of this concerted evangelism initiative? Key 73 resulted in the distribution of 35 million Bibles and in the formation of 50,000 home Bible study groups. Key 73 provided reinforcement for the ongoing Christian renewal movements in the early 1970s by organizing churches to help meet people’s spiritual needs.

T.E. Gannon, the national director of the Division of Home Missions (now U.S. Missions), wrote an article about Key 73 and its impact. Read, “New Church Evangelism Plays a Vital Role,” by T.E. Gannon on page 15 of the Jan. 14, 1973, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How to Develop a Devotional Life,” by Ralph W. Harris

• “Why the Bible is Reliable,” by Stanley M. Horton

• “Satan’s Army of 200,000,000,” by C.M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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The Assemblies of God’s Historical Position Against Antisemitism

Richard Bishop, standing with his wife, Evelyn, at the Victory Servicemen’s Center in Seattle, Washington, where their church assisted regularly during World War II; circa 1944.

This Week in AG History — December 29, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 29 December 2022

“From the Middle Ages to modern times there have been many instances of discrimination, persecution, and even atrocities committed against the Jews by so-called Christians or Christian nations.” This opening statement of Richard W. Bishop’s article “How A True Christian Regards the Jews” in the Dec. 29, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel sets the course for his defense of the Assemblies of God historical position on antisemitism.

Antisemitism (a prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews as individuals and as a group) has played a part in the relationship between Christianity and Judaism since the early days of the Christian movement. Initially, Christianity was viewed as a Jewish sect; but as more Gentiles converted, including the Roman emperors, Christianity became the dominant religion of the empire. Many of the Early Church fathers, with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah, saw the purposes of Judaism as being fulfilled in Christ.

During the Middle Ages a pattern of discrimination crept into Christian society. Various localities passed laws prohibiting Jews from holding government positions, serving as court witnesses, or marrying Christians. Beginning in the 11th century, the Crusades had a direct impact on the Jewish/Christian relationship, as thousands of Jewish communities experienced looting, rape, and murder at the hands of Christian soldiers. During the 14th century outbreak of Bubonic Plague, Jews were accused of poisoning the water sources of Christian villages and an estimated 100,000 Jews were murdered as retaliation. In some European cities they were herded into ghettos and forced to wear a distinctive symbol on their clothing to mark their racial identity.

In 1903, Russian secret police published a forged document, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” purporting to expose a Jewish conspiracy for world domination. This was exposed as a forgery in 1921, but not before many people embraced its contents. Alongside such documents, the rise of social Darwinism led to the increase of belief in the superiority of some races and the inferiority of others.

After the Holocaust of World War II, the real-life consequences of antisemitism were made clear to many Christians. In 1945, the General Council of the Assemblies of God passed the following resolution: “WHEREAS, We have witnessed in this generation an almost universal increase in antisemitism and this has resulted in the greatest series of persecutions perpetrated in modern times, and WHEREAS, Even in the United States of America there has been an alarming increase in antisemitism; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the General Council hereby declare its opposition to antisemitism and that it disapproves of the ministers of the Assemblies of God identifying themselves with those who are engaged in this propaganda.”

When Bishop, at that time serving as pastor of Calvary Temple in Chicago, published his article in 1963, there had been several recent reports of antisemitism in the newspapers. Bishop posed the question to Evangel readers, “Have these acts been committed by true Christians?” He answered his own question with “an emphatic No!”

Bishop, reflecting the position of the Assemblies of God, outlined three attitudes that mark a true Christian toward the Jewish people. The first is a sense of gratitude. “Christians are indebted to the Jews for both the Old and the New Testament … [and] also [for] their Savior.” He also counted a debt owed to the “dedicated Jews who brought the Christian message to the Gentiles and not the other way around.”

The second attitude should be a sense of kinship. “Jews and Christians have much in common … Both acknowledge the same God. Both accept the Old Testament … Both emphasize love for God and for one’s neighbor …Both expect the Messiah … There is not to be one Messiah for the Jews and another for the Gentiles.”

Bishop says a third attitude must be one of a sense of deep concern. “The desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. This is the desire of every genuine believer … For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (or Gentile); for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”

Bishop, who later went on to teach Bible, history, and homiletics at Northwest Bible college in Kirkland, Washington, and finished his career as professor of practical theology at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, argued that these attitudes must be the response of every true believer in Christ. “There is a radical difference between a true believer and one who is a Christian only in name or by profession … a real Christian manifests love for all men. He loves the Jewish people and prays for their welfare.”

Last month the Assemblies of God released a statement again condemning antisemitism in all forms.

Read the article, “How a True Christian Regards the Jews,” on page 12 of the Dec 29, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “New Power for the New Year” by Hardy Steinberg

• “A Crack in the Walls” by Delmar Guynes

• “Prayer Brings Revival to Lagos” by Robert Webb

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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William Menzies: Seven Characteristics of Early Pentecostals

This Week in AG History — November 24, 1974

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 23 November 2022

The year was 1974, and the Assemblies of God was celebrating its 60th anniversary. The first generation of Pentecostal pioneers was aging, but a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the charismatic renewal – was sweeping through mainline, evangelical, and Pentecostal churches.

William W. Menzies, a prominent Assemblies of God historian and theologian, seized the opportunity to recount the compelling faith and worldview of early Pentecostals. In an article published in the Thanksgiving 1974 edition of the Pentecostal Evangel, Menzies gave “thanks for our heritage” – sharing the works of God among early-20th-century Pentecostals with newer generations.

Menzies spent years thinking deeply about what it meant to be a Pentecostal. His 1971 book, Anointed to Serve, was birthed out of his doctoral dissertation and became a benchmark history of the Assemblies of God. He melded the insight of an academic with the heart of a pastor. In his 1974 article, Menzies aimed to communicate not just the doctrinal beliefs of early Pentecostals, but also the worldview that inspired countless believers to desire to be fully committed to Christ and His mission.

Early Pentecostals exhibited seven characteristics, according to Menzies, that helped form their identity. First, early Pentecostals were keenly aware of the reality of the power and presence of the living God. They insisted that Christians should have a transformative encounter with God – where “the resurrected Christ” becomes “intensely real and very much alive.” Menzies was concerned that “the sense of the holy” might be cheapened in some quarters “by raucous music and whipped-up enthusiasm.” Early Pentecostal spirituality, according to Menzies, was “bathed in prayer” and a sense of God’s presence.

Second, Menzies identified expectancy as a mark of early Pentecostals. Pentecostals witnessed God’s power in their church services and in their ministry and lives outside of the church building. The Christian life was an adventure – following God meant being part of a great story that was unfolding each day. Church services were often exciting and marked by a degree of spontaneity that was in contrast to some of the formal patterns of older denominations.

The third characteristic of early Pentecostals was fidelity to the authority of Scripture. This section in Menzies’ article was longer than any of the other six sections. While certain early Pentecostals overemphasized experience at the expense of biblical authority, Menzies noted that the Assemblies of God provided a stable, mature voice within the movement. The Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths, adopted in 1916, opened by stating: “The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice.” All theology, emphases, and teachings were judged by and subordinate to the Word of God.

Simplicity, according to Menzies, was the fourth trait of early Pentecostals. They created ecclesiastical structures “only as necessary,” which Menzies described as “a holy pragmatism.” Believers placed greater emphasis on local evangelism than on crafting resolutions addressing social and political problems at the national level.

Menzies identified faith as the fifth characteristic of early Pentecostals. He wrote, “early pioneers of Pentecost lived as if Jesus Christ were real.” They desired to be fully consecrated to Christ and His call, they brought the gospel to cities and nations at great personal cost, and they exhibited a bold faith that was accompanied by manifestations of God’s power.

The sixth characteristic of early Pentecostals was joy. Menzies noted that he ran across a 1924 article by a critic who described his visit to a New York Pentecostal mission. After a scurrilous attack on the mission, the critic wistfully noted “that on the faces of the humble people who worshipped there was a remarkable joy, a kind of countenance he did not detect on the faces of those who worshipped in the more respectable houses of the Lord.” Menzies wrote, “Ours is a day starved by the coldness of scientific rationalism. There is nothing so captivating as joy. And the Holy Spirit has come to lift the believer into a fuller realization that our Lord lives and that He has come to give us abundance of life. In His presence is fullness of joy!”

Testimony was the seventh trait of early Pentecostals. An authentic expression of a transformed life, the testimony showed how God became real to Pentecostals. Testimonies demonstrated God’s power over sin and deliverance from sickness. The Holy Spirit empowered Pentecostals to share their testimonies, and these personal stories of God’s work became an important part of Pentecostal church services and evangelism. Pentecostals would tell and retell their testimonies until they became part of their identity.

These seven characteristics of early Pentecostals were interrelated and existed as part of the early Pentecostal worldview. These different traits flowed from and supported each other. One might even think of these characteristics as part of the ecosystem of early Pentecostalism.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the Pentecostal movement. Menzies spent years thinking deeply about the worldview of early Pentecostals, understanding that early Pentecostals could not be understood merely by looking at their doctrinal statements. Reflecting on lessons from the early Pentecostal worldview may inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission. Menzies gave thanks for his Pentecostal heritage, and perhaps we should, too.

Read William W. Menzies’ article, “Giving Thanks for Our Heritage,” on pages 4 – 6 of the Nov. 24, 1974, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Thankfulness: The Christian Distinctive,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “Thanksgiving — to the Lord,” by Stanley M. Horton

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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Ruth Steelberg-Carter, Wife of Two Assemblies of God National Leaders: Wesley R. Steelberg and Howard Carter

This Week in AG History — November 13, 1977

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, November 17, 2022

Ruth Steelberg-Carter (1902-1984) was the wife of two Assemblies of God national leaders during her lifetime – Wesley Rowland Steelberg (1902-1952) of the Assemblies of God USA and Howard Carter (1891-1971) of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland. She had roots in the Azusa Street revival and, in her retirement years, she had a vibrant ministry to prisoners as an ordained Assemblies of God prison chaplain. The Nov. 13, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the story of her chaplaincy ministry, demonstrating how one woman who had already lived a full life poured herself into meeting the spiritual needs of prisoners in her latter years.

Ruth was a child of the Azusa Street revival (1906-1909), the interracial revival that was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. She was the daughter of Elmer Kirk Fisher, who was the founder and pastor of the Upper Room Mission, an early Pentecostal church in downtown Los Angeles, located just a few blocks from the Azusa Street Mission. Her first husband, Wesley Steelberg, helped found Christ’s Ambassadors (the Assemblies of God ministry for young people) and was an early speaker for the Revivaltime radio broadcast. He was serving as general superintendent of the AG when he passed away suddenly in 1952 while participating in the third World Pentecostal Conference in London.

Her second husband, Howard Carter, was a founding member of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland in 1924. He served as the principal of Hampstead Bible School in London for nearly 30 years. He is remembered for a round-the-world evangelistic tour with evangelist Lester Sumrall in the 1930s. He also served as chairman of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland from 1934 to 1945. Ruth Carter had three daughters who were all active in the AG. Her son, Wesley P. Steelberg, pastored AG churches in Redwood City, North Hollywood, and Long Beach, California. She also was an aunt of AG educator Stanley M. Horton.

Ruth’s ministry often seemed overshadowed by the ministry of the men in her life. Raised in a pastor’s home and the wife of two influential ministers, Ruth had a supporting role in their ministries. After her first husband passed away, as a widow, she began ministering as a missionary representative and an evangelist. She was ordained on April 28, 1955. Later that year she married Howard Carter and traveled with him to England, where she served as a co-pastor and evangelist, preaching in many services.

Forty-five years ago, in an issue commemorating Prison Sunday in the AG, the Pentecostal Evangel reported on Ruth’s ministry as a prison chaplain at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Even though by that time she was a widow for the second time, and was in her seventies, she visited the Medical Center six times a week, spending several hours each time attending to the needs of inmates.

This prison ministry at the Medical Center was started by Paul R. Markstrom, Institutional Chaplaincies representative of the AG. Ruth was one of the first ministers to assist at this facility. She conducted Bible studies and offered friendship, encouragement, and prayer. Ruth worked closely with the Protestant chaplain and was assisted by a number of students from Central Bible College and Evangel College. She went to the hospital wards at the facility on Tuesday afternoons to talk and pray with inmates individually.

For the worship services, Ruth was assisted by other volunteers, including her daughter, Juanita Colbaugh; son-in-law, Lloyd Colbaugh; Lucille Clark; and Burton Pierce and his wife, Mabel. Lucille was an instructor at Evangel College. Juanita was a pianist, and Mabel was an organist for the services. Lucille led the Monday night Bible studies when Ruth was absent. Burton led a Bible study on Sunday mornings. Both Lloyd and Burton took turns leading worship on Sunday evenings. Attendance averaged 75 to 100.

Ruth viewed this as an important mission field, and she dealt with men from all walks of life. She talked with Buddhists, Muslims, and unchurched people, as well as people from different ethnic backgrounds. She said that the work was exciting as she was able to share with many people who had never heard the gospel. “At the close of the Sunday night services, almost always they ask if any wish to confess Christ as their Saviour,” said Ruth, “and there’s hardly a time that we don’t have men giving their lives to the Lord.”

Even though she had traveled and lived in many areas of the world in her lifetime, Ruth said she had not seen a greater mission field anywhere. “I’ve been on many mission fields,” she said, “and I’ve never seen a more fruitful field than this prison ministry right here in the U.S.”

With her friendly smile and genuine concern, Ruth easily won the hearts of many inmates. The men started calling her “Mom.” One of her coworkers said, “There are hundreds who have been led to Christ by the prison witness of Mom Carter. She is mother to a lot of fellows who never knew their parents.”

Ruth Steelberg-Carter’s example shows how Christians can engage in fruitful ministry in their twilight years and, in particular, how widows who have spent most of their ministry in supporting roles can blossom and take on new ministries in their newfound singleness.

Read “The Men Call Her Mom,” by Robert C. Cunningham, on page 8 of the Nov, 13, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Born Again—What Strange New Doctrine is This?” by Kenneth D. Barney

• “He Put a New Song in My Mouth,” by Birdie L. Etchison

• “Minister With Love,” by T. E. Gannon

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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Assemblies of God Founders Were Diverse, BUT They Believed They Could Do More Together Than Apart

This Week in AG History — November 8, 1924

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 10 November 2022

The founders of the Assemblies of God were not “cookie-cutter” Pentecostals. They were pastors, evangelists, and missionaries who hailed from a variety of religious and social backgrounds. Some came from large northern cities; others from small southern hamlets. Many were entrepreneurs who had launched churches, orphanages, and rescue missions without any denominational backing. They often differed on ministry methods, which were shaped by their personalities and cultural preferences. They were not all cut from the same mold. However, they all believed they were helping to restore the vibrant witness of the New Testament church, and they all believed that they could do more together than they could apart.

This diversity within the early Assemblies of God naturally created tension. However, many founders embraced this tension and sounded a common theme — that they aimed for “unity of the Spirit” until one day they could achieve “unity of the faith.”

The first masthead of the Christian Evangel (the original title of the Pentecostal Evangel), from 1913, stated: “The simplicity of the Gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith.” This call to unity implicitly recognized that readers did not yet have “unity of the faith” — that disagreement existed on some matters. In the meantime, they affirmed that believers should aim for “unity of the Spirit.”

The minutes from the first General Council, held in April 1914, reveal that the convention began with devotions. The devotions set the tone for the next 11 days of meetings. According to the minutes, the devotions brought together “Men of God, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” but who “were not yet in perfect unity in faith.” The minutes then reported that participants “retained the unity of the Spirit until the unity of Faith was being much manifested in the meetings.” This language about keeping “unity of the Spirit” while aiming for “unity of the faith” was repeated in the resolution that officially formed the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

The Pentecostal Evangel, in 1924, published a devotional article about “the two unities” — the unity of the Spirit and the unity of the faith. The article, by pioneer Assemblies of God pastor W. Jethro Walthall, illuminated what early Pentecostals meant when they used the phrases “unity of the Spirit” and “unity of the faith.” According to Walthall, “unity of the faith” — which is the believer’s eschatological hope — cannot be fully achieved on earth. Before they achieve perfection in heaven, Christians can maintain “unity of the Spirit” on earth. Walthall wrote that “unity of the Spirit” is achieved by “walking worthy of our calling, and this is done by a meek and lowly walk with God, and maintaining a loving and long-suffering attitude to all saints.”

These insights — showing how early Pentecostals theologically explained the existence of differences amongst themselves — provide hope to those today who struggle to find unity amidst diversity.

Read “The Two Unities” by W. Jethro Walthall on page 5 of the Nov. 8, 1924, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Also featured in this issue:

• “The Sin of Hopelessness,” by Florence L. Personeus

• “The Old-Time Power,” by Donald Gee

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

Pictured: Assemblies of God leaders in San Antonio, Texas, circa 1926. Front row is unidentified. Identified on the back row (l-r): unidentified, Josue Cruz, unidentified, Henry C. Ball, Josue Sanchez, and Demetrio Bazan. Please contact the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (archives@ag.org) if you know if the names of the unidentified people.

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Stanley Frodsham: A “Missionary Spirit” and a Desire for Solid Doctrine Characterized the 1916 General Council

This Week in AG History — October 21, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 10 October 2022

The year was 1916. The Assemblies of God faced deep doctrinal divisions that threatened to tear apart the young Fellowship. A significant minority of Assemblies of God ministers had identified with the emerging Oneness movement, which denied the doctrine of the Trinity. In the face of this turmoil, the fourth General Council of the Assemblies of God, which met in St. Louis in October 1916, voted to adopt its Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Stanley H. Frodsham’s observations of the meeting were published in the Oct. 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Frodsham (1882-1969), a young British Pentecostal pastor and writer, had a unique perspective. He was not just an observer, those in attendance elected him to serve as general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

Frodsham described how early Pentecostals initially thought they were “being led by our Joshua, out from the wilderness, over the Jordan, into the promised land.” This triumphalistic view was soon tempered by divisions within the Movement. Frodsham quoted Scripture to describe the disunity: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). He lamented, “This new spirit has crept in and brought shipwreck and havoc in many directions.”

Frodsham described at length how General Council participants discussed their doctrinal differences and, ultimately, voted to “set forth a clear statement of the things most surely believed among us.” The Statement of Fundamental Truths has provided a basis of fellowship for the Assemblies of God for 106 years.

But the adoption of the Statement of Fundamental Truths was not the most important accomplishment at the 1916 General Council, according to Frodsham. While the decision to adopt the Statement was important, he believed that the meeting’s missionary spirit was its best and most memorable feature.

Frodsham explained, “The mightiest factor in this great Pentecostal Revival has been the wonderful missionary spirit that has characterized it from the first.” Frodsham stated that the “paramount needs of the hour” were a “large spiritual horizon, a revelation of the need of souls, a passionate desire to see them saved, [and] intense prayer for multitudes to be pressed into the Kingdom.” These two characteristics of the 1916 General Council — a missionary spirit and a desire for solid doctrine — continue to animate and define the Assemblies of God to this day.

Read the article, “Notes from an Eyewitness at the General Council,” by Stanley H. Frodsham, on pages 4 and 5 of the Oct. 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Vision of the Lord,” by Arch P. Collins

• “Thirsting after God,” by Andrew Urshan

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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40 Years Ago: The Conference on the Holy Spirit Brought Pentecostals and Charismatics Together

This Week in AG History — October 10, 1982

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, October 13, 2022

Forty years ago, the Assemblies of God hosted the Conference on the Holy Spirit, which brought together Pentecostals and charismatics from across the denominational spectrum. While the speakers and attendees came from different backgrounds, they shared a desire to know more about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

The conference, held Aug. 16 to 18, 1982, at the Hammons Student Center on the campus of Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in Springfield, Missouri, included notable speakers from classical Pentecostal churches and from the charismatic movement in mainline and evangelical denominations. The opening speaker was Dennis J. Bennett, an Episcopal priest who was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1959 and became a leader in the charismatic movement.

Other speakers included Revivaltime speaker Dan Betzer; Frank W. Smith, former general superintendent of the Open Bible Standard Churches and chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America; Harold A. Carter, a leader among African-American charismatics and pastor of the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland; Morris G.C. Vaagenes Jr., pastor of North Heights Lutheran Church in Roseville, Minnesota; and John Bueno, Assemblies of God missionary to El Salvador.

An estimated 8,300 people attended the opening rally where Bennett gave a message, “Baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Bennett, one of the earliest leaders in the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church, authored several books, including How to Pray for the Release of the Holy Spirit and Nine O’clock in the Morning.

Bennett shared that after receiving Jesus as his Savior many years before, he “went on to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost, with its normative manifestation of speaking in other languages as the Spirit gives utterance.” Bennett also stressed that he believed the experience is not optional, but a commandment for all Christians. He said, “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not incidental for the Christian life; it is basic.”

Bennett described how Pentecostals paved the way for the charismatic movement. He commended Pentecostals: “All of us owe much to Christian brothers and sisters of the older Pentecostal fellowships, such as the Assemblies of God, who first put up with persecution and ridicule to testify that Pentecost is for today. They performed a service to all Christendom that is of inexpressible value.”

The Episcopal priest encouraged Pentecostals to keep the faith: “What do I want to say to you? Don’t let your witness be weakened. Don’t let Pentecost be watered down, not even for good-sounding reasons.” He said, “a faith that proclaims the full gospel can still accomplish miracles in this world. There is much to be done. The story of mankind is not over. Our orders are unchanged. Jesus said, ‘Occupy till I come.’ The Greek means, ‘Be doing business till I come!’”

Attendees listened to a special broadcast of Revivaltime, the Assemblies of God weekly radio program, on the Sunday evening just prior to the conference. Revivaltime speaker Dan Betzer’s sermon was titled, “Overflowing With the Holy Spirit of God.” A mass choir and orchestra of more than 200 people ministered on Sunday and during each evening of the conference, including former Revivaltime choir members and selected singers from area churches. Cyril McLellan directed the combined group. Susan Smith, vocal instructor at Evangel College (now Evangel University), ministered at the Monday evening service. Well-known gospel musicians the McDuff Brothers sang during the Tuesday evening rally, and the Blackwood Brothers sang at the closing rally on Wednesday.

Between 8,000 and 8,500 people attended each of the three evening rallies of the conference; the total number of attendees was between 10,000 and 12,000. In addition to the evening rallies, 90 small seminars took place during the daytime hours of the conference. Gospel Publishing House published sermons and lectures from the event in a two-volume Conference on the Holy Spirit Digest.

The Conference on the Holy Spirit provided a valuable opportunity for Pentecostals and charismatics to rub shoulders and learn from one another. While the early 20th century Pentecostal revival birthed the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches, the conference was a reminder that the work of the Holy Spirit is not limited to those in Pentecostal churches.

Read “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” by Dennis J. Bennett on page 3 of the Oct. 10, 1982, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Songs in the Night,” by D.V. Hurst

• “800 Million Muslims,” by David Irwin

• “Inmates Need Love, Encouragement, Prayer,” by Kenneth H. Leep Jr.

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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Thomas F. Zimmerman: Assemblies of God Statesman and Longest-Serving General Superintendent

This Week in AG History — October 4, 1959

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 06 October 2022

Over a 50-year period, Thomas F. Zimmerman (1912-1991) served the Assemblies of God as pastor, district official, department leader, assistant general superintendent, and general superintendent. His leadership greatly increased the influence of the Pentecostal movement in the evangelical world, as well as in the broader American religious landscape.

Born in 1912 to devout Methodist parents, Zimmerman’s family was exposed to Pentecostalism the way many were in the early days of that movement: through a miraculous healing. When Zimmerman was 5 years old, his mother was given no more than six weeks to live after a diagnosis of terminal tuberculosis. The diagnosis led the family to seek prayer at the Apostolic Faith Mission in their hometown of Indianapolis. The pastor and several members of the congregation came to the Zimmerman home and prayed for her healing. The next morning she felt well enough to get out of bed and a few weeks later, the doctor declared her completely well. The family began attending the Sunday afternoon meetings at the Pentecostal church after their morning service at the Methodist church. Eventually, their pastor suggested they leave his congregation, and they affiliated with the independent Pentecostal group.

Zimmerman was heavily influenced by the new pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission, John Price. Price’s own pastoral training was “on the job” and he believed in doing the same for his congregants. After showing capable ministry as the church youth leader and while still in high school, Zimmerman was asked to become Price’s associate pastor. In this capacity he was exposed to the wide ranging needs of a congregation and given much preaching experience. When Mrs. Price lay dying, she asked young Zimmerman to promise two things: to continue to help her husband and to marry their oldest daughter, Elizabeth. Thomas and Elizabeth were already interested in each other and Pastor Price performed the ceremony for his associate pastor and his daughter in 1933.

Due to Zimmerman’s position at the church being voluntary, he worked full-time at the Bemis Brothers Bag Company. His natural leadership ability was recognized, and he made the enviable salary of $30 a week during the depression. However, after the death of their 9-month-old son in 1935, both Thomas and Elizabeth felt that they should devote their full time to the ministry. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God on May 7, 1936. They took a small congregation in Harrodsburg, Indiana, where the average offering was $2.68 a week. The congregation grew to 250 during their two years there, and Zimmerman’s leadership ability came to the attention of other leaders within the growing denomination.

In 1942, while pastoring in Granite City, Illinois, Assemblies of God leaders invited Zimmerman to attend the organizational meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals in nearby St. Louis with them. Zimmerman had made it a practice of working with non-Pentecostals in every city in which he ministered. His passion was evangelism and he found common interest among other evangelical leaders. Through this involvement, Zimmerman was able to provide leadership to the founding of the National Religious Broadcasters in 1944.

That same year, Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, called Zimmerman as its pastor. This placed him among denominational leadership, and in 1945 Zimmerman also became head of the Assemblies of God radio department. He then served as secretary-treasurer of the Southern Missouri district from 1949-1951, followed by a brief pastorate in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was elected as an assistant general superintendent at the 1953 General Council, moving him back to Springfield. He served closely alongside General Superintendent Ralph Riggs and managed much of the day-to-day operations of the national office.

In 1959, the General Council, held in San Antonio, Texas, elected Thomas F. Zimmerman as its ninth general superintendent. The Oct. 4, 1959, Pentecostal Evangel made this announcement to the larger constituency in a one-page article, “The General Council at a Glance.”

Zimmerman served as general superintendent for 26 years, the longest tenure of anyone in that office. He was regarded as a “Pentecostal statesman,” bringing the Pentecostal movement in general, and the Assemblies of God in particular, more visibility and influence in the religious world. His involvement in extra-denominational associations and civic organizations brought him and the Movement recognition in other areas. He was invited to the White House during each administration from Kennedy to Reagan and received civic awards ranging from “Springfieldian of the Year” to the Silver Beaver award from the national Boy Scouts.

During his tenure, the national offices of the Assemblies of God created several new divisions, the assistant general superintendents were reduced from four to one, a full-scale retirement complex for ministers and missionaries was opened, federal land was received for the new liberal arts college, and the Assemblies of God opened a seminary for the further academic education of its ministers. He also recognized the importance of the oral and written accounts of the place of Pentecostalism in American and world history and so was instrumental in establishing the Assemblies of God archives (now the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, the largest repository of Pentecostal archival materials in the world).

When Zimmerman left office in 1985, he left an indelible mark on the Assemblies of God. His willingness to grow and adapt to change and his leadership in the broader evangelical movement helped to prepare the Assemblies of God to be one of the fastest growing denominations during his tenure.

Read more about the report from the 1959 General Council on page 4 of the Oct. 4, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Enlist Now” by Raymond Brock

• “Our Missionary Advance,” by Noel Perkin

• “The Greeks Had A Word For It,” Raymond Cox

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: https://ifphc.org/

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

This Week in AG History —September 30, 1922

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 29 September 2022

One of the reasons for the formation of the Assemblies of God in 1914 was to establish schools to train ministers and missionaries. Eight years later, the Sept. 30, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the opening of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, to address that need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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David Yonggi Cho and Yoido Full Gospel Church: The Story Behind the World’s Largest Church

This Week in AG History —September 7, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 08 September 2022

David (Paul) Yonggi Cho (1936-2021) was a Korean Assemblies of God (AG) pastor, evangelist, author, church planter, and international church growth pioneer. Starting from a small tent in an impoverished neighborhood outside Seoul, his congregation grew exponentially until it became the largest church in the world, with three quarters of a million members.

Cho was born into a Buddhist family in Pusan but found that the religion of his ancestors did not meet the need for peace, joy, and love within him. When war came to Korea during his teenage years, money and food were so scarce that only one small meal a day was common. In 1953, the malnutrition and unsanitary conditions led to an enlarged heart, and tuberculosis invaded his lungs. Sent home to die at the age of 17, Cho’s father prayed to Buddha, but the young man had little confidence in his father’s prayers, having never seen them answered.

A young woman came to visit the Cho home one day and asked to tell the dying teen about Jesus. Cho ordered her out of the house, but she returned for several days each day praying for him, despite his cursing and intimidation. On the fifth day, Cho began to cry and said that he wanted to know this Jesus that brought her to his home. She left her Bible with him and instructed him to read the story of Jesus in the New Testament gospels. In his weakened state, he walked to an American mission and responded to the call to accept Christ.

His family renounced him as an “unholy Christian dog,” but an American missionary, Louis Richards, took him into his home and began to disciple the dying man and encouraged him to look to Jesus for healing. One night in prayer, Cho had a vision of Christ that overwhelmed him with love for the God of his new faith, and this love bubbled up through his mouth and he began to speak in another language. This frightened him until the missionary explained that this phenomenon was biblical and many others had also experienced “speaking in tongues.” While there were still effects in his body from weakness, the doctor soon noted that his lungs no longer showed signs of tuberculosis and his heart was returned to its normal size.

Cho enrolled in the Full Gospel Bible School in 1954, and in 1958 he and his future mother-in-law, Jashil Choi, put up a tent in a war-torn, poverty-stricken area outside of Seoul. There were no seats, only straw mats strewn on the ground, but Choi began to pray and Cho began to preach. On Sunday morning, he would go to the top of the hill and cry out over the rooftops, “It’s time for church, Come to church!”

The people responded. In three years, the church needed to move to a 1,500-seat auditorium in the Sodaemun area. The growth happened so quickly and the work of the ministry so exhausting, that the young pastor experienced a breakdown in 1964 while trying to juggle the demands of multiple services a day. Realizing he could not manage the ministry alone, he adopted Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18 and divided the membership into geographical districts and assigned workers as pastors over these flocks. By 1982, there were 12 districts, each divided into 10 to 17 sections, with 157 full-time ministers over these “cell groups.”

In 1968, the church purchased property in Osanri, 45 minutes north of Seoul, for a church cemetery. However, it quickly became a place of life rather than death. Sister Choi, the associate pastor, began making nightly trips to Osanri to pray. From that time, more and more joined her until “Prayer Mountain” became a place of prayer for thousands, eventually containing hundreds of “prayer caves” to provide for secluded times of intense praying.

In the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Cordas C. Burnett, president of Bethany Bible College (Santa Cruz, California), reported on his trip to Seoul to participate in the groundbreaking of a new 10,000-seat church building in the Yoido area. Burnett spoke for the church during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter of 1969. He reported preaching for 27 services in that week to approximately 65,000 people. “Although we soon lost count, we know of at least 500 who were converted and 600 who were filled with the Holy Spirit, not to mention the hundreds who testified of being healed.”

Fluent in English, Japanese, and Korean, Cho broadcast sermons on radio and television and soon became internationally known. The church’s welfare programs, senior living centers, vocational training, and financial help for medically needy people brought political influence and great respect throughout South Korea. Reports from 1981 showed the church growing at a rate of 10,000 people per month. Of that number seven out of 10 were accompanied to church by their neighborhood cell group leader.

Cho had significant influence worldwide. He taught that prayer, lay-led small groups, biblical teaching, and evangelism are essential for spiritual and numerical growth. As chairman of the World AG Fellowship from 1992 to 2000, Cho encouraged AG national superintendents to believe God for vision that would see millions converted, Spirit-filled, and living a life of overcoming victory.

Upon Cho’s retirement in 2008, Yoido Full Gospel Church’s membership approached 1,000,000 members with almost 700 pastors. The sickly young man who cursed at the visiting female evangelist had written more than 100 books on the Christian faith and left an indelible mark upon the entire Korean nation and on the broader Pentecostal movement.

Read Cordas Burnett’s report, “We Saw Revival in Seoul, Korea” on page 8 of the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Homes for Men in the Stars” by Raymond Cox

• “One Half Inch from Death” by David Atherto

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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