Tag Archives: Azusa Street

From Azusa Street to Cleveland: How the Book of Acts was Repeated in Ohio in 1906


First Assembly of God, Cleveland, Ohio, circa 1950s

This Week in AG History — May 13, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 12 May 2016

The Pentecostal movement came to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1906 in a spiritual outpouring sparked by the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. This revival did not occur in a vacuum. The ground in Cleveland had been watered for six years by the tears and prayers of a small group of people who experienced dissatisfaction with their own spiritual lives and who hungered for more of God.

Cleveland Pentecostals affiliated with the Assemblies of God and organized as The Pentecostal Church (now First Assembly of God, Lyndhurst, Ohio). B. F. Lawrence, an Assemblies of God pastor and historian, documented the congregation’s history in the May 13, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

The Cleveland revival was preceded by a protracted period of intense prayer and waiting upon God that began in the fall of 1900. One church member recalled that the pastor and people “became conscious of the fact that we were impotent, powerless, and in a large measure were in our own souls dried up spiritually.”

They began meeting nightly for months, “to wait at the feet of Jesus for power, for some outpouring from Him that would satisfy our hearts and make us more nearly the witnesses that we felt we ought to be.” The church member recounted that it took almost six years for God to answer their prayer.

When members heard in 1906 about an outpouring of God’s Spirit in Akron, Ohio, they went to investigate. Ivey Campbell, a female evangelist from the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, was leading the services in Akron. They became convinced that these Pentecostal meetings were scriptural — that what they read about in the Book of Acts was being repeated in Ohio. The revival spread to Cleveland. Numerous people accepted Christ, experienced bodily healings, and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In addition to documenting the miracles and other exciting occurrences in the congregation’s first decade, the article also spent three paragraphs reporting on the church’s governmental structure. Lawrence suspected that some readers would not be interested in these details about church polity.

However, Lawrence noted that there was a growing conviction among early Pentecostals that the God who ordered the stars, moons, and all things in nature also wanted a well-ordered church. According to Lawrence, “That if there be no order in the church, it is the only place in all God’s creation where it is absent. And we have remarked that those churches which had enough system to prevent senseless disputes and preventable divisions were the churches which were doing something for God and His truth.”

The Pentecostal Church’s pastor, D. W. Kerr, also took great care to feed his flock from the Word of God. Kerr, an Assemblies of God executive presbyter, was the primary author of the Statement of Fundamental Truths, adopted in the 1916 general council. With emphases on deep spirituality, solid doctrine, and well-ordered church government, by 1916 the Cleveland congregation had become one of the strongest churches in the Assemblies of God.

Read the article by B. F. Lawrence, “How and When Pentecost Came to Cleveland,” on pages 4 and 5 of the May 13, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel (later renamed Pentecostal Evangel).

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Times of the Gentiles,” by W. E. Blackstone

• “Word from Mukti,” by Pandita Ramabai

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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Long lost photograph finds a home

Myrle Fisher, about 1897
                 Myrle Fisher, about 1897

One never knows what may turn up at a garage sale, flea market, or antique store. And one never knows what may be found through the internet. A long lost family treasure of the Fisher-Horton family was recently located through the internet. It is a picture of Dr. Stanley Horton’s mother. Continue reading

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COGIC Scholars Fellowship Academic Forum

COGIC shield

The COGIC Scholars Fellowship is sponsoring an Academic Forum at the Church of God in Christ’s annual AIM (Auxiliaries in Mission) Convention, to be held in Detroit, Michigan, June 30 through July 4, 2008.

The Academic Forum, located in Room 02-40 of Cobo Hall, will feature two presentations daily, 2:00-4:30 pm on Tuesday, July 1 through Thursday, July 3.

The impressive lineup of presenters is below:

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Review: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South

The Fire Spreads

The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South, by Randall J. Stephens. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Pentecostalism as Regional and Trans-Regional Religion

In 1906, a holiness preacher named G. B. Cashwell attended an interracial revival on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Convinced of William J. Seymour’s message of sanctification, the young and energetic southern preacher returned to his home in North Carolina and introduced black and white men and women to their own experience of “Pentecost” and “gifts of tongues.” Though exceptional for its high level of attendance and publicity, Cashwell’s popular revival, historian Randall J. Stephens quickly points out, was no accident, for the simple reason that the “roots of pentecostalism and holiness” had already reached deep into the fertile religious soil of southern culture during the nineteenth century (p. 7). The Fire Spreads tells the story of the process by which Wesleyan doctrines of holiness filtered through the Mason-Dixon Line and made it possible for many southerners to reject mainline Protestant denominationalism and embrace “the ecstatic new movement” of pentecostalism (p. 11). Issues of race, class, gender, and politics come into focus as Stephens eloquently, entertainingly, and engagingly situates the development of pentecostalism within the regional context of the American South from the nineteenth century to the present.

Stephens begins The Fire Spreads with an admission that the American South was not the birthplace of holiness and pentecostalism, despite the fact that today over fifty different pentecostal groups base their headquarters in the region. The basic purpose of the book, therefore, is to explain how an upstart evangelical sect imported from the North could become one of the most influential and pervasive forms of Protestantism in the contemporary South. In his introduction, Stephens carefully describes the basic tenets of holiness and early pentecostalism, which included conversion and salvation, entire sanctification, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and premillennialism. He also stresses the “conflict, dissent, and antagonism [that] marked both early movements,” due in large part to their association with perfectionist revivals in the North, interracial revivals in the West, and the first holiness adherents in the South, who Stephens describes as “anonymous zealots on the cultural fringes of society” (pp. 7, 4).

Chapter 1, “Angels from the North,” describes how the “intersectional and interdenominational” contours of the Second Great Awakening generated opposition to a prevalent strain of Calvinism in the South that “maintained a pessimism about humankind that seriously inhibited perfectionism” (pp. 18, 25). This sort of hyper-Calvinism, according to Stephens, existed largely because of the commitment of white southerners to slavery and a rigid code of honor. Not surprisingly, Continue reading

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Review: Pentecostals and Racial Reconciliation

We’ve Come This Far

We’ve Come This Far: Reflections on the Pentecostal Tradition and Racial Reconciliation, edited by Byron Klaus. Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2007.

The history of racial unity and division within the Pentecostal movement has been addressed in a recently-published book, We’ve Come This Far: Reflections on the Pentecostal Tradition and Racial Reconciliation, edited by Byron Klaus. The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary has been a leader within its denomination in its efforts to better include voices of ethnic and racial minorities. This has been evidenced by its increasingly multicultural and international student body, the dedication of the William J. Seymour Chapel, and — now — the publication of We’ve Come This Far.

We’ve Come This Far contains the proceedings of a 2006 lecture series at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary that encouraged reflection about the “missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential” for the Assemblies of God to be an agent of racial reconciliation. The volume notes that the Assemblies of God — like many predominantly-white Pentecostal denominations — “has experienced some challenges in acknowledging its multicultural roots,” as well as its “years of ambiguity about the inclusion of African-Americans in its ministerial ranks” (back cover).

We’ve Come This Far juxtaposes the lives of two notable 20th century American religious leaders — William J. Seymour and Martin Luther King, Jr. — while reflecting on the lessons that can be drawn from them concerning African-American preaching and leadership. The book also features a selection of historical materials — including an account of Assemblies of God minister Robert Harrison (who successfully challenged a policy denying ordination to African-Americans) and a history of the struggle to overcome racism within the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. Continue reading

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Review: Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza (The Pentecostal Church of Lithuania: Historical Sketch), edited by Rimantas Kupstys, et al. Vilnius, Lithuania: Apyausris, 2002.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza, published in 2002 upon the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Pentecostal church in Lithuania, provides a detailed grassroots account in the Lithuanian language of the development of Pentecostalism across the Baltic nation. The volume was assembled by an editorial committee headed by Rimantas Kupstys, Bishop of the Union of Pentecostal Churches of Lithuania.

The publisher notes the volume is not an exhaustive scientific study. However, this historical sketch is a valuable written account of a national history that, until now, was largely available only in scattered documents or in oral form. The work was based on archival materials, memories of eyewitnesses, published articles, and government documents.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia begins by tracing Pentecostalism’s roots in the trans-Atlantic revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in a significant evangelical and Holiness movement in England and America. The traditional version of Pentecostal origins is retold, identifying Charles Parham and the Azusa Street revival as central to the emerging movement. Thomas Ball Barratt, the Methodist minister from Oslo who received the Pentecostal message while visiting New York in 1906, is commended for, upon his return to Norway, helping to nurture Pentecostal leaders across Europe. Continue reading

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Review: The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain, by Fred T. Corum and Hazel E. Bakewell. Windsor, OH: Corum & Associates, Inc., 1989, c1983.

The Sparkling Fountain is a 278-page book with eyewitness accounts of the beginning of Pentecostalism in the Ozarks. The book was started by Fred T. Corum and his sister Hazel E. Bakewell. Then James and Kenneth Corum, sons of Fred Corum, helped to preserve this slice of history and see it through to production. First marketed in 1983, it is offered again on the 100th anniversary of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri.

The Azusa Street Mission story is recapped in beginning chapters, but for our purpose here the story begins in 1905 when Fred and Hazel moved to the Ozarks from Oklahoma with their parents, James and Lillie Harper Corum.

James and Lillie were never credentialed ministers but are considered the pioneers of Pentecost in Springfield — holding together a nucleus for several years until a church was set in order. I have an idea many other lay people throughout our history deserve special recognition for beginning and/or keeping local congregations together (including unfortunate splits) until a pastor assumed the leadership.

The Corums soon became active in a Baptist church where Mr. Corum served as Sunday school superintendent. But in the fall of 1906 they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring and became interested. Then in May 1907 they were introduced to this new experience which would dramatically put their lives on a new course. Continue reading


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Celebrating 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri

Corum Farmhouse

Farmhouse where Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit in 1907

June 1, 2007 marks 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri.

Just after the Azusa Street revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, Evangelist Rachel Harper Sizelove began writing glowing reports to her sister, Lillie Corum, who lived in Springfield, Missouri. Mrs. Corum started reading copies of William Seymour’s Apostolic Faith paper, and she earnestly began seeking and praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The next May, Rachel Sizelove traveled from Azusa Street to Springfield to visit her sister and family. And in an all-night prayer meeting, Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit at her farmhouse in the wee hours of June 1, 1907. She is credited with being the first person in Springfield to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And soon afterwards, the Corum family, rejected by their Baptist pastor, began holding prayer meetings in their home. This was the beginning of Central Assembly of God, the mother church in Springfield, Missouri.

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“Sister Aimee” documentary airs on PBS

[splashcast JWJV4127TN AMYE1023CD]

SplashCast with Flickr photos
Produced by iFPHC

After months of diligent research, organizing the story line, and working with a film crew, Public Television’s national broadcast of “Sister Aimee” is less than two weeks away. This film, written, produced and directed by Linda Garmon, is part of the American Experience series. It will air on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, April 2 at 9 p.m. in most markets.

A PBS website for the film includes a synopsis of the film, a gallery of photos, interview excerpts, and other features.

About a year and a half ago the FPHC learned of this upcoming documentary on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson. It is based on the book Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America by Matthew Avery Sutton (Harvard University Press, 2007). A review of Matthew Sutton’s book on Aimee can be found at the Harvard University Press website.

Linda Garmon, a producer with WGBH TV (Boston), first contacted us and came to Springfield, Missouri to do research at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in December 2005. For two days she pored over a large number of newspaper clippings, books by and about “Sister Aimee,” issues of the Bridal Call and the Foursquare Crusader, as well as a number of tracts, photographs, and miscellaneous items relating to the popular yet controversial, charismatic Pentecostal evangelist.

During the course of this project, Garmon and her staff interviewed Aimee’s biographers and noted religious scholars to better present the complex and revealing portrait of one of the most significant religious figures of the early twentieth century. These interviews and insights are part of the film. Garmon’s staff also visited Angelus Temple and the archives of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles as well as other repositories.

While at the FPHC, Garmon was especially intrigued by any possible documentation or theories surrounding the disappearance of Aimee in 1926. And to flesh out a broader picture of Pentecostalism, she also studied primary source materials relating to the Azusa Street revival and other early Pentecostal events. According to Garmon, “Aimee was equal parts evangelist, movie star and social activist. She offered a brand of old time religion that people could connect with at a time when Americans were craving something to hold onto.”

A favorable review of the film and comments by Foursquare President Jack Hayford are included in Foursquare News Service #279.

Be sure to watch this first-class documentary!

To view the photoset of Aimee Semple McPherson at Flickr click on the link below:
Flickr Photoset

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Posted by Glenn Gohr

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Review: The Azusa Street Papers

The Azusa Street Papers

The Azusa Street Papers: A Reprint of The Apostolic Faith Mission Publications, Los Angeles, California (1906-1908), William J. Seymour, Editor. Foley, AL: Together in the Harvest Publications, 1997.

Have you ever wondered what the participants at the Azusa Street revival were thinking? Would you like to read their testimonies and discover for yourself what this interracial revival which promoted a restoration of Biblical spiritual gifts was all about?

You can do just that with The Azusa Street Papers, a reproduction of the tabloid papers used to herald the events of the phenomenal Azusa Street revival during its first two years (1906-1908). In this high quality reprint of 13 issues of The Apostolic Faith, you’ll read the same stories that early Pentecostals read one hundred years ago. As a result of the reports in The Apostolic Faith an amazing thing happened. Readers became hungry for the same Pentecostal experience. They believed that the promise Jesus made to his followers 1900 years earlier was also for them. Continue reading

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