Tag Archives: Canada

A.G. Ward: The Pentecostal Pioneer Who Was Converted During His Own Sermon

AG Ward

Donald Gee, A.G. Ward, Helen and Frank Boyd, and Stanley and Alice Frodsham at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri; circa 1929

This Week in AG History — June 22, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 22 June 2017

A.G. (Alfred George) Ward (1881-1960), a Pentecostal pioneer in Canada, was an example of an unconverted minister. According to his own account, he began in ministry as a Methodist circuit-riding preacher — before he became a Christian. He later converted during his own sermon!

Ward shared this humorous anecdote in the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He became a prominent Canadian camp-meeting speaker and evangelist, but was possibly best known as the father of longtime Revivaltime speaker C.M. Ward.

A. G. Ward took great care to preach about the importance of having a vibrant spiritual life, as he knew from experience how easy it is to possess a form of religion without having the substance. His sermons frequently focused on the threefold theme of his life: salvation, consecration, and divine healing, all accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. His messages resonated with listeners across North America.

A.G. Ward’s father, an alcoholic, died when his son was only 2 months old. The strain of struggling alone to raise four children took its toll, and Ward’s mother died when he was 13. Just before his mother’s death, he attended a Methodist revival meeting. Although he felt a desire to become a Christian, the church leader who spoke with him only encouraged him to believe the Scriptures. Ward did not have an understanding of repentance or the availability of power to live a Christian life.

Nevertheless, young Alfred wanted to be a preacher. After finishing high school, he was appointed as a Methodist circuit-rider on the western frontier of the Canadian Rockies. At the time, young preachers were expected to receive practical experience as ministers before receiving education. During these early meetings, he preached the Bible; but he did not truly know God. His preaching lacked power, conviction, and results.

In the Pentecostal Evangel article, he recalled, “On my second circuit as a Methodist preacher … during a series of special meetings while I was doing the preaching, I was converted. I was the only convert in a week’s meetings, but I have always been thankful and a few others have been saved since, as a result of the preacher getting converted.”

It was not long after this experience that Ward met a group of Methodists in northwestern Canada who taught holiness and believed that Jesus healed people in answer to the prayer of faith. Ward met Christian and Missionary Alliance founder A.B. Simpson, a teacher of divine healing.

Simpson sent Ward to begin an Alliance work in Winnipeg, where he met and married a Mennonite evangelist, Mary Markle. In 1907, at a holiness prayer meeting in Winnipeg, they both received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This ended their affiliation with both the Mennonites and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

A.G. and Mary took a step of faith and, in 1909, organized one of the first Pentecostal camp meetings held in Ontario. The young evangelists had no money to give in the offering at the camp meeting. However, they felt impressed to physically place their infant son, Charles Morse Ward, in the offering basket as their gift to God’s work. They did so, and young C. M. grew up with a calling to the ministry from a young age.

After the meeting, Ward raised funds by selling his tent to another young Canadian evangelist, future International Church of the Foursquare Gospel founder Aimee Semple McPherson, and began holding meetings in schoolhouses, churches, and other places across Canada and later throughout the U.S.

Ward not only preached consecration, he modeled it in his own life. C.M. Ward, in a Revivaltime booklet titled “Intimate Glimpses of My Father’s Life,” described his father’s deep spiritual life. The younger Ward wrote, “I would rather have been born in such a home than have the honor of sitting in the White House.”  C. M. credited the example of his father’s message of holy consecration, lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit, as his own model for ministry.

Read the full sermon “Christ or Self — Which Shall It Be” on page 3 of the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel here.

Also featured in this issue:

“Signs of the Times,” by Ralph M. Riggs

“A Harvest of Souls in Jamaica,” by Harvey McAlister

“How to Have Revival,” by George T.B. Davis

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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This Week in AG History — August 19, 1922

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published byAG-News, Mon, 19 Aug 2013 – 3:50 PM CST

Canadian Pentecostal pioneer A. G. Ward, in his extensive writings, often encouraged Christians to seek to be fully committed to Christ and His mission. In an article titled “Soul Food for Hungry Christians” published in the August 19, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Ward identified “consecration” as the means to achieve victory in spiritual warfare.

Consecration, Ward wrote, involved both a dedication to God and a separation from the destructive patterns of the world. According to Ward, deep blessings would result from “a consecration so complete that the triune God will have unbounded liberty in our lives.”

Ward understood that consecration, which involves putting selfishness to death, is not easy to achieve. He wrote, “How much unconscious resistance there is in many of us to the will of God!”

Fame is best avoided, Ward advised, when cultivating one’s dedication to Christ. He quipped, “spirituality is such a tender plant that it seldom thrives in the soil of notoriety. It flourishes best in the shade.”

Read the entire article by A. G. Ward, “Soul Food for Hungry Saints: A Heart Talk on Consecration,” on pages 2-3 of the August 19, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ” by D. M. Panton

* “Pentecostal Evangelism in China,” by George M. Kelley

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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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Review : Frank Bursey Biography


Morgan, Calvin E. The Skipper: Remembering Pastor Frank “FG” Bursey. Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Essence Publishing, 2013.

“Few figures in the history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador loom larger than F. G. Bursey.  He was a man of unwavering commitment to the cause of evangelism and church planting.  For the first time, his life and ministry are now being told for future generations.  Cal Morgan has made a lasting contribution to the history of Pentecostalism in his home province and is to be commended for his careful and patient research into the life of a man whose legacy lives on.”
–Rev. Ewen Butler, Pastor, Church on the Hill, Cobourg, Ontario

Paperback, 260 pages. $20.99 retail. Order from: Essence Publishing.


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Autobiography of Canadian Missionary Evangelist John Abraham

Abraham, John. Living in the Supernatural Dimension: Right Choice Now—Best Life Forever. [Laurence M. Van Kleek, Editor]. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012.

A new autobiography of missionary evangelist John Abraham, Living in the Supernatural Dimension, shares the story of his worldwide ministry that has extended over six decades. The ministry of Abraham, who is ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, can be divided into two segments: during his first 35 years his focus was in the Western world; during the past 26 years Abraham and his wife, Shirley, have focused on global missions.

Born in Northern Ireland to Plymouth Brethren parents, Abraham was converted to Christ as a child and filled with the Holy Spirit as a teenager. He was personally tutored by renowned Brethren biblical scholar Dr. F. F. Bruce. Since childhood Abraham had a passion to win people to Christ. He was a child preacher and later became loved as a pastor’s pastor around the world.

In one of his many providential “forks in the road” Abraham left Ireland to study in a Pentecostal Bible college in Canada. Upon graduation he became an associate evangelist in the United Kingdom for six years with John Wesley White, who later served as an associate evangelist of Billy Graham. Abraham has a deep passion for the gospel, which he internalized. God has worked throughout Abraham’s ministry through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. From the time that he ministered on the streets of Northern Ireland as a teenager God used John in all of the gifts of the Spirit recorded in 1st Corinthians 12—especially the gifts of healings and the working of miracles.

In one humorous anecdote, Abraham recalled that, after a revival meeting in Southeast Asia, the organizers had to pay a surcharge to a clean-up company, because of the large quantity of crutches, braces and wheelchairs that had been left on the rented field. Abraham noted that all he could do was stand by in amazement and watch the miracles occur.

David R. Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, wrote the preface. Laurence M. Van Kleek served as editor and also wrote the foreword. Living in the Supernatural Dimension is inspiring and challenging Christian reading and will be particularly well-received by charismatics and Pentecostals.

Submitted by Laurence M. Van Kleek, MDIV, MA, MLS
Van Kleek serves as Librarian/Administrator of Summit Pacific College (Abbotsford, BC Canada)

Paperback, 297 pages. $22.95 retail. Also available in hardcover and Kindle. Order from: Amazon.com


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The Apostolic Messenger (Winnipeg, Canada)

A. H. Argue

The FPHC now has The Apostolic Messenger (Winnipeg, Canada), an early and very rare Canadian periodical published by Andrew H. Argue, digitally available online: http://bit.ly/ApostolicMessenger

Please let us know if you have any copies of The Apostolic Messenger (Winnipeg, Canada) to preserve!

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Review: In Jesus’ Name

“In Jesus’ Name”: The History and Beliefs of Oneness Pentecostals, by David A. Reed. Blandford Forum, England: Deo Publishing, 2008.

David Reed’s book, “In the Name of Jesus,” is possibly the best study on the origins of Oneness Pentecostalism – that segment of the Pentecostal movement that rejects traditional Trinitarian formulas in favor of an emphasis on the name of Jesus. Reed’s own spiritual journey (he was reared in a Oneness Pentecostal church in New Brunswick, Canada, but is now an Anglican minister and educator) provided the impetus for his study of the Oneness movement, which has become his life’s work.

Reed divides his work into three sections – 1) the Pietist and evangelical legacies within Oneness Pentecostalism, 2) the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, and 3) the theology of Oneness Pentecostalism.

Reed opens with a spotlight on the Pietist emphasis on searching out the truths of Scripture. Pietist leader Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) gave priority to moral living over correct doctrine. Pietism tended to focus on spiritual process and growth, asking questions such as “Are you living yet in Jesus?” (pp. 13-14n).

The author traces the spirit of Pietism through the ministries of August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) and Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf (1700-1760) with their emphasis on a heart religion that came about through repentance, conversion, weeping, practical piety and rejoicing. Zinzendorf was Christocentric, giving great value to the suffering and bleeding of Jesus. Reed states that Pietist devotion included an emphasis on the name of Jesus, which should come as no surprise. John Wesley later made his mark on the religious world with a two-fold emphasis on conversion and holiness of life.

Puritan clerics of the seventeenth century believed nearly the same as Pietists in the matter of experiential religion. According to Reed, “Pietism was a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith…it contributed to the working out of the distinctive doctrine of Oneness Pentecostals” (italics mine) (p. 32).

Reed argues that Oneness Pentecostalism arose from this evangelical Pietist and Puritan heritage. Whereas Pietists narrowed Spirit-baptism to a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith, Oneness Pentecostals extended this Pietistic hermeneutic to “the name of Jesus.” Oneness Pentecostals claimed that there is power in the Name if you have faith in the Name (and if you are buried by baptism in His Name). Further, it appears that Oneness Pentecostalism is a child of Jewish thought—a radical monotheism stressing one God and one Name. This Oneness belief maturated in the Holiness and early Pentecostal movements.

Wherever one found devotional literature, hymnody, and continued teaching by Pietist descendants, one often encountered the name of Jesus. “The phrase ‘Jesus’ and ‘Jesus Only’ became commonplace among Keswick and Holiness writers” (p. 40), such as Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911).

Reed, in the second part of his book, deals with the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, stating that it had two birthplaces: Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906). “White Pentecostals, especially those in the Assemblies of God, have pinned their Pentecostal identity on Parham’s doctrine of glossolalia. Black Pentecostals, on the other hand, have identified with the Azusa Street Revival” (p. 81). He contends, however, that it is difficult to substantiate this claim. He further observes, “Oneness doctrine and practice may be more compatible in its core with an Afro-centric worldview than with that of non-Pentecostal white evangelicals” (p. 82).

Reed asserts: “The ‘Jesus Name’ or ‘Oneness’ paradigm is a radical (emphasis mine) soteriology constituted by: a non-trinitarian modalistic view of God, the name of Jesus as the revealed name of God, and the threefold pattern for full salvation set forth in Acts 2:38” (p. 113)—blood, water and Spirit [repentance, baptism in water in the name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit].

“For the uninformed outsider, Oneness Pentecostalism is a conundrum. Like other Pentecostal groups, it should be emphasizing the Spirit,” Reed states. “But it speaks about Jesus and denies the Trinity” (p. 338).

Reed’s book covers such topics as: Finished Work, Secret Rapture (Manchild Doctrine and Bride of Christ), Restoration Movement, New Issue, Re-baptism, Champions of the Trinitarian Cause, Old Testament Names of God and much, much more. It is a work that is based on rare and extensive research. At times, it seems that Reed tries to cover too much ground, but he is so full of information that he has to have an outlet. A pulpit is set up in every reader’s realm, from which Reed dispenses thoughts and opinions.

“The challenge of the future,” Reed concludes, “is hidden in its name and its inheritance: oneness. The earliest appeal to oneness in 1910 was that the Pentecostal movement be united. A decade later that appeal was applied sharply to racial unity. By 1930 it became a descriptor for the movement. Throughout its history, lack of oneness with full Pentecostals and other Christians has become enigmatic: for some a mark of doctrinal purity, for others, a sign of sin” (p. 363).

Reed emphasizes that the Oneness movement needs to receive fair and judicious treatment. However, Oneness Pentecostals may take offense at Reed’s statement that “There is within Scripture potential for developing a theology of the Name” (emphasis mine) (p. 356). He goes on to further point out particular weaknesses in Oneness theology, while fully supporting Trinitarianism.

The first part of the book leads one to believe that Reed fully supports the Oneness Pentecostal belief; however, as I perused his continuing discourse, I experienced opaque visions of Oneness Pentecostals as being inferior, and that they were not the norm.

“In Jesus’ Name” is the result of excellent research; it delves into scores of themes related to Oneness Pentecostalism; its common thread is the Name; and the reader, whether Trinitarian or Oneness, will enhance his knowledge of the Jesus’ Name doctrine.

Reviewed by Patricia P. Pickard, Independent scholar, Bangor, Maine

Softcover, 394 pages. $39.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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Review: The Davis Sisters

The Davis Sisters: Their Influences and Their Impact, compiled and written by Patricia P. Pickard. Bangor, ME: the author, 2009.

This delightful book is a tribute to the legacy of two Southern aristocratic ladies named Miss Carro and Miss Susie Davis who became Pentecostal evangelists and founders of Pentecostal churches. After these twin sisters from Macon, Georgia, were converted to Pentecost, they hit the streets of Macon, powerfully charged with the gospel and the Holy Spirit. Later they felt directed to establish Pentecostal churches in Maine and New Brunswick. They ended up in Saint John, New Brunswick, where they founded a Pentecostal congregation and became copastors for many years.

Miss Carro and Miss Susie Davis were twins whose parents died when they were young. They were from a well-to-do family, so their Aunt Minnie accepted the task of raising the twins. The family lived a fashionable life on a plantation outside Macon, Georgia. Both girls decided to become schoolteachers. Around 1910 they were converted to Pentecost and became dedicated Christians, desiring to serve God in every way they could. Through their aunt, they learned about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When they planned a vacation trip to Chicago, Aunt Minnie urged them to visit a Pentecostal Persian Mission which had been established by Andrew Urshan. They also attended a series of meetings which were conducted by William Durham, where a mighty Pentecostal outpouring was taking place, and where Miss Carro received Spirit baptism. Miss Susie received the Pentecostal blessing shortly after she returned home.

Eager to share this good news in Georgia, they returned and shared this news with their associates and with their friend, Professor J. Rufus Moseley, who had already received the Baptism.  Not long afterwards, Professor Moseley, the Davis sisters, and their aunt were refused admittance to the Presbyterian Church they attended because of their Pentecostal beliefs.

This led the two sisters to begin traveling the streets to tell others about the good news of God’s love. They held street meetings, conducted house and tent meetings, and established churches in Georgia and Florida among African Americans and whites. They suffered persecution, but God blessed their ministry. Four “unusual men from Maine” (that included Clifford A. Crabtree) arrived at the plantation in 1922, and spent the winter helping the ladies and Professor Moseley in their work of evangelism. Soon they heard an inward “voice” that spoke to them to “Go north, Miss Carro and Miss Susie.” They started out like Abraham, not knowing just where they were to go. Arriving in Bangor, Maine (with Crabtree as their young chauffeur and assistant), they started holding revival services which resulted in the establishment of a strong congregation in that city which is now Glad Tidings Church.

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