Tag Archives: History

Revivaltime: How Radio Helped Shape Assemblies of God Identity

Revivaltime

Revivaltime broadcast, circa 1958. Bartlet Peterson announcing for Revivaltime; C.M. Ward (seated at table on left); Cyril McLellan (directing Revivaltime choir); C.T. Beem (standing behind piano)

This Week in AG History — December 11, 1960

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 10 December 2015

Revivaltime, the Assemblies of God weekly broadcast heard on the ABC radio network from 1953 to 1995, was one of the Fellowship’s most successful national ministries. Its hosts, C. M. Ward (1953-1978) and Dan Betzer (1979-1995), became two of the best-known Assemblies of God personalities, known to millions of listeners “coast to coast and around the world,” as the program’s familiar introduction intoned.

Ward established the 30-minute program’s format. Each program began with the song, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” sung by the Revivaltime choir. The song became so ingrained into the program’s identity that some have called it the “unofficial anthem” of the Assemblies of God. The reading of a biblical text and a sermon came next, followed by an invitation to kneel at the “radio altar” while the choir sang Ira Stanphill’s “There’s Room at the Cross for You.”

The program saw almost immediate success. For decades, over 10,000 letters from listeners poured into the Revivaltime offices each month. By 1960, church officials estimated that Revivaltime’s U.S. radio audience was 12 million people — 12 times as large as the Sunday morning attendance at Assemblies of God churches in America. Add to that the numerous Revivaltime broadcasts in other countries, and the magnitude of the program’s influence quickly becomes obvious.

Ward and Betzer engaged audiences with sermons employing simple, direct language and powerful illustrations and human-interest stories. They also modeled the charismatic gifts on the air, sometimes exercising a “word of knowledge” — communicating messages under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to specific unknown listeners. Countless thousands of people wrote in and credited Revivaltime for playing a role in a relative’s salvation, a healing, or other divine interventions.

Revivaltime and other national ministries — such as Christ’s Ambassadors (the ministry to youth and young adults), Royal Rangers (the Scout-like boys ministry), and Missionettes (now National Girls Ministries) — helped to give the Assemblies of God a sense of national identity and branding. While the focus in the Assemblies of God remained on the local church, these national ministries provided generations of Assemblies of God members with a sense that they were a part of a larger community of believers.

The December 11, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel celebrated the seventh anniversary of Revivaltime, featuring C. M. Ward, D. V. Hurst (national secretary of Radio), and Bartlett Peterson (Revivaltime executive director) prominently on the cover. Together, these three men and hundreds of others labored to develop Revivaltime into a ministry that not only helped to evangelize and disciple believers, but also helped shape the identity of the Assemblies of God.

Read articles about Revivaltime’s seventh anniversary on pages 2 and 12 of the December 11, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Security of the Believer,” by Myer Pearlman

• “Predestination: What Does the Bible Teach about this Mysterious Subject?” by Ralph M. Riggs

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Listen to classic Revivaltime radio episodes by clicking here.

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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Maria Gerber: The Pentecostal “Angel of Mercy” During the Armenian Genocide in Turkey

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Maria A. Gerber (front row, third from left) with widows from Zion Orphan’s Home in Turkey

This Week in AG History — December 4, 1915

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 December 2015

An estimated 800,000 to 1,500,000 ethnic Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) were systematically rounded up and killed by Ottoman authorities between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian Genocide, as it came to be known, is the second-most studied case of genocide, following the Jewish Holocaust.

Newspapers around the world reported on the suffering endured by the mostly Christian Armenians. Right in the midst of the conflict was Maria A. Gerber (1858-1917), an early Pentecostal missionary who had established an orphanage in Turkey for Armenian victims.

Gerber was born in Switzerland, where she was raised with 11 siblings by Mennonite parents. As a child, she did not have an interest in spiritual things, because she saw her mother weep when she read her Bible. She thought that Scripture must be the cause of sadness.

Maria was a carefree child and loved to sing and dance. But, at age 12, she was stricken with multiple ailments, including rheumatic fever, heart trouble, tuberculosis, and dropsy. The doctor’s prognosis was not good — Maria only had a short time to live.

Fear gripped Maria’s heart. She had never committed her life to the Lord. She knew that if she died, she would not go to heaven. Maria cried out, “Jesus, I want you to save me from my sins.” Immediately, she felt peace deep inside her soul. She was ready to die.

But God had other plans for the young girl. Maria quickly recovered from her incurable illness, much to everyone’s surprise! Maria’s mother had been so confident that her daughter was on death’s doorstep that she had already given away all of her clothing. Her mother scrounged around and found clothes for Maria.

Maria shared her testimony of salvation and healing at school and in surrounding villages. She found her calling. She read Matthew 28:18 and sensed that verse was meant for her: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Maria’s faith deepened as she blossomed into a young woman. She received training as a nurse, but in her heart she wanted to become a missionary. In 1889 a remarkable revival featuring healing and speaking in tongues came to her town in Switzerland. In her 1917 autobiography, Passed Experiences, Present Conditions, Hope for the Future, Gerber recounted the rapturous praise and numerous miracles that occurred in that early Swiss revival.

The young nurse wanted training for missions work and, in 1891, she headed for Chicago, where she attended Moody Bible Institute. By the mid-1890s, she heard about massacres of Armenian Christians that were occurring in the Ottoman Empire. Maria and a friend, Rose Lambert, felt God calling them to minister to the Armenian widows and orphans.

Maria and Rose arrived in Turkey in 1898 and began working with the besieged Armenians. They began caring for orphans and purchased camel loads of cotton for widows to make garments for the orphans and for sale. Donors from America and Europe began supporting these two audacious women who had ventured into very dangerous territory to do the Lord’s work.

Maria, in particular, found support among wealthy German Mennonites who lived in Russia. In 1904, they funded the construction of a series of large buildings to house hundreds of orphans and widows. Zion Orphans’ Home, located near Cesarea, became a hub of relief work and ministry in central Turkey. When persecution of Armenians intensified in 1915, resulting in the extermination of most Christian Armenians from Turkey, Zion Orphans’ Home was ready to help those in distress.

Maria identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement as early as 1910. This should not be surprising, as she had experienced her own Pentecost 21 years earlier. The Assemblies of God supported her missions efforts, and numerous letters by Maria were published in the Pentecostal Evangel. Assemblies of God leader D. W. Kerr, in the foreword to Maria’s 1917 autobiography, wrote that he had known Maria for 26 years and that her story will encourage readers “to greater self denial and a deeper surrender.”

Maria suffered a stroke and passed away on December 6, 1917. Gerber’s obituary, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, stated that she was known as “the angel of mercy to the downtrodden Armenians.”

It would have been easy for Maria Gerber to ignore the persecution of Armenians. The massacres were on the other side of the world. She could have stayed safe in America or in Europe. But Maria followed God’s call and spent almost 20 years ministering to refugees who faced persecution and death. Few people today remember her name. But according to early Assemblies of God leaders, Maria Gerber personified what it meant to be Pentecostal.

Read one of Maria Gerber’s articles, “Great Results Seen in Answer to Prayer,” on page 4 of the December 4, 1915, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Divine Love: The Supreme Test,” by Arch P. Collins

• “What Think Ye of Christ?” by M. M. Pinson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read Maria A. Gerber’s obituary in the January 5, 1918, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel (p. 13).

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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Rev. George W. Southwick Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

George W. Southwick (1918-2006) was a well-known figure in Pentecostal churches in southern California. He held ordination, at various times, in four different bodies: International Church of the Foursquare Gospel; Assemblies of God; Whosoever Will; and Apostolic Holiness. A graduate of L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, he went on to become a Bible teacher and collector of theological books and periodicals. In 1975, he and his wife, Leona, founded The Bible Educator Ministry, which sent his teaching tapes around the world. He is remembered, among other things, for his sweet spirit and for faithfully teaching the Pentecostal and Anglo-Israel messages.

George W. Southwick, sitting behind the desk in his library

George W. Southwick, sitting behind the desk in the library

Southwick developed a significant collection consisting of 4,000 books, as well as numerous periodicals, tracts, pamphlets, photographs, and other archival materials. After his death, his family gave the collection to Charles Jennings, a pastor in Owasso, Oklahoma. Jennings deposited the collection at the FPHC. Southwick held to Oneness, Anglo-Israel, Calvinist, and Latter Rain beliefs, and much of his collection represented those minor traditions within Pentecostalism. This important collection includes many publications that are not otherwise accessible to researchers. Numerous books not fitting the FPHC collection parameters have been placed in the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary library. An Anglo-Israel collection, designated as non-circulating, will be placed in the library’s Special Collections room, and other volumes have been integrated into the circulating collection.

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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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2014 Assemblies of God Heritage Magazine – Now Available Online and in Hard Copy!

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The world will be gathering this week in Springfield, Missouri, for the triennial meeting of the World Assemblies of God Congress and to celebrate the centennial of the Assemblies of God USA. Registrants include 2,000 guests from outside the United States. Excitement is in the air and people are flooding into town for what has been described as the most ethnically diverse event in the history of Springfield.

The 2014 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine is now available and may be picked up at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center offices or at the Heritage Center booth at the JQH Arena this Thursday through Sunday. All Assemblies of God USA ministers will receive a copy of the magazine in the mail in the next couple of weeks. The magazine is also accessible for free on the Heritage Center website.

Assemblies of God Heritage magazine makes a great gift! Hard copies of the magazine are available for $8 plus postage and handling.

The lineup of articles, specially chosen and commissioned for the centennial, reflects important themes and people from Assemblies of God history — from the early years and right up to the present!

Articles in this issue are listed below:

From the Editor: Global, Diverse, and Growing
By Darrin J. Rodgers

Fully Committed: 100 Years of the Assemblies of God
By Darrin J. Rodgers
A survey of 100 years of Assemblies of God history.

Thomas King Leonard: A Truly Indispensible Man
By P. Douglas Chapman
The neglected story of an Assemblies of God founder and leader.

Who’s Who at Hot Springs
By Glenn W. Gohr
A detailed account of the participants at the first general council.

The American Mission Field: Intercultural Ministries
By William J. Molenaar
The Assemblies of God has been ministering to ethnic minorities since its founding.

“Silent No More”: Latino Assemblies of God Leadership under Demetrio Bazan and José Girón
By Gastón Espinosa
These men led the Latin American District from 1939 through 1971.

Christian Unity: A Founding Principle of the Assemblies of God
By William J. Molenaar
Assemblies of God founders prophetically called for Christian unity.

What Made Them Think They Could?
By Rosemarie Daher Kowalski
The stories of ten early Assemblies of God female missionaries.

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Hillcrest Children’s Home: 1960s Film “A Child Is Wanting” Now Online!

A Child Is WantingGladys Hinson, a Christian schoolteacher in Arkansas, had a vision to provide a loving home for destitute children. She was inspired by the example of Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, who founded the large orphanage in Assiout, Egypt. In 1944, Hinson overcame significant obstacles and founded Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

A promotional film for Hillcrest, “A Child Is Wanting” (produced by Curtis Ringness and Charles W. H. Scott in the 1960s), has been digitized and is now accessible online on AGTV.

Hillcrest Children’s Home, now part of COMPACT Family Services, is the national children’s home for the Assemblies of God. COMPACT will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on September 27, 2014. You are invited to attend the celebration of this compassion ministry!

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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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AG name change in 1927?

General-Council-1927_P23332
Description: A group in front of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield, Missouri, for the 1927 General Council. Some identified. Noel and Ora Perkin (front, 5th & 6th from right, with 3 children); Lillian Riggs (3rd row, 2nd from left); Ralph Riggs (3rd row, 3rd from left); J. J. Mueller (3rd row, 4th from left); Jennie Mueller (3rd row, 5th from left); H. B. Garlock (3rd row, 6th from left); Rachel Doney (front, 3rd from right); C. W. Doney (front, 4th from right).

This Week in AG History — October 8, 1927

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 07 Oct 2013 – 3:24 PM CST

Should the Assemblies of God change its name? That question dominated much of the 1927 General Council. “The Pentecostal Evangelical Church” was the leading contender as the Fellowship’s new name.  The October 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel detailed many of the opinions voiced during the extended debate on the General Council floor. The issue was tabled until the 1929 General Council meeting, where it was voted down.

Read what early church leaders liked and disliked about the name “Assemblies of God” in the report of the twelfth General Council meeting on pages 2 to 10 of the October 8, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “God’s Call to Pentecostal Saints” by Sara Coxe

* “Answered Prayer in China,” by L. M. Anglin

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: U.S. Missions 75th Anniversary

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U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2012.

The Assemblies of God USA has always been dedicated to the mission of God, domestic and abroad, since its founding in 1914. While Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) was created in 1919, it was not until 1937 that Assemblies of God U.S. Missions (AGUSM) was created to bring greater organization to home mission efforts. This full-color, lavishly-illustrated coffee table book celebrates the 75th anniversary of AGUSM. This volume provides an overview of the history of U.S. Missions, as well as its seven departments, and is a wonderful tribute and memoir to Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries and their efforts to reach America with the gospel, that none perish.

Chapter 1, “Highlights of 75 Years of U.S. Missions,” is an adapted and edited from A History of Home Missions of the Assemblies of God (1992) by Ruth Lyon.

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In Chapter 2, Kirk Noonan provides an overview of Chaplaincy Ministries, which includes industrial/occupational chaplains, prison chaplains, and military/VA chaplains. The Chaplaincy Ministries Department was started in 1973. Noonan reports, “Chaplains minister to service personnel, prisoners, the sick, dying people in crisis and trauma, athletes, truckers, bikers, cowboys, law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, factory workers, retirees, people involved in human trafficking, politicians, etc. To put it simply, where there is someone in need, there is a chaplain” (p. 21).

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Sarah Malcolm traces the history of Chi Alpha in chapter 3. Chi Alpha is the national ministry of the Assemblies of God USA to reach students, including over 700,000 international students, who are attending colleges and universities in the U.S. Founded in 1953, Chi Alpha is currently the fourth largest evangelical campus ministry in the U.S. Malcolm states, “Chi Alpha is not just a program, it is a culture of disciple making. The transformed students and committed missionaries of Chi Alpha are laying the ground work for the next generation of the Assemblies of God and its leaders” (p. 50).

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Chapter 4, written by William Molenaar, explores the history of Intercultural Ministries. While intercultural ministries and evangelism have been a part of the Assemblies of God since its founding, the Home Missions Department was tasked with overseeing intercultural ministries in 1937. Later in 1945, the Intercultural Ministries Department was created within AGUSM. America’s multicultural past, present, and future creates both a great evangelistic challenge and a great evangelistic opportunity for the Assemblies of God USA. Molenaar focuses on five of the earliest and historic ministries: Jewish ministries, Native American ministry, ministry to the Blind, ministry to the Deaf, Alaskan ministry, and the various ethnic-language branches, districts and fellowships of the Assemblies of God USA.

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Joshua R. Ziefle wrote Chapter 5, which covers the history of Missionary Church Planters and Developers (MCPD). Originally founded in 1947, MCPD is tasked with identifying, supporting and resourcing church planting and development missionaries appointed by U.S. Missions. Ziefle notes, “For almost a century, the Assemblies of God has been a leader in church planting. Early Pentecostals were visionaries and entrepreneurs, buoyed by a vision to save the world and anchored by a deep commitment to Christ and God’s Word” (p. 71).

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Chapter 6 features a history of Teen Challenge International, U.S.A., written by David Batty, Ethan Campbell, and Patty Baker. The authors trace the inspiring story of David Wilkerson’s ministry in New York City to the global growth of the Teen Challenge. It is widely held that Teen Challenge is “one of the world’s largest and most successful drug recovery programs” (p. 89). Teen Challenge has been running over 50 years now with more than 1000 centers in 93 countries around the world.

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William Molenaar wrote chapter 7 regarding the U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) Department. U.S. MAPS “is the ministry within Assemblies of God U.S. Missions that assists churches, schools and ministries by coordinating volunteers with construction and evangelism projects” (p. 99). MAPS originated in 1967 as an inter-departmental effort of the Assemblies of God National Office to mobilize laity to participate in the mission of God both home and abroad, and today has a thriving RV volunteer ministry.

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Finally, Chapter 8, written by Kevin Dawson, traces the development of the Youth Alive Department. Dawson explains, “Youth Alive is a missionary movement dedicated to equipping and releasing students to reach the middle school and high school campuses of the United States” (p. 118). Youth Alive not only develops campus clubs, but it mobilizes young people to be missionaries to their schools. Today, Youth Alive is in 15 percent of the middle schools and high schools in the U.S.

Readers will enjoy reading the substantive histories of U.S. Missions, as well as browsing the historical photographs throughout the book. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center staff provided images and significant editorial assistance in the production of the book: William Molenaar authored two chapters, Glenn Gohr checked facts and citations, and Gohr and Darrin Rodgers provided extensive editorial work. Few books are both attractive and add to the body of scholarly literature. This book achieves both. U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry will be warmly received by both scholars and those who lived the history.  This commemorative volume should be added to your personal library and is also ideal for your coffee table, waiting room, or as a gift.

Hardcover, 128 pages. $25.00 retail. Order from: Gospel Publishing House.

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