Tag Archives: Holiness

The Azusa Street Revival: What Frank Bartleman’s Eyewitness Account Reveals about the Worldview of Early Pentecostals

Azusa collageThis Week in AG History —March 11, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 9 March 2017

It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Critics attacked the congregation because its mild-mannered black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The Azusa Street Revival, as it became known, soon became a local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.

The spiritual intensity of the revival was red hot for more than three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early twentieth century. Just over 110 years later, the Pentecostal movement, broadly construed, now claims over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

Frank Bartleman, one of the participants at Azusa Street, wrote down his account of the revival and the precipitating events. In 1916, Bartleman wrote an article with his recollections of the revival that was published in the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). He later wrote a book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (1925), which became a widely-read portrayal of the Azusa Street Revival. Bartleman’s eyewitness account captured fascinating details about the revival, which give insight into the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals.

Bartleman noted that the Azusa Street Revival did not occur in a vacuum. The immediate catalyst for the revival happened in the summer of 1905, when Joseph Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.” Bartleman was among those who gathered at Smale’s church. He experienced a burden for “soul travail” – he sensed that God was calling him to win lost souls to Christ.

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Bartleman offered some cautionary advice regarding the history surrounding Azusa Street. “It would be a great mistake,” he wrote, “to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man.” Bartleman stressed that the early Pentecostal revival was a sovereign move of God that had developed over time. He wrote, “Pentecost did not drop down suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”

Still, Bartleman reserved a special place in Pentecostal history for the Azusa Street Mission. He observed that the Pentecostal revival began “in earnest” under Seymour’s leadership at the humble, run-down location on Azusa Street.

Bartleman noted multiple ironies regarding the revival. The Azusa Street Mission, he wrote, took place in a dilapidated building and was led by “a quiet colored man, very unassuming.” Yet the revival attracted people from across the racial divides and news of the outpouring quickly spread across the world. Bartleman also noted that Seymour initially preached about the gift of speaking in tongues without having had the experience himself. Seymour did not receive the gift until several weeks into the Azusa Street Revival. Finally, Bartleman observed that many respectable Christian leaders looked down upon the revival because of its humble origins and interracial character. However, many of these critics ended up losing their own church members to the Azusa Street Revival.

The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own twenty-first century egalitarian assumptions.

However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals. The early Pentecostal worldview, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission. The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Testimonies from the iconic Azusa Street Revival provide insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these testimonies will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.

Read Frank Bartleman’s article, “The Pentecostal or ‘Latter Rain’ Outpouring in Los Angeles,” on pages 4, 5 and 8 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Five Judgments,” by S. A. Jamieson

* “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

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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How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? This AG evangelist’s admonition from 1959 is timely today!

ml-davidson

Martin Luther Davidson, 1953.

This Week in AG History — October 18, 1959

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 13 October 2016

How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? Assemblies of God evangelist Martin Luther Davidson, in a sermon at the 1959 General Council, encouraged listeners to learn from the example of the first-century church. The early church, he noted, endured significant persecution in a society rocked by political turmoil and moral decay. In the midst of this social upheaval, the church established its identity and experienced remarkable growth.

How was the early church able to overcome adversity? Davidson identified three characteristics of early Christians that he suggested “was the secret of their victory.”

First, early Christians overcame adversity because they were consecrated to Christ and His mission. They despised sin, they surrendered themselves to suffer for the sake of righteousness, and they stood firm in the faith. According to Davidson, “Those Early Church saints were strongly marked by a holy indifference to external adversaries.” Early Christians endured the most severe forms of persecution. “They scorned the violence of fire, the edge of the sword, trials of cruel mockings and scourgings,” he noted. Davidson prayed that God would give twentieth-century Christians the “steadfastness of faith” that characterized first-century Christians.

Second, early Christians overcame adversity because of their sincere “holiness of character.” Davidson defined holiness as the condition of a person’s character. He noted that holiness could not be achieved by wearing or doing certain things; holiness could only come from the sanctifying, indwelling presence of God. Davidson expressed concern that this biblical view of holiness was being replaced in some Pentecostal circles by either “legalistic ritualism” (emphasizing external actions over the condition of the heart) or “liberalism” (presuming that conduct has no relationship to the condition of the heart). Davidson admonished Pentecostals to retain the historic view of holiness, asserting that “anything less will fail is in these critical days.”

Third, early Christians overcame adversity because they were “unwavering in holy faith.” Unlike modern conceptions of faith as mere “positive thinking,” Davidson carefully described the principles of biblical faith. True Christian faith, according to Davidson, is grounded in the Bible, it trusts in the person of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and it provokes the believer to action.

Davidson encouraged Pentecostals to learn from early Christians, who “became intoxicated on the Spirit so much” that outsiders concluded they must be drunk with wine because they had no fear of man. “If the Church is to advance in these perilous days of universal crises,” Davidson concluded, “it must be filled with Spirit-intoxicated men” who demonstrate consecration, holiness, and unwavering faith.

Read Martin Luther Davidson’s article, “Forward in the Face of Crises!” on pages 3-4 of the Oct. 18, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Praying in the Holy Ghost,” by Normand J. Thompson

• “Deaf Students Prepare for the Ministry,” by Maxine Strobridge

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 Evolution of Holiness in the Church of God in Christ: Summit to be Held at Mason Temple, September 8, 2016

Lexington11

Bishop Charles H. Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse, Lexington, Mississippi. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

The Church of God in Christ originated in 1897 in Lexington, Mississippi, among African-American Baptists who had been influenced by the Holiness movement. Over the years, these origins in Lexington and in the Holiness movement have become obscured. Today, the Church of God in Christ is at a crossroads. Will the church founded by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason retain and build upon its heritage of holiness, or will it evolve and become something different?

These questions about the history and future of the Church of God in Christ will be considered at the Holiness Evolution Summit, a first-of-its-kind event to be held at Mason Temple in Memphis on September 8, 2016 (the 152nd anniversary of Mason’s birth).

Mother Mary P. Patterson, organizer of the Holiness Evolution Summit, has spent the past 10 years raising awareness of Lexington’s role in Church of God in Christ history. Through her company, the Pentecostal Heritage Connection, she has organized tour groups of Lexington, and she has built relationships with community leaders, church leaders, and academics. Her efforts culminated on October 16, 2015, with the unveiling of an official State Historical Marker on the grounds of the Holmes County Courthouse in Lexington, honoring the founding of the Church of God in Christ.

The fact that Mason had been imprisoned 97 years earlier in a jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse basement underscores the significant societal shifts that have occurred. Mason had been persecuted on account of his race and religion, but he is now honored. Indeed, African-Americans have made much progress in American society over the past 100 years. But much work remains to be done.

Now Patterson is bringing this conversation about Church of God in Christ history to Memphis. According to Patterson, the Holiness Evolution Summit aims to uncover forgotten aspects of Church of God in Christ origins, and to also provoke discussion about the implications of this heritage. For instance: What does holiness look like in the 21st century? Would Bishop Mason have anything to say about current challenges in society and church? And what does Lexington teach about religious liberty?

Participants include black and white scholars and church leaders from Church of God in Christ and Assemblies of God backgrounds. The four speakers at the 2015 dedication of the State Historical Marker will also be featured at the Holiness Evolution Summit:

The Holiness Evolution Summit will include formal presentations and ample time for audience participation with questions and answers. Bishop Craig S. Baymon (pastor of Holy Temple Cathedral of Deliverance COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will deliver the invocation. Mother Julia Scott Ward (the wife of Bishop Lee Ward, retired pastor of Greater Harvest COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will offer the scripture reading. Moderating the event will be Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

The public is invited to attend the Holiness Evolution Summit, which will occur on September 8, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the U.E. Miller Conference Room of Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, 930 Mason Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Seating is limited. Registration is $40 and includes lunch. Registration may be purchased online or at the door. For additional information, contact the Pentecostal Heritage Connection at (901) 398-7716.

 

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Hattie Hammond: Calling Christians to a Deeper Walk with God

Hattie HammondThis Week in AG History — August 18, 1928

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 18 August 2016

Hattie Hammond (1907-1994) was one of the premier preachers of the early Pentecostal-holiness movement. How did she gain that reputation? It was by preaching a simple gospel message of wholeheartedly serving God.

Born and raised in Williamsport, Maryland, she was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in a tent meeting at age 15, conducted by John Ashcroft, the grandfather of former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Even at that young age, she boldly began witnessing to her teachers and classmates, which was the beginning of her lifelong calling as an evangelist.

She was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1927, and soon had invitations to speak in large churches in Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Philadelphia; New York City; Washington, DC; and other places.

She also became a popular camp meeting speaker and Bible teacher. Her simple messages prompted abandonment of worldliness and inspired walking into a “deeper life” of consecration and holiness to God.

In a sermon called “Drawing Nigh to God,” published in the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, she encourages people to develop a strong, devotional life: “As we enter into the presence of the Lord we should realize we are in the presence of a great, almighty, eternal God.” She also promotes  waiting on the Lord: “We should not rush into His presence with haste, nor come as though we were coming into the presence of an earthly friend. We should take time to realize that He is God and beside Him there is none else.”

In this sermon she also talks about the need for God, salvation, spending time with God in prayer, and the importance of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

She says, “The first thing necessary is that we become still, and know that the great I AM is God. Be still and know that it is God for whom we are waiting, that we are sitting in the presence of God, and that it is His great name upon which we are calling.” She concludes by saying, “We need the Holy Spirit to keep us true to the Cross, and to Jesus our Lover Lord, to be real overcomers.”

By the 1930s, Hattie Hammond had become one of the most powerful speakers in the Pentecostal movement. There are reports of remarkable miracles and healings which took place in her ministry.

She ministered all over the U.S. in colleges, conventions, Bible schools, churches of all denominations, and in more than 30 countries of the world.

Read Hattie Hammond’s article, “Drawing Nigh to God,” on pages 6-7 of the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Elijah’s God Still Lives Today,” by Leonard G. Bolton

• “The Marks of Holy Ghost Converts,” by Stephen Jeffreys

• “Pentecost in Bulgaria,” by Martha Nikoloff

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline


This Week in AG History–September 29, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 29 Sep 2014 – 4:30 PM CST

“Has the twentieth century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God to be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the September 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

* “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

* “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

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 Evangel, click 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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Consecration

P4484_Ward

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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