Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Elmer F. Muir: A Baptist Pastor Discovers the Power of the Holy Spirit

Elmer F. Muir

Elmer F. Muir

This Week in AG History–April 25, 1925

By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 23 April 2015

A Pentecostal revival in the 1920s touched numerous Baptist ministers and churches, resulting in the cross-pollination of the two traditions. High-profile Baptists who became Pentecostal included Mae Eleanor Frey, an evangelist and author ordained by the National Baptist Convention in 1905, and William Keeney Towner, pastor of First Baptist Church in San Jose, California.

Many lesser-known Baptist ministers also embraced the Pentecostal movement, but their stories have been largely forgotten. Among these was Elmer F. Muir, a pastor who had experienced great discouragement in his ministry. He was spiritually refreshed by the winds of Pentecostal revival. He received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and testified that he experienced “the deep things of God.” Muir’s testimony was published in the April 25, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Elmer Ferguson Muir (1890-1947), the son of Scottish immigrants, was born in Dubuque, Iowa. He received a call to the ministry at age 21 while attending a revival campaign held by legendary evangelist Billy Sunday. Muir quickly discovered that the road to the ministry would be challenging. Muir had dropped out of high school, but his Presbyterian denomination required that ministers have a college degree. He enrolled at Coe College, a Presbyterian school in Iowa, where he recalled “burning the candle at both ends” both day and night for five years. He graduated from Coe College in 1917 and became a Baptist pastor.

Muir served as pastor of the Baptist church in Arkansas City, Kansas, in the early 1920s. He sometimes found the work of the ministry overwhelming. He described a revival campaign at his church: “It was one that was worked up instead of prayed down.” The experience wore him out. He wrote, “I never want to go through one again, it was dental work from beginning to end.”

Muir received a fine theological education. However, he came to realize that he needed more than mere knowledge “to bring about this great, wonderful program of God.” What did he need? He was uncertain. He recalled, “But how [the program of God] was to be brought about I had no conception.”

To add to his problems, a lady in Muir’s congregation kept asking him if he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was not sure how to answer. At first, he responded that the experience was only for the early church. She kept pestering Muir for over two years until he relented. Finally, he agreed to preach one Wednesday night on the subject of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He titled the sermon, “Has the Church Lost Its Power?” But as Muir studied the Word of God, he came to realize that the lady in his congregation had been right – the baptism in the Holy Spirit was for him, and it could empower him in ministry.

Muir and his wife both sought and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. At first, Muir was hesitant to tell his congregation. What would people say? Ultimately, he shared his Pentecostal testimony and was forced to resign from the church. He transferred his ministerial credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1925 and started a small congregation (now known as First Assembly of God, Arkansas City, Kansas). In 1927 he moved to San Diego, California, where he pastored Full Gospel Tabernacle. He also edited a book of articles by Pentecostal missionary Cornelia Nuzum, The Life of Faith. The book, originally published by Gospel Published House in 1928, remains in print 87 years later.

Elmer F. Muir decided to transfer his credentials back to the Baptist church in 1929. He resigned from the Assemblies of God in good standing and spent the rest of his ministry in Baptist churches. Muir’s ministry in the Assemblies of God lasted only four years, but it demonstrates the porous borders between the Assemblies of God and other evangelical denominations. The Pentecostal movement has helped to refresh many ministers and laypersons from other denominations, some of whom ultimately returned to their former churches. This cross-pollination between the Assemblies of God and other churches helped to build bridges across the denominational divides, laying the foundation for future generations who would be more concerned with building the kingdom of God rather than a particular denomination.

Read Elmer F. Muir’s powerful testimony, “Why I Am No Longer a Baptist Preacher,” on pages 2 and 3 of the April 25, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Great Equipment,” by A. H. Argue

• “A Notable Miracle,” by Amelia De Franchi

• “Healed of Paralysis,” by G. E. Wolfe

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Click here to order a copy of Cornelia Nuzum’s classic book, The Life of Faith, which was edited by Elmer F. Muir.

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

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“Make Way for the Holy Ghost” : A Timely Warning from Pentecostal Pioneer James Menzie

James D. Menzie and family at his home in Gary, Indiana, January 1933.


This Week in AG History–January 23, 1943
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 22 January 2015

James Menzie (1899-1986) helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in the Upper Midwest in the 1920s. In a 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article, he recounted his early days as a Pentecostal pioneer and also offered a warning of what he called “a crisis in Pentecost.”

The Pentecostal movement, according to Menzie, “was born of the Holy Spirit.” He described the Pentecostal revival at the turn of the twentieth century as a sovereign move of God and not orchestrated by any one founder. At first, small groups of people would gather in homes to pray. God’s power was manifested and people accepted Christ, were healed, and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Believers organized churches that, despite opposition, grew to constitute one of the fastest-growing segments within American Christianity.

Menzie expressed concern over what he perceived to be a decline in spiritual fervor in some quarters of the Pentecostal movement. He recalled in earlier years that people went to church with great expectation, wondering what God would do in the service. He lamented that some churches had become too “formal” and no longer seemed to have room for unexpected manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

This spiritual decline, in Menzie’s estimation, was the unfortunate result of “fanaticism.” Fanatics, he wrote, are often otherwise godly people who allow their zeal to justify “foolish things that hurt rather than further the cause of Jesus Christ.” Some Pentecostals, in rejecting foolish behavior, also rejected genuine moves of the Holy Spirit.

Menzie concluded his article with this admonition: “Let the Holy Ghost be unhampered in our lives and our meetings. I do not mean, for a moment, to give any leeway to fanaticism…I believe that God wants to manifest Himself in our midst and in our lives, and if we have ears to hear, we will hear His voice.”

Read the article, “Make Way for the Holy Ghost,” by James Menzie, on pages 2-3 of the January 23, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Encourage Him,” by Zelma Argue

• “Praying in the Holy Ghost,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “The Healing of G. W. Hardcastle, Jr.”

And many more!

Click here to read this historic edition of the Pentecostal Evangel 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

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Review: Voices of Pentecost

00088_synan

Voices of Pentecost: Testimonies of Lives Touched by the Holy Spirit, by Vinson Synan. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2003.

Images of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostalism have historically been associated with that of the ministries of William J. Seymour, Charles Parham, and the Azusa Street Revival. These revivals recorded the emergence of glossalalia to the Church and became widely acknowledged as the beginnings of Pentecost. While Seymour, Parham, and Azusa Street demonstrated the overflow of the Spirit upon the 20th century, they alone are simply a portion of the Pentecostal movement which has spread throughout history in a variety of avenues. Within Vinson Synan’s, Voices of Pentecost, a sampling of firsthand accounts of the charismatic movement is provided, addressing lesser-known personages and denominations to Pentecostalism. Faiths including Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Methodism are included with their spiritual lineage and unique Pentecostal perspective.

Synan approaches this historical overview by submitting 2-3 page testimonies or eyewitness accounts of various men and women who have influenced Pentecostalism. At the very beginning of the work, Synan breaks the traditional mold to present a spiritual event within the Catholic account of St. Augustine and his eyewitness description of spiritual prayer. Synan continues his collection with other renowned names including Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, and Charles Finney while incorporating many lesser known names. Even foreign spiritual encounters such as the revival within the Methodist Episcopal Church of Chile in 1909 are retold in the testimonies of its participants. This collection spans hundreds of years to create a vivid representation of Pentecostal history.

Included with the individual epithets are theological principles that have helped shape the Pentecostal church. For instance, descriptions of miraculous healings, unification of the races, missions inspiration, along with traditional church prayers and protocol are included. Personal descriptions of the baptism of the Holy Spirit create a tangible image of this most holy gift. The ease at which Synan writes is exceptional, and his emphasis upon primary sources are quite useful in painting a stunning image of each account.

For the benefit of those familiar with the Pentecostal historical timeline, a chronological system would have offered a more systematic layout for this book. It is important to note the significance of pre-Azusa street Pentecostal encounters such as John Wesley (1703-1791), Charles Finney (1792-1875), and Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924), which would differ greatly from modern-day contributors like Mark Rutland, Pat Robertson, etc.

In an age of scarce historical acknowledgement, Synan’s work, Voices of Pentecost, contributes a much needed overview of the major contributors to the Pentecostal movement. The readability and intrigue of this work makes it accessible to audiences of various ages with the assurance of building faith. It is a significant contribution to the Church to have all these testimonies collected in one solitary place.

Reviewed by Krista Ridley, Evangel University student

Paperback, 180 pages. $10.99 list price. Order from amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com

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Days of destiny

Rev. Ronald Wilson, General Superintendent of the Congregational Holiness Church, wrote an article in the June/July 2008 issue of The Gospel Messenger that is worth sharing. Wilson reminded readers that Pentecostals must be careful to not despise small things – including our humble roots where God transformed the lowliest of sinners into the unlikeliest of Gospel messengers. Importantly, Wilson also called for a revival of evangelism and holiness — encouraging believers to set aside personal agendas so that souls might be won. Thank you for helping to keep what is most important in focus, Rev. Wilson!

Days of Destiny
by Ronald Wilson, General Superintendent of the Congregational Holiness Church

I recently came across a quote from Leonard Ravenhill that I want to share with you this month. It really stirred my heart, and I believe it should cause each of us to pause and think. He said, “Do the Pentecostals look back with shame as they remember when they dwelt across the theological tracks, but with the glory of God in their midst? When they had a normal church life, which meant nights of prayers followed by signs and wonders, and diverse miracles, and genuine gifts of the Holy Ghost? When they were not clock watchers and their meetings lasted for hours, saturated with holy power? Have we no tears for these memories or shame that our children know nothing of such power?”

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Review: Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar: The Sacraments in Pentecostal Worship, by Daniel Tomberlin. Cleveland, TN: Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, 2006.

Since the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, experiencing the Spirit of God has been central to Pentecostals in both private and corporate worship. When it comes to congregational worship, Pentecostals have critiqued what they deem to be dead ritualism devoid of a personal experience of the Holy Spirit. As a result, Pentecostals have questioned many traditional practices relating to the sacraments (often viewed as theologically or historically suspect because of their relation to the Roman Catholic Church) and have opted for the term “ordinances” instead. The latter is often seen to be more of a faith-based means rather then a works-based means of experiencing the Spirit.

Daniel Tomberlin, pastor of Bainbridge Church of God (Bainbridge, GA) and chairman of Ministerial Development for the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) in South Georgia, has authored a book that will raise some eyebrows. In it, Tomberlin claims that Pentecostalism and sacramental worship are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he provides a stimulating discussion of how he believes Pentecostal worship is sacramental. This volume, which aims to provide an introduction to the subject for Pentecostal church leaders, is possibly one of the first educational resources of its kind published by a classical Pentecostal denomination.

Encountering God at the Altar touches on topics such as Pentecostal worship and spirituality. Tomberlin develops a Pentecostal theology of the sacraments and also explores the practice of the sacraments in Pentecostal worship.In following Church of God theologian Kenneth Archer, Tomberlin argues for the retrieval of the term sacrament over the term ordinance, claiming that the ordinances are sacramental — a “means of grace” where one encounters the Holy Spirit (p. 24). The author rightly points out that Pentecostal spirituality is centered on encountering the Holy Spirit. “Therefore,” Tomberlin states, “the center and focus of Pentecostal worship is the altar” (p. 19).

When addressing whether life in the church and the sacraments are essential to salvation, Tomberlin identifies the church and sacraments as “secondary salvific gifts,” compared to the Son and Spirit as “primary salvific gifts” from the Father. At the same time he ultimately admits “that participation in the sacramental life of the church may not be absolutely essential to salvation due to God’s prevenient grace” (p. 27). Continue reading

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Amanda Benedict remembered after 82 years

Amanda Benedict Memorial Service

Participants at the Amanda Benedict memorial service (l-r): Assistant Archivist Glenn Gohr; Rev. Hubert Morris of Central Assembly; FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers; Dr. James Bradford, pastor of Central Assembly; General Secretary George Wood; Jewell Woodward, adminstrative assistant to George Wood; National Prayer Center Director John Maempa; and Archivist Joyce Lee.

Benedict Grave Stone 1

Front of marker

Benedict Grave Stone 2

Back of marker

Photographs by Sharon Rasnake


As part of the celebration of 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Central Assembly chose to honor one of the early leaders in the church, Miss Amanda Benedict, who is remembered as a fervent prayer warrior.

Educated in New York, her home state, she later conducted a rescue home for girls in Chicago and was connected with a faith home for children in Iowa. She moved to Springfield, Missouri, sometime before 1910 and met Mrs. Lillie Corum while working as a door-to-door salesperson. The two ladies and others began praying together regularly, and soon Amanda Benedict received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had a burden for lost souls and that God might bless the gospel work in Springfield, Missouri.

Sister Benedict would fast and pray for days on end, until a burden was lifted or victory came. Often, like Napoleon, she would say, “There shall be no Alps!” She had a tremendous burden that God would make Springfield a center from which his blessings would flow to the ends of the earth. At one point she felt led to fast and pray for Springfield for one entire year — living only on bread and water.

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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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