Tag Archives: J. Roswell Flower

A Pentecostal Pioneer Responds to the Perennial Question: “Should Pentecostals Organize?”

Flower J Roswell

J. Roswell Flower, 1924

This Week in AG History — August 12, 1951

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 15 August 2019

“Why a General Council? Is there any real need for some form of organization in a movement inspired by the Holy Ghost?” J. Roswell Flower posed this question in the Aug. 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Flower, himself an early Pentecostal pioneer and one of the founders of the Assemblies of God, was well-qualified to address this question. He noted that many early Pentecostals rejected “organization of any kind.” Flower recalled one pioneer who, when arguing against the creation of church structures, asserted: “All we need to do is walk in the Spirit.”

Flower noted that, during this early phase of Pentecostal history from 1907 to 1914, “men and women sold out for God, left their occupations, and devoted themselves to the propagation of the Full Gospel message.” However, disagreements over doctrine and a lack of accountability on morals and finances created challenges within the young Movement.

The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 by ministers who desired accountability on doctrine and ethics and who also recognized the value of cooperation in areas such as publishing, ministerial education, and missions.

According to Flower, whether Pentecostals should organize is an “old question” that has arisen numerous times. However, he believed that history had vindicated the value of organization and pointed to the success of Assemblies of God missions efforts around the world.

Flower wrote: “Through the cooperation of united churches, the message of the latter rain has been spread to the ends of the earth. The missionary cause has been promoted until now there are literally hundreds of thousands of saved and Holy Ghost-baptized believers with some in almost every country on earth. It is too late to accept the adage that organization is of the devil when we have a concrete example of what a simple, cooperative organization can do and has done.”

Read the entire article by J. Roswell Flower, “Why a General Council?” on pages 6, 7, and 14 of the Aug. 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “You Have One Problem – Solve It!” by U. S. Grant

• “Wait, Examine the Facts,” by Stanley M. Horton

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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J. Roswell Flower: Pentecostal Church Leader, Publisher, Statesman, Educator

Flower family1400

Flower family, circa 1936 (L-R): David, Suzanne, George, Alice R., J. Roswell, Adele, Joseph, Roswell

This Week in AG History —August 16, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 16 August 2018

J. Roswell Flower (1888-1970) was elected, at age 25, to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. He went on to become one of the Fellowship’s most prominent leaders in its first four decades. When he went to be with the Lord, General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman declared, “The name of J. Roswell Flower was synonymous with the Assemblies of God.”

Flower demonstrated remarkable leadership at a young age. He proved adept at writing and publishing, which gave him a platform in the emerging Pentecostal movement. In 1908, just over one year after his conversion, he began publishing a small magazine, The Pentecost. At the time, he was just 20 years old. In 1910, he gave the magazine to ministry colleague A. S. Copley. He married Alice Reynolds in 1911, and together they began another magazine, the Christian Evangel, in 1913. It was the only weekly Pentecostal periodical in existence.

When the Assemblies of God was organized in April 1914, Flower was only 25 years old. There were many people in attendance who were older and more experienced, yet delegates entrusted Flower to serve as the first general secretary. He also served as manager of Gospel Publishing House and, in 1919, he became the first Foreign Missions secretary.

Flower was an early champion of education. In 1922, he encouraged Pentecostals to support the establishment of a school in India in order to secure “greater and more permanent results for God.” He was one of the original faculty members of Central Bible Institute (CBI), which was founded in Springfield, Missouri, in 1922. In 1923, he proposed that all Assemblies of God missionaries be required to spend a term at CBI, which would allow church leaders to train and get to know the character and abilities of prospective missionaries. Flower’s proposal proved unpopular, however, and he was not re-elected at the 1923 General Council. He instead became Foreign Missions treasurer. Two years later, he was not re-elected to that position.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower moved to Pennsylvania, where they spent the next decade in pastoral and district leadership. In 1929, he was elected to serve as superintendent of the Eastern District Council. He was a regular lecturer at Bethel Bible Training School, an Assemblies of God school in New Jersey. Significantly, he helped Alice to establish a summer Bible school, located on the Eastern District campground, which was the forerunner of the University of Valley Forge. Flower emphasized education because he believed that careful study of the Bible would be essential for the growth and maturation of the Assemblies of God.

Delegates to the 1935 General Council elected Flower to again serve as general secretary, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1959. During this period Flower emerged as a leading Pentecostal statesman, encouraging cooperative efforts among believers with similar faith commitments. He labored to make the Assemblies of God a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and he helped form the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Flower also was involved in civic leadership, serving on the Springfield City Council and on the boards of various organizations.

J. Roswell Flower’s remarkable leadership flowed out of his rich spiritual life. He and Alice modeled a home life that bore witness to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Alice was a prolific author and preacher, and her sermons, books, and articles on the Christian home were widely read. They practiced what they preached. Five of their six children also entered full-time ministry; the sixth died while in Bible school.

It is appropriate that Flower became the namesake of the archives and museum located in the Assemblies of God national office. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is the largest Pentecostal archives in the world, preserves and promotes the heritage of a movement for which Flower helped lay the foundation.

Read the article, “J. R. Flower with Christ,” on page 4 of the Aug. 16, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What the Holy Spirit Does,” by Harvey McAlister

• “We Preached in Romania” by Joe G. Mazzu Jr.

• “New Arkansas Teen Challenge Reaching Desperate Youth”

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Pentecostal Evangel Celebrates 102nd Anniversary – First Issue Featured Interracial Content and Called for Unity

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This Week in AG History — July 19, 1913

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 16 Jul 2015

The Pentecostal Evangel, now known as PE News, is 102 years old this week. The magazine, launched as the Christian Evangel in 1913, transitioned from print to a digital platform at the beginning of 2015.

Over the years, PE News witnessed numerous changes. The title changed six times, and the place of publication changed three times. Publishing the weekly magazine was quite an undertaking. To lessen the cost and workload, the magazine was only published every other week from 1918 to 1923.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower established the Christian Evangel to report on revivals and missions activities and published it out of their home in Plainfield, Indiana. The first issue, dated July 19, 1913, featured interracial content. Three articles were by or about G. T. Haywood, the African-American pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis. The Flowers selected a masthead that remains relevant 102 years later: “The simplicity of the Gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith.” Their call to unity implicitly recognized that their readers did not yet have “unity of the faith” — that disagreement existed on some matters. In the meantime, they affirmed that believers should aim for “unity of the Spirit.”

This language recognizing spiritual unity amidst diversity was included in the preamble of the constitution adopted by the first General Council of the Assemblies of God in April 1914. At that same meeting, J. Roswell Flower was elected to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. The Flowers gave their magazine to the newly formed Assemblies of God. E. N. Bell, the first chairman, also gave his magazine, Word and Witness, to the new organization. The two periodicals merged in January 1916. The title changed in 1919 to Pentecostal Evangel, and under that name the periodical became one of the most prominent publications in the Pentecostal movement.

Today, PE News is the official news agency for the Assemblies of God and continues to network believers around the world.

Click here to read the first issue of the Christian Evangel.

Click here to read an engaging history of the Pentecostal Evangel, published in the 2013 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage.

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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Pentecostal Organization?

P0079_Flower

This Week in AG History — August 12, 1951

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 12 Aug 2013 – 3:48 PM CST

“Why a General Council? Is there any real need for some form of organization in a movement inspired by the Holy Ghost?” J. Roswell Flower posed this question in the August 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Flower, himself an early Pentecostal pioneer and one of the founders of the Assemblies of God, was well-qualified to address this question. He noted that many early Pentecostals rejected “organization of any kind.” Flower recalled one pioneer who, when arguing against the creation of church structures, asserted that “All we need to do is walk in the Spirit.”

Flower noted that, during this early phase of Pentecostal history from 1907 to 1914, “men and women sold out for God, left their occupations, and devoted themselves to the propagation of the Full Gospel message.” However, disagreements over doctrine and a lack of accountability on morals and finances created challenges within the young movement.

The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 by ministers who desired accountability on doctrine and ethics and who also recognized the value of cooperation in areas such as publishing, ministerial education, and missions.

According to Flower, whether Pentecostals should organize is an “old question” that has arisen numerous times. However, he believed that history had vindicated the value of organization and pointed to the success of Assemblies of God missions efforts around the world. He wrote:

“Through the co-operation of united churches, the message of the latter rain has been spread to the ends of the earth. The missionary cause has been promoted until now there are literally hundreds of thousands of saved and Holy Ghost baptized believers with some in almost every country on earth. It is too late to accept the adage that organization is of the devil when we have a concrete example of what a simple, co-operative organization can do and has done.”

Read the entire article by J. Roswell Flower, “Why a General Council?” on pages 6, 7, and 14 of the August 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “You Have One Problem – Solve It!” by U. S. Grant

* “Wait, Examine the Facts,” by Stanley M. Horton

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

Leave a comment

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