Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Joseph Smale and the Lost Sermons that Prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival

Pentecostal BlessingThis Week in AG History — October 7, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 October 2019

The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles and the African-American pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, William Seymour, have become iconic symbols of the Pentecostal movement. However, historians and participants in the revival point to a lesser-known Baptist pastor and graduate of Spurgeon’s College, Joseph Smale, who helped prepare Los Angeles for the revival.

The immediate catalyst for the Azusa Street Revival came in the summer of 1905 when 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.”

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.

Joseph Smale - FBCLAWhen 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.

Historians have long known that Smale’s sermon series, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” played a pivotal role leading up to the Azusa Street Revival. The sermons were a manifesto on the importance of recovering the spiritual life of the early church. They convicted and persuaded many to seek for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it appeared that Smale’s sermons had been lost to history. No copies apparently survived.

Then the unexpected happened. Several years ago, someone bought a copy of Smale’s sermons at a garage sale in Oklahoma. He was not aware of their significance and showed them to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Darrin Rodgers, who immediately discerned their importance. The sermons were deposited at the Heritage Center, where they are safely preserved for posterity.

Importantly, Gospel Publishing House has republished The Pentecostal Blessing, which was officially released as part of its “Spirit-Empowered Classics” series in 2017. The book includes a series foreword by noted Azusa Street Revival historian Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and a biographical sketch of Smale by his biographer, British Baptist educator Tim Welch.

The sermons that prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival – long thought to be lost – are now available to 21st century readers.

The Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes an article by Stanley Horton about the Azusa Street Revival, which begins by describing Smale’s role in the revival.

Read Stanley Horton’s article, “Pentecostal Explosion: Once the Spirit Fell at Azusa Street the Waves of Pentecostal Power Quickly Spread throughout the Religious World,” on pages 8-9 of the Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Ecumenicity: False and True,” by Frank M. Boyd

• “Tribes, Tongues, and Triumphs,” by Marion E. Craig

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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Elder Eddie R. Driver and Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ (Los Angeles, CA)

Driver-125x150
This Week in AG History–December 2, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 01 Dec 2014 – 4:42 PM CST

A small notice about an ongoing revival at the Saints’ Home Church in Los Angeles might have escaped the attention of readers of the December 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). Unless the reader was familiar with the pastor and the congregation, the revival report would have been indistinguishable from countless similar articles. The congregation’s pastor, Eddie R. Driver, reported spiritual progress: “God is blessing these meetings with a full house, souls are being saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost, the sick are being healed, and there is a great outpouring of God’s choicest blessings accompanying every service.”

The pastor, Eddie Driver (1869-1929), was an African-American businessman and attorney (he was licensed to practice general and corporation law in Memphis in 1892). He accepted the call to preach in 1893 and became a Baptist pastor. Several years later he became friends with Charles H. Mason, the influential African-American Holiness Baptist pastor who went on to found the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Driver joined Mason’s organization, became Chairman of the COGIC Council of Elders, and drafted the COGIC’s original articles of incorporation.

In 1914, Mason asked Driver to move from Memphis to Los Angeles to establish a COGIC congregation. Driver complied and became pastor of an existing Pentecostal congregation, the Apostolic Mission at 14th and Woodson Streets. The congregation had roots in the interracial Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which had been a focal point in the emerging Pentecostal movement. As the Azusa Street revival fires grew dim, numerous small Pentecostal missions popped up across the City of Angels. The Apostolic Mission was one of those new congregations.

Driver organized the congregation as Saints’ Home Church of God in Christ in 1914, the first COGIC located in the western states. Driver personified the interracial nature of early Los Angeles Pentecostalism. He had a mixed ethnic heritage and could pass as an African-American, a Mexican, or a Filipino. The congregation’s leadership consisted of blacks, whites, Mexicans, and Filipinos.

Something else about the 1916 article in the Weekly Evangel merits attention. Driver was promoting the ministry of a white evangelist, Thomas Griffin, who had been holding services at Saints’ Home Church. Griffin, an Irish Catholic who immigrated to the United States, accepted Christ and became a prominent Pentecostal evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Large portions of early issues of the Weekly Evangel were dedicated to small revival reports such as the one submitted by Driver. What was the racial makeup of these early congregations that promoted their activities in the Evangel? No one knows. It would require significant research to discover the identities of these early Pentecostal leaders and congregations. What we can know, as this article demonstrates, was that the early Pentecostal revival crossed the racial and ethnic divides.

Read the article, “Notes from the Field,” on page 14 of the December 2, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Faith in Action in the Mission Field,” by Paul Bettex

* “God’s Prayer House,” by Elizabeth Sisson

* “Three Christian Soldiers,” by C. W. Doney

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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Review: The Azusa Street Papers


The Azusa Street Papers

The Azusa Street Papers: A Reprint of The Apostolic Faith Mission Publications, Los Angeles, California (1906-1908), William J. Seymour, Editor. Foley, AL: Together in the Harvest Publications, 1997.

Have you ever wondered what the participants at the Azusa Street revival were thinking? Would you like to read their testimonies and discover for yourself what this interracial revival which promoted a restoration of Biblical spiritual gifts was all about?

You can do just that with The Azusa Street Papers, a reproduction of the tabloid papers used to herald the events of the phenomenal Azusa Street revival during its first two years (1906-1908). In this high quality reprint of 13 issues of The Apostolic Faith, you’ll read the same stories that early Pentecostals read one hundred years ago. As a result of the reports in The Apostolic Faith an amazing thing happened. Readers became hungry for the same Pentecostal experience. They believed that the promise Jesus made to his followers 1900 years earlier was also for them. Continue reading

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Free Azusa Street photos on Flickr

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SplashCast with Flickr photos
Produced by iFPHC

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 over three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early 20th century. One hundred years later, the Pentecostal and charismatic movements — broadly construed — claimed over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

With the Pentecostal movement’s explosive growth came recognition of the Azusa Street revival as one of the most important events in recent Christian history.

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center holds one of the largest collections of Azusa Street-related materials. Our vault protects treasures such as a complete set of The Apostolic Faith, the newspaper published by the Azusa Street mission. We also hold a significant collection of rare photographs of the Azusa Street mission, William Seymour, and other early revival leaders.

We keep these valuable Azusa Street materials under lock and key, but — to mix metaphors — we don’t want to hide our light under a bushel! We have digitized some of our best photos and are making them available for free on Flickr. Not only can you view these photos, you can paste our Azusa slideshow into your own blog or website, or use them in a PowerPoint sermon or classroom lecture.

These photographs remain the intellectual property of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The free photos on Flickr contain an unobtrusive watermark (iFPHC.org). If you use the photos, our only requirements are that you leave the watermark on the image and include the following line in your website, PowerPoint, or other publication: “Image used with permission of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (iFPHC.org).” Publication-quality images without the watermark are available for purchase from the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Would you like to read the exciting news of the Azusa Street revival as it was originally published in The Apostolic Faith newspaper? We also have digitized The Apostolic Faith, which is included on the following research DVD for sale:
Assemblies of God Publications: Pre-WWII

To view the photoset of the Azusa Street at Flickr click on the link below:
Flickr Photoset

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Posted by Darrin Rodgers

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Review: The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy


Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy

The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy, edited by Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2006.

The Azusa Street Centennial (Los Angeles, 2006) brought together approximately 45,000 Pentecostal pilgrims who traveled from all corners of the globe to celebrate, worship and reflect on the paths that led them to where they are in their spiritual journeys. Right in the heart of the celebration, historians gathered in an academic track where they presented a series of papers highlighting the most up-to-date scholarship on the history and legacy of the Azusa Street revival. Two leading Pentecostal historians, Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., assembled the majority of these papers, now available in The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy. Continue reading

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Review: The Life and Ministry of William J. Seymour


The Life and Minisrty of William J. Seymour

The Life and Ministry of William J. Seymour: And a History of the Azusa Street Revival (The Complete Azusa Street Library, Vol. 1), by Larry Martin. Joplin, MO: Christian Life Books, 1999.

Having read through this manuscript when in its formative stages, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is researching the Pentecostal movement or the Azusa Street revival of Los Angeles that began in the spring of 1906. It is also a good sourcebook for those interested in Black history as William Seymour figures prominently among African-Americans of the 20th century. Larry Martin has done an excellent job in ferreting out little known facts about William J. Seymour, the leader of the Azusa Street revival. He has also uncovered information regarding Seymour’s family and his early life in Louisiana and other places he traveled before arriving in Los Angeles in 1906. Continue reading

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