Tag Archives: Pentecostal History

From Norway to Nepal: Agnes Beckdahl, Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary

This Week in AG History — April 9, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, April 7, 2022

Agnes Nikola (Thelle) Beckdahl (1876-1968) was one of the first Pentecostal evangelists to Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England, and for over 50 years she served as an Assemblies of God missionary in Northern India near the border of Nepal.

Beckdahl was born at Andoen, an island near Kristiansand off the coast of Norway. She made a commitment to serve God in her teen years and later renewed her dedication at age 20. At that time, she felt a strong conviction that she was called to the mission field.

In December 1906, soon after the aftershocks from the Azusa revival had reached the European continent, Beckdahl ventured to Christiania (now Oslo), the capital of Norway, to help in mission and jail service at the Christiania Bymission (City Mission), founded by T. B. Barratt. While attending Barratt’s mission and Bible school, she opened her heart to more of God. Soon she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Beginning in May 1907, Agnes, and a Norwegian coworker, Dagmar Gregersen, traveled as missionary evangelists in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, and several other places. Many years later she reported on these travels: “We were the first to bring the Pentecostal testimony to Germany in spring time 1907. Went through seven countries in Europe including the Eastern United States from Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut and New York State. I think more than 2,000 were saved and filled with the Spirit on that tour. It was a wonderful revival with an outpouring of the Holy Ghost in convicting power upon the whole world during that time!”

After traveling in evangelistic work in Europe and the United States, Beckdahl attended the Missionary Institute at Nyack, New York, in preparation to go as a missionary to India. Stopping in Norway and in England first, she arrived in India on May 10, 1910. She visited Pandita Ramabai’s Mukti Mission in Poona, India. While at Poona, she met a Salvation Army officer from Denmark named Christian Beckdahl. They kept in touch. Agnes ended up going to the Mission House at Fyzabad, India, and Christian began missionary work near the border of Nepal with the American Pentecostal Mission. Later Agnes and two coworkers were at a mission station in Nepalganj, also on the border of Nepal. Christian and Agnes decided to get married. The marriage took place in the Scandinavian Evangelical Mission in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 14, 1915. Two days later, they both were ordained as missionaries with the Assemblies of God at Wells Memorial Gospel Assembly in Tottenville, New York.

After some deputational work, the Beckdahls sailed for India in December 1915. They established a work in Nanpara on the border of Nepal, where Agnes had previously lived. The Beckdahls traveled throughout Northern India and in Nepal, evangelizing everywhere they went. They served as missionaries together in India for over 50 years until Christian’s death in November 1950. They raised one son, Samuel Beckdahl, who also served as an AG missionary in India and who married Ruth Merian, daughter of AG missionaries Fred and Lillian Merian.

After her husband’s death, Agnes Beckdahl returned to the United States where she lived in retirement in Pinellas Park Home and later in Bethany Retirement Home in Lakeland, Florida. She passed away on Jan. 17, 1968, at the age of 91.

During the 1960s, the Pentecostal Evangel published a series of profiles of early Assemblies of God ministers and missionaries. One of these profiles featured Agnes Beckdahl and her missionary work at Nanpara, India.

Read Agnes Beckdahl’s article, “Along the Nepal Border,” on page 22 of the April 9, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Old Farmer” by Bruce S. Williams

• “Tend Your Garden,” by Joyce Wells Booze

And many more!

Click here to read these issues 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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Elizabeth Sisson: Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary, Evangelist, Church Planter, Author

This Week in AG History — February 18, 1922

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 17 February 2022

Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934) was an early missionary, itinerant evangelist, church planter, and author. She was one of four daughters born to New England whaling captain, William Sisson, and his wife Elizabeth (Hempstead) Sisson. She was converted in 1863 in New London, Connecticut, and felt a calling to ministry. She reported that she saw a vision of Christ, who said to her: “I have ordained you.” She joined Second Congregational Church and later attended an Episcopal church.

In 1871 she left the U.S. to serve India as a missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) where she ministered among Hindus and Moslems. After she was stricken with severe illness, Sisson was forced to leave India for a period of recuperation in London. She reported that she was healed of an “incurable disease” at W. S. Boardman’s Bethshan Faith Home in London. In 1887 she returned to the U.S. and was a gospel worker in Chicago for a time.

She soon took up a teaching and writing ministry. During this period, she became associated with Carrie Judd Montgomery and became the associate editor of Triumphs of Faith in Buffalo, New York. The two women went to San Francisco in the fall of 1889, where Carrie met and married George Montgomery. During this time Sisson attended some tent meetings held by Maria Woodworth-Etter in Oakland. She later resigned her post with Triumphs of Faith and returned to New England, where she was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a camp meeting at Old Orchard, Maine.

For several years Sisson traveled as an evangelist, accompanied by her sister Charlotte. She held meetings in New England, Canada, and other places. In 1908 she made an evangelistic tour to the British Isles. She spent four months ministering with F. F. Bosworth in Dallas in 1915. That same year she also ministered in Detroit.

Sisson attended and actively participated in the 1917 General Council. She delivered the keynote address on the topic of “building of the body of Christ.” She became affiliated with the Assemblies of God soon afterwards on Dec. 18, 1917, at the age of 74. In her final years she made her home at 17 Jay Street, New London, Connecticut.

Sisson became a sought-after conference speaker and was a prolific writer. She contributed articles to Word and Work (Framingham, Massachusetts), Confidence (Sunderland, England), The Latter Rain Evangel (Chicago), the Pentecostal Evangel, and Triumphs of Faith (Oakland, California). She contributed more than 65 articles to the Pentecostal Evangel and well over 100 articles to other Pentecostal periodicals. In addition, she authored over 30 tracts and booklets. Many of these focused on the topic of prayer. She passed away at her home on Sept. 17, 1934, at the age of 91.

One of her articles on prayer, written 100 years ago, was called “The Last Lap of the Race.” It included a three-point message on 1) the prayer race, 2) how to pray, and 3) the victory.

She started out by saying, “On a racecourse everything depends, not on the beginning of the race … but when comes the last lap of the race, how every eye is fixed upon the runners.”

She stressed that as Pentecostals, we have come to that critical moment — the last lap of a race. And she said this 100 years ago. How much more relevant is this idea today. She quoted the powerful verse in Joel 2:28: “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon ALL flesh.”

She considered this outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all flesh as the last blaze of glory in the Gentile age. She wrote that “truly we are in the last lap of the prayer race. It is ours to apprehend the program of God and pray it in.”

She emphasized the vital importance of prayer with a single declaration: “Restrain prayer, retard God’s operations. Increase prayer in the Holy Ghost, and speed this plan of God.” Indeed, when in prayer we have given Him “good measure pressed down and running over,” He will answer back with “gospel measure,” said Sisson.

Sisson listed many examples of answered prayer. She recommended being “hidden in the name of Jesus, covered by the blood” when you pray. She also stressed that it is the power of Jesus’ Name that brings the “Victory of the Throne” when praying. Sisson gave several examples from the Old Testament regarding prayer and praise. She stressed that true victory comes through praising God.

Read Elizabeth Sisson’s article, “The Last Lap of the Race,” which was published on page 2 of the Feb. 4, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel and continued on page 2 of the Feb. 18, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Return of the Lord,” by Arthur W. Frodsham

• “Seven Reasons Why Sick Are Not Healed,” by Max Wood Moorhead

And many more!

Click here and then here to read these issues 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 First African American Assemblies of God Minister: Ellsworth S. Thomas

From the Ellsworth S. Thomas ministerial file, FPHC

by Darrin J. Rodgers

Ellsworth S. Thomas (1866-1936) holds the distinction of being the first African American to hold Assemblies of God (AG) ministerial credentials. His name was just a footnote in the history books until recently, when new information came to light.

Ellsworth S. Thomas was born in March 1866 in New York. His parents, Samuel and Mahala, were part of a free black community in Binghamton, New York, that pre-existed the Civil War. They overcame racism and societal restrictions, developed strong families, and carved out their own religious, economic, and social niche in the region.[1]

Samuel was born in Maryland in 1830 and worked as a laborer. He was also a Civil War veteran, serving for three years (1863-1865) as a private in the Massachusetts 54th Infantry. Ellsworth was born about nine months after his father returned home from the war.[2] Mahala was born in 1842 in Pennsylvania and worked as a laundress.[3] According to the 1880 census, Ellsworth was partially blind.[4] He attended common school,[5] which probably consisted of local blacks who joined together and made private arrangements to hire a teacher.[6] After Samuel passed away in the early 1890s, Ellsworth lived with his mother and cared for her. She died on April 24, 1913.[7] Census records show that Ellsworth owned a modest house (valued at $2,000 in 1930) and that most of his neighbors were white.[8] He never married.[9]

Binghamton city directories from 1888-1892 reveal that Ellsworth was a laundryman and a laborer. Beginning in 1899, though, they listed his occupation as a traveling evangelist.[10] His name first appeared in the AG ministers’ directory in October 1915, which stated that he was a “colored” pastor in Binghamton.[11]

In 1917, AG leaders asked existing ministers to re-submit applications for credentials, apparently because paperwork had not been kept during the earliest years of the Fellowship. Robert Brown, influential pastor of Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York City, endorsed Ellsworth’s 1917 application. On the application, Ellsworth stated that he was originally ordained on December 7, 1913, by Robert E. Erdman, a Pentecostal pastor from Buffalo, New York.[12]

Records at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center show that Thomas pastored a congregation in Beaver Meadows, New York, from about 1917 until about 1922. He remained an AG evangelist for the remainder of his life. He held evangelistic meetings in the area around Binghamton, he held regular services in his home, and he pastored again briefly in about 1926.[13] He also was a regular speaker in the 1930s at two other black churches in Binghamton—Shiloh Baptist Church and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.[14]

A 1936 letter from Paul Westendorf informed the Pentecostal Evangel of Ellsworth’s death on June 12, 1936. He was 70 years old and passed away in Binghamton after a serious illness. Westendorf wrote,

He has been in the Council Fellowship for many years and so will be remembered throughout the Eastern District. Brother Thomas was faithful and true to the Lord in all kinds of circumstances, serving Him with gladness, therefore we feel that he had an abundant entrance in the presence of the Lord.[15]

Thomas’s funeral was held in Christ Episcopal Church in Binghamton, the oldest Episcopal congregation in the city, with the church’s pastor, Theodore J. Dewees, officiating. Thomas was buried in the Christ Episcopal Church plot in Spring Forest Cemetery.[16]

The newsletter of the Eastern District (which included Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey) noted Thomas’s passing:

Brother Ellsworth S. Thomas has been taken home to glory, but very little has been learned about the details. His funeral was conducted by the rector of Christ Church, Episcopal, in Binghamton…Many will remember Brother Ellsworth as a Bible teacher and some of the ministers will remember the fellowship we had with Brother Thomas one morning before meetings opened up, at the council in Rochester years ago, when we all sang “He’s Coming in Power” and Brother Thomas got to dancing in the Spirit, while he held onto a near-by [sic] door because of his almost being blind. He is one more of our number who is on the other side![17]

Ellsworth S. Thomas’s passing was also briefly noted on page 13 of the July 25, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.[18] A photograph of Thomas has not been located.

When Ellsworth S. Thomas transferred his ordination to the AG in 1915, the Fellowship was only a year old. He probably did not know that he was the AG’s first credentialed black minister. Thomas became known throughout the Eastern District for his Bible teaching and for his good cheer despite the obstacles he faced, including partial blindness. He never pastored a large congregation, but he was faithful where God placed him. Over the years, memories of this pioneer dimmed. However, Ellsworth S. Thomas remains an example, not just for black ministers, but for all who desire to follow Christ wholeheartedly.

Adapted from: Darrin J. Rodgers, “The Untold Stories of Three Black Assemblies of God Pioneers,” Assemblies of God Heritage 39/40 (2019-2020): 37-41.


[1] Keisha N. Benjamin, “Free Blacks in Nineteenth Century Binghamton,” Binghamton Journal of History 6 (2006).

[2] U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865. Ancestry.com

[3] 1870 U.S. Federal Census. Binghamton Ward 2, Broome Co., New York, 27.

[4] 1880 U.S. Federal Census. District 38, Binghamton, Broome Co., New York, 22B.

[5] Ellsworth S. Thomas, ministerial file, FPHC.

[6] Benjamin, “Free Blacks in Nineteenth Century Binghamton.”

[7] New York Death Index. Ancestry.com.

[8] 1900 U.S. Federal Census. District 0013, Binghamton Ward 05, Broome Co., New York, 12A-B; 1930 U.S. Federal Census. District 0023, Binghamton Ward 05, Broome Co., New York, 10A.

[9] Ellsworth S. Thomas, ministerial file, FPHC.

[10] Binghamton City Directories, Ancestry.com.

[11] Assemblies of God ministerial directory, 1915, 16.

[12] Ellsworth S. Thomas, ministerial file, FPHC.

[13] Ellsworth S. Thomas, ministerial file, FPHC.

[14] Press and Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), June 17, 1933, 16; Press and Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), September 16, 1933, 9; Press and Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), December 23, 1933, 9.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Eastern District Bulletin, October 1936, 21; Obituary, “Ellsworth H. [sic] Thomas,” Press and Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), June 15, 1936, 5.

[17] Eastern District Bulletin, October 1936, 21.

[18] Pentecostal Evangel, July 25, 1936, 13.

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 Global Turmoil? Three Pentecostal Responses to the Attack on Pearl Harbor

This Week in AG History — January 10, 1942

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 13 January 2022

The Imperial Japanese Navy conducted a surprise military strike on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The following day the United States declared war on Japan, and within a few days America was fully embroiled in the Second World War.

How should the Assemblies of God respond to this world crisis? The January 10, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published three articles addressing this pressing question.

Pentecostal Evangel Editor Stanley H. Frodsham, in an article titled, “Keeping Tranquil in a World of Turmoil,” cautioned believers to not become caught up in the destructive patterns of the world. He predicted that the “insanity” of the nations would not last forever and instead urged Christians to remain calm. He admonished readers to act according to an eternal perspective, reminding them of Matthew 5:5, “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Frodsham’s irenic posture during the early years of the Second World War was in continuity with his earlier opposition to the First World War (1914-1918).

Raymond T. Richey shared a different perspective about the war. In an article titled, “Evangelizing at our Army Camps,” he wrote about his experience as a military chaplain during both world wars. Richey was known for holding evangelistic meetings in his “patriotic tent” (which was constructed of red, white and blue cloth) and he saw thousands of soldiers accept Christ. He encouraged readers to pray for and support chaplains, suggesting that army camps “present the greatest opportunity for home missionary work that ever has been.”

Evangelist E. Ellsworth Krogstad, in a sermon titled “Loyalty to Government and to God in the Present World Crisis,” encouraged American Christians to be loyal to their government, which he claimed was “founded upon godly principles.” He acknowledged America’s imperfections, but he also “(thanked) God for the privilege of living in America.” America was great, according to Krogstad, because it provided the “greatest liberty,” including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and worship.

The responses to the outbreak of the Second World War by Frodsham, Richey, and Krogstad demonstrate that early Pentecostals were not cookie-cutter thinkers. Frodsham promoted pacifism, Richey was known for his patriotism, and Krogstad emphasized the blessings of American liberty. They each had their own perspectives on politics and world events. However, all agreed that American Christians needed to pray fervently and with great contrition. They took seriously the notion that the Christian’s citizenship, ultimately, lay in heaven and not on earth. It was with this deep conviction that they encouraged readers, in the midst of global turmoil, to place their primary focus on things eternal.

Read the articles by Frodsham, Richey, and Krogstad in the January 10, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Watchmen, What of the Night?” by Noel Perkin

* “Ezra Teaches Separation,” by J. Bashford Bishop

* “The Sadhu,” by Mary Warburton Booth

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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Maria Gerber: How a Pentecostal Missionary Became an “Angel of Mercy” During the Armenian Genocide

This Week in AG History —December 4, 1915

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 09 December 2021

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.

Gerber 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 — Gerber only had a short time to live.

Fear gripped Gerber’s heart. She had never committed her life to the Lord. She knew that if she died, she would not go to heaven. Gerber 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. Gerber quickly recovered from her incurable illness, much to everyone’s surprise. Gerber’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 Gerber.

Gerber 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…”

Gerber’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. Gerber and a friend, Rose Lambert, felt God calling them to minister to the Armenian widows and orphans.

Gerber and Lambert 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.

Gerber, 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 Caesarea, 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.

Gerber 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 Gerber were published in the Pentecostal Evangel. Assemblies of God leader D.W. Kerr, in the foreword to Gerber’s 1917 autobiography, wrote that he had known Gerber for 26 years and that her story will encourage readers “to greater self-denial and a deeper surrender.”

Gerber suffered a stroke and passed away on Dec. 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 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 Gerber 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 Gerber’s articles, “Great Results Seen in Answer to Prayer,” on page 4 of the Dec. 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 Jan. 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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Fred Vogler: From Australia to Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Pioneer

This Week in AG History — October 4, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr

Originally published on AG News, 7 October 2021

Fred Vogler (1888-1972), an immigrant from Australia, impacted the Assemblies of God in many ways, including serving as the first director of what is now U.S. Missions.

Vogler was born in Boonah, Queensland, Australia, and immigrated in the spring of 1905 with his parents and four of his 12 brothers and sisters, along with some 60 other Australians, to Zion City, Illinois, which was founded as a Christian community about 30 miles north of Chicago. They became affiliated with healing evangelist John Alexander Dowie, who also was originally from Australia. The Voglers learned about him through his magazine, Leaves of Healing, which reported on many testimonies of divine healing.

Fred Vogler was 17 when he arrived in Zion City, and previously he had been saved and felt called to preach. He had contact with the Salvation Army while still living in Australia, but he discovered a new dimension of Christian experience in Zion City. He attended some cottage prayer meetings that Charles Parham conducted there. This led him to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1907, and he joined with other young people who spent many hours waiting on the Lord. He also began to diligently look for opportunities for Christian service. Vogler was among a group who had weekly prayers meetings and who traveled on Sunday afternoons to nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, to hold street meetings.

Early in 1908, Vogler (who had been working as a carpenter), left his employment to evangelize with Bennett Lawrence. A few months later, J. Roswell Flower joined them for meetings in the Indiana towns of Mooresville, Farmersburg, and Worthington. They also evangelized in other places, often without any advance arrangements. In spite of opposition at times, Vogler recalled, “God gave us the victory.”

In 1909, Vogler and Flower went to Kansas City, Missouri, to assist in tent meetings sponsored by A.S. Copley, an influential Pentecostal editor and preacher. There was opposition from some holiness preachers who strongly opposed Pentecostalism. But in the end, the sympathetic crowd sided with Vogler and Flower. One sister said, “God bless these young men! We ought to help, not condemn them.”

On April 7, 1910, Vogler married Margaret Boyer, who also had been part of the young people’s group at Zion City, Illinois. She had ministered for a while with a gospel team directed by William Manley, another influential early Pentecostal. For two years after their marriage, the Voglers lived in Zion City, where Fred was employed as a carpenter, and the Voglers were active in the local Christian Assembly as well as evangelism in the surrounding area.

In 1912, the Voglers left Zion for Plainfield, Indiana, where they enrolled in a new “faith” school called Gibeah Bible School, which was conducted by D.W. Myland. There they kindled friendships with J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds Flower and Flem Van Meter who also attended this Bible school.

After three terms at the school, the Voglers took over as pastors of a mission in Martinsville, Illinois, where they stayed for seven years. While living there, Fred Vogler was ordained by J. Roswell Flower and Ed Armstrong, becoming affiliated with the Assemblies of God on June 1, 1914.

Vogler also was a building contractor, which helped to support his growing family. Flower and others knew of his abilities, and in 1920, Vogler was enlisted to build the first wooden structure for Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri. This building later housed the first two years of Central Bible Institute.

During his time in Springfield, Vogler visited his sister in Topeka, Kansas. He saw a great need for evangelism in the capital city of Kansas, so he began planning to pioneer a work there as soon as he finished the building project in Springfield.

Vogler moved his family to Topeka, where he rented a basement room across the street from the governor’s mansion. By day he worked as a carpenter/contractor building a large contracting firm in Topeka, and the rest of the time he devoted to establishing a church in cooperation with the fledgling Kansas district. In 1921 he accepted the added responsibility of serving as secretary-treasurer of the Kansas district.

In 1923, the Kansas district elected Fred Vogler to the office of superintendent, a role he filled for 14 years (1923-1937). In 1927, his beloved wife, Margaret, passed away, leaving him with five young children. He married Nettie Voelkel in 1931, who became a wonderful helpmate to him and a mother to his children.

In 1937, Fred Vogler was elected to the office of Assistant General Superintendent and moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he served 14 years as an executive officer for the Assemblies of God. As part of his duties, he became the first executive director of the Home Missions and Education Department. When the two areas were separated in 1945, he became the director of the Home Missions Department (now called U.S. Missions). Under his leadership, many churches were built in Alaska as well as other places across the U.S. He also had a burden for reaching Native Americans, which led to a number of Indian mission churches springing up in many areas. He also supervised the formation of the Ministers’ Benefit Association which later was called Aged Ministers’ Assistance, and in 1947 he headed the newly formed Department of Benevolences.

In 1954, Vogler retired from his executive duties and moved to Belleville, Illinois. He passed away there in 1972 at the age of 84. His wife, Nettie, passed away in 1982 at the age of 91. Three of Vogler’s children followed their parents into ministry. His only son, David, was an ordained Assemblies of God minister. Daughter Kathryn spent two years in home missions work, received ordination, and was an appointed missionary to India. Daughter Mary Vogler was an ordained minister who was active in child evangelism and in teaching at Great Lakes Bible Institute in Zion, Illinois. The two younger daughters, Ruth Riegle and Alice Howard, became active lay workers.

Commemorating this pioneer evangelist, pastor, builder and church executive, who influenced a full range of ministries, the Pentecostal Evangel observed, “His accomplishments were great because he had vision and was willing to give himself without reservation to see the vision fulfilled.”

During World War II, Fred Vogler, as executive director of Home Missions, talked about many critical issues the U.S. was facing, including crime, alcohol, and spending, as well as some religious statistics. He identified 60 million people in the United States without any church affiliation and 13 million children without any religious training. With so many people without God, he said, “We have a great field right here in America.” He expanded on this thought by saying, “We are not responsible to God for past generations, neither are we responsible to God for future generations, but we are responsible to God for the generation that now lives.” Vogler recognized the need for missionaries abroad, but he also saw a real need to evangelize and win the lost in the United States, especially during the crisis in the 1940s.

Read the article, “Home Missions in the Light of the Present World Crisis,” on page 2 of the Oct. 4, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Place of Youth in Our Movement,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

• “The Gospel in India” by Maynard L. Ketcham

• “A Call to Missionary Work,” by J. Bashford Bishop

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

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Rediscovering the Early Pentecostal Worldview: The Lost Message of Full Consecration

This Week in AG History —September 27, 1930

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 30 September 2021

“I sometimes wonder whether God is much interested in big movements. I know He is intensely interested in individual souls who are wholly consecrated to Him, and wholly devoted to His cause.” [1]    — Stanley Frodsham, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel

Early Pentecostal literature is overflowing with calls to full consecration — the insistence that Christians fully devote themselves to Christ and His mission. This call to full consecration — an essential part of the worldview of early Pentecostals — is now a faint echo in some quarters of the movement. Early Pentecostals offered profound insights concerning the need for a deeper spiritual life. A rediscovery of these insights — which focus on discipleship and mission — could reinvigorate the church by challenging believers to question the Western church’s accommodation of the materialism and selfishness of the surrounding culture.

FULL CONSECRATION

What is “full consecration?” The term may be unfamiliar to many readers. Stanley Horton noted, in a 1980 Pentecostal Evangel article, “In the early days of this Pentecostal movement we heard a great deal about consecration.” Horton went on to explain that the Hebrew word, kadash, which means consecration, was later replaced in popular piety by similar words, such as dedication and commitment. He noted that kadash signified a “separation to the service of God,” calling for not merely a partial dedication, but for “a total consecration and a lifestyle different from the [surrounding] world.”[2]

Pentecostalism emerged about 120 years ago among radical Holiness and evangelical Christians who aimed for full consecration. They were very uncomfortable with the gap between Scripture and what they saw in their own lives; between ought-ness and is-ness. They wanted to practice an authentic spirituality; a genuine Christianity, not just in confession, but in practice. Yearning for a deeper life in Christ, they were spiritually hungry and desired to be more committed Christ-followers. These ardent seekers saw in Scripture that Spirit baptism provided empowerment to live above normal human existence; this experience with God brought believers in closer communion with God and empowered them for witness.

According to Pentecostal theologian Jackie Johns, early Pentecostals embraced a worldview that, at its heart, is a “transforming experience with God.”[3] According to this understanding, the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit enables believers to consecrate themselves to God.

RESULTS OF THE CONSECRATED LIFE


Various themes arose from this worldview that emphasized full consecration:

Mission — Pentecostals have demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, in word and deed, no matter the cost. They had a vision to turn the world upside down, one person at a time. Delegates to the second General Council of the Assemblies of God, held in November 1914, committed themselves to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”[4]

Priesthood of all believers — Pentecostals have put into practice a radical application of this Protestant ideal, affirming that God can call anybody into the ministry — regardless of race, gender, educational or social status, age, handicap, and so on.

Spiritual disciplines — Believers prayed, read their Bibles, fasted, avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, and called for a lifestyle of self-denial for the sake of lifting Christ up to the world.

Expectation of the miraculous — Believers practiced biblical spiritual gifts, experienced miracles, and viewed life’s struggles as spiritual warfare.

Racial reconciliation — Early Pentecostals at Azusa Street and elsewhere, realizing that full devotion to Christ precluded racial favoritism, committed themselves to overcoming the sin of racism.

A conviction that heavenly citizenship should far outweigh earthly citizenship — Early Pentecostals emphasized one’s faith and calling above national concerns.

These themes (the above list is not exhaustive) all made sense within the worldview that called for full devotion to Jesus and no compromise with evil or distractions from the Christian’s highest calling. Pentecostals, subject to human frailty and the confusion of surrounding cultures, have not always lived up to these ideals. Still, Pentecostal identity should not be defined by the shortcomings of individual members, but by the vision for authentic Christianity that captures the imagination of its adherents.

The concept of full consecration is the underlying quality that gave birth within early Pentecostalism to the above themes, including speaking in tongues. Early Pentecostals viewed tongues-speech as the evidence, but not the purpose, of Spirit baptism. The purpose of this experience with God was full consecration — to draw believers closer to God and to empower them to be witnesses. The Pentecostal experience enabled believers to live with purity and power.

Early Pentecostals recognized that the consecrated life came at great cost, but yielded great spiritual riches. Daniel W. Kerr, the primary author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned against “the fading glory” on some Christians’ faces, and instead called for a “deeper conversion” that is marked by desire for holiness.[5] Quoting Hebrews 12:14, Kerr stated that holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord,” is both a “product of grace” and “a life of self-denying and suffering.”[6] Early Pentecostals insisted that the consecrated life is not inward-focused. Kerr averred that holiness “is a life of love for others, manifested in words and work.”[7]

Early Pentecostals were ahead of their time. It should be noted that they were not buying into modern political or social ideologies; their commitments arose from their devotional life. Some of their commitments — such as women in ministry and racial reconciliation — brought persecution 100 years ago, but the culture has shifted so that these stands are now considered respectable by many. This newfound respectability presents a challenge — it is possible to look like a Pentecostal by embracing historic Pentecostal themes that are now considered “cool,” without also seeking to be fully consecrated.

PENTECOSTALISM WITH CONSECRATION?

Living out and conveying authentic Christian spirituality from one generation to the next has often proven a difficult task. Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, expressed concern over the decline of the spiritual life within the Pentecostal movement. He wrote:

It must be admitted that there is a general lessening of fervor and discipline in the Assemblies of God in America. This frank admission is not a wholly new sentiment, for down through the years in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals correspondents have asked, “Is Pentecost the revival it was in the beginning?” As early as five years after Azusa, they were longing for “the good old days”! Nevertheless, it is vital to any revival movement to reassess not too infrequently the state of its spiritual life.[8]

Is it possible to be Pentecostal without full consecration? D. W. Kerr, in answering this question, propounded that “when we cease to [esteem others better than ourselves] we cease to live the Christ-life. We may still have the outward form, but the power is gone.”[9] Those who identify with the Pentecostal tradition but who practice or defend sinful or unwise activities are being inconsistent with the early Pentecostal worldview.

NEED FOR RENEWAL

Self-centered spirituality seems to be the default setting for humanity. “Pure and undefiled religion,” however, requires caring for the needy and keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27). Pentecostalism arose as a renewal and reform movement within Christianity — and now the movement may itself be in need of renewal and reform.

How can Pentecostals rekindle a wholehearted passion for Christ and His mission? Stanley Frodsham suggested that Christians need to form a daily habit of reconsecration.[10] Rediscovering classic Pentecostal and Holiness hymns and devotional writings would be a good place to start.

The classic Holiness hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” (lyrics below) is a prayer for full consecration.

     Take My Life and Let It Be

     Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
     Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
     Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
     Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
     Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
     Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
     Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
     Make my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
     Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
     Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
     Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
     Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Early Assemblies of God General Superintendent Ernest S. Williams wrote an article, “Consecration,” published in the Sept. 27, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He asserted, “Consecration is the only way to a life of Christian victory.” He went on to observe that “Unconsecrated persons may skim through satisfied with unsubstantialness in their religion. But he who would live above reproach to the honor and glory of God, will present his body a living sacrifice, not to be conformed to this world in example, spirit, or aim.”

For the consecrated believer, Williams wrote, “Christ becomes the source of his life and strength. In Him he finds wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, his light, his life, his all in all.”

E.S. Williams, the only general superintendent who participated in the Azusa Street revival, frequently encouraged believers to lives of holiness and consecration.

Read early Pentecostal literature, sing old Holiness hymns, meditate upon them, and let God transform you. In doing so, you will rediscover the worldview of early Pentecostals.

Read E.S. Williams’ article, “Consecration,” on page 2 of the Sept. 27, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What the Coming of Christ Will Produce in Our Lives” by Stanley Cooke

• “Moved with Compassion for India’s Millions” by Marguerite Flint

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Endnotes:
1. Stanley Frodsham, Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1934), 20.
2. Stanley Horton, “Consecration, Commitment, Submission,” Pentecostal Evangel, Feb. 10, 1980, 20.
3. Jackie David Johns, “Yielding to the Spirit: The Dynamics of a Pentecostal Model of Praxis,” in The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion Made to Travel (Carlisle, CA: Regnum Books, 1999), 74.
4. General Council Minutes, April-November 1914 [combined], 12.
5. D. W. Kerr, Waters in the Desert (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1925), 77.
6. Ibid., 34.
7. Ibid., 33.
8. Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 349-350.
9. Kerr, 130.
10. Frodsham, 61.

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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Stanley Frodsham: Pioneer Pentecostal Author, Editor, and Teacher

This Week in AG History —August 24, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 26 August 2021

Stanley Howard Frodsham (1882-1969) was a writer, editor, and teacher during the formative years of the Pentecostal movement and the Assemblies of God. As editor of the Pentecostal Evangel for nearly 30 years, Frodsham stands as one of the most influential figures of 20th-century Pentecostalism.

Born to a Congregational family in England, Frodsham studied classical literature, French, Latin, and mathematics. As a young man, he came to personal faith in Christ through reading the biography of Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission. He immediately quit swearing, gave up his pack-a-day cigarette habit, and began attending F.B. Meyer’s weekly training classes at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in London.

While traveling with his brother, Arthur, in Canada in 1906 and 1907, Frodsham heard about a spiritual revival taking place and the restoration of the gifts of the Spirit as recorded in the New Testament Church. Upon his return to England, he sought this deeper work in his own life and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues on Oct. 13, 1908, in the Sunderland vicarage of Anglican minister, A. A. Boddy, one of the founders of British Pentecostalism.

In 1909, Frodsham commenced publishing the first Pentecostal paper in England, Victory, and began pastoring a small congregation in Bournemouth. In the same year, he and Alice Rowlands were married by their ministerial colleague and friend, Smith Wigglesworth. While continuing to publish Victory, the Frodsham’s traveled to the United States to attend meetings with Maria Woodworth-Etter in Dallas, Texas. They soon ventured to California where Wigglesworth joined them in ministry activities along the West Coast.

In 1916, Frodsham received a letter from J. W. Welch, general chairman (now called general superintendent) of the Assemblies of God (AG). Welch thanked him for articles he submitted to The Pentecostal Evangel, the weekly publication of the AG and stated they were “praying for God’s man” to be the editor of their periodical. “Are you that man?” Welch asked Frodsham. Included with the letter was an invitation to attend the upcoming 1916 General Council in St. Louis.

Frodsham came as a stranger to the Assemblies of God but, because of his writings, he was not unknown. During these meetings, he was elected the new general secretary and was appointed to serve on a committee with D.W. Kerr, and others, to draft a Statement of Fundamental Truths for the Movement. Frodsham served as general secretary from 1916 to 1919 and as assistant editor of the Evangel until 1921, when he became the editor-in-chief of not only the Evangel, but every other AG publication, including Sunday School materials. He served as the Evangel editor for 27 years, providing a stabilizing force in the young Movement.

Frodsham’s contacts with Pentecostal leaders in Europe and Canada gave the Evangel a broader scope than many of the Pentecostal publications of the time and opened it to an audience beyond the Assemblies of God. Frodsham introduced his audience to the writings of his British colleagues such as George Jeffreys, Smith Wigglesworth, A. A. Boddy, and Donald Gee, giving a greater unity between the Assemblies of God in the United States and in Great Britain. Following the lead of the former editor, J. Roswell Flower, Frodsham was intentional in using the Evangel to promote enthusiasm for the missionary work of the Movement. He also saw the need of using the pages of the Evangel to provide for ministers who were unable to attend the Bible institutes, using it for ministerial instruction, sermon ideas, and Sunday School lessons.

Earlier, E.N. Bell, the first general chairman of the AG, was given the assignment to write a book telling the story of the worldwide Pentecostal movement. Bell began to collect letters and written accounts from first-hand observers. When he died unexpectantly in 1923, the task fell to Frodsham. With Signs Following was published in 1926, updated in 1928, and fully revised in 1941. Frodsham’s work became the standard textbook on Pentecostal history for many years.

In the Aug. 24, 1946, Pentecostal Evangel, Frodsham titled his editorial “By My Spirit.” At a time when the Assemblies of God was gaining favor in the church world and influence with the National Association of Evangelicals, there was concern that the Assemblies of God was losing some of its spiritual fervor, Frodsham reminded the Movement that “many think they can be wholly independent of the Holy Spirit. They say, ‘Are we not graduates of such and such a school, college, or university? Have we not back of us all the experience and traditions of the great denominations? Have we not libraries filled with the works of the greatest thinkers of the centuries? Have we not learned to be experts in our own particular field of service?’” He continued, “Constant consciousness of poverty and need will provoke us to constant asking. The disciples did not strut around after the day of Pentecost and say, ‘Look what we have!’ Knowing there was more of the Spirit from the same blessed Source, they cried to God for yet more of what they knew would be theirs by the further coming of the Holy Spirit in power.”

Before his death in 1969, Frodsham published 15 books, including the biography of his friend, Smith Wigglesworth, and he wrote nearly 1,000 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. In 1970, the organ in the Central Bible College (Springfield, Missouri) chapel was dedicated in his honor with the simple words, “He inspired others to worship.”

Read Stanley Frodsham’s article, “By My Spirit” on page 4 of the Aug. 24, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Work Among the Lisu” by Lavada Morrison

• “The Cross and Discipline” by L.E. Maxwell

• “Victory and Faith” by Josephine Turnbull

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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A Shared Testimony: The Roots of the Pentecostal World Fellowship

This Week in AG History —July 16, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 15 July 2021

Pentecostalism’s growth in the early 20th century made it a global movement. Just prior to and following World War II, efforts were made to build bridges between the various Pentecostal fellowships around the world for the purpose of cooperation in evangelism, publications, and education. One of the important organizations that emerged to fulfill these aims was the Pentecostal World Conference (PWC).

In 1921 the Assemblies of God passed a resolution on “World-Wide Cooperation” which helped to lay the groundwork for the PWC. Then in 1937, several Pentecostal leaders from various nations were invited to attend the Assemblies of God General Council in Memphis. This was followed by a European Pentecostal Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1939.

After World War II, Gustave Kinderman served as field secretary for the Assemblies of God Foreign Missions Department in Europe, and he opened an office in Basel, Switzerland, in 1946. He began working closely with Leonard Steiner, pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in that city. Through their efforts, and with cooperation from many Pentecostal leaders around the globe, the Pentecostal World Conference was organized at a conference for Pentecostal leaders held in Zurich, Switzerland, May 4-9, 1947.

Since that time, the PWC has met every three years in various locations, attended by church leaders and members from around the world. One of main purposes of the PWC is to promote spiritual fellowship among Pentecostals, regardless of denominational affiliation or ethnic background. Another outgrowth of these meetings was the publication of a worldwide Pentecostal magazine founded by Donald Gee. It was called Pentecost (1947-1966) and was succeeded by World Pentecost (1971-1998). It reported on Pentecostal revivals, church growth, and events happening around the globe. For its first 54 years, the PWC was more of an event than a formal organization. In 2001, the group adopted a constitution and changed its name to Pentecostal World Fellowship.

Sixty years ago, in a special declaration given at the Sixth Pentecostal World Conference in Jerusalem, held May 19-21, 1961, the delegates advocated for a “renewing of the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit with all believers” and they pledged to “call all believers to continued prayer, faith, and obedience to the Word of God.”

This meeting closed on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1961. It was reported that “volumes of praise swell from thousands of voices and God moves upon us in a significant way.” The morning speaker on the closing day was the esteemed Pentecostal veteran, Lewi Pethrus of Stockholm, with Frank Lindquist of Minneapolis serving as interpreter. Afterwards the delegates shared Communion. Thomas F. Zimmerman gave the final message, challenging the delegates to help promote 20th-century Pentecost. The final report of those registered for the 1961 conference was 2,595 delegates from 40 different countries.

Read the article, “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough, on page 12 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Prophets of the Lord,” by Violet Schoonmaker

• “It’s Miserable to Be a Mule,” by Donald Gee

• “A Day in the Life of a Missionary’s Wife,” by Mrs. O. B. Treece

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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Hermano Pablo: Assemblies of God Missionary and Media Pioneer in Latin America

This Week in AG History —June 16, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 June 2021

Growing up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Finkenbinder (1921-2012) dreamed of reaching not just one country but all of Latin America with the gospel of Christ. He returned to the United States to attend Zion Bible Institute (Providence, Rhode Island) and Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri). In 1943, he and his wife, Linda, packed up and moved to El Salvador where Paul began to work his dream into reality.

As Assemblies of God missionaries, Paul and Linda spent the next 12 years teaching in Bible schools, ministering in churches, and making themselves available for whatever needs arose in ministry. In 1955, God gave Paul a vision for expanding the message he was preaching through the larger avenue of short-wave radio broadcasts. At the time, radio was still a novelty for many living in Latin America.

Beginning with a Webcor recorder mounted on a missionary barrel in his garage, Paul began recording a short radio program called “La Iglesia del Aire” (The Church of the Air). By 1963, this 15-minute broadcast was the only gospel network program heard daily in all Latin America. Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul) began receiving testimonies from across the region of what God was doing through the radio messages. Of the six daily broadcasts, two were devoted to evangelistic sermons, one to issues of morality, and another addressed Bible questions. The remaining two were given to Scripture readings, Christian poetry, and gospel music.

In 1960, the ministry, then known as LARE (Latin American Radio Evangelism), pioneered the use of Christian drama to present parables and Bible stories on television. The response was overwhelming. This led to the production of six Bible drama films that are still in use today throughout Latin America. The realization of Brother Paul’s dream required utilizing every tool available — radio, television, the printed page, crusades, and special events — to present the Gospel of Christ to all of Latin America.

In 1964, Hermano Pablo and his family returned to the United States and established their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After four years in a makeshift recording studio in their garage, God provided a building for their studios and offices. Today Hermano Pablo Ministries’ four-minute “Un Mensaje a la Conciencia” (A Message to the Conscience) is broadcast more than 6,000 times per day and is published in over 80 periodicals. The Spanish language radio and television programs, along with the newspaper and magazine columns, are shipped to more than 33 countries of the world.

Hermano Pablo was honored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) with the award for the “Hispanic Program of the Year.” Other awards include “Best Film of the Year” given by the National Evangelical Film Foundation (NEFF), and the “Best Spanish Broadcast” Angel Award given by Religion in Media (RIM). In 1993, the NRB awarded Hermano Pablo the “Milestone Award” for 50 years of service in religious broadcasting, and in 2003 he received the prestigious NRB Chairman’s Award.

On Jan. 25, 2012, Paul and Linda celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Later that evening he complained of a severe headache and was taken to the hospital where he slipped into a coma. Paul Finkenbinder died in the morning hours of Jan. 27, 2012, but the ministry of Hermano Pablo continues to live and thrive across an entire continent.

Hermano Pablo and his ministry were featured in an article, “La Iglesia del Aire,” published on pages 12-13 of the June 16, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Should A Christian Have A Breakdown,” by Anne Sandberg

• “A Former Gambler Testifies,” by Arthur Condrey

• “Another Minister Led Into Pentecostal Blessing,” by Ansley Orfila

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

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