Tag Archives: Pentecostalism

The Great Depression and the Expansion of the Assemblies of God

Sunday school

Sunday school class of 315 people, Assembly of God at Kennett, Missouri; circa 1931

This Week in AG History —September 11, 1937

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 11 September 2018

The Great Depression of the 1930s devastated many segments of American Christianity. Historian Mark Noll has noted that mainline Protestants not only faced economic uncertainties, but also theological uncertainties as liberal theology had begun to replace historic Christian beliefs. Many mainline congregations, schools, and ministries had to close or drastically cut back. Their institutions, funded by endowments that disappeared with the Wall Street crash, were running off the fumes of the past.

However, there was a noticeable exception to the decline of religious institutions in the 1930s: evangelical and Pentecostal churches made significant gains. According to Noll, these “sectarian” churches “knew better how to redeem the times.”

A statistical report on the Assemblies of God published in the Sept. 11, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel provided evidence of this numerical growth. For the biennium beginning in 1935 and ending in 1937, the number of Assemblies of God churches grew from 3,149 to 3,473 (an increase of 10 percent), and the number of ministers grew from 2,606 to 3,086 (an increase of 18 percent). A partial count of members of Assemblies of God churches indicated growth from 166,118 to 175,362 (an increase of 6 percent). If a complete census of the churches had been conducted, the report noted, the membership tally would have been higher.

The growth rates from 1935 to 1937 were not an anomaly. The Assemblies of God reported significant numerical increases throughout the Great Depression. In September 1929, the Assemblies of God reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members in the United States. By 1944, this tally increased to 5,055 churches with 227,349 members. During that 15-year period, the number of Assemblies of God churches tripled and membership almost tripled.

This growth did not happen by accident. Assemblies of God pioneers during the Great Depression laid a foundation for the expansion of the Assemblies of God, often at a tremendous personal cost. Of today’s seven largest AG colleges and universities, four were started during the Great Depression: North Central University (1930); Northwest University (1934); Southeastern University (1935); and the University of Valley Forge (1939).

It was during these hard times that Assemblies of God scholarship blossomed. Myer Pearlman (1898-1943), P. C. Nelson (1868-1942), and E. S. Williams (1885-1981) wrote many of the influential theological books in the midst of the Great Depression. Pearlman and Nelson literally worked themselves to death, their health breaking under the strain of constant writing, teaching, and preaching.

The AG’s foreign missions enterprise was centralized and strengthened during the Depression. This change encouraged coordination of efforts and accountability. The AG published its first Missionary Manual in 1931 and in 1933 the AG began providing funding for a missions staff at the national office. While the Great Depression made finances tight, the Foreign Missions Department (now AG World Missions) trumpeted that it did not have to recall any missionaries because of shortage of funds. When other denominations were retreating, the AG was making significant advances in missions.

Large-scale population migrations forced by the economic upheaval of the 1930s resulted in the unplanned evangelization of new regions. Pentecostals who left the Midwest during the Dustbowl established numerous Assemblies of God congregations in the western states. Pentecostals left the rural South and migrated to northern cities and started congregations in almost every major city. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the U.S. returned to Mexico, including many new Pentecostal believers who, in effect, became indigenous missionaries to their homeland. In the providence of God, the painful social dislocation of the 1930s helped bring about the rapid spread of Pentecostalism. Like pollen scattered by a strong wind, Pentecostal refugees planted churches wherever they happened to land.

Faced with the social chaos and financial uncertainty of the Great Depression, it would have been understandable if Assemblies of God leaders had chosen to not invest in church planting, missions, and education. However, the difficult times reminded believers that Christ’s second coming could be imminent, and that the harvest fields were ripe. Visionary Assemblies of God leaders viewed the economic crisis as an opportunity, leading the Fellowship to engage in ardent prayer and great personal sacrifice to advance the Kingdom of God.

Read the full report about the growth of the Assemblies of God from 1935 to 1937, “A Good Report Maketh the Bones Fat,” on pages 2 and 3 of the Sept. 11, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Prophetic, Priestly, and Kingly Anointings,” by Gayle F. Lewis

• “He Sent His Word and Healed,” by Arthur W. Frodsham

• “News from War-torn China,” by W. W. Simpson

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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Lewi Pethrus: Swedish Pentecostal Pioneer

This Week in AG History — Aug. 3, 1958

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 3 August 2018

Sixty years ago delegates from the U.S. Assemblies of God as well as representatives from many other Pentecostal organizations were preparing for the Fifth World Conference of Pentecostal Churches scheduled to convene in Toronto, Canada, at the Coliseum Arena of the Canadian National Exhibition, September 14-21, 1958.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel announced that the opening speaker on Sunday morning would be Lewi Pethrus, the well-known pastor of the Filadelfia Church in Stockholm, Sweden. Even though Pethrus had hosted the fourth Pentecostal World Conference in Stockholm three years earlier, it was important to introduce him to the readers of the Evangel.

Lewi Pethrus (1884-1974) was a former Baptist pastor in Sweden who became the leader of Pentecostalism in Sweden. The article gave an overview of his highly successful ministry. It said at that time he was 74 years old and the pastor of “what is believed to be the largest Protestant church in Europe.” His church was organized in 1910, starting with 29 members. By 1958, according to the article, the church had an “adult voting membership of 7,000 and has a major responsibility in the support of 400 overseas missionaries.” The building could seat more than 4,000.

In addition to his preaching activities, the article said Dr. Pethrus, in 1916, “initiated the publication of Evangelii Harold (Gospel Herald), a religious weekly with a circulation of 60,000.” It was reported that in 1945, in collaboration with Karl Ottoson, a Swedish industrialist, Pethrus “founded Dagen (The Day), a daily secular newspaper which in 1958 had a circulation of 25,000 and was sold on newsstands throughout Sweden.”

He also founded the Filadelfia Church Rescue Mission, the Filadelfia Publishing House, and the Filadelfia Bible School.

In an effort to assist Christians in money matters, in 1952, Pethrus took the lead in establishing a savings and credit bank which could help to finance many church projects. Pethrus also won a moral victory in 1955 when the Swedish government radio system held a monopoly on broadcasting. They reserved the right to censor content of religious broadcasts and also forbid the establishment of any private radio station. Lewi Pethrus took steps to organize an independent radio association to broadcast from Tangier, North Africa. The government tried to block his efforts, but when the matter was discussed in the Swedish Parliament, after much debate, he received approval to use this radio station to send broadcasts into Sweden.

IBRA Radio (now IBRA Media), international Christian broadcasting and media group founded by Lewi Pethrus, currently broadcasts Christian programs to more than 100 countries, including Sweden.

Lewi Pethrus continued as pastor of the Filadelfia Church until his retirement later that same year in 1958. He remained an active voice in the Pentecostal movement until his death in 1974 at the age of 90.

Read more about Lewi Pethrus in “Swedish Leader to Preach at World Conference,” on page 15 of the Aug. 3, 1958, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Crisis in the Classroom,” by Charles W. H. Scott

• “Pentecostal Outpouring in Rangoon,” by Glen Stafford

• “A Man With a Jug of Water,” by Victor R. Ostrom

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

A pictorial report of the “Fifth World Conference of Pentecostal Churches” can be found in Oct. 26, 1958, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel on pages 8-11.

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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Wesley Steelberg’s Cautionary Note on Citizenship and Faith: A Pentecostal Voice from 1941

steelbergThis Week in AG History — July 4, 1942

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 4 July 2018

It was July of 1941, months before the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War. Conflict was raging across Europe and Asia, and competing messages of nationalism flooded the airwaves and the consciousness of Americans.

How should Assemblies of God young people in the United States view their nation in relation to both their faith and other countries?

National Youth Director Wesley Steelberg, speaking at the National Young People’s Conference on July 4, 1941, addressed this pressing issue. In a message titled “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” Steelberg encouraged young people to place their primary allegiance in Christ. He said, “First of all we belong to the Lord. We are citizens of heaven.”

Should Christians pledge allegiance to their nation and its symbols? According to Steelberg, adoption of national symbols is “a custom probably almost as old as humanity.” He acknowledged that Americans are proud of their flag: “We salute it, and we pledge allegiance to it. We raise it as an ensign of liberty, and we rejoice in what it represents.” In the face of the march of totalitarianism, Steelberg stated, “we hold more precious and valuable our liberty and freedom.”

However, he warned, “we have a responsibility to be more than Americans. We are called to be Christian Americans.” As Christian Americans, Steelberg encouraged every Assemblies of God young person to metaphorically wave his or her own flag, reflecting allegiance to the heavenly king. According to Steelberg, every Christian should declare, “Christ is my standard, my banner of love!”

Read Wesley Steelberg’s sermon, “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” which was published on pages 1, 4 and 5 in the July 4, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Shelter in Tribulation Days,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Revival in Norway,” by Mrs. A. R. Gesswein

• “How to Help Your Pastor,” by Theodore Cuyler

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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Pentecostals, Pacifism, and Religious Liberty in World War I: The Waldron Case

WWI

British soldiers prepare artillery shells and man a gun during World War I.

This Week in AG History — April 5, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 05 April 2018

Clarence H. Waldron (1885-1926), an early Baptist-turned-Pentecostal minister, became the central figure in the first important criminal court case involving religious opposition to World War I. Newspapers across America carried reports of Waldron’s trial in 1918 for violations of the Federal Espionage Act. Later historians dissected the case, determining that the pastor was likely unjustly convicted based on suspect allegations made by members of his Vermont Baptist church who did not like their pastor’s embrace of the Pentecostal revival.

The pages of the Pentecostal Evangel remained silent about the Waldron case until April 5, 1919, when Samuel R. Waldron, an Assemblies of God minister, reported on the status of his son. The Pentecostal Evangel editor prefaced the elder Waldron’s letter by noting, “Many of our readers have been interested in what is known as the ‘Waldron Case.'” Undoubtedly many Pentecostals were apprehensive about the case’s outcome. Waldron’s case carried weighty implications regarding religious liberty for Americans.

Waldron had been accused of attempting to undermine the U.S. government in a time of war. Early Pentecostals, like most other premillennialists of that era, preached that believers should be fully committed to Christ and His kingdom. They admonished avoidance of worldly entanglements that would conflict with their heavenly allegiance. Accordingly, most Pentecostals avoided politics. Many likewise believed that killing in war was moral compromise. When America entered World War I, it became increasingly difficult for Pentecostals to maintain their pacifist stance in the face of intense societal pressure to support the war effort.

Waldron had a respectable, successful background in Baptist ministry. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1907. When he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Windsor, Vermont, in 1915, the church’s prospects seemed bleak. But Waldron’s energetic and winsome ministry won hearts and converts, and by 1917 attendance had tripled. In that year, a Pentecostal evangelist began holding revival services in Windsor. Waldron and about half of his growing congregation attended the services and embraced the Pentecostal movement. A segment of the church that opposed the revival decided to force the resignation of Waldron. They did this by accusing him of violating the Federal Espionage Act.

Did Waldron “willfully attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the United States military forces”? This was the question that the courts tried to resolve. Waldron’s accusers identified at least two events they believed constituted offenses. First, Waldron refused to allow his church to participate in a patriotic-themed “Liberty Loan Sunday” event. He told his congregation that he believed that Sunday morning services should be reserved for preaching the gospel and not for politics or nationalism. Second, they accused Waldron of advising his church members, through preaching and the distribution of literature, that Christians should not bear arms in war.

A trial in January 1918 ended with a hung jury. Jury members could not reach a verdict, in part because they identified significant bias by witnesses on both sides. Cross-examination seemed to reveal that a church squabble was at the heart of the case, and Waldron’s accusers seemed to be using the law to force the pastor to resign.

At a second trial, in March 1918, the judge did not allow testimony regarding the anti-Pentecostal religious prejudice of Waldron’s accusers. The jury returned a guilty verdict and the judge sentenced Waldron to 15 years in federal prison.

The 1919 letter from Waldron’s father, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, reported that President Woodrow Wilson had commuted his sentence following the conclusion of the war. Waldron, according to his father, almost died from influenza and pneumonia during his year-long incarceration.

Shortly after his release from prison, Clarence Waldron received ordination with the Assemblies of God and moved to California. He spent the remaining years of his life in bivocational ministry, working in secular employment and occasionally ministering alongside Aimee Semple McPherson in San Diego and Los Angeles. Waldron’s trial and imprisonment had broken his health. He died in 1926 at the age of 41.

The trial of Clarence H. Waldron was widely reported in the press in 1917 and 1918, and historians have studied it ever since. The Waldron case highlights the fragility of religious liberty. Historian Gene Sessions, in his definitive 1993 article on the Waldron case published in “Vermont History,” concluded the following:

“In Windsor that national legislation, ostensibly directed against spies, provided a way to remove from town an individual whose religious views had split his congregation and embarrassed his denomination’s state hierarchy and whose pacifism, rooted in those same views, had confused and infuriated local patriots … the Espionage Act became in the hands of Windsor citizens a potent instrument for disciplining, harassing, and punishing a neighbor no longer welcome.”

While Clarence Waldron was tried for his advocacy of pacifism, the Waldron case stands for a broader proposition — that religious liberty needs to be carefully guarded.

Read “A Note of Praise,” by Samuel R. Waldron, on page 14 of the April 5, 1919, issue of the Christian Evangel [the predecessor of the Pentecostal Evangel].

The fascinating account of Waldron’s trial, “Espionage in Windsor: Clarence H. Waldron and Patriotism in World War I,” published in the Summer 1993 issue of Vermont History, is accessible by clicking here.

Other articles also featured in this issue of the Evangel include:

• “The Pentecostal Baptism: Its Foundation,” by David H. McDowell

• “Healed and Filled with the Spirit,” by Mrs. E. M. Whittemore

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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John Wright Follette: Encouraging a Deeper Life in Christ

FolletteThis Week in AG History — March 2, 1940

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 01 March 2018

John Wright Follette (1883-1966) was a gifted Bible teacher and author who spoke in many conferences and retreats. His messages encouraged believers to press into God, seeking more of Him, in order to guard against sin and live a more holy or “deeper life” in the Spirit. He spoke often about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but emphasized the importance of Christian maturity. Follette wrote: “Many in Pentecost today seem to have missed the idea or purpose of the latter rain and instead of falling into line with God for a deeper life, ripening, maturing, and drying [as grain for the harvest], they are occupied with the incidentals. These incidentals [manifestations and gifts] are all very essential but only to the end—growth.”

One of Follette’s sermons on spiritual life appeared in a 1940 article in the Pentecostal Evangel. He articulated the importance of following after God’s purposes and plans on a daily basis. “Christians many times fail (and their faith is harmed),” he said, “because they try so hard to accomplish things that God has no idea of doing.” He described the Christian life not as a series of “disjointed affairs, but instead declared there is definite purpose in the Christian walk for which each of us were created. “Were we as sincere and careful in the matter of spiritual purpose as we are about materials ends,” said Follette, “I am sure we should grow in grace and save ourselves many a ‘spiritual headache.’”

In conclusion, Follette stated, “God does not thank you or reward you for doing a thousand things (good and religious) which do not relate to His will.” Instead, he emphasized, “Seek His will — do that and you cannot but glorify Him.”

To better understand Follette and his teachings, it is important to learn his background. Follette was a descendant of French Huguenots who first settled the Catskill Mountains in the early 1600s. His ancestors helped to establish the community of New Paltz, New York. He received his college and ministerial training at the New York Normal School in New Paltz, Taylor University, and Drew Theological Seminary.

Although he was raised in the Methodist Church, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was ordained in 1911 by the Council of Pentecostal Ministers at Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, New York. Follette affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1935 and became a favorite speaker at many church conferences, camp meetings, summer Bible camps, and missionary retreats around the world. He also taught at Elim Bible Institute in Rochester and at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University).

Follette was a prolific writer. More than 100 of his articles and poetry appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals. Many of his writings were put into book form after his death. His works include Smoking Flax and Other Poems (1936); Broken Bread (1957); Arrows of Truth (1969); This Wonderful Venture Called Christian Living (1974), Fruit of the Land (1989), and several other books and tracts. Follette died in New Paltz, New York, at the age of 82.

Read the article, “The Spiritual Purpose in Life and Method of Attainment,” on pages 2, 3, and 7 of the March 2, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Holiness Unto the Lord,” by A. H. Argue

• “What God Says About Foolish Talking,” by Mrs. Cornelia Nuzum

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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Marion Wakeman: The English Nurse Who Pioneered Pentecost in the Kentucky Mountains in the 1930s

Wakeman

This Week in AG History — February 20, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 22 February 2018

Marion Eason Wakeman, an English nurse, did not intend to become a Pentecostal missionary to the Kentucky mountains. However, she followed her heart and God’s call and ultimately helped to pioneer Assemblies of God churches in the 1930s among some of the most impoverished people in America. Wakeman’s compelling story, which has now largely been forgotten, was published in the Feb. 20, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Wakeman expected to live in England, where she was born, for the rest of her life. In England, she was a nurse and administrator with the “District Nursing Work,” a healthcare system that worked primarily with poor and immigrant patients.

At the turn of the 20th century, New England was experimenting with this healthcare model, in an attempt to meet the needs of the many recent immigrants. Wakeman was asked to move temporarily to Bristol, Rhode Island, to establish a new “District Nursing Work,” patterned after the English model.

After living in Bristol for three years, Wakeman read a book about the extreme poverty in the mountains of Kentucky. She was particularly disturbed by the unhealthy conditions endured by mothers at childbirth. She wrote, “God laid that work right on my heart, I could not get away from it.” She struggled with whether to stay in her well-funded position in Bristol, or to follow God’s call to work with neglected mothers and children in Kentucky. In the end, she headed for the mountains and cast her lot with those whose future was bleakest.

She began her missionary work in Guerrant, Kentucky. Conditions were worse than she had imagined. Ten to 12 people lived in windowless one-room huts. Children were dressed in rags, and chickens wandered freely through the huts. The men, women, and children were addicted to alcohol and tobacco. Violence was common and education was uncommon.

Wakeman provided health services to people in the community. She also began teaching young people how to read. When she arrived, she was shocked that the children could not read and that their spoken English was very poor. She gathered children for regular English lessons, which she would give by reading from the Bible. She recounted that many adults had never heard about Jesus, never prayed, and had never attended church.

The physical, social, and spiritual needs in the Kentucky mountains were overwhelming to Wakeman. On one occasion she admitted, “My throat ached and I felt like breaking down and crying.” But she endured. She saved money and built a house in the mountains near Oakdale, Kentucky, which became her living quarters and ministry outpost. She later moved to another house near Holly Creek, Kentucky. From those houses, she nursed people to health, she taught Sunday School classes for children, and she led to people to Jesus.

Wakeman understood that spiritual poverty was the root of destructive cultural patterns. She preached against the consumption of drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, because they contributed to disease, addiction, and violence in the community. She encouraged people to turn from sin and to find new life in Christ.

Certain local residents regarded Wakeman’s presence as a threat. She was awakened night after night by hostile neighbors who tried to frighten her away. Guns were fired at her house, and one time dynamite was even exploded near her house. She recalled, “my nerves began to frail,” and that she was afraid to walk across the room when she entered her house, for fear of violence.

One night, Wakeman got on her knees and cried out to God. If He wanted her to stay in Kentucky, she prayed, He would have to remove her fear. God took away her fear that night. The fear “fell from me like an old garment,” she recalled. “I went through the little house singing at the top of my voice,” she wrote. “I haven’t felt any fear from that day to this.”

Wakeman’s early missions work was supported by the Presbyterian Mission Board and the Free Methodist Missionary Board. Wakeman’s study of the Bible ultimately led her to identify with the Pentecostal movement. She came to believe that God still heals, and prayer for healing became a prominent aspect of her ministry. As a Pentecostal, Wakeman worked in conjunction with the Kentucky mountain missions work supported by Christian Assembly (Cincinnati, Ohio), which was pastored by O. E. Nash. Wakeman wrote that the Cincinnati church had five outstations (small missions churches) located in her part of the Kentucky mountains.

Wakeman’s testimony illustrates the consecration of early Pentecostals. She spent her life spent working with the impoverished, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in the mountains of Kentucky. Her story also demonstrates that early Pentecostalism did not emerge in a vacuum; it benefited from veteran ministers from mainline Protestant denominations who brought their wisdom, experiences, and connections into their new churches.

“Our hearts are burning with the zeal of the work,” Wakeman wrote in the conclusion of her article, “and we see great possibilities and responsibilities.” Early Pentecostal pioneers, such as Wakeman, were passionate, committed and visionary. Together, these often unheralded men and women helped to form the identity of the Assemblies of God.

Read the article, “Pentecostal Work in the Kentucky Mountains,” on pages 1, 8 and 9 of the Feb. 20, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Godhead,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Pentecost Today,” by R. E. McAlister

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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Briggs Dingman: How an Evangelical Pastor Overcame Prejudice Against Pentecostals

Dingman Briggs

This Week in AG History — January 24, 1948

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 25 January 2018 

Briggs P. Dingman (1900-1968) was a renaissance man – he served as a minister, musician, author, linguist, and educator. He spent the first half of his ministry in Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches and as an officer in the Salvation Army. Much to his own surprise, however, he spent the latter half of his ministry in Pentecostal churches and schools.

Dingman, who shared his testimony in the January 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, had a broadly-informed worldview. He attended Dickinson College, Moody Bible Institute, and Xenia Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian school). He was studious, had a working knowledge of at least five languages, and authored a novel, By Ways Appointed (Moody Press, 1935). Dingman considered himself to be “open-minded” on theological matters. Yet early in his ministry he reflexively rejected Pentecostal claims without first examining them.

It is easy to dismiss people and beliefs, Dingman came to realize, based on a caricature. He had little actual experience with Pentecostals. He had encountered some Pentecostals whom he deemed to be “ultrademonstrative,” and he had read that others handled snakes. He assumed Pentecostals to be deluded or even demon-possessed.

Dingman’s views of Pentecostals began to change when he came into contact with a young Assemblies of God minister. They became friends, and Dingman grew to admire his spiritual life. He felt “forced to admit” that the Assemblies of God preacher and his wife had a closer walk with the Lord than he did.

When Dingman took a different pastorate, he became friends with another Pentecostal minister who was overflowing with joy and spiritual depth. Dingman began developing an internal confliction when it came to Pentecostals – he admired their spirituality but pitied them for believing a “delusion.”

An Assemblies of God pastor who befriended Dingman wisely appealed to Dingman’s desire to be open-minded. He encouraged Dingman to read Assemblies of God literature and to judge for himself whether Pentecostal beliefs were biblical. One of the first books he read was by Robert Chandler Dalton – a Baptist chaplain who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and who transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God. Dingman was stunned. Dingman had been a longtime friend of Dalton.

Dingman voraciously read book after book about Pentecostal beliefs. He came to two conclusions: 1) anti-Pentecostal books were written by people who apparently had very limited knowledge of actual Pentecostal teachings; and 2) Scripture teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit often follows conversion. His preconceived anti-Pentecostal prejudices shattered, Dingman determined that he would seek a deeper relationship with God, even if it meant identifying with the Pentecostals.

Shortly afterward, Dingman was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He recounted, “there was no hysterical outburst or extreme manifestation” – his soul was simply flooded by a “real visitation of the Holy Spirit.”

How would Dingman’s former ministry colleagues react? Dingman anticipated criticism: “Doubtless many of my former pastor and laymen friends feel that now I am deluded, but I feel that I may be permitted to exclaim, “Oh, sweet delusion!”

Dingman explained how the baptism in the Holy Spirit brought him into a deeper relationship with God, wondering how spiritual depth could be called a “delusion.”

He wrote: “If having a continuous spirit of praise to my heavenly Father is delusion, then may it continue! If having a walk with God that was never before so rich, is delusion, then may I grovel in this ignorance until He comes! If having His daily blessings poured out upon my life in measure never before so copious is delusion, then this experience is an anomaly if there ever was one. No, far from suffering from a delusion, I have found the light, and what a light it is!”

Dingman cast his lot with the Pentecostals and never looked back. He transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1945. He went on to serve as a professor at two Assemblies of God schools: Northeastern Bible Institute (Framingham, Massachusetts) and Southwestern Bible Institute (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas). He also taught at Elim Bible Institute (Lima, New York).

Briggs Dingman’s testimony illustrates the prejudice that often existed against early Pentecostals. Despite this prejudice, however, the Pentecostal movement became one of the largest revival and renewal movements in Christian history. Countless people, including seasoned ministers like Dingman, found spiritual depth and renewal within Pentecostalism.

Read Dingman’s article, “Is Pentecost a Delusion?” on pages 3 and 7 of the Jan. 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Precious Friend, or an Offence – Which is Christ to You?” by Lee Krupnick

* “The Revival in Ireland in 1859”

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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