Tag Archives: Racism

45 Years Ago: Thurman Faison Challenges White Pentecostals to Preach Against Racism and to Link Arms with Blacks in Ministry

faison2This Week in AG History — January 9, 1972

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 5 January 2017

Riots and civil unrest marked American cities during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  When African American Assemblies of God minister Thurman Faison addressed the 1971 meeting of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, he spoke to the social turbulence that was on everyone’s mind.

Faison’s message addressed the question, “How are we going to reach the blacks of our inner cities?” The editors of the Pentecostal Evangel felt the question needed the attention of their readers and reprinted his entire address in the Jan. 9, 1972, issue.

Having pastored in both Harlem and Chicago, Faison was well aware of the concerns facing the African American population of the inner cities. “The urban scene is a constant focus of the news media. What would reporting be without the demonstrations, riots, class struggles, and corruptions of the big cities!” He stressed that the Pentecostal church could not afford to neglect urban evangelism; the major cities of America influence the course of the nation.

While the Pentecostal movement had long been known for their strict stance on “sins of the flesh,” many Pentecostals remained relatively quiet with regard to the sins of pride and prejudice. Faison made the point to his largely white audience that “all unrighteousness is sin — be it prejudice or adultery — and that the righteous Lord loves righteousness.”

At that time, the Assemblies of God had engaged in little intentional outreach to the black community in comparison to its missions efforts with other ethnic populations. In a 1970 interview, General Superintendent Thomas Zimmerman estimated that the Assemblies of God had “at least” 25 black ministers and only a handful of churches in predominately black neighborhoods (Pentecostal Evangel, April 26, 1970).

Faison called Pentecostals to rediscover and maintain their God-given identity and calling to preach the plain gospel of Christ.  He noted, “The world demands what they call ‘contemporary relevance.’” He defined  “contemporary” to mean “to happen along with,” and “relevance” to mean “to have a definite relationship or bearing upon the matters at hand.” He concluded that “the gospel-preaching church meets this standard of contemporary relevance.”

According to Faison, Christians must address pressing social issues: “God’s purposes have always … had a definite bearing upon the matters at hand.”

Faison knew the powerful impact of the Church in an inner-city community.  In 1969, he moved from Harlem to Chicago and worked closely with Illinois District Superintendent E. M. Clark to develop an Assemblies of God outreach to African Americans. The mostly white churches of the Illinois District helped Faison to purchase church property and a parsonage in Chicago’s South Side, along with radio time to promote the new church.  This partnership of blacks and whites proved to be a powerful ministry strategy. Southside Tabernacle, under the leadership of Pastor Titus Lee, continues to be a strong representation of the kingdom of God in Chicago.

In 1971, Faison stated that “the issues of yesterday are not the same today, nor will they be the same tomorrow.” Yet the headlines from 2016 reflected the same themes that he referenced in his time: demonstrations, riots, class struggles, and corruption in the big cities. Forty-five years have passed, but many of the same social ills remain.

Why should Pentecostals boldly proclaim Christ in small towns and inner cities, and to people of every race, class, and persuasion? Faison realized that social problems, ultimately, can only be solved with the gospel. He wrote: “The biggest issues will always be constant — the problem of sin in the human heart, the alienation of men from God, and the expressions of unrighteousness in word, thought, and deed.”

faison

Assemblies of God leaders meet with General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman to discuss ways of reaching African Americans, December 1969. Thurman Faison is seated on the far right.

Read Faison’s entire address, “What Are We Going to Do About Our Cities?” on pages 8-9 of the Jan. 9, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “He Preached Through His Hands,” by Betty Haney

• “A Call to Sleeping Jonahs,” by Charles W. H. Scott

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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Missionary H.B. Garlock’s 1948 Eloquent Condemnation of Colonialism and Racial Discrimination


This Week in AG History–June 5, 1948
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 4 June 2015

H. B. Garlock, a long-time Assemblies of God missionary to Africa, reported on his extensive travels throughout Africa in an article published in the June 5, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Garlock provided readers with a vivid description of the colonialism and oppression on the African continent. He recounted, “We saw the black man slapped, cuffed, kicked, abused and manhandled. Thousands of them are caught, and made to work in mines or on roads at very low wages. The commodities that the white man enjoys such as cocoa, tea, coffee, rubber, mahogany, palm oil, gold and diamonds, represent the forced labor, toil, sweat and many times the tears of an enslaved or underpaid black man.”

Responding to these inhumane conditions, Garlock condemned racial segregation and discrimination. He wrote, “to discriminate against a person created in the image of God because of the color of his skin is inhuman, un-Christian, and unpardonable.” He furthermore likened the plight of the African to Christ, noting that the African “bears a heavy cross.”

Notably, Garlock condemned racial segregation and discrimination at a time when racial strife was increasing in America. Anticipating criticism from some American readers who might call him a “race baiter,” Garlock acknowledged the existence of racial tensions in the United States. “Whose fault is it?” Responding to this rhetorical question, Garlock suggested: “Our fathers have eaten green apples and their children have the stomach-ache.”

Garlock carefully contrasted oppressive colonialism to the indigenous church principle practiced by the Assemblies of God. Garlock related numerous stories about mature and effective African Pentecostal leaders, encouraging readers to support Assemblies of God missionaries who work alongside indigenous African churches.

Read H. B. Garlock’s article, “Africa and Her People,” on pages 2-3 and 12-14 of the June 5, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Healing for All,” by J. M. Mullens
• “Prostrated under Divine Power,” by J. Narver Gortner
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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Call to Calmness and Steadfastness


This Week in AG History–September 23, 1944
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 22 Sep 2014 – 1:47 PM CST

“Is it possible to maintain calm and serenity in the midst of the world-shaking storms that are raging today?”

Melvin Hodges (1909-1988), an Assemblies of God missionary to Central America, posed this question in the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hodges proceeded to describe the seemingly intractable conflicts around the world. “Nations are locked in a struggle for their very existence,” he wrote, and countless people are killed “as opposing systems of government struggle [to maintain] their way of life.”

How should the Christian respond to such conflict? Hodges encouraged believers to exhibit “calmness and steadfastness.” Believers will stay “on a true course regardless of the storms that rage,” according to Hodges, if they have faith in the promises of God and submit to God’s will.

Significantly, Hodges admonished readers to reject the racism that had permeated vast segments of the world:

“We must not be moved from the love of God in our hearts toward all men by the spirit of racial hatred being fostered today. Some hold the Jew responsible for all the ills of the world. Others are moved to intense hatred of the enemy nations. Again, some manifest bitterness toward certain racial groups in America. This is not democratic, much less Christian. It is a false diagnosis of the ills of this sick world that places the blame for its troubles on the blood strain of a particular race rather than on the evil nature of all unregenerate mankind. Deprive any racial group of Christian influences, placing them under barbarous teachings and environment, and the resultant generation will be barbarians irrespective of their racial background.”

Christians must not assign blame for social problems to racial or cultural groups, according to Hodges. This wise counsel continues to be true today.

Read “Call to Calmness and Steadfastness” by Melvin Hodges on page 8 of the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Why I Came to Egypt Thirty-Four Years Ago,” by Lillian Trasher

* “V Day,” by Lester Sumrall

* “Family Worship,” by Walter Scott

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

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2007 Interview with Stanley Horton

In the featured audio below, Dr. Martin Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh interview Stanley M. Horton (Parts 1 and 2) in, Springfield, Missouri, 2007

Part 1 (25:37):

Part 2 (19:21):

See also:
Martin William Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh, “The Social Conscience of Stanley HortonAssemblies of God Heritage (2009): 15-19.

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Filed under Audio, Ethics