Tag Archives: Revivals

The Spiritual Legacy of Camp Meetings: From the Scottish Covenanters to the Assemblies of God

Tent meeting

Tent meeting in Seminole, Oklahoma, circa 1930s.

This Week in AG History — May 29, 1937

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 28 May 2020

If you attended meetings in the years of the early Pentecostal movement, you might remember a summer church event that included sawdust floors, crude benches, tents, and open tabernacles. Those early tents and brush arbors have since given way to air-conditioned auditoriums and indoor plumbing, but the rousing fellowship and memorable spiritual experiences continue to ensure that summer camp meetings have a place in the life of the church.

Although the Assemblies of God has a long tradition with the camp meeting, the phenomenon predates the Pentecostal movement. It was in 17th-century Scotland that a group of Presbyterians, known as Covenanters, refused to recognize the right of the king to mandate religious conformity and were expelled from their churches. They began to hold illegal open-air meetings. Attendance at these meetings was declared a capital offense and many Covenanters were martyred for their stand.

Some fled to Ireland and along with others formed the base of the Scots-Irish immigration of the 1700s. Many eventually settled south into Virginia and the Carolinas, with a large concentration in the Appalachian region. They brought with them their tradition of the extended outdoor meeting.

It was one of these Scottish Presbyterian camp meetings in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1801 that brought thousands of Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists together for an outdoor meeting that featured revivalistic preaching, enthusiastic singing, and extended prayer meetings with a flood of religious enthusiasm. The revival fires of the Cane Ridge Camp meetings set off the Second Great Awakening that sparked a movement of camp meeting revivalism that shaped the course of western American Protestantism.

By the mid-18th century, the Baptists and Presbyterians largely abandoned the camp meeting for indoor protracted meetings. The Methodists, however, began to build permanent meeting sites for the purpose of joining together with other believers for Bible teaching, extended prayer, and exhortational preaching. These camp meetings became a staple for the Holiness Movement of the later 18th century.

When the Pentecostal movement sprang out of the influence of the Holiness churches, it was natural to continue the camp meeting practice. Early Assemblies of God adherents, such as those in Wisconsin who rented Camp Byron in Fond du Lac County from the Methodist church, used these meetings for inspiration, fellowship, consecration, and response to the call of God.

The May 29, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel served as a promotional tool for many of the scheduled camp meetings of that summer. In the article, “Let’s All Go to Camp Meeting,” Evangel readers are made aware of the many district camp schedules for that year, including Wisconsin-Northern Michigan, Kansas, Virginia, Texico, Northern California-Nevada, New England, Potomac, Northwest, West Central, Illinois, Yellowstone, Arkansas, Louisiana, Rocky Mountain, and the North Central districts. Speakers included W. I. Evans, E. S. Williams, Myer Pearlman, Otto Klink, Charles Price, Ralph Riggs, Howard Carter, and many other pastors and lay preachers, both male and female.

These camp meetings were not limited to the members of the host district. The West Central district camp at Storm Lake, Iowa, reminded readers that “last year the crowd was estimated at six to seven thousand people … and we are expecting a larger crowd this year. More than half of the states in the union were represented at last year’s meeting.”

The schedule varied by district, but the one listed by the Appalachian district, held at Pentecostal Park in Bristol, Virginia, was typical: Devotional at 7 a.m., Children’s service at 9 a.m., Bible teaching at 10:30 a.m., preaching at 2:30 p.m., young people’s service at 6 p.m., and an evangelistic service at 8 p.m.

While the meetings had some limited focus on certain demographics, the services were not segregated by age. Adults attended children’s services, and children attended alongside the adults. It was in these services that many children and young people were introduced to the leaders of the Pentecostal movement as they were exposed to anointed teaching in each service.

Many Pentecostal laypeople trace their first exposure to the baptism in the Holy Spirit to these protracted meetings. Ministers and missionaries testify of receiving their call to lifelong service around the altar at camp meeting. Other benefits included the tight bond of fellowship established between those who attended different churches but found lasting relationships at camp, including missionary Melvin Hodges. Not only was he was introduced to a love for Bible teaching by a camp speaker, but camp also provided the opportunity, as it did for many others, to meet a future spouse.

Although much has changed in our camp meeting presentation over the years, it remains an important chapter in our shared heritage. As the Evangel said in 1937, “It is blessed to be able to drop the daily tasks for a while and to go to some place where you can give yourself wholly to the things of God.”

Read the article, “Let’s All Go to Camp Meeting,” on page 9 of the May 29, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How Moody Used the Power” by Zelma Argue

• “The Result of One Day’s Travailing Prayer” by Charles G. Finney

• “God’s Condition for Revival” by Beatrice Pannabecker

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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Arthur F. Berg: How a Powerful Revival Among Children Produced a Future Pastor and Missionary

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Arthur and Anna Berg, with daughter, Agnes, circa 1930

This Week in AG History — June 9, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 07 June 2018

Arthur F. Berg (1896-1983), a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary and pastor, recognized the importance of taking seriously the spiritual lives of children. He learned this from his own experience. At age 14, Arthur surrendered his life to Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a Minneapolis revival sparked by visiting Pentecostal leader William Durham. Interestingly, it was primarily young people who responded to the gospel — countless children were saved, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and 30 followed the Lord in water baptism.

For the rest of his life, Berg would share his testimony about this 1911 revival, which spiritually shaped him. The Pentecostal Evangel published his story in 1968.

Berg was born in an era when children were expected to be seen and not heard, and many traditional church services offered little to inspire or attract young people. However, early Pentecostal services — featuring testimonies, lively sermons, and peppy gospel songs — were often very accessible to young people. Countless people — both young and old — surrendered their lives to Christ in early Pentecostal services, which were known for their clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

So it was with Berg. He was raised in a Christian home, but it was not until he experienced the Holy Spirit’s permeating presence during the Pentecostal revival that Berg finally committed his life to Christ. He described the revival as “glorious,” and that “hearts were melted together in the love of God.” The presence of God was so strong in those meetings that young people who normally did not want to attend church did not want to leave the revival services.

“The convicting power and pull of the Holy Spirit was so strong, so irresistible,” Berg recalled, “that I found myself at the altar weeping and praying my way through to a definite experience of old-fashioned salvation.” He went on to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit and, he wrote, “exuberant glory flooded my soul.”

The revival led Berg to consecrate his life to Christian ministry. He married his childhood sweetheart, Anna, who shared a similar calling. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1919, they served as missionaries in Belgian Congo from 1922 to 1926, and for the next 33 years they pastored congregations in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was also instrumental in starting the World Missions Plan, a program that encouraged Assemblies of God churches to systematically give money to home and world missions.

When William Durham went to Minneapolis in 1911, he was on a mission to talk with Pentecostal pastors regarding disagreements over the doctrine of sanctification. While the impact Durham made on adults on that trip is unknown, the revival services he led left a lasting mark on several dozen young people. One of them, Arthur Berg, became a noted pioneer Assemblies of God pastor and missionary.

Read the article, “How a Boy Received the Baptism,” on pages 24-25 of the June 9, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Who is My Neighbor?” by Everett Stenhouse

• “Children Need to be Nurtured,” by Jerry Stroup

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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Evangelism is not Optional: Christians will either Evangelize or Apostatize

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This Week in AG History–May 23, 1954
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 21 May 2015

Could there be a task that is more important or more daunting than the evangelization of the world? James Stewart, in a 1954 Pentecostal Evangel article, challenged readers to creatively and proactively fulfill the Great Commission. He wrote, “The magnitude of the unfinished task forces us to witness in unconventional places, at unconventional times, with an unconventional approach. It is our duty to go to the unsaved with the Gospel and not wait until they come to us.”

Stewart appealed to the testimonies of believers from centuries past to inspire the current generation to reach the lost for Christ. He noted that many heralded evangelists ministered outside the walls of church buildings. John Wesley preached in a cemetery, atop his father’s tombstone. The Apostle Paul preached Christ on Mars Hill among the pagan temples and Greek philosophers. Dwight L. Moody accepted Christ in a shoe shop. Stewart implored readers to think of the church not as a building, but as a body of believers. Past revivals, he noted, occurred when Christians shared the gospel “in the market squares, circus tents, village greens, prisons, public houses, and everywhere the unsaved frequented.”

While holding large evangelistic services in public areas has long been important in evangelical and Pentecostal churches, Stewart admonished that evangelism must also be personal. “Mass evangelism,” he wrote, “will never be a substitute for personal evangelism.”

Personal evangelism, according to Stewart, required the involvement of “ordinary, common believers.” The great revivals of the past involved carpenters, farmers, miners, street cleaners, teachers, and men and women from all walks of life who “went forth with flaming fire.” The Bible and church history teach that professional clergy alone cannot bring revival; a true move of God must catch fire at the grassroots.

Evangelism is not optional for Christians. Stewart wrote that Christians will “either evangelize or apostatize.” His concluding remarks encouraged believers to consecrate themselves to God and to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He wrote, “Let us dedicate our lives, talents, possessions, and time to the sacred task of world-wide witness. We are couriers of the Cross. The task is great but not impossible. The Holy Ghost is here to empower us. Without the baptism of power our ministry is in vain.”

Read the article, “The Church is Challenged!” by James Stewart, on pages 4, 10 and 11 of the May 23, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Honor the Holy Spirit!” by P. S. Jones
• “How Spurgeon Found Christ”
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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