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Stanford E. Linzey, Jr. Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (U.S. Navy Photo: 1974)

Dr. Stanford Eugene Linzey, Jr. (1920-2010) holds the distinction of being the first Assemblies of God minister to serve as an active duty Navy chaplain. During his 65 years of active ministry, during which he served as a pastor, chaplain, educator, author, and evangelist, Linzey became well known in the Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

Linzey’s son, Chaplain (MAJOR) James F. Linzey, USA (Ret.), has deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center a collection of books, sermons, photographs, and other materials documenting his father’s life and ministry.

Linzey was born on October 13, 1920, in Houston, Texas to Stanford Linzey and Eva Fay Westphal Linzey. Linzey first accepted Christ as Lord and Savior at 10 years of age and was reared Southern Baptist. However, as a teenager he strayed from his Christian upbringing and became, according to James F. Linzey, “a smoking train hopper.” In 1938, when he was 18 years old, Linzey’s misconduct landed him before a judge, who ordered that he go to jail or join the Navy. He enlisted in the Navy in 1938.

Linzey served aboard the USS Yorktown, which was homeported in San Diego, California. It was there that he met a young Pentecostal evangelist named Verna Hall in 1940. She invited him to attend her church, First Assembly of God in National City, California. He recommitted his life to Christ, joined her church, and they married on July 13, 1941 in McAllen, Texas.

Verna played a significant role in discipling Linzey. Verna’s step-father (Rev. Francis L. Doyle), mother (Alice Hall Doyle), and brother (Pentecostal evangelist Franklin Hall) lived in San Diego and also mentored Linzey. Linzey did office work for Franklin Hall and also preached in San Diego on the streets, in rescue missions, and in parks under his tutelage. Linzey, influenced by his wife’s teaching, received the baptism with the Holy Spirit on July 29, 1942, in Los Angeles at the church pastored by Raymond Harms.

Linzey was an enlisted sailor with the rate of Musician First Class, serving as First Clarinetist in the U.S. Navy Band aboard the USS Yorktown. He also served as a Radioman on the third deck. He became a World War II hero when the Yorktown was bombed, torpedoed, and sank during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Had it not been for the Yorktown, the war on the Pacific front would have been lost. Aboard the Yorktown, Stanford was nicknamed “The Deacon” for conducting Bible studies, witnessing among the sailors and officers, and teaching the Pentecostal message, which he learned from his wife, Verna.  

After the war, President Harry Truman sent Musician First Class Linzey a letter, stating, “As one of the Nation’s finest, you undertook the most severe task one can be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.” Also, General Omar N. Bradley, USA (Ret.), sent a letter to Stanford, stating, “I congratulate you upon completion of your service in the armed forces and for your part in bringing to a conclusion a two-front war which resulted in the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers.”

Pentecostal ministers who influenced Linzey’s early ministry, in addition to Verna and her family, included Raymond T. Richey and Raymond Harms. Stanford and Verna received ministerial credentials from the Assemblies of God in 1945. The following year, they pioneered the El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle, an Assemblies of God congregation in El Cajon, California, which they co-pastored.

Verna and Stanford Linzey, co-pastors of El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle (Assembly of God), El Cajon, California, circa late 1940s.

When Linzey re-entered the U.S. Navy as a chaplain in 1954, it was natural that he would ask for the endorsement of the Assemblies of God. He became not only the first active duty Navy Assemblies of God chaplain, but also the first active duty Pentecostal Navy chaplain. Further, he was the first Pentecostal Navy chaplain to attain the rank of Navy captain. He served as a Navy chaplain for 21 years, retiring in 1974.

Linzey received a B.A. and a Th.B. degree from Linda Vista Baptist College and Seminary (now Southern California Seminary) in El Cajon, California, a Master of Divinity degree from American Baptist Seminary of the West in Covina, California (now Berkley School of Theology in Berkley, California), and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He also studied at Harvard Divinity School as a resident graduate. He is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in Religion, International Men of Achievement, and 5000 Personalities of the World.

Linzey and his wife, Verna, were an impressive couple. Verna, a pastor, crusade evangelist, television evangelist, songwriter, and author, was accomplished in her own right. Together, they had ten children, three of whom followed in their father’s footsteps and became military chaplains.

During his 20 years as a chaplain and afterward as an evangelist, Linzey taught widely on the Pentecostal message – in North America, Europe, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Venues included media outlets such as radio and television (including Trinity Broadcasting Network); Assemblies of God churches throughout the United States and some mainline Protestant churches; colleges such as Evangel College (now Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri), Southern California College (now Vanguard University of Southern California in Costa Mesa, California), Bethany Bible College (Santa Cruz, California); Bethel Bible Institute (Manilla, Philippines), and Far East Advanced School of Theology (now Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio, Philippines).

Linzey also guest lectured on various leadership topics at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN), Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA), California State University (Fullerton, CA), California State University (Long Beach, CA), the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa), Prairie Bible Institute (now Prairie Bible College, Three Hills, Alberta, Canada), and Asia Pacific Military Retreats in the Far East.

Linzey also spread the Pentecostal message as the keynote speaker for various civic organizations, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, Business Men’s Fellowship International, the Fellowship of Full Gospel Churches and Ministries International, Christian Servicemen’s Centers, and in the Navy as an enlisted sailor and as a chaplain. Due to his Pentecostal ministry as the Senior Chaplain of the USS Coral Sea, the Coral Sea was dubbed “The Pentecostal Ship.”

A prolific author, he wrote on the baptism with the Holy Spirit in his books: Pentecost in the Pentagon, The Holy Spirit in the Third Millennium, Baptism in the Spirit, and God Wat at Midway (later published under the title USS Yorktown at Midway); his pamphlet, Why I Believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit; and numerous articles published in Pentecostal Evangel, Pentecostal Messenger, Voice, Link, C.A. Herald, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Christian Times. Various articles on leadership were also published in such publications as Readers Digest, Sunday School Counselor, At Ease, Filling Your Boots (a leadership pamphlet he wrote), and Call to Prayer.

Chaplain Stanford Linzey delivers the invocation at Coronado Naval Base at the 60th Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender in World War II before President George W. Bush speaks. Photo taken by Chaplain (MAJ) James F. Linzey, USA (Ret.), August 28, 2005.

When Stanford Linzey, Jr. joined the Navy in 1938, he could not have imagined how his life would unfold. After his recommitment to Christ and marriage to Verna Hall, ministry became his primary focus. He broke new ground as the first Assemblies of God active duty Navy chaplain, he ministered as a chaplain and as an evangelist around the world, and he produced numerous written works. Now, with the Stanford Eugene Linzey, Jr. Collection accessible at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, future generations will be able to study his life, ministry, and legacy.

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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 archives and research center 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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