Tag Archives: Video

Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day

John McConnell, Jr., ca.1990

The 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine includes an article that will raise eyebrows — the story of John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day. McConnell’s parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God, and his grandfather identified with the Pentecostal movement at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906.

Forty years ago, McConnell established the first governmentally-recognized Earth Day on March 21, 1970. The United Nations adopted the holiday the following year and has been celebrating Earth Day on the March equinox since 1971.

This original Earth Day was quickly eclipsed in prominence, however, by a second Earth Day (celebrated on April 22). The founder of the April observance, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, took the name Earth Day for his Environmental Teach-In, scheduled to be held on the 100th anniversary of communist leader Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.

According to McConnell, a representative of Nelson approached him at a United Nations conference and asked McConnell to switch the original Earth Day to April 22. McConnell refused, because he believed the celebration should be on nature’s event. Furthermore, McConnell intended Earth Day to be a non-partisan event that would unite people from various backgrounds and foster peace. In contrast, Nelson’s purpose was a political protest against pollution – he viewed Earth Day as a means to force the environment on the national agenda by mass demonstration.

McConnell states that Nelson “stole” the name Earth Day and used it for his own personal political agenda. McConnell contends that the April 22 observance is too politicized, which alienates many people, including Christians and conservatives.  He maintains that the day should be celebrated on the March equinox. Significantly, he views Earth Day as an opportunity for Christians “to show the power of prayer, the validity of their charity and their practical concern for Earth’s life and people.” McConnell’s call is not for earth worship, but for responsible stewardship (which he prefers to call trusteeship) of the earth.

McConnell also spearheaded two nationally-recognized peace movements: the Star of Hope (1957) and the Minute for Peace (1963-present). He also served as a leader in Meals for Millions (1961-1963), an organization that fed starving people.

McConnell credits his Pentecostal background for his concern for peace, justice and care of earth. He wrote, “If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day – or at least I would not have initiated it.”

In a 2009 interview, McConnell stated, “I definitely still believe what my father taught and preached.” His father, J. S. McConnell, was an Assemblies of God pastor and evangelist from 1914 to 1928. According to McConnell, his father emphasized the teachings of Jesus above all else.

McConnell’s story offers an intriguing example to Pentecostals from their own history of how one can love Jesus and care for creation; these two attitudes are not mutually exclusive.

To read the entire article about John McConnell in the 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, click here.

Posted by Darrin J. Rodgers

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John McConnell placed his collection of materials relating to his family and his faith at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. He placed his collection of materials relating to his work with the environment, peace, and the poor at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

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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Legacy of Everitt Fjordbak, longtime Dallas pastor

Rev. Everitt M. Fjordbak, longtime pastor of Lakewood Assembly of God in Dallas, Texas, passed away on August 20, 2008 at the age of 87. Originally from Storm Lake, Iowa, he moved to Dallas after his marriage to Mary Annette Tarter. He attended Dallas Theological Seminary and then pastored Lakewood Assembly of God for 36 years. He established Lakewood Productions, a television and video studio which produced teaching tapes for churches and home Bible study groups across the nation. While promoting the cause of Christ, he befriended and counseled a number of local businessmen. He also developed relationships with leaders in the broader evangelical and charismatic community. He felt called not to build buildings or a religious empire, but to be a shepherd to those willing to be led to the Lord. Reaching out to people from all walks of life, his diverse church was the subject of a nationally-aired review by the TV program 60 Minutes and by local publications such as D Magazine and Texas Monthly.

He authored more than 15 books, including a commentary and exposition on the book of Hebrews. He was also an adjunct professor at Christ For The Nations Institute.

One of his passions was Pentecostal history. Having been influenced by many of the founding members of the Assemblies of God, he saw the need to interview many of the pioneer pastors and missionaries in the Assemblies of God before they passed on. Through Lakewood Productions he was able to record testimonies on video of a number of pioneers and church leaders.

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George O. Wood on enduring core values

George Wood1 George Wood2 George Wood3
Photos: Dr. George O. Wood, speaking at the AGTS chapel, September 14, 2007. Used with permission of AGTS.


The Assemblies of God (USA) elected new leadership at its 52nd General Council in Indianapolis, Indiana in August 2007. What does this mean for our Fellowship?

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent-Elect, gave the following acceptance speech at the commissioning service of the new Executive Leadership Team, which took place Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at the national headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. In his message, Dr. Wood identified five “enduring core values” of the Assemblies of God. These values, he promised, will guide him as he seeks to lead the Assemblies of God to fulfill its three-fold mission to worship, evangelize, and make disciples.

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ENDURING CORE VALUES
by Dr. George O. Wood
September 18, 2007

At this past General Council, you extended to me the grace of responsibility in serving as the next general superintendent. I am humbled by your confidence in me and ask you to pray for me and the other leaders as we begin this journey of serving you.

People have been asking me, “George, what’s your vision for the Assemblies of God? What are you going to focus on Continue reading

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Review: A Desk for Billie

A Desk For Billie DVD

A Desk for Billie. Film produced by the National Education Association, 1956. Rereleased on DVD, 2007.

Dr. Billie Davis, one of the best-known educators in the Assemblies of God, started life in the hopyards of Oregon. She spent her childhood during the Great Depression of the 1930s traversing across America with her parents, who were migrant farm workers. They were “homeless” before the term became fashionable. They lived and traveled in a battered Model A Ford with a makeshift wooden frame constructed on the back to provide shelter. She describes herself as a child as “a small ragged hobo” who would “[sit] on the ground beside a campfire, hungrily licking the fishy oil from the lid of a sardine can” while studying her school lessons.

How was Billie Davis able to rise from her impoverished surroundings? She attributes her success to the discovery, as a young girl, of three ways to better herself: 1) Sunday school; 2) libraries; and 3) public school.

Billie Davis came to work for the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri in 1942, serving as the first editor of the Sunday School Counselor magazine. After the Saturday Evening Post featured her story, “I was a Hobo Kid” (published December 13, 1952), Reader’s Digest picked it up. Then, in 1956, the National Education Association produced a film about her life, “A Desk for Billie.” This film, a tribute to the value of education, was widely distributed across America and viewed by generations of teachers and schoolchildren. “A Desk for Billie” encourages viewers to appreciate Sunday school, libraries, and public schools.

Billie Davis went on to earn her Ed.D. from the University of Miami and served as a professor at Evangel University, as an Assemblies of God missionary, and in numerous leadership roles in education, church, and government.

“A Desk for Billie” is now available for purchase on DVD. Proceeds will be given to the Billie Davis scholarship at Evangel University.

DVD, color, 57 minutes. Minimum contribution of $20, postpaid. Order from: Dr. Billie Davis, 3204 N. Wildan Ave., Springfield, MO 65803 (email: sylbil@aol.com ; phone: 417-833-1552).

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Ralph W. Harris in photos and videos

[splashcast JEFV4151MC]
SplashCast with Flickr photos and YouTube Video.
Produced by iFPHC

Ralph W. Harris (1912-2004)


Ralph Harris, a talented youth leader, pastor and editor, was full of the zest for life and had creative genius which helped to shape and mold the Assemblies of God for decades.

Originally from Michigan, Harris graduated from Central Bible Institute with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He pastored churches in Michigan, Washington, and Missouri. In 1943, he was appointed to establish a national office in Springfield for the Assemblies of God youth program, Christ’s Ambassadors. The next year he founded Speed the Light, a highly successful youth program that gathers funds to provide transportation for missionaries.

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