We’ve Come This Far: Reflections on the Pentecostal Tradition and Racial Reconciliation, edited by Byron Klaus. Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2007.
The history of racial unity and division within the Pentecostal movement has been addressed in a recently-published book, We’ve Come This Far: Reflections on the Pentecostal Tradition and Racial Reconciliation, edited by Byron Klaus. The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary has been a leader within its denomination in its efforts to better include voices of ethnic and racial minorities. This has been evidenced by its increasingly multicultural and international student body, the dedication of the William J. Seymour Chapel, and — now — the publication of We’ve Come This Far.
We’ve Come This Far contains the proceedings of a 2006 lecture series at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary that encouraged reflection about the “missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential” for the Assemblies of God to be an agent of racial reconciliation. The volume notes that the Assemblies of God — like many predominantly-white Pentecostal denominations — “has experienced some challenges in acknowledging its multicultural roots,” as well as its “years of ambiguity about the inclusion of African-Americans in its ministerial ranks” (back cover).
We’ve Come This Far juxtaposes the lives of two notable 20th century American religious leaders — William J. Seymour and Martin Luther King, Jr. — while reflecting on the lessons that can be drawn from them concerning African-American preaching and leadership. The book also features a selection of historical materials — including an account of Assemblies of God minister Robert Harrison (who successfully challenged a policy denying ordination to African-Americans) and a history of the struggle to overcome racism within the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. Continue reading
Farmhouse where Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit in 1907
June 1, 2007 marks 100 years of Pentecost in Springfield, Missouri.
Just after the Azusa Street revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, Evangelist Rachel Harper Sizelove began writing glowing reports to her sister, Lillie Corum, who lived in Springfield, Missouri. Mrs. Corum started reading copies of William Seymour’s Apostolic Faith paper, and she earnestly began seeking and praying to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The next May, Rachel Sizelove traveled from Azusa Street to Springfield to visit her sister and family. And in an all-night prayer meeting, Lillie Corum was baptized in the Spirit at her farmhouse in the wee hours of June 1, 1907. She is credited with being the first person in Springfield to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And soon afterwards, the Corum family, rejected by their Baptist pastor, began holding prayer meetings in their home. This was the beginning of Central Assembly of God, the mother church in Springfield, Missouri.
The Azusa Street Mission and Revival: The Birth of the Global Pentecostal Movement, by Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006.
If you only read one book on the Azusa Street revival, this should be it. Written by the leading authority on the subject, The Azusa Street Mission and Revival is the result of over twenty years of research. Its engaging prose and careful attention to detail bring the story to life. This book is a joy to read.
Nearly twenty-five percent of the world’s Christians count themselves among the Charismatic and Pentecostal family of Christian movements, yet few know how Pentecostalism began. The Azusa Street Mission and Revival tells the story of the small racially-inclusive group that gathered in Los Angeles in 1906 and changed the world of Christianity. With little more than a printing press, a trolley stop and a powerful message, the revival that began at Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street, rapidly crossed more than race lines — into Mexico, Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, western and southern Africa, India, and China — and began to change the landscape of Christianity. The complete story of the Mission has finally been recorded. Continue reading
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