On April 15, 1914, Frank J. Ewart delivered his first public sermon on Acts 2:38 in a tent on East First Street in Belvedere, California. Bro. Ewart’s decision to preach the message was the culmination of nearly a year of prayer and study and expressed the full salvation message taught by the New Testament Church. With this great conviction, Frank Ewart counted the cost and began teaching and preaching the wonderful doctrine of the Mighty God in Christ, baptizing converts in the Name of the Lord Jesus! What began that spring was a miraculous revival of truth, and Bro. Ewart’s obedience to the Word of God and the direction of the Holy Ghost sparked the modern Apostolic revival!Frank J. Ewart was born in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia in 1876. As a young man, he worked in the lumber industry and had aspirations to become a professional cricket player. In the midst of this pursuit, the young Ewart was arrested by a supernatural vision of the crucifixion of Jesus. He saw Christ upon the cross and lost all “ambition for worldly fame and popularity.” Ewart aligned himself with the Baptists and was appointed a “bush missionary” (Ewart 10). The Bush Missionary Society was founded in 1856 to minister to small communities in the remote outposts of the Australian frontier (Burgess 237). Ewart would travel to remote areas and begin a Baptist revival. Once a stable group was established a pastor would be sent, and Bro. Ewart would move on to a new location (Ewart 10).
In 1903, after a break in his health, Frank Ewart emigrated to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. He became a Baptist pastor there and married. He and his wife were desperate for a deeper move of God and prayed continually for the effectiveness of their ministry. Bro. Ewart’s health continued to deteriorate; and in 1908, he was given a furlough from the Baptist Church.
During this time, he traveled to Portland, Oregon to attend a Pentecostal camp meeting and became convinced that the experience was real. He received an “insatiable hunger” for the baptism of the Spirit and tarried twenty-one days before receiving a glorious Pentecost:
I received a mighty infilling with the Holy Ghost. God left no room for doubt. I spoke in several known languages that I knew nothing about, and some of them were interpreted that night. I had asked the lord to let all diseases go out of my body when the Holy Spirit came in. He took me at my word and answered my prayer. (Ewart 12)
Returning to Canada, Bro. Ewart was defrocked by the Baptist Church for his insistence that speaking in tongues was the evidence of Holy Ghost baptism, but he remained strong in his persuasion that the Pentecostal experience was real.
In 1911, Bro. Ewart came to Los Angeles and participated in the great revival in that city. In 1912, he assumed the pastorate of William Durham’s Seventh Street Mission in Los Angeles after Durham’s untimely death. The mission was a center of Pentecostal revival where Durham taught and preached the “Finished Work of Calvary,” and Ewart continued his ministry there until April 1913, when he went to the World Wide Apostolic Faith Camp Meeting “ready for God’s new move” (Ewart 90, 13).
The interstate camp meeting of 1913 is the stuff of Pentecostal legend. When Evangelist R.E. McAlister emphatically stated: ” . . . that the apostles invariably baptized their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ, that the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism”, some of the hearers, including Ewart, were inspired to research the claim (qtd. in Ewart 94). At the close of the camp meeting, R.E. McAlister, Glenn Cook, and Ewart began a Pentecostal mission on Main Street. After several months, the mission unified with Pastor Elmer K. Fisher’s Victoria Hall on Spring Street, and much emphasis was given to preaching and praying in the Name of Jesus. Still, baptism was administered according to the regular Trinitarian formula.
In the spring of 1914, Ewart became determined that “the only way to get apostolic results was to adopt apostolic methods and obey their precepts” and branched out from Victoria Hall (Ewart 96). Pastor Fisher, who did not initially accept Bro. Ewart’s message of baptism solely in the Name of Christ, helped him secure a tent, and meetings began in Belvedere. Glenn Cook came out the first night to hear Bro. Ewart preached, and the two secured a baptismal tank and rebaptized one another invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ewart 96).
The results of preaching and baptizing in the Name of Jesus were incredible, and the tent filled completely:
One of the greatest, most startling characteristics of that great revival was that the vast majority of the new converts were filled with the holy Ghost after coming up out of the water. They would leave the tank speaking in other tongues. Many were healed when they were baptized. (Ewart 98)
God confirmed the pioneer’s obedience with remarkable results and dynamic conversions. The leader of the Owl Gang, who harassed Bro. & Sis. Ewart and had burned down the revival tent, was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost; the Baptist Sunday School Superintendent was saved, and Sgt. J.D. Cornwall of the city police force was converted (Ewart 99, 104).
Bro. Ewart published Meat in Due Season, an influential Oneness periodical that spread the Apostolic truth far and wide. Through his ministry, writing, and the evangelism of Bro. Cook, who received Ewart’s message, many prominent Pentecostals became persuaded of the efficacy of baptism in the Name of Jesus, including Lemuel C. Hall, William Booth-Clibborn, A.H. Argue, Frank Small, George B. Studd, Elmer K. Fisher, R.J. Scott, Garfield T. Haywood, W.T. Witherspoon, E.G. Lowe, Raymond Hoekstra, W.L. Stallones, and Harry Morse (Ewart 101).
Bro. Frank J. Ewart died in 1947. He established and led a thriving church in Belvedere and authored several books. He was ordained with the United Pentecostal Church before his death. This man’s powerful revelation and Bible conviction was seminal in producing the modern Oneness Pentecostal Church, the true iteration of Apostolic Christianity. A great debt is owed to this faithful pioneer who sacrificed precious fellowship and his own good name to publish Acts 2:38 salvation and stand for the only name “given under heaven whereby we must be saved.”
Burgess, H.T. John Howard Angas, Pioneer, Pastoralist, Politician and Philanthropist. Adelaide, Australia: Vardon & Pritchard, 1905.
Ewart, Frank J. The Phenomenon of Pentecost. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 2000.