Circle of Fire: Early Pentecostal Revival in Indianapolis


Indianapolis, Indiana was the epicenter of Pentecostal revival east of the Mississippi River. Bro. Glenn Cook, one of the elders from William J. Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, arrived in the city in January of 1907 with the Pentecostal message. Revival meetings were conducted at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Gospel Tabernacle, and several were filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The assembly’s pastor, Dr. G.N. Eldridge, who was out of town, sent a telegram refusing his pulpit to Cook, and an alternate location had to be secured for continued meetings. Ironically, Eldridge later joined the Pentecostal movement (Tyson EPR 129-130). In March 1907, Bro. Cook published a good report of the burgeoning revival in Indianapolis in The Apostolic Faith, the official publication of the Azusa Mission:

The Lord gave us a gracious time of Pentecostal power at Indianapolis, Ind. Many received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and are speaking with tongues. They came from different parts of Indiana and are now going forth to spread the good news. This will be a center of power, being an interurban railway center like Los Angeles. (Cook 3)

The group had rented a “nice hall and chairs to seat it” at 1111½ Shelby Street in Fountain Square, marking the formation of the first Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis (Cook 3).
When Bro. Cook returned to Los Angeles in March 1907, another party of Azusa Pentecostal workers came to Indianapolis, including: Thomas Hezmalhalch, Fred Dexheimer, Celia Smock, and Lenora Hall. As crowds grew, the fledgling congregation had to move to larger facilities, securing a vacant spiritualist church called Murphy Hall at the corner of New York and Alabama Streets. Pentecostal revival continued to grow, and many were healed and filled at the mission. J. Roswell Flower, the first General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and his future wife, Alice Reynolds both received the Holy Ghost in these early meetings (Flower 5-6). In 1908, Flower began publishing The Pentecost, a monthly newsletter detailing the spread of the Pentecostal message.

Garfield Thomas Haywood was filled with the Holy Ghost in February 1908 in a converted tin shop on West Michigan Street in a small work led by Henry Prentice, who had received his Pentecost in Los Angeles (Tyson, EPR 10). This mission grew, and the congregation moved to an empty storeroom on the corner of Michigan and Minverva Streets (Tyson BIS 16).

G.T. Haywood soon felt called to the ministry and began his pastorate of a small work in February 1909 located in a downtown storeroom at 12th and Lafayette Streets. The assembly also held meetings for a short time at West 13th and Canal before moving to a more permanent home at 12th and Missouri (Dugas 12-13; Tyson BIS 16-17). Eventually, the congregation relocated to 11th and Senate before constructing the beautiful building, Christ Temple, on Fall Creek Boulevard in 1924, an extant landmark of Apostolic heritage. Haywood and his interracial congregation were instrumental in the Indianapolis work, and he began publication in 1910 of The Voice in the Wilderness, an important Pentecostal periodical that became the official organ of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1918 (Tyson BIS 16).

L.V. Roberts was also an early influence in the Pentecostal movement in Indianapolis. He assumed leadership of the original Indianapolis Assembly from Murphy Hall in February 1913. Meetings were moved to No. 9 New Jersey Avenue and later to Roosevelt Avenue under the name Oak Hill Tabernacle. His church began holding an annual camp meeting that attracted Pentecostals from the Midwest (Roberts 3).

In October 1914, Lena Spillman visited Roberts’ church and was converted and physically healed of a life-threatening heart condition (Foley 203). Early in her Pentecostal experience, she recognized God’s call to the ministry. In 1929, she began holding revival meetings at Thirty-Fourth and Orchard Streets, and the assembly grew into a thriving work eventually became Christian Tabernacle at 28th and Sherman Streets (Foley 208).

In March 1915, Bro. Glenn Cook returned from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. Bro. Cook had accepted the message of the mighty God in Christ and was rebaptized in Jesus’ Name. This man, who had been so instrumental in the spread of the Pentecostal message in the Midwest, now returned preaching Oneness doctrine. Indianapolis, which had experienced growing Apostolic revival, was ripe to receive the revelatory teaching; and on 6 March 1915, L.V. Roberts and his congregation were immersed in Eagle Creek in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as Pentecostal leaders G.T. Haywood and Samuel N. Hancock (French 65). On Easter Sunday, 4 April 1915, Haywood preached Oneness truth to his growing congregation at 11th and Senate. At the conclusion of the sermon, G.T. Haywood baptized 456 members of his congregation in Jesus’ Name (Tyson BIS 36). The conversion of Haywood and his congregation from Trinitarianism was instrumental in bringing the fledgling Pentecostal Assemblies of the World into the Oneness camp.

Indianapolis continued to be a center of Apostolic revival, and many other missions and churches were formed in the next few decades. Today, Indianapolis has scores of Apostolic Faith assemblies, and many of these revival churches were either formed or led by some of the most renowned names in Hoosier Pentecostal history including: G.T. Haywood, L.V. Roberts, Oscar Hughes, Raymond Hoekstra, Nathaniel A. Urshan, Paul Jordan, James E. Simison, Morris E. Golder, and James Tyson. The seeds of truth fell on fertile ground in the heart of Indiana, and the Indianapolis became the strong root system of many Oneness works around the Midwest, the nation, and the globe as concentric waves of true Apostolic revival emanated from the Circle City.

Sources:

Cook, Glenn. “Revival in Indianpolis.” Apostolic Faith March 1907, p. 3. 

Dugas, Paul D. The Life and Writings of G.T. Haywood. Stockton, CA: Apostolic
Press, 1968.

Flower, Alice Reynolds. “When Pentecost Came to Indianapolis, a First-Hand Report of
the Revival which Began in 1907.” Heritage 5 (4) Winter 1985/1986, pp. 5-6.

Foley, Bertha L. “Lena Spillman.” Pioneer Pentecostal Women, Volume II. Mary H. Wallace, ed. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1981, pp. 201-212.

French, Talmadge. Our God is One: the Story of Oneness Pentecostals. Indianapolis:
Voice & Vision Publications, 1999.

Roberts, L.V. “More Blessed Revival Fires: Fresh Blaze in Indianapolis.” Word and
Witness 9 (2) 20 February 1913, p. 3.

Tyson, James L. Before I Sleep. Indianapolis: Pentecostal Publications, 1976.

—. Early Pentecostal Revival. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1992.

 

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5 Responses to “Circle of Fire: Early Pentecostal Revival in Indianapolis”

  1. James L Young Says:

    I must mention Rev DL Spall who came out of Christian Tabernacle, to eventualy pastor the Westside Pentecoastal Church for 35 years.
    Truly he should be listed in the above list.

  2. J. Mark Jordan Says:

    My father, Victor L. Jordan was also saved in the revival in Sister Spillman’s church. Other preachers who came out of that church include Fred Olsen, Scotty Teets, C. C. Deckard, Lee Senior and Gary Moss.

  3. tm walker Says:

    Where is a mention of Elder Tobin ?…one of the greatest apostolic warriors. He prayed many back from the dead and was a powerful witness in the Kingdom….TMW

  4. David Pierson Says:

    Hello, Mr. Jordan. Sister Lena Spillman was my great-grandmother. I came along years after she passed. Did you know my grandparents, W.C. and Addie Pierson, by chance?

    • J. Mark Jordan Says:

      To David Pierson,
      I’m sorry, but I have not been on this site for years. No, I did not know your grandparents. Gary Keller, whose dad came out of Christian Tabernacle, may know. He pastors New Life Christian Center in Lancaster, Ohio.
      J. Mark Jordan

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