Archive for the ‘Indiana’ Category

Frank Emerson Curts: Laborer for Christ

19 April, 2011

Famed Indiana author, Kurt Vonnegut, once wrote: “I don’t know what it is about Hoosiers. But wherever you go there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there.” This was certainly true of the late Superintendent of the Ohio District of the United Pentecostal Church, Bro. Frank Curts, who hailed from Indiana but spent the most productive years of his ministry in Ohio, building First Apostolic Church of Cincinnati and providing important leadership for the growing Oneness movement.

Frank Emerson Curts was born September 16, 1889 to Joseph and Isabelle Curts in Muncie, Indiana, where he spent his boyhood. As a young man, he was employed at the Ontario Silver Company, where he met Helen Warring. The pair were married on May 10, 1913 and moved to Indianapolis a short time later.

In Indianapolis, Helen began attending meetings at L.V. Roberts Holiness mission on East Tenth Street, where she was converted in 1916. She returned home and knelt beside her bed praying that God would save her husband. Bro. Curts testified: God spoke to me in answer to her prayer, and that same night while I was working as night foreman in a bakery, I confessed Jesus as my Saviour to the men that were working with me” (Curts 4). He gladly accepted his wife’s newfound faith and began attending meetings with her at the mission hall, where he was also converted.

Not long after the couple began serving Christ, Bro. Glenn Cook, formerly of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, brought the message of baptism in Jesus’ Name to the Pentecostal mission. At first, Bro. and Sis. Curts struggled with the new ideas:

It was rather difficult to walk in the new light after having had such a miraculous conversion, being taught sanctification as a definite work of grace, and having been told I had the Holy Ghost. But we took the Apostolic message before the Lord, with the open Bible before us, and we saw that it was according to His Word. We were baptized in the Name of Jesus, and shortly afterward received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

In 1917, while attending Oak Hill Tabernacle, Bro. Curts felt the call to preach the Gospel message. In the early 1920s, he attended a revival meeting in Greensburg, Indiana. The small group of saints invited Bro. Curts to come and preach to them on weekends, and he and Sis. Curts faithfully made the commute from Indianapolis to Greensburg for the next five years.

In April 1925, the Lord called Bro. and Sis. Curts to Cincinnati, Ohio. With thirteen people, they began services in a converted Saloon at Walnut and McMicken Streets in downtown Cincinnati. To support his wife and daughters, Evelyn and Frances, Bro. Curts worked as a silver polisher while pastoring the church. Despite modest growth in the beginning, Bro. and Sis. Curts saw a real break in revival around 1927. By 1930, the assembly outgrew the mission and moved to a converted garage at 2930 Colerain Avenue renamed Bethlehem Tabernacle (Tredway).

Bro. Curts was determined to root believers in the Word of God. A gifted teacher, Bro. Curts was strongly-committed to Acts 2:38 and saw the divine foreshadowing in the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. He authored a book on the subject and taught Bible classes using large charts to visually demonstrate his points. This created a strong doctrinal backbone for the growing assembly.

Attendance increased so much, that the church had to begin renting local theatres to accommodate the large crowds, sometimes over 900 persons! In 1961, they purchased a former cinema at 4828 Vine Street and began using the name First Apostolic Church. Bro. Curts was very proud of his congregation but took no personal credit for its size or spiritual reputation:

We do not feel that the success of this church with its several hundred members has been due to our ability, but because of the obedience and faithfulness of the people of God here, who are willing to walk with Him according to His word. (Curts 4).

His great love for his congregation was also demonstrated in the construction of a retreat center for the church in nearby Boone Lake, Kentucky. Bro. Curts owned a farm there and converted 20 acres into a veritable camp where the congregation spent much time cultivating deep relationships and enjoying Godly fellowship.

In addition to dutifully serving his local congregation, Bro. Curts served as a presbyter in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ and became the District Superintendent of the Ohio District of the United Pentecostal Church in 1955. He faithfully held that post until his untimely death. On May 8, 1969, Bro. Curts suffered fatal injuries during a car crash at University and Vine Streets, just a few miles from the church. He died on May 11, 1969.

Bro. Curts left behind a powerful legacy of service to God’s kingdom. The First Apostolic Church is still a thriving congregation, currently led by Joel Urshan. His life was lived in answer to God’s call to ministry, and he executed his duties with an excellent spirit. His passing was lamented by the congregation he led, the district he served, and the United Pentecostal Church he loved. The seeds that he planted in faith and obedience continue to bring forth fruit, and Frank Curts will undoubtedly rejoice to witness the bounty of his labors at the coming of the Lord Jesus!

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Glenn Cook: Oneness Apostle

19 October, 2010

As the Azusa Street meetings began to produce concentric waves of revival throughout Los Angeles and Southern California, many holiness ministers visited the mission at 312 Azusa Street to contend with William Seymour, the African American leader of the burgeoning Pentecostal group, concerning his strange new doctrine of speaking in tongues.  One of the early preachers to withstand Bro. Seymour was Glenn A. Cook, who was conducting holiness tent meetings at Seventh and Spring Streets in Los Angeles.  Cook was deeply impressed by Seymour’s humility and patience and began to attend the Pentecostal meetings.  He eventually apologized to Bro. Seymour for his “hard sayings” and spent five weeks in heartfelt repentance and spiritual agony before receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost: 

I felt that I was really lost and unless I received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues I would miss all.  When I had just about given up all hope, the Holy Ghost fell on me as I lay in bed at home.  I seemed to be in a trance for about twenty-four hours and the next day in the meeting began to speak in tongues.

Bro. Cook proved to be an important asset to the work of the Azusa Mission and was soon ordained an elder by Bro. Seymour.  A former news reporter and a printer by trade, Cook assisted with the publication of The Apostolic Faith, the mission’s international publication, answered correspondence, and handled the mission’s finances. 

            In December 1906, Bro. Cook began an effective evangelistic campaign throughout the West, Midwest and South, spreading the Pentecostal message.  He arrived in Lamont, Oklahoma where “quite a number were tarrying and waiting for Pentecost.”  Hungry souls traveled to his meetings from over 100 miles away.  Heading eastward, he delivered the doctrine to Mother Mary Moise in St. Louis then on to Chicago.  In Indianapolis, he held powerful meetings, where several members of the Christian Missionary Alliance received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, including the Flower family, defectors from Dowie’s Zion who later became influential leaders in the Assemblies of God.  In an Apostolic Faith report, Cook accurately predicted that Indianapolis would become “a center of power, being an inter-urban railway center like Los Angeles.”  Cook was gladly received by a number of Church of God in Christ adherents in the South, while their bishop, Charles H. Mason, was on site at Azusa receiving the Holy Ghost. 

            In 1914, Cook was evangelizing in the east when he received a letter from Frank Ewart, who was conducting meetings in Los Angeles “stating that he and a number of my friends had started a tent meeting and were baptizing people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ewart invited Cook to return to Los Angeles to assist in the work.  He accepted Ewart’s scriptural message, and he and Bro. Ewart rebaptized one another in a rented trough.  “During the following months,” wrote Bro. Cook, “the great revival broke out, many hundreds being baptized in the Name of Jesus.” 

            Bro. Cook’s acceptance of the doctrine of the mighty God in Christ placed him in the ranks of the Oneness Pentecostals, who were transforming the movement with a deeper revelation of Jesus Christ.  As a church planter, Cook took up the burden to revisit the works he had helped to found in 1906 and 1907 with the Oneness message:

During the spring of 1915, the call came to me from the Lord to go back East and carry the message to the places where several years before I had carried the message of the Holy Ghost baptism with speaking in tongues.  My first stop was St. Louis, where I visited the Rescue Home of Mother Moise . . . Before leaving St. Louis, Mother Moise, Ben Pemberton, and about forty others were baptized in the Name of Jesus in the Mississippi River.

Afterward, he traveled on to Indianapolis where:

. . . the saints were prepared and hungry for the new message.  Great crowds turned out from the beginning, people coming in from different points in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.  During the thirty days of the meeting, I was informed by those who kept a record that some 469 were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Among those baptized were G.T. Haywood, L.V. Roberts, the new Bishop [Samuel N.] Hancock, Brother [T.C.] Davis, and about all the leaders of that day.  The Lord made a clean sweep, leaving few Pentecostal people in te city who were not baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Throughout his lifetime, Cook continued to promote the powerful message of baptism in the Name of Jesus and the fullness of the Godhead in Christ.  He contributed articles to a number of Apostolic circulars including The Blessed Truth, The Herald of Truth, and Meat in Due Season.  He continued a deep friendship with Bro. Frank Ewart, who introduced him to the Oneness truths, and worked alongside him in Pentecostal ministry in Los Angeles, where he pastored a work in Belvedere.  When he died in 1948, Bro. Glenn A. Cook was memorialized as a trailblazer.  The seeds of truth that he scattered throughout the United States as an apostle of the Faith continue to bring forth a mighty harvest.

 

 

West Side Story: the Heritage of One Indianapolis Congregation

14 December, 2009

West Side Pentecostal Church is one of the oldest Apostolic assemblies in the city of Indianapolis, beginning in 1912, just a few short years after the Pentecostal message was introduced to the city. In January 1907, Bro. Glenn Cook, an evangelist from the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, began holding Pentecostal meetings in the on Shelby Street in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. Another evangelistic party arrived from Azusa in March, including Thomas Hezmalhalch, Fred Dexheimer, Celia Smock, and Lenora Hall. These early workers helped spread the revival, and congregations began to form throughout the city (Flower 5-6).

The roots of West Side Pentecostal Church begin with Bro. Joseph Rodgers, who opened a mission in 1912 on the corners of West Ohio and Minker Street (now Reisner Street). A Bro. Edwards served as Assistant Pastor of the fledgling congregation, and the work was called Apostolic Faith Helping Hands Mission. It is interesting to note that Bro. Rodgers chose to name the mission. Many Pentecostal assemblies were simply known only by their location, a nomenclative tradition, which grew out of early Pentecostal suspicions about denominationalism and formal organization. Bishop G.T. Haywood’s large Indianapolis church was simply known as 11th and Senate. Additionally, in August 1912, E.N. Bell published an article in Word and Witness, a widely-read Pentecostal circular, asking ministers not to use the terms “mission” or “Apostolic Faith” in their church names: “Nowhere in the Bible is a congregation of believers in Christ called a ‘mission’ nor an ‘Apostolic mission’ but we read of the ‘Church of God at Corinth.’” Bell favored “Church of God in Christ” as a suitable name, which undoubtedly reflects some of the early ministerial connections with the organization of that name (Bell 2).

Bro. Rodgers continued to lead the church that he started, and the congregation steadily grew under his leadership. Unfortunately, the pastor, who was an interior decorator by trade, was tragically killed while working on a church. The scaffolding collapsed, and he fell to his death.

Part of the church’s history is rather nebulous, but it is likely that the church joined the Assemblies of God at its formation in 1914. Following naming conventions of that fellowship, the church name became West Side Assembly Church. However, Bro. Jim Jackson, who succeeded Bro. Rodgers, must have been a key figure in moving the church into the Oneness camp when the message came to Indianapolis in 1915.

Bro. Jackson’s pastorate was followed by the ministry of Bro. Hedges, who was saved at West Side Assembly. After only a few years at the church, Bro. Hedges became ill and called on the help of Bro. Delbert Spall, a young minister from Christian Tabernacle, one of the most well-established Apostolic assemblies in Indianapolis. When Bro. Hedges went to be with the Lord on 15 July 1954, Bro. Spall became the pastor. Bro. Spall recalled that the last time Bro. Hedges ministered in the West Side pulpit, he felt the spiritual mantle from Bro. Hedges pass to him.

Bro. Delbert Spall was born in Carothersville, Indiana in 1919. As a child, Bro. Spall had attended Christian Tabernacle with his parents Freeman and Freda, a dynamic Apostolic church led by Sis. Lena Spillman. At the age of 17, Bro. Spall had an attack that brought him near to death. His family called for Sis. Spillman to come and pray. The young man received the Holy Ghost and was healed and became a faithful member of Christian Tabernacle. In 1950, Bro. Spall recognized his call to the ministry.

Bro. Spall’s wife, Mary Ellen (McMorris) also has a wonderful Pentecostal heritage. As a baby, her first trip outside of the house was to Oak Hill Tabernacle, one of the oldest Pentecostal works in Indianapolis led by Bro. L.V. Roberts. Sis. Spall’s mother, Dora McMorris, was purportedly amongst the first group of Indianapolis Pentecostals to be immersed in the Name of Jesus by Bro. Glenn Cook on 6 March 1915.

This wonderful couple led West Side Pentecostal through decades of Holy Ghost revival, completing a new sanctuary in 1959. In May of 1989, they retired from full-time ministry, but both are still living and are wholly committed to the Lord.

Bro. Donald Winters became the pastor of West Side at the Spalls’ retirement. Recently, his son, Donald Jo Winters assumed the pastorate, and Bro. Anthony Oliver is his Assistant Pastor.

The West Side Pentecostal Church continues to stand strong on its historic foundations of faith and service. From its most humble beginnings as a small Apostolic Faith mission to a well-established Pentecostal congregation, West Side Pentecostal Church is undoubtedly the oldest Indianapolis congregation in the fellowship of the United Pentecostal Church International. Their unwavering commitment to the cherished doctrines of Bible salvation, holiness, and the mighty God in Christ are a testament to generations of solid, anointed leadership as they continue to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jud. 1.3).

Sources:

Bell, Eudorus N. “Not Missions, but Churches of God in Christ.” Word & Witness Vol. 8, Is. 6. 20 August 1912, p. 2.

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.

*Special thanks to the Spall family for conducting this interview at a difficult time.

D.C.O. Opperman: Pentecostal Pioneer and Pedagogue

24 October, 2009

September 15, 1926, Daniel Charles Owen Opperman was tragically killed in a car accident on his way to preach an evening service in the Baldwin Park area of Los Angeles.  After the Sunday morning service, Bro. Opperman was invited to dinner at the home of the Hoag family.  A daughter-in-law of the couple was driving a carload back to the church.  Crossing a track, the car was struck by a train.  Bro. Opperman was thrown from the vehicle, and his neck was broken.  His Bible lay beside him, and the coroner remarked at his dignified appearance, suspecting he was a doctor or lawyer.  So departed a great Pentecostal pioneer who was a dedicated teacher, evangelist, and pastor.

Charles Owen Opperman was born in Goshen, Indiana on July 13, 1872.  His parents, German immigrants, were members of the Dunkers, a sect that had left Prussia because of religious persecution.  Charles was raised to be God-fearing and developed a sober spirit.  When his father died, Charles was only fifteen and assumed responsibility for his widowed mother, two brothers and one sister.

Charles Opperman was hungry for knowledge.  In 1890, he graduated from Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, where he met Ella Syler, who he married on March 10, 1890.  Charles Opperman taught in several schools from 1892.

In 1899, Opperman was attending the famous Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and became acquainted with the work of John Alexander Dowie, an Australian evangelist whose meetings attracted thousands nightly.  In 1900, Dowie began Zion City, Illinois as a permanent home for his Christian Catholic Apostolic Church and a spiritual haven for his followers.  Drawn to Dowie’s message of holiness and healing, Opperman joined the community and added Daniel to his name.  He began teaching in the Zion school.  He also taught in the city’s college and was later named the Superintendent of Zion’s schools.  On the first Sunday in January 1902, John Alexander Dowie ordained D.C.O. Opperman as a deacon in the Chicago Auditorium.  Bro. Opperman said:  “God confirmed with a remarkable healing on the following Wednesday.  Mr. J.J. Smith was instantly healed of the grippe [influenza] in answer to prayer.”

Opperman was very active in the Zion work.  He was part of Dowie’s monumental campaign in New York City in October 1903.  Suffering from tuberculosis, D.C.O. Opperman resettled for a short time in San Antonio, Texas and worked alongside a Zion elder named Lemuel C. Hall.  Despite his failing health, Bro. Opperman was determined to preach.  He describes his miraculous healing in San Antonio:

In March 1905 went to San Antonio, Texas.  Health in a very dangerous condition.  Climate helped me some, but God helped me more.  Partial deliverances [sic] in answer to prayer.  On April 8, 1905 at about 7:30 P.M. stepped into Houston St. San Antonio near P.O. [post office] to herald the gospel of the kingdom.  God marvelously healed me and sanctified me.  God gave me great joy in my ministry in the street.

He returned to Zion in April but went back to Texas in March 1906 to preach at Zion gatherings in Houston.
In Houston, he became acquainted with Charles Fox Parham, who had moved Apostolic Faith operations from Topeka, Kansas.  Parham was preaching the Pentecostal baptism, and Opperman believed the message, though he did not initially receive the actual baptism.  He sent letters to Zion, urging followers to accept the Bible teaching of speaking in tongues.  In June 1906, Bro. Opperman traveled with Charles Parham to an Apostolic Faith convention in Galena, Kansas.  After those meetings, Parham accompanied Opperman to Kansas City, Missouri and spent five weeks preaching the Pentecostal message to the Zion faithful there.

In October 1906, Bro. Opperman began joint meetings of Zion and Apostolic Faith people in San Antonio.  He says: “Turned work over to Bro. Farr in November.  About 15 saved, several sanctified, several healed, and seven Pentecosts.”  Bro. Opperman did not personally receive the Holy Ghost until 1908.  His grave personality may have hindered him from yielding to God; but on January 13, 1908, he spoke in tongues privately for the first time in Belton, Texas. Bro. Opperman recorded twenty other “Pentecosts” during the nine-week Belton campaign. But on March 5, 1908, he spoke publicly in tongues at a meeting in San Antonio in an American Indian language that was translated.

On July 28, 1907, D.C.O. Opperman, who had lost his first wife in childbirth, married Hattie Ruth Allen, a young Pentecostal from San Antonio.  A year later, in July 1908, Bro. Opperman assumed duties as the State Director of the Apostolic Faith Movement in Texas and began traveling throughout the district, encouraging the fledgling missions and spurring revival.

Bro. D.C.O. Opperman is probably best remembered for his role in beginning Bible training schools for Pentecostal workers.  He conducted many short-term schools where Holy Ghost-filled saints were transformed in Gospel missionaries.  Many future leaders in the Pentecostal movement attended Opperman’s schools, including Ralph M. Riggs, who later became a General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God.  Originally known as Schools of the Prophets, Opperman’s training centers were run along the faith line—no tuition.  Attendees prayed for what they got and got what they prayed for!  He assembled schools in such diverse places as Houston, Texas, Joplin, Missouri, Anniston, Alabama, Des Moines, Iowa, and Hot Springs, Arkansas.  In October 1915, Bro. Opperman organized the Ozark Bible and Literary School, a permanent Bible training institution under the auspices of the Assemblies of God, which he served as an executive presbyter.

When the revelation of the mighty God in Christ spread throughout the Pentecostal movement, Bro. Opperman accepted the message and was rebaptized in Jesus’ Name on September 12, 1915.  Interestingly, a final announcement of the Ozark school still appears a year later in August 1916 in The Latter Rain Evangel, a Trinitarian Pentecostal publication. Bro. Opperman began publishing his own paper, The Blessed Truth, propagating the Oneness message.  With the exodus of the Jesus-Only faction from the Assemblies of God in 1916, Opperman assumed the role of chairman in the General Assembly of Apostolic Assemblies. The Ozark school followed D.C.O. Opperman into the Oneness movement and became the Pentecostal Bible and Literary School with the GAAA’s merger with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1917. Bro. Opperman continued to labor for the Lord and led a German congregation in Lodi, California from 1923 to 1925.  His untimely death was sadly remarked by Bro. Howard Goss, who described him as “a handsome and commanding figure amongst us, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.”  Eternity will measure the extent of his Godly influence on the Pentecostal movement and the multitude of lives changed through the seeds of faith and knowledge that he sowed throughout his remarkable life.

Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs: the Music of Early Oneness Believers

6 March, 2009

Music has always been an integral part of the Pentecostal Movement. Bro. Howard Goss, an early Pentecostal pioneer, devoted a chapter of his book, Winds of God, to the advent of Pentecostal music, which he described as “joyous” and an attractive alternative to the mournful worship of traditional churches. Songs were sung “almost at breakneck speed,” and the passionate praises penetrated the souls of saints and sinners alike:

This crescendo of joyous, happy people singing unto the Lord was infectious. The sound of victorious Christian living wrapped around you. Unperceived, it seemed to slip down gently into the deeps of your affections, to tap at your heart’s door, and unsuspected, spread warmly through your entire being. (Goss 208-209)

Bro. Goss saw Pentecostal music as an important and indispensable element of the early revival: “Without it the Pentecostal Movement could have never made the rapid inroads into the hearts of men and women as it did. Neither could we have experienced a constant, victorious revival over the ensuing fifty years, one in which thousands have been accepted, sealed, and shipped through the world in bond, waiting for the appearance of the Lord” (Goss 212).

The centrality of music in the promotion of Pentecostal worship and an abiding spiritual anointing have produced a number of prolific songwriters. When the Oneness Movement emerged after 1913, Apostolics began to pen new hymns intimating the Oneness stand for full Bible truth and melodiously conveying the doctrines of the Mighty God in Christ, the New Birth, and holy living.

The catalog of Apostolic songwriters is an impressive roll call of some of God’s finest preachers and early Pentecostal laborers including: Garfield THaywood, Sis. S.K. Grimes, Alexander R. Schooler, Thoro Harris, Robert C. Lawson, William Booth-Clibborn, and George Farrow. *

G.T. Haywood, first Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, is perhaps the most beloved of all Oneness composers. His songs “I See a Crimson Stream of Blood” and “Jesus, the Son of God” gained widespread popularity even outside of the Oneness movement. Many of his hymns, published in The Bridegroom Songs, a hymnal printed at Christ Temple, his Indianapolis church, are distinctly Apostolic. The chorus of “Do All in Jesus’ Name” copyrighted in 1923 says:

Preach in Jesus name, teach in Jesus name,
Heal the sick in His name and always proclaim
It was Jesus’ Name in which the power came;
Baptize in His Name, enduring the shame,
For there is vict’ry in Jesus’ name.
Similarly, the refrain of Haywood’s “The Lord of Lords” says:
He’s Lord of lords and King of kings,
The Beginning and the end,
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The dying sinner’s Friend.
If you will hear His voice,
Be buried in His name,
Then the Comforter will come to abide.

Haywood was a tireless defender of Oneness doctrine; and when he died in April 1931, he left behind not only scores of hymns and a large body of apologetic tracts, sermons, and books.

Sis. S.K. Grimes also authored many songs. She and her husband, Samuel J. Grimes, served as Apostolic missionaries in Liberia for a number of years, and Grimes succeeded Bishop Haywood as leader of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1932. One of her most poignant hymns is aptly entitled “Acts 2:38”:

O what will you do with Acts two thirty-eight?
The way that leads to life is narrow and straight.
“Repent and be baptized,” God is speaking do not wait.
He gives you full directions there in Acts two thirty-eight.

Other significant hymns celebrating the Oneness of God and the Name of Jesus include “The Great I Am” and “Jesus, the Joy of My Soul.”
A.R. Schooler, one of the original PAW bishops from Cleveland, Ohio, wrote a number of distinctly Apostolic songs such as “The Name”, and “God Died for Me.” His 1920 hymn “The Author and the Finisher” proclaims in part: “His word we will obey/In the water we’ll be buried in His name.” Schooler’s “The Bible Manifestation” is an interesting example of Apostolic hymnody. The lyrics are openly critical of apostate denominationalism, which have “left the path apostles trod.” The song defends Pentecostal norms such as speaking in tongues, the anointing “of the sick/By the bishopric”, foot washing, and communion, and militantly declares: “I’ll arise and stand by the Bible manifestation/I’ll stand until the Lord shall come.”
Schooler also co-wrote many hymns with Thoro Harris, pastor of the Lake Street Mission in Chicago, Illinois, and one of the most fruitful and widely published Pentecostal musicians. Harris, whose most famous tune is unquestionably “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, wrote scores of hymns like “Pentecost in My Soul” and “All That Thrills my Soul is Jesus.” He was one of the first musicians to produce exclusively Pentecostal hymnals: The Blessed Hope (1910), Jesus Is Coming Soon (1914), Songs of His Coming (1919), and Songs We Love (1921).

Robert C. Lawson, who left the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World to found the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, also contributed a large number of songs to the Pentecostal repertoire. In “Praise Our God”, Lawson summates the Oneness view of Jesus Christ:

He overshadowed the Virgin Mary,
Was born a babe in Beth’lem cradle
God vailed [sic] in flesh,
His name was Jesus
Being interpreted was God with us.

Two of his most memorable hymns are “God is Great in My Soul” and “His Name Should be Praised” which boldly states: “I will praise Him for the ev’ning light/That I have entered in/Which shows us that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One;/Oh praise the Lord ‘’tis finished’, On Calvary ‘twas done!”

William Booth-Clibborn was the grandson of William Booth, the illustrious founder of the Salvation Army. Booth-Clibborn was a powerful Pentecostal evangelist and authored one of the most beloved Oneness compositions, “Down from His Glory.” This majestic song inspired in 1921 declares the glory of Christ, the incarnate God:

Down from His glory, ever living story,
My God and Savior came, and Jesus was His name;
Born in a manger to His own a stranger,
A man of sorrows, tears and agony!

What condescension, bringing us redemption,
That in the dead of night, not one faint hope in sight,
God gracious, tender laid aside His splendor,
Stooping to woo, to win, to save my soul!

Without reluctance, flesh and blood His substance,
He took the form of man, revealed the hidden plan;
O glorious myst’ry sacrifice of Calv’ry!
And now I know He is the great “I AM”!
Chorus: Oh how I love Him! How I adore Him!
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all!
The great Creator became my Savior,
And all God’s fullness dwelleth in Him!

Perhaps the most well-known anthem of Oneness Pentecostalism is George Farrow’s “It’s All in Him”, which so clearly delineates the inter-testamental Oneness revelation of Jesus Christ as the manifest Jehovah God:

The Mighty God is Jesus, the Prince of Peace is He
The Everlasting Father, the King eternally,
The wonderful in wisdom by whom all things were made.
The fullness of the Godhead in Jesus is display’d.

Emmanuel, God with us, Jehovah Lord of hosts,
The omnipresent Spirit who fills the universe,
The Advocate, the High Priest, the Lamb for sinners slain,
The Author of redemption, O glory to His name!

The Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End,
The Living Word incarnate, the helpless sinner’s Friend.
Our wisdom and perfection, our righteousness and pow’r
Yea, all we need is Jesus, we find this very hour

‘Our God for whom we’ve waited,’ will be the glad refrain
Of Israel recreated when Jesus comes again.
Lo! He will come and save us, our King and Priest to be,
For in Him dwells all fullness, and Lord of all is He!

Chorus: It’s all in Him, it’s all in Him,
The fullness of the Godhead is all in Him.
It’s all in Him, it’s all in Him,
The Mighty God is Jesus, and it’s all in Him!

The hymns of early Apostolic believers were inspired by deep spirituality and the freshness of Bible revelations. They were simultaneously anointed and apologetic, glorifying Christ and intimating the deep truths of the Scriptures. The popularity of many of these hymns lasted throughout the early decades of the Oneness movement. Sadly, today their lyrics and tunes are virtually unknown to Apostolic young people, and many of the Oneness songs are indeed endangered. But the musical contributions of our Pentecostal predecessors make up an important part of our Apostolic heritage, and it is the responsibility of the contemporary Church to rediscover and revive the powerful songs of Zion that remain relevant to our strong stand for Acts 2:38 salvation and New Testament doctrine of the Mighty God in Christ, passing from generation to generation the “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” that so clearly articulate the message of “the faith once delivered unto the saints”, born in the Spirit-fueled conflagration of early Pentecostalism and the rich experiences of our Apostolic ancestors.

Sources:

Goss, Ethel. The Winds of God: the Story of the Early Pentecostal Days (1901-1914) in the Life of Howard A. Goss. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1977.

Hymns taken from The Bridegroom Songs Indianapolis: Christ Temple, 1924 and Pentecostal Praises. St. Louis: Pentecostal Publishing House, 1947.

Prince of Preachers: Bishop Morris Ellis Golder

19 December, 2008

When he died, July 22, 2000, Bishop Morris Ellis Golder left behind a powerful Apostolic legacy and a thriving congregation, Grace Apostolic Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he founded in 1953. Born January 23, 1913 to Earl and Margaret Golder, Morris was only a small boy when his parents were converted at Eleventh and Senate, later Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church, and he was raised under the careful and strict tutelage of his godly parents.

Eleventh and Senate was the epicenter of Apostolic revival in the city of Indianapolis. There, the Golder family was blessed to sit under the visionary leadership of Bishop Garfield Thomas Haywood, who distinguished himself in the early Pentecostal movement as a theologian, hymnist, dynamic preacher, and stalwart apologist.

As a young man, Morris fell away from the church, and he entertained ideas of becoming a jazz orchestra leader. Most evenings, he could be found at the Walker Ballroom on Indiana Avenue. One cold January night, the voice of the Lord spoke to Morris as he danced with a young lady. “Run for your life.” The message was clear and simple. A rattled Morris Golder, who had spent all his money, walked home, talking to God and asking for a little more time before committing his life (Garrett 21-22).

Morris had promised his mother that he would attend church Sunday night. He arrived at 10 PM. He returned the following night and slept through the sermon. At the close of service, however, he responded to the invitation. That night, January 20, 1930, Morris E. Golder repented, was baptized in the Name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost a few minutes after leaving the baptismal tank (Garrett 23). His life was forever changed, and he developed a strong relationship with God.

Only four months after his conversion, Christ Temple’s beloved pastor, Bishop Haywood, died. Bro. Golder remembered Haywood as a frequent guest at his parents’ home, but he had only just begun to enjoy his wise and methodical Bible teaching. Robert F. Tobin succeeded Haywood and radically influenced the young Morris Golder, who received a call to preach shortly after being saved. Elder Tobin was a fiery preacher and kept rhythm slapping his hand on the pulpit while delivering his syncopated sermons. This oratorical style was passed on to Morris Golder, and his messages were marked by the same metrical pattern and fervent delivery (Garrett 34).

Despite his early drawing to the ministry, there were limited opportunities for young preachers at Christ Temple. Like many other young ministers of that era, Morris Golder did much of his early preaching in downtown Indianapolis street meetings. He preached his first revival for Ace Summers in Mount Vernon, Illinois (Garret 38; 42).

In 1935, Elder Golder became acquainted with a small group of believers in Saint Louis who had formed a church but had no leader. He and his young wife, Elizabeth, were invited to become their pastor, and he led the church for several years, moving from a small mission at Goode and North Market Streets to a more spacious property at 2406 Belle Grade (“Our History”). The church was the first racially-integrated assembly in Saint Louis (B1-B2 Cebula 1).

At the death of Elder Robert Tobin in 1947, Morris Golder received the call to return to Indianapolis to lead Christ Temple. In February 1948, he was installed as the new pastor, and the church experienced phenomenal Apostolic revival under his capable leadership, with weekly attendance exceeding 1,000 (Garrett 51-53).

In 1953, Elder Golder felt led to leave Christ Temple and begin another church in Indianapolis. With 30 charter members, he founded Grace Apostolic Church, which became one of the most thriving Pentecostal assemblies in the city. From their humble beginnings in the rented Rex Theater, Grace grew mightily, purchasing property at 22nd and Broadway Streets and building a brand new 2,200-seat sanctuary, which was completed in November 1990 (Garrett 76).

Morris E. Golder was an integral part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. He served the organization in various capacities including Treasurer, Editor of the Christian Outlook, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aenon Bible College, Auxiliary Director of the National Sunday School Association, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Apostolic Light Press. In 1972, Elder Golder was elevated to the bishopric as overseers of the 11th Episcopal District of the PAW, which included Kentucky and Western Tennessee (Garrett 70).

Bishop Golder, who received an advanced degree from Butler School of Religion, now Christian Theological Seminary, and an honorary doctorate from Aenon, was also an accomplished author. He wrote eight books, including an official history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (Cebula B1-B2; Garrett 68).

For many years, Bishop Golder was a prominent voice of Apostolic ministry through his radio presence on WTLC. Each Sunday morning, the Bishop delivered the uncompromised truth over the airwaves preaching strong messages on the New Birth, the Mighty God in Christ, and Bible holiness. At his death, Suffragan Bishop George Stearnes of Gary, Indiana, said: “We called him the ‘Prince of Preachers.’ ‘Prince’ because he was a man of humility, but also a man of great power and wisdom. His was a voice of harmony in a world that needed it” (Cebula B1-B2). Bishop Golder’s life was a true testimony of God’s saving power, and his ministry was a blessing to the worldwide Body of Christ.

Sources:

Cebula, Judith. “Mourners Pay Last Respects to ‘Prince of Preachers.'”  Indianapolis Star. 29 Jul 2000, B1-B2.

Garret, Gary W. The Life and Times of Bishop M.E. Golder. Springfield, MO: Apostolic Christian Books, 2000

“Our History.” Bethesda Temple <www.bethesdatemplest.org/history.nxg>. 10 Dec 2008.

Raymond G. Hoekstra and the Latter Rain

29 June, 2008

During the 1940s, many Pentecostals became persuaded of the need for a renewal of Pentecostal revival. Despite the growth of the movement, the zeal of the first generation of Spirit-filled believers was waning, and organizational formations and doctrinal differences left the overall Pentecostal movement fragmented. A 1941 article by Albert Weaver, an early Pentecostal, noted: “The need for an outpouring of the Spirit upon His people, God’s spiritual grain, is not only a necessity, it is urgent. We are in great apostasy, and spiritual drought is visible everywhere” (5). In the midst of such dryness, some Pentecostals began to seek after a “new thing” to re-ignite the lost fervor, and the Latter Rain Movement, or “New Order”, which swept up many believers in its wild deluge, initially seemed to be a revitalizing force in Pentecostalism. Ultimately, the Latter Rain proved to be divisive and doctrinally unstable, presenting yet another significant crisis in the Pentecostal movement.The tenets of the Latter Rain are probably best summarized in a 1949 Assemblies of God resolution detailing the movement’s errors:

1. The overemphasis relative to imparting, identifying, bestowing or confirming gifts by the laying of hands and prophecy.
2. The erroneous teaching that the Church is built on the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets.
3. The extreme teaching as advocated by the “New Order” regarding the confession of sin to man and deliverance as practiced, which claims prerogatives to human agency which belong only to Christ.
4. The erroneous teaching concerning impartation of the gift of languages as special equipment or missionary service.
5. The extreme unscriptural practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by the means of gifts of utterance.
6. Such other wrestings and distortions of Scriptural interpretation which are in opposition to teachings and practices generally accepted among us. (qtd. in Warner 16)

The resolution presents a clear picture of some of the aberrant notions of Latter Rain proponents. The movement was anti-establishment, and undermined general teachings about the Church, magnifying spiritual gifts over ecclesiastical authority and equating contemporary inspiration with Scripture.

The Latter Rain movement had its beginnings at Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada where on 12 February 1948 Bible school students experienced “God moving in [their] midst in a strange new way” (qtd. in Warner 16). A lengthy prophecy detailed the coming move of God, and gifts of healing began to manifest at the school. The “revival” soon spread to the Northwestern United States and was carried throughout North America, where it impacted a number of healing revivalists. Promises of divine healing and spiritual renewal drew thousands into the stream, and evangelists carried the Latter Rain message to city after city attracting both Onenenss and Trinitarian Pentecostals who were willing to minimize doctrinal distinctions to embrace what they accepted as the latest iteration of revival.

In Indiana, one of the most well-known casualties of the Latter Rain movement was Raymond Hoekstra, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle. Bro. Hoekstra assumed the pastorate of the 32-member Fletcher Pentecostal Church in 1937. This was his first foray into pastoral ministry. Bro. Hoekstra had been saved as a young man at the Anchor Rescue Mission in San Jose, California and began his pastorate in Indianapolis only four years later (Hoekstra GPG 16; Basore). The small church grew rapidly to over 200 under his leadership, and they eventually razed the small frame building and erected a block structure renamed Calvary Tabernacle (Basore).

Bro. Hoekstra’s difficulties began in 1949 with a revival invitation to a child evangelist, David Walker, known as “Little David.” While Little David had early experiences at the Apostolic Gospel Tabernacle in Long Beach, California, his father, recognizing the boy’s call to preach at the age of 9, soon expanded his itinerary to include Foursquare and Assemblies of God churches (Walker LDMB 17 & Walker Interview). David Walker says that as a child he really had no sense of doctrine and felt comfortable preaching at Oneness and Trinitarian meetings (Walker Interview). He came to Calvary for revival, and Bro. Hoekstra scheduled a crusade in the 10,000-seat Cadle Tabernacle at the corner of New Jersey and Ohio where Little David preached to a full house. The meeting changed Bro. Hoekstra, as he embraced the mysticism of the Latter Rain movement. At Calvary, he began to believe that healing oil was flowing from his hands, and some saints claimed the same experience. He also began to question evidential tongues and told some tarrying for the Spirit to simply “repeat after me” (Basore).

 

 

The present coming together of the hearts of God’s people is a move of God in believers [sic] hearts. A divided leadership has taught Christians to separate themselves from other Christians over doctrinal and denominational differences . . . Christians have been chained to religious machines. Often they were forbidden to attend other assemblies or fellowship with other Christians because of doctrinal or organizational differences. (Hoekstra LR 36-37)

In September 1950, a brief announcement appeared in The Pentecostal Herald: “This is to advise all concerned that Raymond G. Hoekstra is not in fellowship with the United Pentecostal Church” (“Notice . . .” 11). After working with Little David for approximately three years, he went on to work full-time in prison ministry, a work that he had begun in Indianapolis visiting the reformatory at Plainfield and the state prison in Michigan City (Hoekstra GPG 17). Bro. Hoekstra never returned to the Apostolic Faith. Like so many others, he was washed away in the cloudburst of the Latter Rain, but he left behind a thriving church in Indianapolis that built upon his revival foundation to become one of the great assemblies of the United Pentecostal Church.

Sources:

Basore, Robert and Emma. Personal interview. 15 May 2008.

Hoekstra, Raymond G. God’s Prison Gang. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977.

Hoekstra, Raymond G. The “Latter Rain” Portland, OR: Wings of Healing, 1950.

“Notice to Ministers of the United Pentecostal Church.” Pentecostal Herald. Vol. 25 No. 9, September 1950, p. 11.

Walker, David. Introducing Little David: “Teen-Age Miracle Boy Preacher in the Ministry of Miracles, Preaching and Healing for the Nations. St. Petersburg, FL: Little David Books, 1955.

Walker, David. Personal Interview. 29 April 2008.

Warner, Wayne. “Reaction of the A/G to the Latter Rain.” Heritage 1 September 1987, pp. 16-19.

Weaver, Albert. “The Need for Spiritual Rain.” Pentecostal Evangel. No. 1398, 22 February 1941, p. 5.

Pentecost in Print: Papers and Tracts from Pentecostal Pioneers

12 May, 2008

Pentecostals have always been prolific, and the turn-of-the-century rediscovery of the New Testament truth of Spirit baptism, evidenced by speaking in tongues at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible College, spawned a plethora of circulars, papers, and tracts. Parham launched The Apostolic Faith in March 1899 and used this publication to promote the activities of his school in Topeka, Kansas. While the initial publication predates the Pentecostal outpouring that took place at Bethel, the name of the periodical evidences his school’s dedication to recreating a New Testament model of Christianity. Before the baptism fell, Parham’s curriculum was mainly focused on healing and prophecy, and the facility included a Healing Home, a spiritual retreat for the physically and spiritually infirmed (Goff 46-7). When Agnes Ozman, one of the Bethel students, received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on 1 January 1901, The Apostolic Faith became the first Pentecostal publication and began promoting Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

When the famed Azusa Street revival began, William Joseph Seymour borrowed the name of Parham’s publication and began publishing The Apostolic Faith from Los Angeles in September 1906. The headline of the first issue read boldly: “Pentecost Has Come: Los Angeles Being Visited by a Revival of Bible Salvation and Pentecost as Recorded in the Book of Acts.” This periodical was seminal in promoting the Pentecostal experience. It included a broad spectrum of testimonies, conversion reports, missionary news, and theology. Tens of thousands of copies were soon in circulation, and printed reports of unprecedented revival in Los Angeles brought thousands to the true birthplace of modern Pentecostalism, the mission at 312 Azusa Street.

While the secular press wrote articles criticizing the Azusa Pentecostals as fanatics citing their long, raucous services and mixing of racial and social classes in an environment of unbridled revivalism, The Apostolic Faith provided glowing details of conversions, miracles, and the phenomenon of speaking in tongues, often accompanied by interpretation. A May 1907 article declared: “The interpretation of many of the messages in nearly every language spoken by the Holy Ghost in unknown tongues is that Jesus is coming” (Untitled).

Many missionaries visited Azusa Street filled with hunger or curiosity returning to their labor filled with the Holy Ghost. In October, the paper reported that eight Pentecostal missionaries had been dispatched from Los Angeles (Seymour 1). Hundreds of preachers, mainly from Holiness denominations, received their Pentecostal baptism at Azusa and returned to their churches declaring its truth. The paper also chronicles the Spirit baptisms of a spectrum of immigrants including: Mexicans, Chinese, Russian, Italians, and Japanese, many of whom were converted after hearing messages in tongues delivered in their native languages. Additionally, The Apostolic Faith records the conversions of Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to the Pentecostal faith. Racism and bigotry were forgotten in the presence of God, and the Spirit produced a miraculous unity amongst the early Pentecostals.

Bro. Frank Bartleman, a Los Angeles journalist and former Holiness preacher who received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, saturated California with thousands of Pentecostal tracts during the Azusa revival. Before Azusa, Bro. Bartleman and other Christians in Los Angeles, inspired by published accounts of the Welsh Revival led by Evan Roberts, were anticipating another Pentecost and praying fervently to that end. The Azusa revival filled that hunger, and Bro. Bartleman’s writing captures the deep hunger and spiritual zeal of the early Pentecostals and their singular belief in God’s soon coming. Following the San Francisco earthquake, he published a tract called “The Last Call.” In less than three weeks, Bro. Bartleman and his workers distributed over 75,000 of the pamphlets, and the revival at Azusa increased (Bartleman 50-4).

Initially, Bro. Bartleman continued writing articles about the Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles for Holiness publications. Gradually, proponents of the Holiness Movement distanced themselves from the Pentecostals, and Bartleman began submitting his work to other exclusively Pentecostal publications including The Way of Faith, Christian Harvester, and Apostolic Light (Bartleman 61). While little is known of these publications, they provide evidence that a growing number of Pentecostal circulars were in existence.
Pentecostal periodicals were influential and provided a rudimentary cohesiveness for the burgeoning movement. In 1914, the newsletter Word & Witness called for a general convention of members of the Church of God in Christ and “all Pentecostal or Apostolic Faith Assemblies who desire with united purpose to co-operate in love and peace to push the interests of the kingdom of God everywhere” (Bell 1). From this advertised meeting emerged the Assemblies of God, one of the earliest and largest Pentecostal organizations.

The restorationism of the early Pentecostal Movement is strongly evidenced in the published writings of early apologists, and periodicals very often included strong, doctrinal defenses. The notion of the “Finished Work of Calvary” championed by Bro. William H. Durham, the well-known pastor of Chicago’s North Avenue Mission, penetrated Pentecostalism through his paper entitled The Pentecostal Testimony (“William Durham” 255). The controversial “New Issue”, the contemporary name for Oneness theology, emerged at the Worldwide Pentecostal Camp Meeting held in Arroyo Seco, California, when Bro. R.E. McAlister, a Canadian evangelist, declared that the Matthew 28:19 formula for baptism was never used by the New Testament Church. Several brethren, including McAlister, Frank Ewart, Glenn Cook, and John Scheppe, became convinced, through prayer and study, that the proper biblical baptismal invocation was “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This idea spawned an untold number of publications and tracts dedicated to the furtherance of the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ.

A 1913 notice in Word and Witness announced the launch of The Good Report edited by Brothers Ewart and McAlister, the oldest known Oneness periodical (Notice). Bro. Ewart also edited a paper called The Present Truth. Perhaps the three most influential Oneness publications, however, were Bro. Ewart’s Meat in Due Season, Bro. D.C.O. Opperman’s The Blessed Truth, and Elder G.T. Haywood’s The Voice in the Wilderness. These papers were filled with articles about the advancement of the Jesus’ Name message, including international news of rebaptisms in the name of Jesus.

Bishop G.T. Haywood was one of the most prolific and profound Oneness apologists. He wrote: “Much of the early Pentecostal movement was promoted and introduced to various islands, countries, and continents of the world through tracts and periodicals that we published.” His paper, The Voice in the Wilderness, became the official organ of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1918, and Haywood retained editorial responsibility for the publication after he was elevated to presiding bishop in 1925 (Tyson 16). He also wrote a prodigious number of tracts and booklets, including his masterpieces: “The Finest of Wheat” and “The Victim of the Flaming Sword.” His incomparable ability to articulate biblical truth with theological proofs, historical context, and eschatological importance makes him one of the most beloved twentieth century Pentecostal authors.

While Oneness brethren promulgated truth in their periodicals, their detractors were also busy campaigning against the spread of their message. In 1915, J. Roswell Flower, General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, lamented the penetration of the “New Issue” literature in the Assemblies of God’s Weekly Evangel :

Another letter, this very week, tells of the unsettled conditions in an eastern State where the Los Angeles [Oneness] literature has been scattered broadcast [sic] among the Pentecostal Assemblies, and where unstable souls, who know not the Word of God, are being swept off their feet. And that is not all, the new teaching has been carried to the foreign fields, and already hearts that are sore and distressed are writing us stating the awful results and after-effects of this teaching . . .

He further warns: “These workers are scattering over the country, and methinks they drive like Jehu. They are liable to drop in your assembly any day, and the day after, your assembly is possibly on the verge of dissolution” (Flower 1). Clearly, Trinitarians were worried about the wildfires of doctrinal truth ignited worldwide by Oneness Pentecostal publishers and preachers, and the “New Issue” battle was largely fought on front pages of their respective periodicals.

Ultimately, the Pentecostal press was a key component in reshaping the face of twentieth century Christianity. With the ink of inspiration, great Apostolic believers penned, printed, and published the full gospel message; and while thousands of evangelists, missionaries, and Christian workers canvassed the globe with New Testament truth, they were often preceded by or armed with Pentecostal literature. From the writings of our Pentecostal pioneers, we can create a composite picture of the passion and zeal that fueled the fires of revival that made Pentecostalism the fastest growing religion on earth (McClung 1). The yellowed records of our past must inspire us, and their voices urge us on toward increased worldwide evangelism as we carry the blessed truth of the Apostolic faith to a new generation of believers. Founded on our strong Pentecostal heritage of the written word and empowered with modern tools of mass communication, we can publish “The Whole Gospel to the Whole World.”

Sources:

Bartleman, Frank. From Plow to Pulpit: from Maine to California. Los Angeles: 1924.
Bell, E.N. General Convention of Pentecostal Saints and Churches of God in Christ, Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 2 to 12, 1914. Word & Witness 9.12 (1913): 1.

Flower, J. Roswell. Editorial Comment on Issue. Weekly Evangel, 99 (15 July 1915): 1.

Goff, James. Fields White unto Harvest : Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1988.

McClung, Grant. Pentecostals: the Sequel. Christianity Today. 50.4 (2006): 1-8.

Notice. Word & Witness 9.6 (1913): 8.

Seymour, William J. The Pentecostal Baptism Restored: the Promised Latter Rain Now Being Poured Out on God’s Humble People. The Apostolic Faith. 1.2 (October 1906): 1.

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

Untitled. The Apostolic Faith 1.8 (May 1907): 3.

“William Durham.” Dictionary of Charismatic and Pentecostal Movements. Eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

Circle of Fire: Early Pentecostal Revival in Indianapolis

12 May, 2008

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.

 

God Completely Heals Stroke Victim!

12 April, 2008

NOTE:  While this is not technically historical, it does document the work of God for future generations!

On October 16, 2007, God performed an astounding miracle for Sis. Judie Ritchie, a member of River of Life in Muncie. In October 2001, Sis. Ritchie experienced her first stroke. This incident was followed by a series of Transient Ischemic Attacks, so-called ministrokes. In February 2002, she was hospitalized at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and continued to suffer debilitating attacks over the next five years.

The strokes left Sis. Ritchie’s body partially paralyzed and greatly weakened. Drained of energy, she was unable to do housework and perform usual tasks. She walked with a cane and sometimes used a walker because of the hemiplegia in her right leg and foot, which were paralyzed and turned outward, causing her to fall often. She also experienced paralysis in two fingers on her right hand and was unable to take proper hold of things. Sister Ritchie had a knot in her abdomen that was also paralyzed, and the left side of her face was paralyzed, effecting her speech.

During the night of October 15, 2007, Sis. Ritchie experienced yet another ministroke. She woke to discover her mouth badly drawn down and had difficulty moving. By faith, she struggled to get ready for the weekly Ladies’ Prayer meeting held on Tuesday mornings at River of Life. “I almost stayed home,” says Sis. Ritchie, “but I’m so glad I ended up going!”

Approximately fifteen women were gathered for the meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, the sisters gathered in a prayer circle. A chair was placed in the center of the circle, and several of the sisters sat in the chair by turn to receive special prayer. When Sis. Ritchie took the seat, the ladies began to fervently pray the prayer of faith in the Name of Jesus, laying hands on her. Sis. Ritchie gives all the glory to God for what happened next!

I felt a weight like big heavy bricks in my feet, and it began to go up my legs. My right foot and leg moved back into position. The feeling continued to move up my body, and the knot in my stomach disappeared. The tingling in my fingers went away, and the feeling moved up my left arm into my shoulder and onto the left side of my face. My mouth moved back into place, and the paralysis left me!

When the sisters realized what God was doing, they began to rejoice with Sister Ritchie for the miracle God was performing.

For six years, Sis. Ritchie had not been able to play the accordion. She got up from the chair and picked up Sis. Margaret Martin’s accordion and began to play “There’s Something About That Name.” The sweet Spirit of the Lord began to move in a very powerful way.

Sis. Ritchie left the church and drove to Pastor John Martin’s home and testified of the miracle she had received. She then visited her two sisters and prayed for them. When her husband came home that evening, he asked if she had gotten the mail. She replied that she hadn’t and rose from her chair to walk with him to the mailbox. He was astounded at her movement and agreed to attend Bible Study that night with his wife.

Pastor Martin called Sis. Ritchie to the platform to give her testimony. She explained the supernatural healing that God had given her and joyfully ran the perimeter aisles of the church, igniting powerful praise and worship for God’s undeniable healing power!

Sis. Ritchie made an appointment to see her internist, Dr. Mohammed Bahrami. The doctor was amazed at her miraculous recuperation and recorded on his official report: “A miracle happened to her at church as she received prayer from her lady friends.”

God still answers prayer! Jesus said: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, that will I do . . .” (Jn. 14.13). Sis. Ritchie’s healing is a dynamic testimony of the divine power that resides in the omnipotent Name of Christ Jesus! He is still Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that Heals!