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Following in His Steps

Edie Mourey is an author, editor, historian, and granddaughter of Pentecostal pioneer Ivan Spencer. In this warm story about her adventure to learn more about her own heritage, she discovered anew how all of us that follow hard after Jesus become part of His legacy.

 

Americans seem obsessed with discovering their ancestry. With DNA tests promising to unlock the doors to our biological heritage and online research sites equipped to build complex family trees, we are unleashing our inner genealogists to find out who we are and where we came from. And so, we trek to family gravesites and countries of origin. We want to see where our twelfth-great grandfather and grandmother lived, how they lived, and what they did. The closer we can get to mapping their exact footsteps, the more real they become to us. And the more real they become to us, the more meaning or purpose we may find in our existence.

Researching our Pentecostal roots has taken on a similar form. With the arrival of a new millennium, Pentecostalism has hit a century marker. Finally, we have a significant history of the outpouring of the Spirit within our country. Early Spirit pioneers and trailblazers may have passed from the scene as well as many of their immediate progeny, but the third generation is now in senior adulthood with more generations ensuing. Some of these have realized they have a heritage and an inheritance in the things of the Spirit. Thank God they are retelling the stories of their spiritual fathers and mothers. These have grown to understand the importance of knowing the American Pentecostal narrative. Therefore, they have traced and are tracing the steps of their spiritual ancestry so as to grasp who we are as a people and the deeper and fuller purposes of God for us in our day.

Personally, I didn’t go looking for the footsteps of my forebears. I kind of stumbled upon them while doing research for a book I was commissioned to write. At the end of the 1900s—sorry, I had to make this sound authentically historic—I was commissioned by Elim Bible Institute[1] (EBI) and Elim Fellowship (EF) of Lima, New York, to write the “sequel” to the biography of their founder.[2] The original biography was titled Ivan Spencer: Willow in the Wind and was written by Marion Meloon. Seeing Miss Meloon had passed away and being I was one of Ivan Spencer’s granddaughters, I was chosen to complete the project that would commemorate the school’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 1999.

Preparing to conduct research, I visited the campus.[3] As I drove up College Street, I saw this very familiar to me, stately, neoclassical building known as College Hall. The building is impressive with its extensive portico and six scrolled columns running the length of its front. At the time, College Hall housed EBI’s library, and it was there I was introduced to my grandparents, Ivan and Minnie Spencer, in a new and living way.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Edie Mourey is the owner and editor for Furrow Press, a boutique self-publishing company. She is the youngest granddaughter of Ivan and Minnie Spencer, the founders of Elim Bible Institute & College and Elim Fellowship of Lima, New York. She authored Elim: Living in the Flow (1999) and compiled Faith: Living the Crucified Life (2008) and Daily Seedings: A Devotional Classic for the Spirit-Filled Life. Edie edits and writes in New York State’s Southern Tier where she, her husband, and daughter reside. Twitter: @EdieMou

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