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Wesley and the Pentecostals


Azusa Street and Beyond

Finney argued that it was the duty of Christians to be filled with the Spirit.

It was at the Azusa Street mission in Los Angeles, California where Pentecostalism found its fullest expression. Black minister William Seymour came under the influence of holiness teaching around 1900 while he was living in Cincinnati. In 1903 he moved to Houston, Texas where he came into contact with Charles Fox Parham. Parham was a holiness teacher who began to teach that the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues. Parham established a Bible school to train students in the “Apostolic Faith.” Seymour listened to lectures through the door by sitting in the hallway because he was black.10

Parham worked tirelessly to promote the Pentecostal message. He started bible schools to train ministers, and orphanages, and began writing The Apostolic Faith. While studying the Acts of the Apostles, Parham and his students became convinced that God wanted to pour out a second Pentecost on them that would follow speaking in tongues. One night with about 120 people gathered in the upper room of the mansion, Agnes Ozman asked Parham to lay hands on her to receive the gift of the Spirit. When Parham reluctantly agreed, she began to speak in tongues, making her the first person in the Pentecostal movement to speak in tongues.11 This became the spark that ignited the flames of the Pentecostal message.

Everyday, there are 35,000 new Pentecostal/charismatic believers.

Although he had not personally experienced it, Seymour accepted Parham’s teaching of being baptized with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. In 1906, Seymour was invited to help black holiness pastor, Julia Hutchins in Los Angeles. She did not receive Seymour’s Pentecostal message and would not allow him to assist her or teach in the church. Seymour was then invited to the home of Richard Asberry at 214 Bonnie Brae Street. After months of prayer and fasting, Seymour and several others experienced the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of tongues. The prayer meeting soon outgrew the little home and they moved to an old abandoned African Methodist Episcopal Church on Azusa Street. They cleaned up the building and began to have services there. An amazing revival ensued.

While studying the Acts of the Apostles, Parham and his students became convinced that God wanted to pour out a second Pentecost on them that would follow speaking in tongues.

Many people came and were influenced by the Pentecostal message of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. As the influence of Azusa began to sweep through the United States, men and women came from all over the country to hear the Full Gospel message (salvation, sanctification, and Spirit baptism). Literally thousands experienced sanctification and Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues. From Azusa Street, the Pentecostal message literally spread around the world.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2006

About the Author: The Rev. Dr. Winfield H. Bevins serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He is also the Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas and an adjunct professor at Trinity School for Ministry. He is the author of Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting (Seedbed, 2016), Rediscovering John Wesley (Pathway Press, 2005), Our Common Prayer: A Field Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Simeon Press, 2013), Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith (NavPress, 2011), and Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship (Seedbed, 2016). Amazon Author Page Facebook Twitter: @winfieldbevins

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