Subscribe via RSS Feed

Neil Hudson, You Will Never Know Where You Are Going Until You Know Where You Came From: British Pentecostals’ past development and future challenges

Pre-denominational Pentecostalism

The central British Pentecostal before World War One was Rev. A. A. Boddy, vicar of All Saints Church, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. An inveterate traveller, he consequently had contacts all over the world. He was intrigued by any mention of churches being revived, and was therefore a natural visitor to Keswick as well as to Wales to witness the Revival first hand. But when he paused from his travels, he was well-loved by the parishioners in the working class parish he represented. On hearing of the outbreak of tongues in Azusa Street, Los Angeles that had taken place in 1906, he contacted T. B. Barratt, the leader of a Methodist Church in Oslo, Norway that was reportedly manifesting charismatic gifts. Barratt was an Englishman who had moved to Norway during his teenage years. In September 1907, he visited Sunderland, and a small number of English believers began to claim to have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of that being an ability to speak in tongues.

As had happened at Azusa Street, news of this event was initially, and most effectively, spread via the secular press. Gradually, others who had entered into a similar experience, or were anxious to, made contact with Boddy and the initial phase of the Pentecostal Movement in Britain was underway. Many of these early Pentecostal leaders were members of Mission Halls, independent prayer groups or Brethren churches where laity had been given greater freedom to participate in the work of the ministry. They were more often likely to be entrepreneurial businessmen, often self-employed. They were able to take the time, and had the money, to travel to the annual European Conventions that Boddy hosted; able to establish Pentecostal ‘centres’ (the use of church was often deemed to be too restrictive to this new move of the Spirit), and they were willing to use the existing Holiness networks to share their new experiences of the Spirit. The period prior to World War One was one when Pentecostalism was determinedly ecumenical, non-hierarchical and based on relationships rather than any denominational structure. Although Boddy was the natural person to establish a new Pentecostal denomination, he refused to do so on the grounds that he believed the Spirit was being poured out for the whole Church, not simply for the sake of the emergence of a new denomination. This somewhat idyllic infancy was shattered by the First World War. Boddy’s patriotism, which resulted in him becoming a padre in the trenches in 1915, clashed with the radical pacifist stance taken by younger Pentecostals such as Smith Wigglesworth, Donald Gee, John and Howard Carter. Boddy’s moment in the limelight had come to an end. The next development would see the organization of Pentecostal denominations.

The development of denominations

Three Classical Pentecostal denominations emerged between 1914 and 1924, each with their own distinctive emphases. The Apostolic Church founded in 1916 by the Welsh brothers Daniel Williams and William Jones had emerged from the Apostolic Faith Church, a group that was dominated by the increasingly eccentric William Hutchinson. Their emphasis related to the restoration of the offices of apostle and prophet to the church. The Elim Pentecostal Church began in 1915 in Monaghan, Ireland under the leadership of another Welshman, George Jeffreys. He was an outstanding revivalist and the Elim Church structure revolved around his evangelistic campaigns and the subsequent establishing of churches. Between 1915 and 1922 they were largely confined to working in Ireland. In 1922 they moved their headquarters and the substance of their work to England and London, in particular.

Pin It
Page 2 of 612345...Last »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Summer 2012

About the Author: Neil Hudson is a Pentecostal pastor who has worked in local churches, theological colleges, and is currently working with the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity as a church consultant and trainer. His most recent book is Imagine Church: Releasing Whole-Life Disciples (IVP, 2012).

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?