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Across the Lines: Charles Parham’s Contribution to the Inter-Racial Character of Early Pentecostalism, by Eddie Hyatt

Pauline Parham:

When Dad Parham died in February of 1929, my husband, Robert, Mother Parham and I picked up the mantle and fulfilled his itinerant schedule of ministry. Later that same year, his schedule took us to the Los Angeles area. While there we visited the Azusa Street Mission and Jenny Seymour, who had pastored the mission since her husband’s death in 1925. We had a very friendly visit with Mrs. Seymour and then proceeded on our way.

Being a young twenty year old, I did not realize the significance of this visit and did not know the details of the earlier rift between Dad Parham and the Azusa Street Mission. Actually, Dad Parham never blamed Seymour for the rift but, rather, some of the elders at the Azusa Mission. I now realize that Mother Parham was going out of her way to reach out to Mrs. Seymour.

Parham’s Hometown Race Relations

Parham conducted an annual campmeeting in his hometown of Baxter Springs, Kansas right up to the time of his death in 1929. Several thousand people from throughout the nation attended each year. One person, impressed with the interracial character of the Baxter Springs campmeeting, wrote, “People of all creeds and colors were made to feel at home in the meeting and they certainly used their liberty in the Lord.”8 Even non-Pentecostal scholars have noted the inter-racial character of Parham’s ministry and meetings. Robert Mapes Anderson wrote,

Even before the Los Angeles revival, Parham had tapped this new ethnically heterogeneous constituency in Houston, where he garnered black converts like Seymour, Miss Farrow, and “Brother” Johnson, and some Mexican-Americans. At the 1913 summer encampment of Parham’s group in Baxter Springs, Kansas, “White people, colored people and Indians all took part in the meeting” and as Brother Parham remarked, “We had the Gospel in black and white and red all over.” For years, Parham held integrated meetings throughout the lower Midwest.9

Pauline Parham:

Dad Parham was loved by the black people in our hometown of Baxter Springs, Kansas. He often preached in the black Pentecostal church there and even encouraged the whites to attend services at the black church. The black people loved him because he treated them right. The yearly campmeetings he conducted in Baxter Springs were attended by all races. He was not a racist!

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Category: Church History, Fall 2004, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century. www.eddiehyatt.com

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