Asuza St: America, Pentecostalism

{Based on As at the Beginning by Michael Harper, They Speak with other Tongues by John Sherrill, Asuza.txt from Rohn Price WWW blessings page}

1) Parham and Stone's Folly

The year: 1900 - a young methodist minister compared his life and ministry to acts and decided his needed to change. To seek the deeper life he opened a bible college in a building called Stone's folly with the aim of seeking with the students the secret to the life displayed in Acts.

They concentrated on the second experience of the spirit. An idea that the church had been increasingly interested in for 50 years. A lot of this interest was exhibited by the people involved in the Holiness movement.

Parham and his students soon discovered that in most cases in Acts of this second experience those who recieved the experience spoke in tongues. Those cases where they were not explicit, they could argue that they occured. They began praying for this experience. On New years eve at 7.00pm Miss Ozman was filled with the spirit and began to speak in tongues.

2) The second college and Seymour

The college soon closed down because the building was sold. Parham drifted for a few years and then began another college. At this college, among others, he taught a young negro minister named W.J. Seymour.

3) Asuza Street - three years of outpouring

Seymour, with the experience of the spirit and tongues left to take up a pulpit in Los Angeles. His first sermon, - first of a series he planned on the holy spirit - caused the elders to lock him out of the church.

In 1906, rejected for his strange beliefs, began ministry in 214 North Bonnie Brae Street and later due to pressure from neighbors moved to 312 Asuza Street. Here a derelict partially burnt livery stable next to a tomb stone factory was the birth place of the modern pentecostal movement. Continuous meetings were held there every day for a period of three years beginning in mid-April, 1906. It is the most important address in the history of the pentecostal movement. This was the address of a three year revival that firmly established the pentecostal theology and the pentecostal movement.

What was it like in the Asuza st mission? The following are some quotes from the paper published by the Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles,THE APOSTOLIC FAITH, one ofthe primary means by which news of the revival was spread:

These are copied from the Rohn Price Blessings page.

The news has spread far and wide that Los Angeles is being visited with a "rushing mighty wind from heaven." . . . One brother stated that even before his train entered the city, he felt the power of the revival. . . . There is such power in the preaching of the Word in the Spirit that people are shaken on the benches. Coming to the altar, many fall prostrate under the powerof God, and often come out speaking in tongues. Sometimes the power falls on people and they are wrought upon by the Spirit during testimony or preaching and receive Bible experiences. . .

The demonstrations are not the shouting, clapping or jumping so often seen in camp meetings. There is a shaking such as the early Quakers had and which the old Methodists called the "jerks."

On the second page of the same issue, Glen A. Cook provided his testimony,which he wrote:

I could feel the power going through me like electric needles.The Spirit taught me that I must not resist the power but give way and become limp as a piece of cloth. When I did this, I fell under the power, and God began to mold me and teach me what it meant to be really surrendered to Him. I was laid out under the power five times before Pentecost really came. Each time I would come out from under the power, I would feel so sweet and clean, though I had been run through a washing machine. . . . My arms began to tremble, and soon I was shaken violently by a great power, and it seemed as though a large pipe was fitted over my neck, my head apparently being off. . . . About thirty hours afterwards, while sitting in the meeting on Azusa Street, I felt my throat and tongue begin to move, without any effort on my part. Soon I began to stutter and then out came a distinct language which I could hardly restrain. I talked and laughed with joy far into the night.


In the fourth issue (p. 4), G. W. Batman wrote,


"I received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire and now I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost,not only in my heart but in my lungs, my hands, my arms and all through mybody and at times I am shaken like a locomotive steamed up and prepared fora long journey."


William H. Durham recorded his testimony in the sixth issue of THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (February-March, 1907), p. 4, where he wrote:


On Friday evening, March 1, His mighty power came over me, untilI I jerked and quaked under it for about three hours. It was strange and wonderful and yet glorious. He worked my whole body, one section at a time, first my arms, then my limbs, then my body, then my head, them my face, then my chin, and finally at 1a.m. Saturday, Mar. 2, after being under the power for three hours, He finished the work on my vocal organs, and spoke through me in unknown tongues.


R. J. Scott, the superintendent of Home and Foreign Missions in Winnipeg, wrote as follows in THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (February-March, 1907),. 7:


After a trip of nearly 3500 miles, we arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, Nov. 29. I left my family at a hotel and proceeded with my son on a search for Azusa Mission. After I was there a short time, a lady got up and testified, and the power of God fell on her and she began to tremble. . . . Well, glory to God, after this sister trembled for a few minutes, she started to speak in an unknown tongue to me, and to my surprise, after she had uttered a few sentences, she spoke in English, giving the interpretation of what she said.


In the same issue (p. 8), Clara E. Lum of the Azusa Street Mission wrote:


When I came to Azusa Mission, I went in for the baptism with the Holy Ghost immediately. Had some digging to do, but the Lord met me. I was filled with the Holy Ghost many times and was shaken many times by the power of God.


In a report from San Francisco that appeared in issue no. 7 (April, 1907),. 4, we read:


The power of God shook her so mightily that an elderly lady friend, who had accompanied her to the meetings, was greatly agitated and excited about it; she declared that the sister was having a fit, and said something ought to be done to relieve her.When told that it was the power of God, and that the sister would come out all right, she looked incredulous, and flew around in great excitement. Evidently she had not seen it on this wise before. The sister did not return to the meetings until Saturday night. . . . The sister was again shaken by the mighty power of God. Her husband was sitting by her side, and was evidently amazed; yet he recognized it as the power of God, though not saved himself, he did not resist the power of God, nor try to hinder his wife. When his wife went to the altar, still shaking under the mighty power of God, he sat quietly in his seat, deeply moved by what was going on.


In vol. 1, no. 5 (January 1907), p. 1, we read:


"One who received the Holy Ghost baptism in Clearwater, testified, 'It was in morning worship. We read a chapter and I wanted to pray but the Lord tied my mouth. The power began to come in waves. The Lord took full possession. I fell over like a deadman. I was dead to the world. I tried to pray while lying on the floor, but when my tongue was loosened, it was in a different language."


In issue no. 7 (April, 1907), p. 4, the following was reported from San Francisco:


On another night a Hawaiian brother was gloriously converted. . .. The Hawaiian could not speak for some minutes after he arose to his feet, the power of God was upon him to such an extent.


In theDecember, 1906 issue of THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (vol. 1, no. 4), p. 3, thefollowing announcement appeared:


Sister M. E. Judy writes from Columbus, Ohio, that they have a tarrying meeting there and others in different towns are tarrying with them in Spirit. She says, "Last Sunday a burden of prayer came upon the people in our humble little church in such power that our minister had no opportunity to preach, just said a few words on "This is that" and closed.


Writing from Norway, A. A. Body wrote concerning T. B. Barratt's meetings


that "the meetings are liable at any moment to be swept by a wave of spiritual power sweeping through all human arrangements. At times the noise is strangely awesome, almost appalling to an 'outsider'" (THE APOSTOLICFAITH, vol. 1, No. 6 [February-March, 1907], p. 1).


Levi R. Lupton wrote as follows from Alliance, Ohio, in the sixth issue of THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (February-March, 1907), p. 5:
I then became perfectly helpless and for a season my entire body became cold, and I was unable to move even to the extent that I could not wink an eye for a short time. Yet, I was perfectly conscious and restful in my soul and mind. After some three hours the power of God left my body except in my shoulders and arms, which remained stiff during the entire time I was upon the floor.


Myrtle K. Shideler wrote as follows in the January, 1907 issue of THEAPOSTOLIC FAITH (p. 3):


By the time the chorus ended, the power of God was so heavy upon me. I could scarcely open my mouth, and every fibre of my being was trembling. Yet my feet felt glued to the floor and my knees stiff, so I could not sit down. I only got out a few broken sentences that I remember. (I never fainted in my life and was never unconscious, but God certainly took me out of myself.) He showed me things which there are not words enough in the English language to express. . . . I was under the power the remainder of the meeting, and for three days was as one drunken. . . . Since then, such waves of power roll over me from time to time. I can scarcely keep my feet, and I am sure if my old friends in California could see me, they would think I was indeed insane.

People came to Asuza street from all around the world, received the baptism and took it home with them. Thomas Ball Barratt came to Asmerica looking for support to build a hall for the Oslo city mission, he left with something better - the baptism (Harper p29ff for Barratt)

In 1888 he wrote in his diary "Lord baptise me fully in the Holy Ghost and with fire". In 1902 he wrote to Robert Evans a leader in the welsh revival of that time that "I want a fuller baptism of fire" and asked the welsh to pray for Norway. He never visited Asuza street but corresponded with people involved.

After being especially convicted during a sunday service he retired to his room, locked the door and prayed and fasted. Just before 5pm the fire fell, he didn't speak in tongues though - this happened a few days later. He became the apostle of the revival to Norway after resigning because of opposition from the mission, He is credited with founding the pentecostal church in Norway.

Alexander Boddy, a church of England minister became interested in the revival. He had been heavily involved in the Keswick movement - part of the Holiness movement around the Keswick conferences that still run today. He visited Barratt and then invited him to come to his church in England. The revival broke out in his church also

Again the incidents provoked opposition - Leaders of the Holiness movement attacked and condemned it

One of the Cambridge seven - Cecil Polhill received the baptism after his return from China and soon became a co leader in the movement with Boddy. By 1918 though both had lost the leadership to others. Smith Wigglesworth and Stanley Frodsham to name two. The movement was now a separate denomination shunned by all the main churches

Discussion Questions:

1) How important are signs and wonders to indicate Revival or any move of the Spirit?

2) As a church and as church leaders how should we deal with people who have a different way of expressing and demonstrating faith?

3) How should we balance the need to be open to the flow of God's Spirit in challenging our beliefs and practise with the need to be true to the orthodox faith?

4) How valid is the "remnant" theology which suggests that for any move by the Spirit, God will call the "true believers" out?