Pentecostal Evangel: a historical view
Warner directs the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield,
Mo. The Heritage Center preserves and provides access to materials
crucial to the history of the Assemblies of God while helping
the constituency understand the A/G’s heritage through
its museum, research center, Web site and a quarterly publication
called Assemblies of God
Heritage. Warner recently spoke with Isaac Olivarez,
PE: How did the
Pentecostal Evangel come about?
Two publications came into the hands of the Assemblies of God
in 1914. One was E.N. Bell’s publication, Word &
Witness, which later combined with the Evangel.
J. Roswell Flower gave his Christian Evangel to
the Assemblies of God as well. The original idea was unity.
They didn’t have radio or TV, so publications were the
thing. The magazine was called the Christian Evangel
until 1915, when A/G headquarters moved to St. Louis. There
was already another magazine with a similar name there. So they
changed the name to the Weekly Evangel. They kept that name until 1918 when they moved to Springfield,
Mo. Then they changed it back to the Christian Evangel. The next year, the name became the Pentecostal
PE: What was the
About 25,000 when the Word & Witness and Christian
Evangel came together. Back then the Word & Witness
was a monthly and the Evangel was a weekly. In those days editors were elected, and
until 1949 they were executive presbyters. Robert Cunningham
was appointed as editor in 1949, and after that it became an
appointed position. If you look in the early records, you’ll
see that the editors were listed along with the other members
of the Board of Administration and Executive Presbytery.
PE: What significant
focus do you see in the early years?
The Evangel has always been an evangelistic, missionary,
family and teaching tool. In the early days the Assemblies of
God was trying to establish its doctrine and trying to create
a Pentecostal identity. Editors would take a sermon, and most
of it would go into the Evangel.
As early as the 1920s they called it a family and missionary
magazine. It’s still doing the same thing.
PE: How did the
Evangel handle world issues of its day?
During World War I, the December 12, 1914, headline read, “Is
European war justifiable?” In a story published in 1944
during World War II, they published an article that read, “Hitlerism
must lose.” They were very outspoken against Adolph Hitler.
Charles Ramsay, an artist who illustrated for the Evangel
for 43 years, drew a cartoon that said, “The whip breaks
the Jew — God breaks the whip.”
PE: How has the
Evangel maintained its impact through the years?
I give Today’s Pentecostal Evangel a lot
of credit for what the Assemblies of God has done and continues
to accomplish. The magazine created credibility in the early
years. Today, people look forward to reading it. The Evangel is found in Laundromats, waiting rooms and all kinds
of places. With the distribution in the military and in prisons,
it’s a fantastic ministry. Even non-A/G churches see the
value of the Evangel because the focus is on people. Most importantly, the
Evangel is a soul-winning tool. There are regular reports of
healings or conversions. More than 10,000 readers have sent
in coupons acknowledging their decision to follow Christ. We’ll
never know the worldwide impact the magazine has had until we
get to heaven.
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