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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Joseph R. and Mary Jane Flower
Dec. 29, 2013

How the Evangel Began

Joseph R. Flower (1913-2010) and his wife, Mary Jane (1914-2000), spoke with Wayne E. Warner, then director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (formerly the Assemblies of God Archives) for the March 15, 1998, Pentecostal Evangel. Joseph formerly served as general secretary of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo., and his parents were the founding editors of the Evangel.

evangel: Your mother, Alice Reynolds Flower, published an issue of the Evangel while the first General Council was in session in 1914.

JOSEPH R. FLOWER: Yes, she and my father [J. Roswell] worked together on what they called the Christian Evangel. It was a paper with a fairly good circulation among Pentecostals in the Midwest. From Hot Springs, Ark., during the first Council, my father reported by phone to my mother. She wrote the reports and got an issue ready for the printer — a local newspaperman. When it was printed, she sent it to Hot Springs by train and it arrived prior to the conclusion of the organizing meeting of the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

Of course, we didn’t have a lot in the Evangel compared to what it has today. What Mother did primarily was write the Sunday School lessons. Then there were reports of Pentecostal meetings in different parts of the country and other articles.

MARY JANE FLOWER: As she developed her writing ministry, she would wake up and get an inspiration, and she’d have Dad copy it down.

evangel: Your mother and father saw the potential of reaching people around the world by spreading the Word in the printed page.

JOSEPH: Yes, that is true. First with The Pentecost and then the Christian Evangel (now the Pentecostal Evangel).

evangel: Your parents and others knew what it was to live by faith.

JOSEPH: Well, a definite feeling was prevalent in the Pentecostal Movement at that time that this outpouring of the Spirit, which had become worldwide, was a sure sign that we were near the coming of the Lord. People were motivated by that, perhaps, to a greater degree than anything else — the realization that God was fulfilling the promise in the Scripture that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and they were participants.

evangel: Your father was born in Canada. What brought his family to the United States?

JOSEPH: They had seen people from Zion, Ill. [the Christian city John Alexander Dowie founded], pray for a well-known helpless cripple [John Easton], in Toronto, who was healed. This man made his living by being placed on a cart and pulled by a horse in which he sold trinkets on the streets.
The healing impressed a lot of people, including my grandparents, who were Methodists. They moved to Zion, and eventually to Indianapolis. There my father’s folks and my mother’s folks became acquainted.

evangel: An event that made headlines in Indianapolis and other cities in 1907 was your mother’s spiritual experience when she was 17.

JOSEPH: She received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on Easter 1907, while they were still attending the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. The thing that impressed the Alliance people was the testimony of a young man [Glenn Cook] whom they knew and who had been to the Azusa Street revival.

evangel: Your father was in those meetings and later was baptized in the Spirit. They were married and began ministering together. What about you two?

MARY JANE: I was an evangelist in the 1930s. I had the calling of the Lord upon me. I had preached and enjoyed seeing people get saved in these meetings. Brother David Burris, superintendent of the Arkansas District, encouraged me to apply for credentials.

JOSEPH: A number of churches, including some Italian Pentecostal churches in New Jersey, invited Mary Jane to hold meetings. Then we met during a district council of the New York/New Jersey District held in Buffalo, N.Y., where I had been pioneering a church. It’s now Full Gospel Tabernacle, Orchard Park, pastored by Tommy Reid. We were married on June 6, 1940.

evangel: Did your parents visit your pastorates?

JOSEPH: Yes, and whenever they visited, we always gave them the pulpit.

evangel: When your parents returned to Springfield in 1935 — [your father] as general secretary — how did they minister in the local assembly?

JOSEPH: When Bert Webb became pastor of Central Assembly, he asked them to begin a Sunday School class for young people. They collaborated, but Mother was the main teacher.

evangel: Then after your father’s passing in 1970, your mother continued teaching the class, and you came along in 1975 to help. Does that class still meet?

JOSEPH: Yes, we call it the Homemakers Class. Although most of the original members are gone, we have added others.

evangel: You have a Tuesday morning prayer meeting that you inherited from your mother.

JOSEPH: Yes. Mary Jane took it over from my mother. After I retired in 1993, I began working with her. These two groups — the class and the prayer/Bible study group — have taken up offerings and we’re going to have a $3,000 listing on the Hall of Honor in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. That will be a memorial to our parents.

evangel: J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds Flower were viewed as godly people and outstanding leaders in the Assemblies of God. But they had to deal with sorrow, with the deaths of two sons, Roswell and George, and a son-in-law, Roy Dalton. Tell us about your brother Roswell Stanley Flower.

JOSEPH: He was in his last year of studies at Central Bible College. During the Christmas break he got pneumonia. He never recovered. I remember making the long train trip from Maine to Springfield for his funeral.

My parents always accepted whatever happened as the will of God. I can remember Mother at the gravesite lifting her hands and praising God at the funeral of my brother Roswell. It was just an acceptance of God’s will.

evangel: I know so many people appreciate you and your parents. It’s wonderful that General Superintendent Thomas Trask and the current leadership have felt that this new museum and archives should be named after them. And it’s not only for your parents, but also for the children, grandchildren and others who have contributed.

JOSEPH: Probably one reason we are included is because three sons followed Father as district superintendents — Joseph, George and David — and, of course, I was the general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

evangel: Your sister Adele [Dalton] became a missionary. The rest of you served here in this country: Joseph, George, David, and Suzanne [Earle]. And third-generation members are also in the ministry.

For what lasting contribution do you think your parents would like to be remembered?

JOSEPH: I don’t know whether it would make much difference or not to them to be known for anything. Their objective was to be true and faithful to God.

Editor’s note: Early copies of the Pentecostal Evangel have been preserved in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, and many are available on the center’s website,


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