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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. ...




100 Years of the Pentecostal Evangel

By Ken Horn
July 14, 2013

In 1743, in the midst of widespread spiritual awakening, Thomas Prince published America’s first religious journal, The Christian History. Prince was a Congregational minister and Boston Puritan with an affinity for the explosive revival known as the Great Awakening.

George Whitefield, leading evangelist of the awakening, preached in Boston at Prince’s invitation, and Jonathan Edwards, foremost pastor associated with the revival, corresponded with Prince. The Christian History was a contemporary account of ongoing revivals in America and Europe.

The publication didn’t run long — only two years — but Prince became an influential pastor noted for spiritual depth and his genuine concern about revival.

More than a century and a half later, another American revival spawned magazines that documented the history of revival and provided inspiration and exhortation. Some of them, like The Christian History, were fleeting, but others stayed around for a very long time.

That includes the magazine you now hold, the Pentecostal Evangel.

Not long before I wrote this article, David Flower walked into the offices of the Pentecostal Evangel. Flower is well known in the Assemblies of God as a pastor and district superintendent. But his visit was significant for another reason. He is a tie to the very beginning of this magazine, which was founded a century ago by his parents.

Joseph James Roswell Flower and Alice Marie Reynolds married in 1911 and immediately began ministry together. Early participants in the 20th-century Pentecostal outpouring, by 1913 they were assisting at the Gibeah School of the Bible in Plainfield, Ind. While there, they started a new “paper” — The Christian Evangel.

The Flowers’ weekly publication began nine months before the Assemblies of God was born. The Evangel was a model of diversity from the start. Early issues featured content by and about women and African-Americans. The first masthead carried the words “The simplicity of the gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith.”

When the AG was formed in 1914, Flower became the first secretary of the Fellowship. And the weekly magazine became one of two official publications, along with the monthly Word and Witness, which had been published since 1911 by E.N. Bell, the first AG chairman. The publications were rolled into one by the end of 1915.

Earlier that year, when the Fellowship’s headquarters moved to St. Louis, the name of the magazine was changed to The Weekly Evangel, emphasizing its regular availability. Weekly publication remains to the present day even as other magazines cut back in frequency and many cease publication altogether or replace print with digital. The edition you are holding is No. 5,175.

In 1918, the AG moved its offices to Springfield, Mo., and the name of the magazine reverted to The Christian Evangel. The next year, the magazine took its current name, The Pentecostal Evangel. In April 1974, The was formally dropped from the name.

Prior to Oct. 18, 1919, the word “Pentecostal” appeared in The Christian Evangel’s subhead: The Pentecostal Paper for the Home. When “Pentecostal” entered the title, the subtitle initially became A Family and Missionary Paper, the Official Organ of the Assemblies of God.

Since Dec. 31, 1932, to the present day (with few exceptions), the cover has carried the words of Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” The front-page article on that date was “A New Year Emphasis on Pentecostal Standards” by AG General Superintendent Ernest S. Williams.

In 1961, historian Carl Brumback identified the magazine as “the ‘tie that binds’ Assemblies of God hearts all over the world.” He said, “The Pentecostal Evangel has been a uniting element for the entire fellowship, as well as the consistent voice of its full-gospel beliefs.”1

Revivals — local, national and international — have always been a major focus of the magazine. Through the years, the magazine has reported on countless outpourings of the Holy Spirit, large and small.

On June 10, 2001, Editor Hal Donaldson, in an editorial, asked the question “Is revival waning?” It was not the first time such a question had been asked in the pages of the Evangel.

In 1961, Brumback wrote, “It must be admitted that there is a general lessening of fervor and discipline in the Assemblies of God in America. This frank admission is not a wholly new sentiment, for down through the years in the pages of The Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals correspondents have asked, ‘Is Pentecost the revival it was in the beginning?’ As early as five years after Azusa, they were looking for ‘the good old days’! Nevertheless, it is vital to any revival movement to reassess not too infrequently the state of its spiritual life.”2

The Pentecostal Evangel has been a regular part of that reassessment, doing its part to rekindle flagging revival fires by exhortation and by reporting where those fires continued to burn. The Aug. 30, 1924, issue carried the headline “The Coming Revival,” and many other editions of the magazine followed suit, even supplying self-evaluations for personal reflection.

Missions was part and parcel of that revival coverage from the beginning. Many of the revival reports came from missionaries.

Of the early years, historian Edith Blumhofer says, “Because of [the Evangel], leaders believed, ‘missionary enthusiasm’ was ‘kept at boiling point.’”3 Readers responded to the publication of missionary needs by giving generously.

The magazine has even been instrumental in bolstering the missions corps. Many missionaries, past and present, have credited an article in the magazine as having a significant part in their call to the field.

In April 1998, Mountain Movers, the Assemblies of God’s missions magazine, ceased publication, and a strategic partnership was formed between the Pentecostal Evangel and AG World Missions. AGWM Communications, led by director Randy Hurst, joined with the Pentecostal Evangel for a monthly edition of the magazine known today as the World Missions Edition.

A new dimension was added to missions coverage with reporters from both departments traveling on-site to places around the world where God was significantly using AG missionaries. Since 2009, the WME has been published nine times annually.

With an Assemblies of God constituency of more than 3 million in the United States and 65 million worldwide, it is clear revival has flourished even more internationally than on American soil. The May 29, 2011, issue of the magazine was a special edition devoted to the gathering of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship in Chennai, India. The report stated:

“None could have imagined that the 300 individuals who gathered in Hot Springs, Ark., in April 1914 would have become 63 million before the Movement hit the century mark. But there is great faith that, should the Lord tarry, 100 million souls will call the Fellowship home 10 years hence.”4

It noted the next triennial congress of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship will be held Aug. 7-10, 2014, in Springfield, Mo., home of the Assemblies of God and the Pentecostal Evangel, to celebrate the centennial of the AG.


This series continues in the July 28 Pentecostal Evangel.


Endnotes:

1 Carl Brumback, Suddenly … From Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), p. 319

2 Brumback, pp. 349-50

3 Edith L. Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God: A Chapter in the Story of American Pentecostalism, Vol. 1 (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1989), p. 283

4 Ken Horn, “A Taste of Heaven,” Pentecostal Evangel, May 29, 2011, pp. 4-7


KEN HORN is editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

 

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