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A glance through the history of Pentecostalism

A glance through the history of Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism, the fastest growing religious denomination in the world, is a form of Christianity that emphasises the work of the Holy Spirit and the direct experience of the presence of God by the believer. Pentecostalism got its name from the day of Pentecost, when, according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus' disciples, leading them to speak in many languages as evidence that they had been ‘baptised in the Spirit.’

The first “Pentecostals” cropped up in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas, US in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. Pentecostalism achieved worldwide attention through the historic Azusa Street meeting in Los Angeles led by the African-American preacher William Joseph Seymour in 1906.
For over three years, the Azusa Street “Apostolic Faith Mission” conducted three services a day, seven days a week, where thousands of seekers received the tongues baptism. From Azusa Street, Pentecostalism began its advance toward becoming a major force in Christendom. The Azusa Street movement seems to have been a fusion of white American holiness religion with worship styles derived from the African-American Christian tradition.
The expressive worship and praise at Azusa Street, which included shouting and dancing, had been common among Appalachian (mountain area in North America) whites as well as Southern blacks. The mixture of tongues and other charisms with black music and worship styles created a new and indigenous form of Pentecostalism. It was to make it extremely attractive to disinherited and deprived people, both in America and other nations of the world.
Despite originating in the US, Pentecostal movement owed much of its basic theology to earlier British perfectionistic and charismatic movements. At least three of these--- the Methodist/Holiness movement, the Catholic Apostolic movement of Edward Irving, and the British Keswick “Higher Life” movement prepared the way for what appeared to be a spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in America.
The most important immediate precursor to Pentecostalism was the Holiness movement, which issued from the heart of Methodism at the end of the 19th century. The first Pentecostal churches in the world were produced by the Holiness movement prior to 1901 and, after becoming Pentecostal, retained most of their perfectionistic teachings. These included the predominantly African-American Church of God in Christ (1897), the Pentecostal Holiness Church (1898), the Church of God with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee (1906), and other smaller groups.
Pentecostal pioneers, who had been Methodists, included Charles Fox Parham, the formulator of the “initial evidence” theology; William J. Seymour, the pastor of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles who spread the movement to the nations of the world; J.H. King of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, who led his denomination into the Pentecostal movement in 1907-08; and Thomas Ball Barratt, the father of European Pentecostalism.
The number of Pentecostals has increased steadily throughout the world during the 20th century. With over 200,000,000 members designated as denominational Pentecostals, this group surpassed the Orthodox churches as the second largest denominational family of Christians, surpassed only by the Roman Catholics.

Published: 4 months ago