Two Literary Women of Pentecost

As I pour over the early Pentecostal periodicals, I am struck that despite the many limitations concerning leadership placed upon women within Pentecostal fellowships, there were numerous women preachers and writers who were making profound impact for the Kingdom.

Several women appear throughout these journals: Pandita Ramabai receives mention for her work in India, Maria Woodworth-Etter was used mightily to heal the sick, and Aimee Semple McPhearson boldly preached the full gospel message. While these names at least bear mention in many volumes dealing with Pentecostal history (due to their public ministries), I am yet more impressed by, and grateful for, the literary work of the likes of two women I wanted to highlight that have impacted me as I work on my PhD studies: E.A. Sexton and A.R. Flower.

Elizabeth A. Sexton initially served as the associate editor for G.B. Cashwell’s Atlanta based journal Bridegroom’s Messenger (founded 1907), but in 1908 took the helm as editor until 1923  at which point she was followed by her daughter, Hattie M. Barth. These two women (along with Hattie’s husband, Paul) founded The Association of Pentecostal Assemblies in 1921 (later merging into The International Pentecostal Church of Christ which still maintains the Bridegroom’s Messenger as its official periodical).  She also was the impetus (and a founding trustee) for Hattie and Paul to launch a Pentecostal school in Atlanta known as Beulah Heights Bible Institute (now Beulah Heights University). Sexton gave voice to thousands of Pentecostals spread across the globe as she shared their articles, testimonies, and letters along with her own editorial works.

Alice Reynolds Flower
Alice Reynolds Flower

Another woman who has stood out in my research is Alice Reynolds Flower who, along with her husband J. Roswell, founded The Christian Evangel in 1913 (which later became The Pentecostal Evangel and the official publication of the Assemblies of God). She contributed the weekly Sunday school lessons in the Evangel along with providing numerous poems and books addressing spiritual matters. (HERE is an interview with her in 1980 by Delbert Tarr concerning the early years of the U.S. Pentecostal movement and the founding of the A/G).

These women are unsung champions of the Pentecostal faith. They wrote and edited works over those early formative decades to help spread the message of Jesus in His fullness as Savior, Sanctifier, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon Coming King. And I, for one, am grateful for their faithful work and witness! May the Father raise up many more such daughters to carry forward His mission to the world!

Get Ordained, Pastor!

OrdainedThis may seem a bit radical for my fellowship (Assemblies of God), but I would like to go on the record as saying that  ordination ought to be the aim of every pastor and not because of education, credentials, or prestige, but because it offers a testimony of faithfulness (at some level). To be ordained (in my tradition) requires one to be in ministry for a minimum of 2 years and a few extra courses (if one didn’t go through one of our official schools). This is quite minimal. I was ordained at 25 and would have been ordained at 24 except I was short of the two years by a couple of weeks (don’t get me started on that one).

I have a friend who has changed fellowships after much praying and seeking and is in a LONG process of seeking ordination in her new fellowship (Anglican). I’ve spoken with her several times about their process and it is a doozy. But I’m excited for her going through the process and seeking the affirmation that I believe is already hers in her years of faithful ministry up to this point. It will be wonderful when her bishop places his hands on her (do they do that in her tradition? No clue, but let’s pretend anyways) as testimony of her calling and faithfulness to the call.

So why should you seek ordination?

  • Seek ordination as an affirmation of God’s calling on your life.
  • Seek ordination as a call to greater discipleship.
  • Seek ordination as a testimony from those you serve concerning your faithfulness.
  • Seek ordination as a deeper commitment to your fellowship and its continuing maturation.

The problem that I’ve seen is that too many pastors who aren’t ordained in my fellowship look at it like they should never seek it. Like it is only about having to pay more fees (it does require that). Like it may mean more responsibility (it might if you then get elected to a sectional or district position which can only happen by being ordained). That’s just silliness. We should want to be tested and proven in our calling and ministry. We should desire to be the best minister we can be. Ordination does not guarantee this by any stretch, but a good minister should have NO reason to avoid ordination as early as possible. Be faithful where the Lord has placed you and let others affirm this through the process of being ordained! 🙂

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Originally blogged by me at bluechippastors.org on April 27, 2013.

Three Things That Keep Me in My Church Tradition

Rather than simply answer in the comments section to Dan’s post about “What Keeps You In Your Church Tradition?,” I have decided to reply via a post and offer it as my own personal answer (because I have in fact been asked this very question at other times).  I decided three was a rather Biblical sounding number…so that should make this a very spiritual response.

First, I remain in my fellowship/tradition (the Assemblies of God) because it is where my deepest roots and greatest familiarity lay.  By that, I mean to say, I am most fully aware of the church structures and practices of this particular tradition.  I am well integrated into this tradition as well as being heavily networked with other A/G churches, ministries and ministers.  There is something to be said about the knowability factor.  Were I to join another tradition it would mean moving into unknown waters.  This may seem a rather pragmatic approach, but, hey, this is reality.

Second, I am kept in my tradition by its Pentecostal confession and practice.  I am unabashedly Pentecostal.  I believe God desires to empower His Church via the rich outpouring of Christ’s Spirit.  I believe in the continuing demonstration of the ministry of the Spirit in and through the communion of saints.  I remain because the A/G emphasizes this desire and passion for God’s Spirit to glorify Christ in and among us (even if at times we have not followed through either as genuine practitioners of the life of the Spirit or have simply gone wacko and blamed it on the Spirit).  I still fully believe God’s Spirit is at work in the wider Church and see the A/G as playing (hopefully) a pivotal role in seeing the Spirit poured out in greater measure on all varieties of congregations and traditions.  I have told Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Catholics…Pentecostal experience of the Spirit is no respecter of denominational boundaries.

Third, and finally, I remain in the Assemblies because of missions.  This tradition stated from its inception that we are committed to “the greatest evangelization the world has ever seen”.  We remain committed to this and have continued to demonstrate it through our unprecedented mission program.  I am thrilled to be a part of a fellowship and tradition that makes its aim to reach the lost with the good news of the Kingdom.

So, how is that for my answer to the question Dan Thompson posed?  What are your thoughts on this?
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Originally published at Bluechippastor.org on August 15, 2012

Gordon Anderson on Eschatology

Gordon AndersonThe following hour long audio is from the Minnesota Assemblies of God Family Camp 2015. Dr. Gordon Anderson (president of North Central University) spoke to the topic of eschatology and offered a perspective that it would be well for more in the Assemblies of God to embrace. He briefly covers the history of dispensationalism and its impact on the A/G as well as offering anecdotal accounts typical of those raised under dispensational teaching (my own story being quite similar).

I personally found his approach to be both biblical and confessionally sound. He ends with a call to all ministers in particular to preach Jesus in preaching eschatology instead of preaching timelines, exposing numbers and beasts, etc. His teaching was a refreshing word not often heard in our camp meetings, but all too necessary. I have preached and taught many of the same things, but was greatly encouraged to hear another doing likewise.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

(HERE is an MP3 version for download as well)