III.A.2 Azusa Street Revival

Part III  –  Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart A  –  The Pentecostal Renewal


 a.    Message of Pentecost is Spread Through Lower Midwest

b.    Seymour Carries Message to Los Angeles

c.    Azusa Street

d.    William Durham


a.    Message of Pentecost is Spread Through Lower Midwest

During the six-year period between the Spirit’s outpouring in Topeka (1900) and His outpouring at Azusa Street (1906), Parham had experienced a fruitful-tour of Pentecostal-revivals within the lower Midwest states of Kansas, Missouri, and Texas which resulted in many baptisms in the Holy Spirit and giving rise to some of the first congregations to be Pentecostal both in doctrine and in practice.  Miracles of healing also characterized the Parham ministry during this period.

After experiencing a medical-relapse while holding revival-meetings in Joplin, Missouri, Parham felt the divine call say to him; “Go to the southland!”[1]  In April of 1905 he traveled to Orchard, Texas hoping that the warmer weather would aid his physical-recovery.  What occurred in Texas was yet another Pentecostal and healing revival that resulted in “the grandest scene I have witnessed since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Bible School in Topeka.”[2]  Nonetheless, the more significant-path would seem to have been that leading to Los Angeles, California.

After Orchard, Parham commenced-upon a campaign in the city of Houston attended by miraculous-healings and baptisms in the Holy Spirit.  Many of the healings were reported-on by the Houston Chronicle, including the experience of Mrs. J.M. Dulaney, the wife of a prominent Houston-attorney who was healed of complete paralysis.  Earlier that year she had had a vision ensuring her she would be healed at which time she was shown the face of a man.  Upon seeing Charles Parham preaching on a street-corner, she recognized him as the man in her vision and so visited his services at Bryan Hall.  A local newspaper reports:

Two of the women placed their hands upon her and others prayed and sang.  In a short time Mrs. Dulaney arose from her chair and walked about the hall in a state of ecstatic joy shouting, clapping her hands, and praising the Lord for restoration.  The incident created much excitement.[3]

Several hundred persons received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the result of Parham’s Houston campaign,[4] and seeing the need to indoctrinate workers in the Pentecostal teaching, Parham opened a ten-week Bible school in the city.  It was here that William Seymour would pick up the Pentecostal message.

b.  Seymour Carries Message to Los Angeles

Seymour and Parham had a common friend in Lucy Farrow, who had received the Pentecostal-baptism earlier that year as a governess in Parham’s home.  He began attending classes at Parham’s school.  However, because of local Jim Crow laws, Seymour (a black man) was compelled to listen to Parham while seated in the hallway outside the classroom.  Seymour accepted Parham’s teachings that “tongues” constituted the initial evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit.

While at the school, Seymour was invited by Neely Terry to visit her Holiness-church in Los Angeles with the possibility of becoming its pastor.  Seymour accepted this offer over the objections of Parham who maintained that Seymour should rather “tarry for” and receive the baptism himself before leaving with the message.    Nonetheless, a collection was taken up and Seymour was provided transportation to Los Angeles to spread the message there.

Seymour arrived at the Los Angeles church which was pastored by a Julia Hutchins.  He had preached only a single-sermon declaring the Spirit’s baptism with tongues as initial evidence when Hutchins locked him out of the church given Holiness-unfamiliarity with the doctrine.  As explained by A. C. Valdez, Sr.:

Mild-mannered Seymour unintentionally offended his pastor, Julia Hutchins.  Pastor Hutchins had never shown the first manifestation of baptism in the Holy Spirit – glossolalia, or “tongues”, but like other Holiness people she thought she had the baptism.[5]

The first edition of Azusa’s Apostolic Faith newspaper quotes Seymour regarding this incident:

“. . . one night they locked the door against me, and afterwards got Bro. Roberts, the president of the Holiness Association, to come down and settle the doctrine of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, that it was simply sanctification.  He came down and a good many holiness preachers with him, and they stated that sanctification was the baptism with the Holy Ghost. But he did not have the evidence of the second chapter of Acts. . . . . . After the president heard me speak of what the true baptism of the Holy Ghost was, he said he wanted it too, and told me that when I had received it to let him know.  So I received it and let him know.”

Seymour continued his meetings in private-homes, but having no-success he wrote to Parham requesting help.  Parham sent Lucy Farrow and J.A. Warren to Los Angeles.  Lucy Farrow was known to be gifted in obtaining the gift of the Holy Ghost through prayer for others.  With her arrival, and her gift of laying hands for the baptism, the power of God began to fall on April 9, 1906 to those gathering to listen to Seymour’s message on Bonnie Brae Street.  Valdez describes those events as follows:

On the night of April 9, an eight-year-old black boy was the first of seven persons to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Asberry living room.   And, ironically, while still others received this spiritual gift, the leader of the flock, W.J. Seymour, had not.  Several nights later, according to Morton Asberry, son of Richard and Ruth Asberry, who was there, “Brother Seymour fell under the power of the Holy Ghost like he was dead and spoke in an unknown language.”  News of miraculous happenings at the modest, wood-frame house at 216 Bonnie Brae, drew interracial crowds too large for safety, and the floor caved in.  Newspaper stories brought even greater throngs there.  Then the front porch was used as a pulpit, and hundreds on the lawn overflowed onto the sidewalk and street.[6]

c.  Azusa Street

In the days following, an old warehouse/stable on Azusa Street was renovated for worship services.   Seymour’s first sermon was preached on April 14, 1906 and the Spirit’s baptism began to fall on any that would come and seek for it in the name of Jesus Christ.  Azusa Street became the destination of seekers and ministers from all over the country and even the world.  The great majority of Pentecostal churches in the world trace their lineage to the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Azusa Street.

The Holiness-Movement however, was for the most-part hostile to Pentecost when it came.   While the Holy Spirit was poured upon Methodist “come-outers” in Topeka, many of these “come outer” (ie. Holiness) groups constituted the fiercest-opposition to Pentecostal doctrine and experience.  This opposition was apparent beginning at Azusa when Seymour was rejected from the black-holiness church he was called to pastor.  During the revival that followed most of the Holiness churches in the area adamantly-rejected and denounced the events at Azusa in the most uncharitable terms, even asserting the manifestations to be of Satanic origin.   Thus these “come-outer” churches stood substantially in rejection of the miracle when it came.  The effect however seemed to be that the experience was opened to those of many cultural and denominational backgrounds so that the outpouring occurred in such a broad-manner so as not to be construed as sectarian.

The outpouring also seems to have been anticipated by various persons and churches in the area who sensed God was about to move in a new way.  The great revival in Wales had began just a couple of years previous, and there were correspondences between Evan Roberts (recognized as the primary preacher of that revival) and Frank Bartleman, who became a notable organizer during the Azusa revival and evangelistic minister of Pentecost in the years following.  His testimony is available on this website under Audio MP3 and is well-worth the listening.

d.  William Durham as a Key Voice Within Pentecost 

Although the Pentecostal-outpouring came within the Wesleyan “Come-Outers” from Methodism, the experience began to spread to many thousands of persons from many differing theological-perspectives.  Eventually, the most influential voice to articulate Pentecostal doctrine and to guide the early-movement came to be that of a non-Wesleyan.

In February of 1907, a Baptist minister by the name of William H. Durham took leave from his Chicago church, and journeyed to Azusa Street in order to seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit for himself.  He tarried at Azusa Street for many days until receiving a powerful-baptism in March.   At the time he received, William Seymour prophesied over him that wherever he would preach, the Holy Spirit would fall upon the people.  Durham’s ministry thereafter became a focus of the Spirit’s work upon his return to Chicago.  Signs and wonders followed his revival-meetings, and under his preaching it is claimed that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was received by everyone that earnestly-sought.  His ministry in Chicago became the place where many of the early Pentecostal-pioneers received their baptisms.  Pentecostal-denominations such as; Assemblies of God, the Open Bible Standard Churches, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and others trace their lineage to Durham’s ministry.[7]

Durham became arguably the most prominent voice for the Pentecostal-movement following his baptism.  His message of Pentecost was promulgated through preaching from his own pulpit in Chicago, through evangelistic revivals, and through missionary-trips throughout the U.S. and Canada.  His message was most-effectively promulgated through his newsletter; Pentecostal Testimony, of which a remarkable 50,000 copies were printed of each issue.[8]  Through this periodical, he articulated what became accepted as the orthodox-doctrines of Pentecost.  The two-doctrines that he considered most essential and which received the most ink in his paper were; the doctrine of Initial Evidence, and the doctrine of the; Finished Work of Calvary.  He writes:

In the end the truth will triumph.  The Finished Work of Calvary is the truth.  Speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  God is honoring these blessed truths. [9]

As part of his forceful-promulgation of the Finished Work doctrine, Durham returned to Azusa Street in 1911 in order to re-establish a work that by this time was languishing in malaise and  error.  He proclaimed the cross of Jesus Christ, the Pentecostal-doctrine of Initial Evidence, and the doctrine of the Finished Work of Calvary that he became particularly known for.   This led to a powerful resurgence of the Azusa Street work that many felt surpassed the earlier revival.  Within a movement that was stumbling in doctrine, Durham’s message was that:

– the Holy Spirit was available to all men for the asking,

– the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a vital-component of the full gospel of God,

– receiving the baptism was the same event as receiving the Holy Spirit,

– the baptism is always evidenced by the initial-evidence of speaking in tongues,

– the cross of Christ (rather than a future work of grace) must be our focus,

– these must be affirmatively and uncompromisingly preached in faithfulness to Christ.

Durham’s doctrine of The Finished Work of Christ, was a reaction to the Wesleyan-teaching of a Second Work of sanctification.  Given their Holiness-roots, the early Pentecostals had construed the Pentecostal-baptism so as to label it a “third experience” that could not be received without having first received the “second work” of sanctification.  However, many were receiving the Pentecostal baptism that could not point to any Second Work of sanctification which they could positively-identify as having occurred.  Common-experience served to substantiate Durham’s Baptistic-orientation toward a singular-redemptive work renewable through returning to the cross rather than the successive work that the Wesleyan teaching seemed to maintain.  Durham’s  ministry was powerfully-attended by the presence of God, and his doctrines were promulgated to the Pentecostal-churches through his newspaper The Pentecostal Testimony[10] in the few years before  sectarianism began to divide the movement after his untimely death in 1913.

[1] Fields White Unto Harvest, by James R. Goff, Jr. © 1988 The University of Arkansas Press, at pg. 94.

[2] Ibid. pg. 95

[3] Ibid. pg. 97

[4] Ibid. pg. 104

[5] Fire on Azusa Street; An Eyewitness Account, by A.C. Valdez, Sr. © 1980, Gift Publications, Costa Mesa, CA at pg. 18.

[6] Ibid. pg. 19

[7] For instance theWere substantially founded by:

Assemblies of God           E.N. Bell, Howard Goss, & A.H Argue (their beginnings being in Durham’s ministry)

International Foursquare   As a young girl, Aimee Semple McPherson, was instantaneously-healed of a broken ankle through Durham’s ministry in January of 1910.  She & her husband, Robert Semple were ordained by William Durham, &  traveled with him in some of his preaching journeys until leaving on a missionary-journey to China.  When Robert died before their arrival, she returned to the U.S. where she was later ordained into the new AG-denomination.  She left the AG after insisting that the AngelesTemple (then under construction) be held in her name.  She went on to found the ICFG.

Open Bible Standard was founded by a merger between two organizations; one breaking from the Apostolic Faith church, the other breaking from the International Foursquare.

Therefore the most prolific of the Pentecostal denominations throughout the 20th century seem to have a common-origin in the ministry of William Durham.

[8] Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  Taken from the article;  Concerning Self-Defense, Misrepresentations, etc.

Durham explains that he is capable of defending himself against defamation if he so-chose, saying; “We have been publishing editions of fifty thousand copies of this paper; it contains sixteen pages and we are handy with the pen.”

[9] Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  Taken from the article;  The Great Chicago Revival

[10] A significant portion of the articles of the Pentecostal Testimony may be listened to on this website.  See Audio MP3 in the header.


About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
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