Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This Week in History - The Azusa Street Revival

This week celebrates the anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival. If you’re not Pentecostal or Charismatic this may be unfamiliar to you. The Azusa Street Revival has been called the “cradle of Pentecostalism.” In April 1906 a one-eyed African American preacher, William Seymour, moved into an abandoned African Methodist Church and started preaching about the power of the Holy Spirit with special emphasis on the gift of tongues as evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It didn’t take long before a revival broke out with many speaking in tongues. The Los Angeles Times reported on it with an article titled “Weird Babel of Tongues.” In spite of the mockery by the Times services were held three times a day seven days a week for over three years. People came from around the world to see for themselves what the phenomenon was all about. Many came as skeptics and left believers. Azusa’s first historian, Frank Bartleman (1871-1936), wrote this concerning the interracial character of the revival: “The ‘color line’ was washed away in the blood.’” Seymour himself wrote “This meeting has been a melting time. The people are all melted together by the power of the blood and the Holy Ghost. They are made one lump, one bread, all one body in Christ Jesus. There is no Jew or Gentile, bond or free, in the Azusa Street Mission.” (The American Evangelical Story by Douglas A. Sweeney, 146-147

Vinson Synan observes “The historical records show that the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa all recognized that the new movement began in Los Angeles under a black pastor.” (An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit, 23)

312 Azusa Street
The building was eventually torn down to make room for a parking lot.  It's now the site of a plaza next to a Japanese American cultural center in "Little Tokyo" in Los Angeles. 

Copy of the Los Angeles Times reporting on the "Weird Babel of Tongues"

Both pictures are from Wikipedia and are public domain.  For more information see the links above and books cited.  You may also want to look at these links:

The Azusa Street Project
312 Azusa Street

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