William Joseph Seymour:

The father of Pentecostalism

Azusa Street: Beginnings

            Julia Hutchins a pastor of a Holiness church in Los Angeles invited William Seymour to help her in 1906. With the support of Charles Parham and Lucy Farrow, Seymour left for Los Angeles. What would ensue would change his life and the lives of thousands of others in a most profound way. Once in Los Angeles, William began preaching his new doctrine, which was called Pentecostalism due to its scriptural basis on Acts 2:4. Hutchins did not accept his teaching on the gift of tongues and refused to let him minister in her church.

            This incident did not stop Seymour’s teaching from being heard. Soon after Hutchins refusal of his teaching, Seymour was invited to the home of Richard Asberry, a small house at 214 Bonnie Bray Street.[6] It was in this house after months of fasting and praying that William Seymour and many others received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Word quickly spread about the incident and soon many were coming to hear Seymour preach and teach from the porch at Bonnie Bray street. Huge crowds began to swamp the house, excited to not only witness the strange occurrences but to hear Seymour’s message. Seymour did not preach tongues only but also preached of the love of Jesus and portrayed this love as a joiner not a divider.  At Bonnie Bray Street not only did many begin to hear of and experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostalism but also they began to witness interracial worship and inter-gender leadership, both oddities of the day. These oddities were in concordance with William Seymour’s vision of the love of Christ.

            Due to the lack of space at Bonnie Bray Street, Seymour searched for a building to house his meetings.  William Seymour found an abandoned forty by sixty feet building that had been a stable on Azusa Street. This was the site of the revival meetings that occurred three times a day, seven days a week, and was named the Apostolic Mission.[7] Quickly, Azusa Street became an attraction. Thousands from all over the city, country, and world came to gawk at and experience the meetings. The Los Angeles times ran articles that spoke cynically about the meetings documenting the “weird babble of tongues.” and speaking disparagingly about the African-Americans in attendance.[8] These articles that were intended to mock actually caused more attention to be cast on the meetings. In addition to the “bad” press many others reported on the meeting professing the wonders and blessings being bestowed upon those in attendance. These accounts also caused many to flock to Azusa Street. The spiritual and supernatural aspects of the meeting were phenomenal and for many the reason for coming. Although these were of great importance, they were not as far reaching as the message of Seymour that accompanied his teaching of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

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                             This page was created by Ashley Sample.          E-mail: smaple333@hotmail.com

 

This page was last updated April 17, 2001

 

 



6 www.BonnieBrae.org,1.

7 Synan, 2.

8 www.dunamai.com/brightspot/azusa.htm, Apostolic Faith. 1.