William Joseph Seymour:
The father of Pentecostalism
Azusa Street: The Message
At Azusa Street throngs of people experienced and witnessed the outpouring of what many was convinced was the latter rain. Perhaps even more shocking than that was what the people heard and practiced there. At Azusa Street, Seymour preached God’s love, a love that paid no heed to color or gender. Seymour wanted people to embrace the baptism of the Holy Spirit but even more so he wanted people to know God’s love. A love that he truly believed could erase boundaries brought about by segregation and discrimination. Seymour often wrote and told others, when discussing the Pentecostals position, “We are not fighting men or churches, but seeking to displace dead forms and creeds and world fanaticisms while living practical Christianity ‘Love, Faith, Unity’ are our watchwords and ‘Victory through the atoning blood’ our battle cry.”  and admonished people to not only focus on the tongues message but to, “Talk about Jesus!” This message was put into practice at Azusa Street. In worship services blacks, whites, and Hispanics worshipped together and laid hands on each other in prayer. There were no lines to divide people based on race. Frank Bartlemen, an eyewitness of the Azusa Street revival was so impressed by the racial harmony he proclaimed that, “At Azusa Street, the color line was washed away in the Blood.” Also at the meetings women and men were in leadership positions preaching to and exhorting the congregation. To William Seymour this was the vision that he, the son of slaves and victim of racism, had longed to see for all of his life, a vision that he believed illustrated God’s vision for His people. This vision and message of Seymour’s caught on quickly and became the model for what many believed should be the keystone of Pentecostalism. Many new Pentecostals, especially blacks, were determined that reconciling the “cleavage of the races” should be a main tenant of Pentecostalism.
Throughout the Azusa Street revival and the early years of the movement the denomination was grounded in this message of love and harmony which was evidenced by joint movements such as the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and The Church of God in Christ, both of these divisions of Pentecostalism concentrated on interracial membership and leadership. It is also evident in documentation of leadership of the early Pentecostal movement that gender and race were not important early on. Women and men of all races were welcomed to participate, lead, teach, and preach. In fact, women pastured many early Pentecostal and Holiness churches; in addition, many early evangelists were women, again evidence of the focus on equality and the tenant that God was not a respecter of persons. This message of love and equality was equally as important to Seymour and some of the early leaders such as Charles Mason, William Durham, Florence Crawford, and Clara Lun, as the message of tongues and the spiritual gifts, the backbone and emphasis of the Pentecostal doctrine.
This page was created by Ashley Sample. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated April 17, 2001
12 Daniels, David, “They Had a Dream” Church History [data-base on-line] (1998 Vol. 17 accessed 29 March 2001) available at EBSCO at the Kentucky Virtual Library (access requires connection to Georgetown College campus network or password), Internet p3.