William Joseph Seymour:
The Father of Pentecostalism
William Joseph Seymour was born May 2, 1870 in Centerville, Louisiana, the son of former slaves, Simon and Phyllis Seymour. As the child of former slaves in the post-Civil War south Seymour grew up with the knowledge of what racial inequality truly was. As a youth he attended a segregated Baptist church. At this time he began to experience visions and dreams. These visions and dreams were, according to Seymour, from God. Seymour did not always understand these visions, however, he did believe they were showing him something that was to come. These visions lasted beyond childhood. When William was in his mid-twenties and living in Indianapolis he contracted small pox and blindness struck his left-eye. During his bout with small pox he had a vision in which he was told if he would answer the call on his life to preach the small pox would be taken from him. Seymour accepted the charge to preach and he recovered from the small pox. His blindness, nonetheless, was not temporary; he suffered with it until his death, a reminder of his disobedience to God.
In 1900, Seymour left Indianapolis for Cincinnati. It was in Cincinnati that he was introduced to the Holiness movement. He joined a Church of God church that believed in total sanctification, divine healing, premillenialism, and a last days outpouring of the Holy Ghost. In this church, Seymour, no doubt became acquainted with doctrine that he would later incorporate into his own brand of Pentecostalism. Seymour remained in Cincinnati for three more years. Little is known about his activities during those years but one can assume he spent them growing in his faith and preparing to preach the word of God.
This page was created by Ashley Sample. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated April 17, 2001
2 Synan, Vinson, “William Seymour” Christian History [Database on-line] (2000 Vol. 19 accessed 29 March 2001) available from EBSCO at the Kentucky Virtual Library (access requires connection to Georgetown College campus network or password), Internet p 1