William Joseph Seymour:

The father of Pentecostalism




            Holy-rollers. Tongue-talkers. Chandelier-swingers. Pew-runners.  Spirit-Dancers. Holiness. Spirit-filled. Members of the church of Acts.  Charismatic. Fanatics. Apostolic. Radicals. Emotionalists. Members of the true New Testament Church.  Pentecostals. All of these are terms used in referring to members of the Pentecostal movement that began at the turn of the twentieth century and is currently the second largest denomination in Christendom.[1] The names for and the practices of the denomination are often characterized as unusual and unlikely in comparison to their counterparts in modern religion.  However, it is only fitting that these names and practices that are extraordinarily unusual refer to a denomination that was started by an odd assortment of men and women. One of the most influential, as well as the most unlikely and unexpected of these was William Joseph Seymour, an African-American preacher and pastor, who became the leader of the revival on Azusa Street, the site that arguably started the global Pentecostal movement that we know today. 

            Seymour led the Azusa Street Revival of 1906-09.  This revival, under his leadership, was attended by literally thousands from all over the world.  William Seymour, not only helped to found Pentecostalism, a movement that undeniably changed the face of American and global religion, but was a proponent of a truly integrated church in which anyone no matter race, age, or gender could participate. William Seymour held to this vision during a period that fostered hostility toward racial and gender equality.  His message is still felt almost one hundred years later in a church world that still discriminates based upon race and gender. William Joseph Seymour’s vision of human harmony and his belief in the spiritual gifts pioneered not only a new denomination that changed the face of American Protestantism but also challenged the social ideas of the time and for a short period created a color and gender blind religious atmosphere throughout the United States, a goal that is still striven for today.


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


This page was last updated April 17, 2001

[1]  Synan,Vinson “The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement”  available from http://members.tripod.com/~ChristTemple/origins.html; Internet p1