William Joseph Seymour:
The father of Pentecostalism
The Texas Years
William Seymour relocated to Texas in 1903. Most believe that he went to Texas in search of siblings of his parents that were sold away from them during the years of slavery. Upon arriving in Texas, Seymour joined a Holiness church. The pastor of this church, an African-American woman named Lucy Farrow, learned of Seymour’s interest in the spiritual gifts and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to occur in the end times. She advised him to contact a Holiness teacher by the name of Charles Fox Parham. Two years earlier in Topeka, Kansas, under the tutelage of Parham, Agnes Ozman experienced glossolalia or speaking in tongues. After this incident Parham started a Bible school in Houston, Texas to instruct others in this “Apostolic Faith” that was characterized by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Seymour was urged by Farrow to attend Parham’s school.
William Seymour did attend Parham’s school but it was not in ideal circumstances. Texas law forbade blacks to attend class with whites so Seymour attended class by sitting in the hallway. There is some contention about the details at this point. Some believe that Parham welcomed Seymour’s presence and encouraged his attendance, while others contend that Parham had racist leanings and was dismayed by Seymour’s presence at his school. As in every other part of his life, Seymour was again experiencing discrimination and hatred, aspects of religious life and life in general that for William did not coincide with the Biblical teachings of Christ nor the church of Acts. Nevertheless, Seymour attended the school and accepted Parham’s doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the speaking in tongues and began to teach others about it when given the opportunity. At this point in his career Seymour had not experienced tongues himself, yet believed that tongues would usher in the last days revival and that tongues were Biblical.
Seymour remained in Texas under Parham’s teaching until 1906. The time in Texas was time integral for what was to come. In Texas, William Seymour fine-tuned his beliefs and ideas concerning the spiritual gifts and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. While in Texas Seymour also had the opportunity to practice teaching and preaching in Farrow’s church and other African-American churches, as well as occasionally with Parham. He honed his skills and doctrine in Texas. Without the stay in Texas it could be argued that Seymour would never have learned of and desired the baptism of the Holy Ghost nor would he have received the opportunity to go to Los Angeles. If he had not gone to Los Angeles his revival at Azusa Street would never have occurred and the Pentecostal movement would have developed much differently.
This page was created by Ashley Sample. E-mail: email@example.com
This page was last updated April 17, 2001