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Thursday, 26 January 2017


Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Evangelical Christianity. Pentecostals believe in a personal experience with God that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This empowerment includes the use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine healing.

Pentecostals at an Assemblies of God church in Cancun, Mexico. By Rayttc 

The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.

On January 1, 1901, during a prayer meeting at Charles Fox Parham's Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas one of the students, Agnes Ozman received the gift of speaking in tongues. Not long afterwards, Parham, who was a minister of Methodist background and other students received the same gift.

Charles Fox Parham

Parham formulated the teaching that speaking in tongues in unknown languages in the same way early Christians did on Pentecost day was evidence that a person was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Within a few years this Pentecostal doctrine was spreading throughout the southern states of the United States.

The Pentecostal Movement was bought to the attention of the world when members of the black congregation of the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles started meeting under the leadership of their pastor, William Seymour, a former holiness preacher and pupil of Parham, in a private house. On April 9, 1906 they experienced baptism in the Spirit and started speaking in tongues.

The Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street, considered to be the birthplace of Pentecostalism

As word spread, many Christians from all over the world visited Azusa Street and returned home fired up by the Holy Spirit. Many Pentecostal churches were formed.

The Pentecostal Movement was introduced to Europe in 1907 by Thomas Ball Barratt, an English-Norwegian Methodist Minister. He was influenced by Seymour during a fund-raising tour of the United States and was baptised in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in November 1906 while staying in New York City. Barratt is credited with beginning the Pentecostal movement in Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and England.

Barratt introduced the Pentecostal Movement to England in 1908. There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in an Anglican Church in Monk Weirmouth, in north England, when the congregation, whilst meeting together in prayer and worship, begin speaking in tongues.

In 1913 a Pentecostal publication, The Word And Witness, called for the many autonomous Pentecostal churches that had sprung up to unite. The following year at Hot Springs, Arkansas, around 300 church leaders, agreed to form a loosely knit fellowship of independent churches, which became known as the Assemblies of God.

The Assemblies of God based their theology on the teachings of William H Durham of Chicago's "finished work" theory. This doctrine stressed sanctification as a progressive work following conversion with baptism in the Holy Spirit following as the second blessing.

By the middle of the twentieth century when the Pentecostal influenced Charismatic Movement began to flourish, teachings originating from Pentecostal Churches began to infiltrate mainline Protestant and Catholic Churches.

Today there are an estimated 279 million Pentecostals world-wide with the largest make up 4 percent of the total world population and 12.8 percent of the world's Christian population.

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