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  • Writer's pictureElaine Kelly

History: as different as black and white

Updated: May 16, 2022

The way we write about history is as different as black and white.

White history honours the white man as Father of Pentecostalism and says despite his beliefs he permitted a black student to sit in the hall and listen through the open door

Black history honours the black man as Co-founder of Pentecostalism and says despite being humiliated, disrespected and segregated, he agreed to be a student to the white teacher.

Do they tell the same history? Which history have you heard?

How has the version of history you know shaped your current thought?

Do you know how they reconciled?


Charles Fox Parham:

*Father of Pentecostalism

*In 1900 he started a Bible school in Kansas teaching his new idea that the baptism of the Holy Spirit could come with would be the ability to speak in tongues

*He witnessed both women and men blessed by the Holy Spirit and honoured their preaching

*In 1905, he opened the Bible Training School in Houston

*Despite his own segregationist beliefs, Parham allowed black student William Joseph Seymour to listen to his lectures through an open door while sitting in the hall

*hundreds of people became Parham's followers.


William Joseph Seymour

*co-founder of Pentecostalism

*In 1903 Seymour moved to Houston, Texas and joined a small church pastored by a black woman, Lucy Farrow, who soon put him in touch with Charles Parham

*Despite being required to sit in the hall, separate from the white students in the class, Seymour listened intently

*In 1906, Seymour opened a church in Los Angeles, CA where he preached boldly about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

*He witnessed both women and men blessed by the Holy Spirit and honoured their preaching

*thousands of people became Seymour's followers, including blacks, hispanics and whites, filling his auditorium three times daily, seven days per week.

These two fathers of Pentecostalism both honoured women as preachers from the year 1900 forward. However, they soon parted ways, forming the mixed-race Church of God in Christ and the whites-only Assemblies of God.

In 1994, Pentecostals demonstrated reconciliation by dissolving the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (PFNA). The PFNA had been formed in 1948 for white Pentecostal denominations only. The PFNA was formed under the influence of a Church of England movement for British Israelism, the belief that whites were descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel and that God intended races to live separately. In 1994, white and black Pentecostal leaders gathered, listened, repented, forgave, embraced one another and washed one another's feet. As part of reconciliation, the PFNA was dissolved and a new interacial group was formed, the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA).

My novel, Forgotten Followers: from Broken to Bold, shows Jesus accepting people of various races and mixed races as disciples and apostles

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