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The Azusa Street Revival

William Seymour was the son of former slaves in Centerville, LA. In 1905, he was a student at a Houston Bible School that had been newly formed by Charles Parham, where he learned about the Holiness Movement. After witnessing “glossolalia”, Greek for speaking in tongues, from one of his followers, he began believing in it as a confirmation of the receipt of the Heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit. He began to believe that prayer and fasting in his life helped bring revival.

He relocated to Los Angeles to become a minister. They removed him from the parish he’d been appointed to due to his newfound Pentecostal dogma. He found a way to continue his work when he discovered the Apostolic Faith Mission. It was a dilapidated building located on Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles.

 

Prayer and Fasting Brings Revival

The building on Azusa Street became the base where he’d preach his doctrinal beliefs. He taught about how prayer and fasting helped bring about revival. He rejected racial divides in ministry, as well as the beliefs that women were not allowed to hold leadership positions in the church. His rejections of racial barriers, as well as the barriers to women in church leadership positions were a part of his “unity in Christ” doctrinal teachings.

 

William Seymour’s revival meeting lasted from 1906 to 1909. It officially started being known as the Azusa Street Revival. As his teachings became more popular and widespread, more and more mainstream Protestants became interested in Seymour’s revival and began to attend his meetings. Some of them received his teachings and began expounding them to their own congregations. The movement that resulted became widely referred to as “Pentecostalism.” It was likened to the manifestations of the Holy Spirit recorded as occurring in the 1st 2 chapters of the book of Acts as occurring from the day of the Feast of Pentecost onwards.

 

The Legacy of William Seymour

The majority of today’s charismatic groups can claim some sort of lineage to William Seymour and his Azusa Street Revival. While his movement was primarily to break beyond the racial barriers, within the next 10 years, the racial splits were perhaps somewhat less profound than the enormous division that often seems to separate a lot of predominantly white religious denominations from their predominantly black counterparts.

Although in the past there had been religious movements similar to Seymour’s Pentecostalism, nearly a century before in the 2nd Great Awakening, the present worldwide Pentecostal and charismatic movements are usually agreed to have contributed to the outgrowths of William Seymour’s ministry as well as the Azusa Street Revival.

 

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