The Roots (Cont.)

Charles Fox Parham (1873-1929)

Charles Fox Parham represents one of the several links between Frank W. Sandford and early Pentecostalism.  Parham, a "higher lines" missionary from Topeka, Kansas, included a six week period of study at Shiloh during included with a series of visits to other higher lines schools in the east, including Moody in Chicago, A. J. Gordon in Boston Massachusetts, and Simpson at Nyack, N.Y. during  1900. 

The January 6, 1900 edition of the Lewiston Evening Journal carried a report of Shiloh's New Years Eve prayer and praise service which lasted from 9 PM till midnight following 10 days of prayer: "The gifts of tongues has descended" it read.  At one point in the service Sandford was astonished to find 120 people present, the same number gathered at the first Pentecost in Acts.   But whatever happened on December 31, 1900, Sandford insisted to the newspaper that "speaking in tongues" meant foreign tongues, not glossalalia.  All this was approximately six months before Parham's arrival at Shiloh to study.  Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson, unpublished page notes, refer to text p. 157

According to the July 1 & 15, 1900 edition of Tongues of Fire, the returning troupe from Tacoma, in their own private railcar, stopped in Kansas City to pickup Ed Doughty & Victor Barton. These were two of Shiloh's itenerent evangelists who had been sent out the previous winter with the "seventy", and had been staying with Victor's parents.  We will quote from Tongues of Fire:

"At Kansas City we were joyously met by our two students, members of the seventy sent out last winter, and conducted to Brother Barton's home.  The services Saturday and Sunday were richly blessed, and Brother Parham, a religious leader who had come from Topeka to attend the services, insisted that we accompany him home.  The bond of union Sunday afternoon which had united the three leaders of three great movements, one in the extreme west, another in the extreme east and the third in the center of our vast country, must have brought rejoicing among the angels, and especially to the heart of Him who prayed so long ago that we might be "one."  As a result of our trip to Topeka, a party of seven, including the pastor of the church, joined our company, and this addition in connection with eleven who joined us at Kansas City swelled the sum total of our numbers to fifty-five."

And a little further on in the same issue, Mr. Sandford again mentions Parham in the text of a sermon given at the Lancaster schoolhouse in Bowdoinham.  It was July 5, 1900, the seventh anniversary of the first public service in the movement:

"What a day we had yesterday!   Here was my Brother Harriman from Tacoma, leader of a Bible School, pastor of a church, and publisher of a paper; here was my Brother Parham from Topeka, leader of a work similar to our own, divine healing, church, Bible School, and publisher of a paper..."  (Tongues of Fire  July 1 & 15, 1900 p 111 & 115)

From an interview with Parham conducted by C. W. Shumway, we know that Parham not only studied under Sandford, but was witness to tongues being spoken during that summer of 1900.  Parham indicated to Shumway that he first heard tongues being spoken by two male students as they emerged from one of the prayer towers. This chronology would indicate tongues "breaking out" at least six months prior to Agnes Ozman's experience.  "Beniah at the Apostolic Crossroads" by Harold D. Hunter, Phd. See URL #2 below.

After accompanying Sandford on an evangelistic mission in Canada ending in Winnipeg, in September of 1900 Parham returned to Topeka, Kansas, dissatisfied somehow spiritually with what he had seen, and opened the Bethel Healing Home. 

"I returned home fully convinced that while many had obtained real experience in sanctification and the anointing that abideth, there still remained a great outpouring of power for the Christians who were close to this age."

"Parham criticized those centers of holiness and healing spirituality on two counts.  Not only did they fall short of "the account in Acts" in Parham's estimation, but they also spawned an offensive sectarian spirit.  He censured those "Bible Schools" (presumably including Simpsons Nyack) "Zions," (and) "colonies" (Shiloh?) he had toured because they adhered to the doctrines "of one man," which caused them to "become narrow, selfish...self advancing; until denouncing and un-Christianizing all others, they [came] to believe they [were] the only people."  (Charles W. Nienkirchen A.B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement p.30)

Among his first students was Agnes Ozman. (1870-1937) Ms. Ozman had been a student of A.B. Simpson in New York, and had also visited Moody's school as far back as 1894 before moving to Topeka and working in mission circles there.  Ozman is widely credited in pentecostal circles as the first Bible student of modern times to experience the coveted apostolic baptism of the Holy Spirit accompanied by what she assumed to be xenolalia on January 1, 1901.  She named Simpson as well as his colleague, Steven Merritt, [ Merritt is credited in Sublimity of Faith, as the chief mentor and influence in leading Frank Sandford to his understanding and acceptance of the Holy Spirit, Ed. ] as two of her more esteemed spiritual teachers. (Charles W. Nienkirchen A.B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement p.31-2)

According to J. Roswell Flower, the founding secretary of the Assemblies of God, Ozman's experience was the "touch felt round the world," an event which made the Pentecostal Movement of the Twentieth Century."   Parham formulated the doctrine that tongues was the "Bible evidence" of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  He also taught that tongues was a supernatural impartation of human languages (xenolalia) for the purpose of world evangelization.   Henceforth, he taught, missionaries need not study foreign languages since they would be able to preach in miraculous tongues all over the world.  Armed with this new theology, Parham founded a church movement which he called the "Apostolic Faith" and began a whirlwind revival tour of the American middle west to promote his exciting new experience.

William Seymour, a black waiter Parham met in Houston after leaving Topeka, went to Los Angeles and taught the Holy Spirit baptism in a warehouse on Azusa Street.  April 4, 1906 a revival began and thousand's of people came to 312 Azusa to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  This revival lasted from 1906-1913, and during this time, thousands of Pentecostal missionaries went forth establishing missions throughout the world.  Seymour's work at Azusa is regarded amongst most Pentecostal historians as a genuine move of God in restoring the church to true power and authority.   However, it has also been said that the Azusa Street meetings were also filled with spiritualist mediums, hypnotists, and others who had a deep interest in the occult.

In 1907 Parham was reportedly arrested in Texas and subsequently lost much of his credibility with the neo-Pentecostal movement he had started.   It has also been recorded that Parham rejected several of the central tenets of the Christian faith.  By the end of 1913 there were growing factions within the fledgling movement and in the end several independent Pentecostal organizations were formed due to not being able to resolve their leadership and doctrinal differences.  Four of these organizations exist today:

The Church of God in Christ (black Pentecostal's) formed in 1907

The Assemblies of God (white Pentecostal's) formed in 1914

The United Pentecostal Church (both black and white members) formed in 1914

The Pentecostal Church of God (mostly white members) formed in 1919

It is also worthy of note that Dr. Ida Miller, D.O., the Kingdom's chief physician at Bethesda, was one of those who had joined the Tacoma party on their way eastward at the stop in Topeka.  She had been a member of Charles Parham's group, and is also mentioned indirectly in the same issue of Tongues of Fire as Parham.  Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson, unpublished page notes, p. 459


2 http://home.att.net/~cyberj/hunter.html

3 http://www.stbi.edu/cfp/intro.html

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