Dr. Daniel Woods will present the Eighteenth Annual Azusa Lecture on Thursday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m., in the Lee University Chapel. Woods will present “The Confessions of Benjamin Hardin Irwin: Why We Should Bother to Listen.” Following Woods’ presentation, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center will honor Dr. Harold Bare with the Spirit of Azusa Award and a reception for his exemplary pastoral leadership and ministry of encouragement. Those unable to attend in person may view the lecture and award presentation livestream at leeu.live or facebook.com/dixonprc.
Woods’ lecture will focus on the life of Benjamin Hardin Irwin, founder of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association and a pivotal figure in the development of the Pentecostal Movement. Irwin’s late nineteenth-century ministry in Bradley County influenced congregations that later called A. J. Tomlinson as their pastor. Tomlinson’s relocation to Tennessee resulted in establishing the headquarters of the Church of God in Cleveland. Although Irwin is largely forgotten today, Woods will explore his life and ministry and why we should remember his place in Pentecostal history.
Woods serves the International Pentecostal Holiness Church as preacher, teacher, and historian. He has more than three decades of pastoral experience and is Professor Emeritus at Ferrum College (Virginia), where he taught American history for thirty-two years. After retiring from Ferrum, Woods directed the North Carolina Conference School of Ministry for the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and taught online courses for Southwestern Christian University Graduate School.
Woods studied at Emmanuel College, Roanoke College, the University of Georgia, the University of Mississippi (Ph.D.), and Yale University. His most recent publications include Fire-Baptized: The Many Lives of Benjamin Hardin Irwin (co-authored with Vinson Synan) and “Spiritual Railroading: Trains as Metaphor and Reality in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements, c.1880 to c.1920” published in Holiness and Pentecostal Movements: Intertwined Pasts, Presents, and Futures (edited by David Bundy, Geordan Hammond, David Sang-Ehil Han). As pastor and scholar, Woods consistently highlights the need to keep Pentecostal power, sanctified living, and end-time evangelism intimately connected.
Along with the Azusa Lecture, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center will present the Spirit of Azusa Award to Dr. Harold Bare and host a reception in his honor. Bare, and his wife, Dr. Laila Bare, led Covenant Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, for thirty-nine years. Covenant Church included worshippers from more than twenty nations and hosted five services for ethnic minorities. Having grown up in the homes of pastors, the Bares developed a passion to care for pastors and their families. Through their non-profit, Encouraging the Saints, they visit and encourage pastors’ families across the United States and in Europe. Having earned a Ph.D. from University of Virginia, Dr. Bare has written several books including They Call Me Pentecostal, A Month of Sundays: Colorful Stories of God’s Providence and Humor, and Hell is War (with Laila Bare).
In addition to serving as president of Encouraging the Saints ministry, Bare has served as a member of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary Board of Trustees for twenty-seven years and for ten years on the Board of Equipping the Saints, an international organization providing resources for missions.
The purpose of the Azusa Lecture is to celebrate the rich heritage of the global Pentecostal Movement. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center launched the annual lecture in 2006 in recognition of the centennial of the revival at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles. Church of God Historian Charles W. Conn noted that the Los Angeles revival, which lasted from 1906 to 1909, “is universally regarded as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal Movement.”
The Los Angeles revival began when African-American Pastor William Joseph Seymour preached a message of Spirit baptism following salvation and sanctification. What started as a home prayer meeting, attracted crowds of seekers and was moved to an abandoned building at 312 Azusa Street. Hundreds traveled to the Azusa Street Mission, received a personal baptism of the Holy Spirit, and took that message to their homes, churches, and communities. The Pentecostal Movement quickly became a great missionary movement, and the twentieth century came to be called the “Century of the Holy Spirit.”
Founded by Charles W. Conn on the campus of Lee University, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is one of the world’s significant collections of Pentecostal and Charismatic resources as well as the archives of the Church of God. In addition to students at Lee University and Pentecostal Theological Seminary, numerous scholars utilize the center's holdings. The center interprets the Pentecostal Movement through teaching, publications, and historical exhibits and is a resource for Church of Ministries throughout the world. Dr. David G. Roebuck serves as director, and the Reverend David “Gene” Mills, Jr. as archivist.
For more information about the Azusa Lecture contact the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center at 423-614-8576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Church of God Historical Commission wishes to observe that 120 years ago in June 1903, Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson, united with the Church of God through membership in the Holiness Church at Camp Creek, North Carolina, subsequently becoming pastor of that congregation.
By virtue of his office as pastor of the host church, Tomlinson moderated the first General Assembly on January 26-27, 1906, comprised of twenty-one delegates from three churches in Tennessee, one in Georgia, and the host church in North Carolina. That same year, he established North Cleveland Church of God, now considered the Mother Church of our movement. On January 9, 1909, at the age of 43, Tomlinson was chosen as general moderator (later renamed general overseer), where he served until 1923.
It was under the leadership of A. J. Tomlinson that the influence of the Church was taken outside its secluded Appalachian origins; the name was changed from The Holiness Church to Church of God; the Church of God Evangel, Lee University, and the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home were birthed; and the Church was established outside the United States. It is difficult to overstate the influence of Tomlinson on the earliest days of the Church of God and the Pentecostal Movement.
In commemorating this anniversary, we give thanks to God for the leadership and influence of our early Church of God leaders, and we pray God’s continued favor on our current leadership as well as that of the Church of God of Prophecy, over which Tomlinson also served as general overseer (1923-1943).
Submitted by the Church of God Historical Commission
James E. Cossey, Chairman
David G. Roebuck, Church Historian