Dr. David G. Roebuck, Church of God historian and director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, announces that the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives (CPA) has a new, upgraded website, thanks to a generous grant from Alletha M. Barnett and the Christian Fidelity Foundation. The upgraded CPA website (https://pentecostalarchives.org), which is the largest online repository of digitized Pentecostal publications, was launched on March 18, 2023, at the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
The CPA was founded in 2011 by Pentecostal archives for the purpose of making digital research resources accessible as PDF documents at no cost on a single website. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center has been a contributing member of the consortium since its formation.
The upgraded CPA website provides a great search experience with preview images in the search results list, similar to newpapers.com. While the old CPA site only provided access to periodicals; the new site also includes books and other publications. Steve Zeleny, director of the Foursquare Church Archives, predicted, “The new consortium website is going to change the way Pentecostal scholarship is done!”
The CPA website makes the heritage and testimony of the Pentecostal movement accessible to new generations and is an invaluable research tool for students, church leaders, and other researchers. The website provides access to almost 500,000 pages of digitized publications, ranging from The Apostolic Faith newspapers from the Azusa Street revival to over 90 other periodical runs, as well as books and pamphlets. Among them are more than 77,000 pages of Church of God resources such as the Church of God Evangel, General Assembly Minutes, Church of God (Colored Work) Minutes, The Pentecostal Minister, and others.
From its beginning the CPA was interdenominational in scope. The first executive committee consisted of the directors of the archives of the Assemblies of God USA (Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center), Church of God (Dixon Pentecostal Research Center), International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (Foursquare Church Archives), and International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC Archives and Research Center).
The upgraded website is attracting attention and new archives are joining the CPA. In early March, the Dr. Mattie McGlothen Library Museum joined the CPA and placed 33,000 pages of digitized Church of God in Christ periodicals and souvenir journals on the CPA website. Additional archives in the United States and in other countries are in the pipeline to become CPA members.
Emma Clark, director of the McGlothen Library Museum in California, is excited that African-American Pentecostal resources will be more widely accessible to researchers: “This is historic – the Pentecostal movement emerged in an interracial revival at Azusa Street, and now Black and White Pentecostal archivists are cooperating to make their stories accessible alongside each other.”
The CPA website also includes Hispanic Pentecostal publications, as well as materials representing Pentecostals from other national, ethnic, and language groups. Church of God publications include the first year of El Evangelio de la Iglesia de Dios as well as some issues of O Evangelho da Igreja de Deus and Evangile. Other non-English issues will be added as funds become available for digitization, according to Roebuck.
Over the years, the CPA website has become an important online hub for Pentecostal historical research and an important point of collaboration between the various archives. Roebuck has served as chairman of the CPA executive committee since 2011. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) hosted the CPA site from 2011 until 2023. The CPA, according to FPHC director Darrin J. Rodgers, “has fostered deepening relations between the archives and the archivists.”
Veridian Software created and hosts the upgraded CPA website. Veridian, a world leader in developing and hosting PDF full text search websites, hosts websites for national libraries around the world and state historical societies in the United States.
The CPA website launch was on the program of the 2023 annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, which is the largest Pentecostal academic society in the world. The meeting was held at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rodgers emceed the launch and Roebuck spoke about the history and significance of the CPA.
David Barnett, chairman of the Christian Fidelity Foundation, traveled from Dallas with his wife, Juliana, to attend the event. Barnett’s father, C. Lawrence Barnett (1931-2013), served as longtime president and CEO of Christian Fidelity Life Insurance Company. The Christian Fidelity Foundation and the Barnett family have given millions of dollars to support Assemblies of God ministries. The Christian Fidelity Foundation and C. Lawrence Barnett’s widow, Alletha M. Barnett, provided a $100,000 grant to the FPHC to upgrade its online resources. The FPHC used $30,000 of the grant to upgrade the CPA site. At the website launch, David Barnett shared that he believed their financial underwriting of the upgraded CPA website is an important investment in the future of Pentecostal scholarship. Barnett, an Assemblies of God minister and educator, also offered a prayer of dedication for the website.
CPA leaders are enthusiastic about the future. “We’ve created the technical infrastructure and business plan to allow the CPA to grow quickly,” Rodgers states. “I believe this will happen, as it gives archives around the world a platform to place their materials on a top tier site at a minimal cost.”
Harold D. Hunter, director of the IPHC Archives and Research Center, predicts that the new CPA website “will make Global South voices better accessible alongside Global North voices, making it easier for church leaders and scholars to better understand the emerging global Pentecostal movement. It will also make it easier for ministerial education in Global South contexts to utilize materials from their own countries and in their own languages, making them less reliant on Global North and English-language sources.” Hunter believes that the new CPA site “will become an increasingly important backbone of Pentecostal scholarship and ministerial education worldwide.”
Tulsa, Okla.–The Alliance for Black Pentecostal Scholarship recently honored Dr. David G. Roebuck and the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center at their awards ceremony and gala held on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The purpose of the awards ceremony was to identify and celebrate the achievement of Black Pentecostal scholars and church leaders around the world. The Alliance honored Roebuck and the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center with a Top-50 Influencers Lifetime Achievement Award for “Archival and Historical Recording of Black Influence in Pentecostalism.”
In expressing appreciation for the award, Roebuck said, “The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is pleased to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award for recording and preserving the influence of Black Pentecostals. Our mission is to preserve and pass on the accomplishments of all ethnicities in the Church of God. ‘We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord’ (Psalm 78:4 NLT).”
The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center has preserved several collections related to the history of Black ministries in the Church of God. Among them are the Viola Albritton papers, Church of God Colored Work collection, J. T. Roberts collection, and W. L. Ford collection. Information about these collections can be found at cogheritage.libraryhost.com. Additionally, the center has digitized available minutes of the annual Assemblies of the Church of God Colored Work. They are available free online at pentecostalarchives.org. Roebuck is director of the Center, and the Reverend D. E. “Gene” Mills, Jr., is archivist.
As Church of God historian, Roebuck has extensively researched the history of black ministries in the Church of God including a series of oral history interviews. He recently published “Unraveling Cords that Divide: Cultural Challenges and Race Relations in the Church of God” in Skin Deep: Pentecostals, Racism and the Church edited by Dr. Clifton R. Clarke and Dr. Wayne C. Solomon (Seymour Press).
The Alliance for Black Pentecostal Scholarship was founded in 2019 to encourage the study of Black Pentecostalism and to mentor young Black scholars. The Alliance sponsors courses, seminars, and workshops related to Black Pentecostalism. Dr. Clifton R. Clarke, a Church of God bishop and pastor, is president of the Alliance.