Dr. Lovell R. Cary received the Spirit of Azusa Award Tuesday evening, October 12, 2010, as part of the fifth annual Azusa Lecture at the North Cleveland Church of God. The award is given each year to honor a person whose life and ministry reflects the legacy of what is one of the best known revivals in Christian history. A reception in honor of Dr. Cary followed the award presentation. Dr. David Roebuck, director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, and the Reverend Billy Wilson, director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, made the award presentation.
Lovell R. Cary was born in Logan, West Virginia, and his early ministry was as an evangelist and pastor in West Virginia and Florida. He and his wife, Virginia, began their missionary service in 1954 in Hawaii, which was not yet a state. The Church of God appointed him as overseer of the Philippians in 1959, and superintendent of the Far East in 1967. In 1984 Cary was elevated to assistant general director of World Missions and four years later to general director of the department. Tenure limitations led to a change in 1992, but Cary was returned to the office again in 2000, making him the first person to serve as general director on two different occasions. He served for a total of sixteen years as assistant director or general director of the department. Dr. Bill George, in his recently released book, Until All Have Heard: The Centennial History of Church of God World Missions, writes that Cary’s “long tenure on the field and as a missions executive earned him the appellation of ‘Mr. Missions’ in many quarters of the Church.” George stated that Cary brought innovation to the World Missions department that greatly expanded the number of missionaries. And during his time as general director the Church of God entered 25 new fields. Although tenure limitations forced another change in their lives in 2004, Cary and Virginia continue to travel widely as missionary evangelists. A biography entitled Nothing to Win but the World will be released later this month.
According to Roebuck, the Spirit of Azusa Award is given each year to honor a person who represents the ongoing revival that began in Los Angeles in 1906. He noted, “Among the characteristics of the revival at the Azusa Street Mission was an emphasis on Pentecost, a hunger and expectation for revival in the last days, and a sense of global mission. Participants fully expected God to repeat the Acts 2 Pentecostal outpouring in their day. But the revival was not just a feel-good meeting. Lives and destinies changed. Countless numbers of people looked upon the harvest field and responded ‘here am I Lord, send me.’ They went to countries they had only heard about. Believing the Lord would return soon, they often went without expecting to return home. Historian Vinson Synan called them ‘missionaries of the one way ticket.’ Today many scholars believe that the Pentecostal movement has been the greatest missionary movement in the history of Christianity.” In making the presentation Roebuck noted, “Although there are many missionaries worthy of honor, we have chosen Dr. Cary for his missionary zeal, dedication, and sacrificial obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission to ‘go into all the world.’”
The Azusa Lecture and Spirit of Azusa Award were in established in 2006 on the occasion of the centennial of the Los Angeles revival. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center and the International Center for Spiritual Renewal present the award each year. North Cleveland Church of God hosts the lecture, and the Church of God World Missions Department supported this year’s event, which celebrated the centennial of the denomination’s world missions ministry. Dr. Douglas LeRoy, who is the current general director of the Church of God World Missions Department, presented the annual Azusa Lecture.