General Overseer Tim Hill hosted officials from the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center today to present original sermon manuscripts of his, and his late father, Rev. J.W. Hill. The donation will be added to a growing collection of sermon materials housed at the DPRC.
Hill reminisced about his father as the inspiration for much of his own sermon material. Among the presented items were sermon outline books, written and typed by J.W. Hill himself.
“He wrote out everything, where he preached a particular sermon, inked notes in the margins and then kept it all,” Hill stated. “He also gave himself a grading system which would guide him in deciding what sermons would be most appropriate for the thousands of sermons he preached over his lifetime.” Along with his father’s manuscripts, Tim Hill presented his own personal sermon notes, primarily from his early days as a pastor in Danville, Virginia, and other materials including lyrics, books, and CDs related to his life as a gospel music writer and singer.
“Pentecostals take seriously Paul’s question in Romans 10:14: ‘how shall they hear without a preacher?’” stated Dr. David Roebuck, director of the DPRC. “The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is honored to receive the sermon manuscripts of Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill and his father, John W. Hill. Tim Hill is one of the most significant Pentecostal preachers of our time; and no doubt John Hill was the most important influence on the preaching of his son. These sermons will be a vital resource for anyone wanting to know what Pentecostals believe and preach.” Roebuck stated that the Hill sermons will be added to the printed and recorded sermons of other Pentecostal giants, including Ray H. Hughes, Wade H. Horton, W.L. Ford, Margaret Gaines, James L. Slay, Paul L. Walker, F.J. May, and many others, “as they enhance the significance of the Research Center and our mission to preserve the voices of global Pentecostalism.”
Hill presented the material at a luncheon attended by members of the International Executive Committee, Roebuck, DPRC Archivist Gene Mills, and others. Having celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Center’s founding earlier this month, the DPRC is now into its second half century. Hill acknowledged part of the impetus to hand over his and his father’s personal papers at this time was the commemoration of the DPRC’s founding on the campus of what was then Lee College by the late Charles W. Conn. Since then the Center’s work has reached around the world in gathering historical papers, books, and items related to the Pentecostal movement.
The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is celebrating 50 years of ministry to the Church of God and Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements on March 2, 2021. Founded under the leadership of Charles W. Conn on the campus of Lee University, the center is one of the world’s largest repositories of Pentecostal publications, documents, and artifacts. Along with its extraordinary growth, the center has expanded its mission to preserve Pentecostal voices as it seeks to fulfill the biblical mandate of Psalm 78:4: “We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did” (NLT).
The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center began in 1971 as a special collection in the Lee College Library. Library Director LeMoyne Swiger and her staff had assembled a collection of books by Church of God authors. When Charles W. Conn became president of Lee College in 1970, he saw the potential of developing a leading research library documenting the global Pentecostal movement.
Conn was uniquely positioned to understand the value of a research collection. While he was serving as editor-in-chief of Church of God publications, denominational leaders commissioned him to write the movement’s history. Like a Mighty Army appeared in 1955 and established Conn as the denomination’s historian and an important voice in the Pentecostal Movement. Following his tenure as Church of God general overseer, Conn became president of Lee College in 1970.
In response to President Conn’s vision, the college created the Pentecostal Research Center, raised a budget, moved its Pentecostal books to a designated room, and hired a part-time director. Desiring to build a collection “as nearly exhaustive as possible,” Conn challenged the Church of God and Pentecostal Movement “to preserve for future generations those things of the past that have made us what we are.”
The Church of God General Assembly adopted this vision to preserve Church of God and Pentecostal heritage in 1980. President Conn, along with Church of God School of Theology President Cecil B. Knight and General Overseer Ray H. Hughes proposed to plan to construct a facility that would include a library to serve both educational institutions along with the Pentecostal Research Center. The General Assembly approved the proposal, and the building that houses William G. Squires Library and the Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center was completed in 1985. Adding to its mission as a world-class research library, the Church of God designated the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center as the archives of the denomination.
Fulfilling Conn’s vision, tens of thousands of resources are available for students, faculty, visiting researchers, church leaders, and congregations. Today’s holdings exceed 20,000 cataloged books and other media as well as a large number of archival records. Among the many archival holdings are the Bennie S. Triplett Collection, Conversations with Charles W. Conn Video Interviews, the Finis J. Dake Collection, the French and Frances Arrington Papers, Lee College Records, North Cleveland Church of God Records, the Pathway Press Photographs Collection, the Ray H. Hughes Papers, and the Tomlinson Family Collection.
Under the directorship of Dr. David G. Roebuck, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center has increased its emphasis on sharing the Pentecostal heritage with the Christian community through teaching, historical exhibits, publications, and an annual Azusa Lecture. Dr. Roebuck teaches at Lee University and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and is available for local church heritage services. The center works closely with the Church of God Historical Commission to design and create a major historical exhibit and accompanying publication for each Church of God General Assembly. Its most recent exhibit, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Century of Church of God Education” is available for public viewing at the center. Since 2006, the center has sponsored an annual Azusa Lecture and presented the Spirit of Azusa Award to celebrate the rich heritage of the Pentecostal Movement.
Roebuck has served as director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center since 1997. Holding a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, his research interests include the holiness and Pentecostal Movements with attention to minority voices. An ordained bishop, he has been a member of the Church of God Historical Commission since 1996, and the Church of God International Executive Committee appointed him as Church of God historian in 2004. He is a frequent contributor to books and periodicals related to the Pentecostal Movement and edits the columns “Church of God Chronicles” and “Where Are They Now” for the Church of God Evangel.
Serving alongside Roebuck, the Reverend David “Gene” Mills, Jr. is archivist at the center. Mills’ educational experience includes advanced graduate studies in American religious history, philosophy of religion, and theology. He has taught at numerous educational institutions and was president of Discipleship College in Eldoret, Kenya.
In commending the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center for 50 years of ministry to the Kingdom of God, Church of God General Overseer Timothy Hill announced that he is donating the original manuscripts of his father’s sermons as well as his own sermons. Regarding his father’s sermons, Hill noted, “I can’t think of a better way to utilize the messages as to make them available in the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center for anyone that may come and use them at any time in their own research.”
Offering his congratulations, Lee University Chancellor Paul Conn stated, “The Pentecostal Research Center is something that we at Lee are really proud of. We are glad that it is here, and we are proud of its growth and its effectiveness serving scholars and church people over all these years…. It has become a very valuable asset and resource for the Church of God at large, for the Pentecostal movement around the world, and for all scholars who care about the Pentecostal Movement and want to know more about it.”
You can be part of fulfilling Psalm 78:4—“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did” (NLT). The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center continues to preserve our Pentecostal heritage to support and inspire the ministries of congregations, pastors, students, and scholars around the world. In 2021, we will focus on increased online access to the historic voices of General Assemblies, Camp Meetings, Forward in Faith programs, and the Church of God Evangel.
The Church of God Evangel has been the printed voice of the Church of God since 1910. For more than a century, Evangel pages have taught Bible doctrine, shared good news from local congregations, reported global progress, and proclaimed the gospel. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is digitizing historic issues so they can be freely available via the internet. With the help of Church of God Publications and others, we have completed 62 years—just over half. Yet, there are still 28,500 pages to scan. With projected costs of 60 cents per page, we can make every page available for $17,100.
You can partner with us to provide global access to this vital voice of our heritage. Every contribution will make a difference—$30 will allow us to digitize 50 pages, $60 will digitize 100 pages, and $600 will digitize 1,000 pages. You can give in honor of a faithful editor, a general overseer, or a writer who has ministered to you through the pages of the Evangel. Send your check to Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, 260 11th Street NE, Cleveland TN 37311 or contribute online at https://www.dixonprc.org/donations.html.
You can view previously digitized issues online now at https://pentecostalarchives.org/. With our membership in the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives, this important resource is available to every member and friend of the Church of God as well as students and scholars anywhere in the world. Church of God Publications will continue to offer the most recent printed and digital issues through their subscription opportunities.