Dr. David G. Roebuck will present the Fifteenth Annual Azusa Lecture on Tuesday, November 10, at 7:00 p.m. Rather than a public gathering, the lecture will be livestreamed from the Church of God International Offices at facebook.com/coghq, facebook.com/dixonprc, and www.cogevents.com/azusa. Roebuck will speak on “Unto the Least of These: Roots and Fruit of Church of God Benevolence Ministries.” His lecture is part of a series of events celebrating the centennial of the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home. Now located in Sevierville, Tennessee, the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home began as the Church of God Orphanage in Cleveland, Tennessee, in December 1920.
Along with Roebuck’s presentation, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center (DPRC) will honor Dr. John M. Gregory and posthumously honor Dr. John D. Nichols with Spirit of Azusa Awards for their leadership in benevolence ministries.
Roebuck has served as director of the DPRC since 1997. He is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity at Lee University and an adjunct teacher at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. He has been a member of the Church of God Historical Commission since 1996, and was appointed church historian in 2004. Prior to his appointment as director of the DPRC, he served as an instructor and reference assistant for William G. Squires Library. He is an ordained bishop in the Church of God.
Roebuck earned a B.A. from West Coast Christian College and a Master of Divinity from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary along with a M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. His research interests include the holiness and Pentecostal movements with attention to minority voices. 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.
Roebuck is an active participant in several professional organizations including the Society of American Archivists, Society of Tennessee Archivists, and Tennessee Theological Library Association, which he served as secretary, vice-president, and president, as well as the Society for Pentecostal Studies, which he served as executive director from 2003 to 2011. He is also board chair of the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives.
Along with the Azusa Lecture, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center will present the Spirit of Azusa Award to Dr. John M. Gregory and John D. Nichols. Serving as chairman and CEO for Gregory Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc., Gregory is a pioneer in specialty pharmaceuticals and deeply committed to benevolence ministries. He is chairman emeritus of Kingsway Charities, an international ministry that provides pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to third world countries. He also serves as president of Serving Orphans Worldwide, an international charity that provides financial support to orphanages and orphans in 26 countries in five continents.
Trained at the University of Maryland as a pharmacist, Gregory began his career in Bastian, Virginia, where he opened the town’s first retail pharmacy. He later expanded the business by co-founding General Injectables and Vaccines (GIV), which he turned into a successful enterprise with annual revenues of more than $150 million per year. In 1993, Gregory and his family founded King Pharmaceuticals in Bristol, Tennessee, which was transformed into a Standard & Poor’s 500 Index Company with revenues exceeding $1 billion. In 2010, King Pharmaceuticals was sold to Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the largest pharmaceutical company in the United States, for approximately $4 billion.
Gregory received the 2002 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (health sciences category) and the 2008 American Free Enterprise Medal from Palm Beach Atlantic University, Palm Beach, Florida.
John D. Nichols was an ordained bishop in the Church of God whose life of ministry spanned nearly six decades. He pastored congregations in Visalia, San Bernardino, and Baldwin Park, California, as well as South Park in Alabama. Administrative appointments included state overseer of Oregon, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Tennessee, and Florida. His elected positions included assistant director and director of the Department of Evangelism and Home Missions along with eight years on the Church of God International Executive Committee as general secretary-treasurer, third assistant general overseer, and second assistant general overseer.
Upon leaving the International Executive Committee, Nichols accepted the directorship of the Department of Benevolence, which at that time consisted primarily of the oversight of three children’s homes in the United States. Under his twelve-year tenure, he expanded the benevolence ministries of the Church of God. In 2000, the Church of God Division of Care was begun, which today includes the Center for Ministerial Care/Spirit Care, Chaplains Commission, Iris B. Vest SpiritCare Center, Ministry to Israel, Operation Compassion, and Smoky Mountain Children’s Home. Along with many orphanages outside the United States, other Church of God ministries to children include Church of God Children’s Home of North Carolina, Church of God Home for Children (South Carolina), Heart of Florida Youth Ranch, and New River Ranch (West Virginia).
In 2006, Nichols became executive director of the Lazarus Foundation and worked with John Gregory to establish and finance multiple benevolent projects both in and outside the Church of God. Nichols died in 2009.
The purpose of the Azusa Lecture is to celebrate the rich heritage of the Pentecostal Movement. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center launched the annual lecture in 2006 on the occasion 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 J. Seymour preached a message of Spirit baptism following salvation and sanctification. What started as a home prayer meeting attracted throngs of seekers and was moved to an abandoned church 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 resources as well as the archives of the Church of God. In addition to students at Lee University and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, numerous scholars utilize the center’s holdings related to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement. Along with Director Roebuck, Rev. D. E. “Gene” Mills, Jr. serves as an archivist.