Four Vital Elements
By Fred J. Foster
There are four very important factors in the life of the United Pentecostal Church, which we will deal with in this chapter. These are Camp Meetings, Youth Camps, Bible Colleges and the Tupelo Children’s Mansion.
The summer camp meeting to many is the highlight of the year. Great care is taken to be able to attend these annual events where hundreds, and, in several places, thousands, will come together to hear good, down-to-earth, solid Bible teaching, fiery evangelistic messages, well-trained choirs singing the old and often times new hymns, and other vocalists singing praises of, and to, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyone will admit, who has ever been caught up in its spirit, that there just isn’t anything like camp meeting. Though it will be hot and dusty, the lines getting into the dining hall will be long, the benches are certainly not comfortable as the pews back in the home church, but there’s something about the camp meeting atmosphere that causes people to forget, or possibly endure, all this for the blessing of spiritual teaching, the inspiration of sacred worship and the invigorating fellowship of getting together with old friends and God’s people.
This has been the story, year after year, for Oneness people, and they have had rich and rewarding experience with these meetings.
“Camp meetings served several good purposes. Not only was there an opportunity for saints and ministers to get together and become acquainted in a special fellowship, but also for teaching the great truths of the Bible. In these Bible studies many have been convinced of the message of reconciliation, ‘To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” In a camp meeting at Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the writer was a sponsor with the late H. E. Reed, we baptized fifty in the mighty name of Jesus, of which thirty-five received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues either in the water or while still near the baptistry, including three ministers (two Methodists and one Baptist).” (2)
Practically all the districts have camp meeting each summer and most own their own camp grounds. The size of the district determines the size of the tabernacle. They run from smaller ones, seating a few hundred, to large buildings seating several thousand. Most camps have a day children’s church, and a youth service while the adult service is in progress.
It is a marked certainty that many church groups who at one time had camp meetings, but who no longer have members interested in such, have lost their evangelistic fervor and love for worship and the Word of God. Pentecostals feel that if the day arrives for them when they no longer desire what camp meetings provide then something will be vastly missing in their Christian experience.
“I have been around Pentecost a long time, and I personally feel that in the hour we live the greatest single contribution to the church is what our youth camps are doing.” An elderly minister recently made this statement, and numbers would heartily agree with him.
Youth Camps are comparatively new in the United Pentecostal Church, coming into existence in the early 1950’s. About then it was more and more realized that something had to be done about the great loss to the church of the countless young people across the nation. The teens seemed to be the most vulnerable age in Pentecostal society, so something had to be done. It was at this time that Sheaves for Christ (3) was introduced through the Youth Department.
District leaders began searching for something that would add great spiritual depth and love for the truth to the experience of the young, and Youth Camps seemed to be the answer. They were small in attendance at first, with a handful of instructors (the author remembers one such when he was asked to be the only instructor besides the camp evangelist), but they caught fire quickly, until now thousands of young people are in attendance every summer. It takes countless administrative personnel to get the job done, but all can see the areas benefit this endeavor has been.
Every summer hundreds receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and many are baptized in water in these camps. New inspiration is derived to live for the Lord, no matter the price. Acquaintances made across the district mean a great deal to the campers, and add greater desire to live for God so that they won’t disappoint these new friends.
From early in the morning until the middle of the afternoon the campers go from class to class, garnering many things from the Word of the Lord taught by capable teachers. The recreational period follows, which is usually enjoyed by the administrative personnel as much as by the young people themselves. Then at night there is a giant evangelistic service, with a speaker of note preaching on a level where youth can understand. The altars are usually filled at the conclusion of the service, and here these campers learn to pray as never before, when they travail for the hungry young hearts who are seeking to be filled with the Spirit.
Many things happen in a week’s time to encourage faith in a young person’s life. A humorous incident that speaks of a young thirteen-year-old-boy’s heart after living in such an atmosphere for a week, was overheard by the Texas District Pentecostal Conquerors President, Jack DeHart. Two boys were discussing the fact they were out of money, with only a dime apiece, and were wondering what they would do to get to their homes. One of them spoke up and said, “Well, let’s go drink an R.C., and just trust God.”
Much of this teaching has been carried over into every day at home and in school life, and has paid off immeasurably. The United Pentecostal Church is not losing nearly so many of its young people as before, and youth camp deserves much of the credit.
Tryon Edwards said, “Early instruction in truth will best keep out error.” Someone has well said, “Fill the bushel with wheat, and you may defy the Devil to fill it with tares.” Through thinking such as this in Christian Education, the machinery of the church will be oiled with truth for a long time.
Bible Colleges have certainly had their place in the United Pentecostal Church. Their contribution has been considerably more than most would probably imagine. On close observation, it is seen that a great number of the ministers have received training in Bible School. Those who have had this opportunity are usually very outspoken in favor of this type of training. They know more than anyone else where they would probably be without the tremendous help the hours of study gave them.
Because of the great expense in operating a college, the United Pentecostal Church Bible schools have had a struggle through the years. Yet their presence is keenly felt throughout the fellowship, with many former students pastoring churches and holding varied district offices.
Bible colleges have had their place since the early days of the century, with the initial twentieth century outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. “In the early days of Pentecost, great leaders began having short-term faith Bible schools, where young ministers would be taught the Word of God, the art of soul winning, and how to trust God for all their needs in the gospel work. These schools usually ran from 30 to 90 days. Daniel C. O. Opperman, a college professor of San Antonio, Texas, came into the faith and began each late winter to hold 30 to 60 days of school.
“In the autumn of 1916, Mother Barnes and Brother and Sister Opperman purchased a large 61-room health resort hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and arranged for a faith Bible school called Ozark Bible and Literary School, with several consecrated teachers. They all lived by faith, trusting God to miraculously supply every need. Not a teacher had a promise of compensation for his services, there was no charge for tuition, and old and young alike came to study the Word. Several families moved to Eureka Springs to put their children in literary schools which had grades through the ninth.
“On January 1, 1918 the writer joined the faculty and taught the eighth grade, which gave us several young prospects for the ministry. Some of these have preached for years this wonderful Oneness Jesus’ name message. They include C. P. and Mary Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, along with Albert and Odel Cagle of California.” (4)
Those beginnings helped some to recognize the tremendous value a systematic study course could be to the minister and Christian worker. In the thirties and forties those pioneering in this field, which had a tremendous impact upon the Oneness movement, through training many of its ministers and lay workers, were S. G. Norris, C. P. Williams, L. W. Coote, C. D. Soper, E. Rohn, L. C. Reed and A. D. Hurt.
The United Pentecostal Church now finds itself blessed with several Bible Colleges: Apostolic Bible Institute, St. Paul, Minnesota; Gateway College of Evangelism, St. Louis, Missouri; Jackson College of Ministries, Jackson, Mississippi; Texas Bible College, Houston, Texas; Christian Life College, Stockton, California; Kent Christian College, Dover, Delaware; United Pentecostal Bible Institute, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; Apostolic Missionary Institute, London, Ont., Canada; and Indiana Bible College, Seymour, Ind.
Overseeing the Bible College work, according to the general educational policy of the United Pentecostal Church, is the Board of Christian Education. An annual inspection of each school is made by members of this board.
TUPELO CHILDREN’S MANSION
The author was sitting in a Bible College chapel service enthralled by the earnest appeal being made from the pulpit. Tears glistened on the cheeks of the speaker as he told of the heavy burden on his heart to see a Oneness Pentecostal home for homeless children. Seeing many instances where Pentecostal children, after some tragic happening, had to be taken in by other church groups, he lamented the cold fact that the United Pentecostal Church had no such place to take care of its own homeless children. The man speaking so forcefully was T. C. Montgomery.
From that meeting for a number of years he traveled thousands of miles through several states, making the same appeal, and raising funds to establish such an institution. Churches and Districts rallied to the call, and in the late fall of 1953 the doors of beautiful new facilities swung open to receive its first inhabitants, precious children to be reared in a wonderfully spiritual atmosphere.
Montgomery’s dream became a reality, and in Tupelo, Mississippi on a beautiful hillside is the lovely campus of Tupelo Children’s Mansion.
L. J. Hosch was the first Superintendent, and after two years he was followed by R. P. Kloepper. B. Brian Chelette followed him in 1971. He was succeeded by Stephen Drury in 1976.
The Mansion is a well organized effort, with a Board of Directors from the many Districts supporting it, and an Executive Board from the Board of Directors.
Funds have been channeled to the mansion from individual donors, churches, districts, The Ladies Auxiliary (5) and The Pentecostal Conquerors. (6)
1 II Corinthians 5:18, 19
2 McClain, “Notes,” p. 32, 33.
3 Manual, United Pentecostal Church, 1964, p. 70, 71.
4 McClain, “Notes,” p. 18-30, 31.
5 Page 145.
6 Page 143.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM 20th CENTURY PENTECOSTALS AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1980, PAGES 167-174. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.