On the first day of the 20th century-Jan. 1, 1901--a young woman named Agnes Ozman was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a small Bible school in Topeka, Kansas. A Bible student of former Methodist pastor and Holiness teacher Charles Fox Parham, Ozman received a glorious manifestation of the gift of tongues and became, in effect, the first Pentecostal of the 20th century. 

"I laid my hands upon her and prayed," Parham later recalled the event. "I had scarcely completed three dozen sentences when a glory fell upon her, a halo seemed to surround her head and face, and she began speaking the Chinese language and was unable to speak English for three days." 

According to J. Roswell Flower, the founding secretary of the Assemblies of God, Ozman's experience was the "touch felt' round the world," an event that birthed the Pentecostal movement of the 20th century. As Topeka and the rest of the world celebrated the arrival of a new century, few people could have imagined that this humble event would trigger the worldwide Pentecostal charismatic movement and bring one of the mightiest revivals and missionary movements in the history of the church. 

Since then, the worldwide Pentecostal movement has become the largest and most important Christian movement of this century. Beginning with only a handful of people in 1901, the number of Pentecostals has increased steadily throughout the world. 

By the time the 20th century draws to a close, Pentecostals are expected to be the largest family of Protestants in the world. With more than 200 million members designated as "denominational Pentecostals," this group has surpassed the Orthodox churches to become the second largest denominational family of Christians in the world, second only to Roman Catholics. 

In addition to these "classical denominational Pentecostals," there are millions of charismatics in the mainline denominations and nondenominational churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. The combined number of both now stands at more than 500 million people. This growth has caused some historians to refer to the 20th century as the "Pentecostal Century." 


Although the Pentecostal movement had its beginnings in the United States, much of its basic theology was rooted in earlier British perfectionistic and charismatic movements. At least three of these--the Methodist-Holiness movement, the Catholic Apostolic movement of Edward Irving and the British Keswick "Higher Life" movement--prepared the way for what appeared to be a spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in America. 

Perhaps the most important immediate precursor to Pentecostalism was the Holiness movement that issued from the heart of Methodism during the 18th century. From John Wesley, Pentecostals inherited the idea of a "crisis experience" subsequent to salvation. This variously was called "entire sanctification," "perfect love," "Christian perfection," or "heart purity." Wesley's colleague, John Fletcher was the first to call this a "baptism in the Holy Spirit," an experience that brought spiritual power to the recipient as well as inner cleansing. 

In the 19th century, Edward Irving and his friends in London suggested the possibility of a restoration of the gifts of the Spirit in the modern church. This popular Presbyterian pastor led the first attempt at "charismatic renewal" in his Regents Square Presbyterian Church in 1831. Although tongues and prophecies were experienced in his church, Irving was not successful in his quest for a restoration of New Testament Christianity. 

Another predecessor to Pentecostalism was the Keswick Higher Life movement, which flourished in England after 1875. Led at first by American Holiness teachers such as Hannah Whitall Smith and William E. Boardman, the Keswick teachers soon changed the goal and content of the "second blessing" from the Wesleyan emphasis on "heart purity" to that of an "enduement of spiritual power for service." D.L. Moody was a leading evangelist associated with the Keswick movement. 

Thus, by the time of the Pentecostal outbreak in America in 1901, there had been at least a century of movements emphasizing a second blessing called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In Arnerica, such Keswick teachers as A.B. Simpson and Ad. Gordon also added an emphasis on divine healing. 

The first Pentecostal churches in the world originated in the Holiness movement before 1901. After becoming Pentecostal, they retained most of their perfectionistic teachings. These included the United Holy Church (1886), the Church of God in Christ, or COGIC (1897), the Pentecostal Holiness Church (1898), the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee (1902), and other smaller groups. These churches, which had been formed as second blessing Holiness denominations, simply added the baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues as initial evidence of a "third blessing." 

Leaders in these churches included W.H. Fulford (United Holy Church), C.H. Mason (COGIC), A. J. Tomlinson (Church of God; Cleveland, Tennessee), B.H. Irwin and J.H. King (Fire Baptized Holiness Church), and A. B. Crumpler (Pentecostal Holiness Church). It would not be an overstatement to say that 20th-century Pentecostalism, at least in America, was born in a Holiness cradle. 


The first Pentecostals, in the modern sense of the word, can be traced to Parham's Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901. In spite of controversy over the origins and timing of Parham's emphasis on tongues, all historians agree the movement began early in 1901 just as the world entered the 20th century. As a result of this Topeka Pentecost, Parham formulated the doctrine that tongues was the "Bible evidence" of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

Teaching that tongues was a supernatural impartation of human languages for the purpose of world evangelization, Parham also advocated that missionaries need not study foreign since they would be able to preach in miraculous tongues all over the world. Armed with this new theology, Parham founded a church movement called the "Apostolic Faith" and began a whirlwind revival tour of the Midwest to pro- l mote his new experience. 

It was not until 1906, however, that Pentecostalism achieved worldwide attention. This came through the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, led by pastor William Joseph Seymour. Seymour first learned about the baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues in 1905 at a Bible school Parham held in Houston. 

In 1906, Seymour was invited to pastor a black Holiness church in Los Angeles in 1906. The historic Azusa meetings began in April 1906 in a former African Methodist Episcopal church building at 312 Azusa St. in downtown Los Angeles. 

What happened because of the Azusa Street Revival has fascinated church historians for decades and has yet to be fully understood and explained. The Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission conducted three services a day, seven days a week, for 3-1/2 years. Thousands of seekers received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues. 

The Apostolic Faith, a newspaper Seymour sent free of charge to some 50,000 subscribers, spread word of the revival. From Azusa Street, Pentecostalism spread rapidly around the world and started to become a major force in Christendom. 

The Azusa Street movement seems to have been a merger of white American Holiness religion with worship styles derived from the African American Christian tradition, which had developed since the days of chattel slavery in the South. The expressive worship and praise at Azusa Street, which included shouting and dancing, had been common among Appalachian whites as well as Southern blacks. 

The admixture of tongues and other charisma with black music and worship styles created a new and indigenous form of Pentecostalism. This new of Christian life would prove extremely attractive to disinherited and deprived people, both in America and other nations. 

A striking exception to the racism and segregation of the times was the interracial aspects of Azusa Street. The phenomenon of blacks and whites worshiping together under a black pastor seemed incredible to many observers. 

William Seymour's place as an important religious figure in the 20th century now seems assured. As early as 1972, Sidney Ahlstrom, the noted church historian from Yale University, said that Seymour was "the most influential black leader in I American religious history." | Seymour, along with Parham, could well be l called the "co-founders" of l world Pentecostalism. 


The first wave of Azusa pilgrims journeyed throughout the United States spreading the Pentecostal fire primarily in Holiness churches, missions and camp meetings. 

Many American Pentecostal pioneers who received tongues at Azusa Street went back to their homes to spread the movement among their own people. One of the first was Gaston Barnabas Cashwell of North Carolina, who first spoke in tongues in 1906. 

Under his ministry Cashwell saw several Holiness denominations swept into the new movement, including the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church and the 

Pentecostal Free-Will Baptist Church. 

Also in 1906, Charles Harrison Mason journeyed to Azusa Street and returned to Memphis, Tennessee, to spread the Pentecostal fire in COGIC. Mason and the church he founded were made up of African Americans only one generation removed from slavery. Both Seymour's and Mason's parents had been born as Southern slaves. 

Although the church split over the question of tongues in 1907, COGIC experienced such explosive growth that today it is by far the largest Pentecostal denomination in North America, claiming some 6 million members in 15,300 local churches. 

Another Azusa pilgrim was William H. Durham of Chicago. After receiving tongues at Azusa Street in 1907, he returned to Chicago where he led thousands of Midwesterners and Canadians into the Pentecostal movement. His "finished work" theology of gradual progressive sanctification, which he announced in 1910, led to the formation of the Assemblies of God (AG) in 1914. 

E.N. Bell and Joseph Flower led the AG. Because many white pastors had been part of Mason's church, when they left to join the AG, the departure was seen partly as a racial separation. In time, the AG was destined to become the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, claiming by 1995 more than 2 million U.S. members and some 35 million adherents in 150 countries. 

In 1916, a major controversy within the denomination led to the non-Trinitarian "Oneness" Pentecostal Movement. This belief taught that Jesus was the only person in the godhead and that the terms "Father," "Son" and "Holy Spirit" were titles. 

Movement leaders Frank Ewart and Glen Cook taught that the only valid water baptism was immersion "in Jesus' name" and that speaking in tongues was necessary for salvation. Churches that issued from this movement included the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and the United Pentecostal Church. 


In addition to the ministers who received their Pentecostal experience at Azusa Street, thousands of others were indirectly influenced by the revival in Los Angeles. Among them was Thomas Ball Barratt of Norway, a Methodist pastor who became known as the Pentecostal apostle to northern and western Europe. 

After being baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving tongues in New York City in 1906, Barratt returned to Oslo where, in December 1906, he conducted the first Pentecostal services in Europe. From Norway, Barratt traveled to Sweden, England, France and Germany where he sparked other national Pentecostal movements. Under Barratt, such leaders as Lewi Pethrus in Sweden, Jonathan Paul in Germany and Alexander Boddy in England were brought into the movement. 

From Chicago, through the influence of William Durham, the movement spread quickly to Italy and South America. Thriving Italian Pentecostal movements were founded after 1908 in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Italy by two Italian immigrants from Chicago, Luigi Francescon and Giacomo Lombardy. 

In South Bend, Indiana--near Chicago--two Swedish Baptist immigrants, Daniel Berg and Gunnar Vingren, received the Pentecostal experience. Believing they were called prophetically to Brazil, they embarked on a missionary trip in 1910 that resulted in the formation of the Brazilian Assemblies of God. The Brazilian Assemblies developed into the largest national Pentecostal movement in the world and had some 25 million members by 1990. 

Also hailing from Chicago was Willis C. Hoover, the Methodist missionary to Chile who in 1909 led a Pentecostal revival in the Chilean Methodist Episcopal Church. After being excommunicated from the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hoover and 37 of his followers organized the Pentecostal Methodist Church, which has some 1.5 million adherents in Chile. 

African Pentecostalism owes its origins to the work of John Graham (1870-1935), who began his ministry, a Methodist preacher but who later prospered in business as an insurance executive. In 1898 his wife was miraculously healed of tuberculosis under the ministry of Alexander Dowie, founder of a religious community called Zion City near Chicago. 

In 1907, Lake was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Zion City also produced almost 500 preachers who entered the ranks of the Pentecostal movement. 

After his Pentecostal experience, Lake abandoned the insurance business to answer a long-standing call to minister in South Africa. In April 1908, he led a large missionary party to Johannesburg where he began to spread the Pentecostal message throughout the nation. 

Lake succeeded in founding two large and influential Pentecostal churches in Southern Africa. The white branch took the name Apostolic Faith Mission in 1910, borrowing from the name of the famous mission on Azusa Street. David du Plessis, known to the world as "Mr. Pentecost," came from this church. The black branch eventually developed into the Zion Christian Church, which had 6 million members by 1993. 

Soon after Lake returned to the United States, the movement reached the Slavic world through the ministry of a Russian-born Baptist pastor Ivan Voronaev, who received the Pentecostal experience in New York City in 1919. Through prophecies, he was led to take his family with him to Odessa, Ukraine, in 1922. There he established the first Pentecostal church in the Soviet Union. Voronaev was arrested, imprisoned and martyred in a communist prison in 1943. The churches he founded survived extreme persecution and have become today a major religious force in Russia and the former Soviet Union. 

Pentecostalism reached Korea through the ministry of Mary Rumsey, an American missionary who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in 1907. At that time, Rumsey believed she was called to bring the Pentecostal message to Japan and Korea. It was not until 1928, however, that she landed in Korea. Before World War II, she had planted eight Pentecostal churches there before being forced out of the country by the Japanese. 

In 1952, those eight churches were turned over to the AG, whose missionaries immediately opened a Bible school in Seoul. One of the first students to enroll was a young convert by the name of Paul Yonggi Cho. After he graduated from Bible college, Cho pioneered a Korean church that became the Yoido Full Gospel church. The church today claims some 700,000 members, the largest single Christian congregation in the world. 


This first wave of Pentecostal pioneer missionaries produced what has become known as the Classical Pentecostal Movement, with more than 14,000 Pentecostal denominations throughout the world. This phase was followed by organized Pentecostal denominational missions efforts that produced fast-growing missions and indigenous churches. The final phase was the penetration of Pentecostalism into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches as "charismatic renewal" movements with the aim of renewing the historic churches. 

It is worth noting that these newer "waves" also originated primarily in the United States. They include the Protestant Neo- Pentecostal movement, which began in 1960 in Van Nuys, California, under the ministry of Dennis Bennett, Rector of St. Marks Episcopal (Anglican) Church. Within a decade, this movement had spread to all the 150 major Protestant families of the world, reaching a total of 55 million people by 1990. 

Mainline Protestant leaders include: Tommy Tyson and Ross Whetstone (Methodist); Brick Bradford, Rodman Williams and Brad Long (Presbyterian); Pat Robertson, Howard Conatser, Ken Pagard and Gary Clark (Baptist); Everett Terry Fullam and Charles Fulton (Episcopal); Gerald Derstine and Nelson Litwiller (Mennonite); and Vernon Stoop (United Church of Christ). 

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement had its beginnings in Pittsburgh in 1967 among students and faculty at DuQuesne University. After spreading rapidly among students at Notre Dame and the University of Michigan, the movement spread worldwide. 

Its early leaders were Kevin Ranaghan, Ralph Martin, Steve Clark and Nancy Kellar. Careful theological leadership was given by Kilian McDonnell and Cardinal Joseph Suenens. 

In the 32 years since its inception, the Catholic movement not only has gained the approval of the church but also has touched the lives of 90 million Catholics in 120 countries. 

Added to these is the newest category, called the "Third Wave" of the Holy Spirit. It originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches. This "wave" comprised mainline evangelicals who experienced signs and wonders but who disdained labels such as Pentecostal or charismatic. The Vineyard was the most visible movement of this category. By 1990 the Third Wavers were credited with some 33 million members worldwide. 


Throughout this century, Pentecostals produced many evangelists who were known for their mass healing crusades. These included Maria Woodworth-Etter, Aimee Semple McPherson, (Founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927), Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Reinhard Bonnke, Benny Hinn and Peter Youngren. Beginning in the 1950s with Oral Roberts, the "televangelist" genre appeared, bringing healing, tongues, prophecies and other spiritual gifts into living; rooms across the nation. Some of the most successful ones included Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network and Paul Crouch's Trinity Broadcasting Network. Notable evangelists, Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, fell in the televangelist scandals of the 1980s. 

News of the renewal was carried by most religious and secular press. This was paralleled by the publication of millions of books and tapes sold in conferences and crusades internationally. New periodicals spawned by the movement included Dan Malachuk's Logos magazine and Stephen Strang's Charisma and Ministries Today magazines. 

In the late 1970s a newer movement of "faith" teachers drew national attention. These included Kenneth Hagin Sr., Kenneth Copeland and Fred Price. In the 1990s, millions of people tuned in to the teachings of Copeland and Price, while others enrolled in Hagin's Rhema Bible College in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and a host of other Spirit- filled Bible schools. Overseas, the crusades of the German Pentecostal evangelist Reinhard Bomke regularly drew crowds of up to 500,000 in cities throughout Africa. The same has been true of Peter Youngren's crusades throughout India. 

Major educational institutions arose during the 20th century as well. Healing evangelist Oral Roberts founded a university under his name in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1965, and Pat Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 1978. In addition, literally hundreds of Pentecostal universities, liberal arts colleges and Bible colleges were planted worldwide. 

In a sense the charismatic movement in the United States reached a peak in 1977 when 50,000 people from all denominations gathered in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, for the General Charismatic Conference led by Kevin Ranaghan. Planners for this conference were confronted by the major controversy of the era, which involved the "shepherding" teachings of four charismatic leaders from Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Don Basham. 

This movement fell apart after the four separated in 1986. Other "congresses" in New Orleans (1987), Indianapolis (1990) and Orlando, Florida (1995), kept the many streams of Pentecostals and charismatics flowing together. 

In the 1990s, Pentecostals and charismatics were re-invigorated by new waves of revival that featured such Pentecostal spiritual manifestations such as "holy laughter," being "slain in the Spirit," and other "exotic" manifestations. Leading in this new wave was the South African Pentecostal evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne. 

Beginning in 1993, manifestations appeared at the Toronto Airport Vineyard church led by pastor John Arnott. Although Arnott's church was disfellowshiped by John Wimber and the Vineyard movement, the force of the revival has continued throughout the decade. 

Another wave came in 1995 when a notable revival began at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Led by pastor John Kilpatrick and evangelist Steve Hill, the Brownsville meetings have attracted more than 2 million visitors, and recorded almost 200,000 conversions. 

These "times of refreshing" show that at the end of the Pentecostal century the movement is far from dead and is ready to enter the new millennium with undiminished power. Revival fires also are sweeping Latin America, particularly Argentina and Brazil, under the leadership of Claudio Freidzon and Carlos Annacondia. 

All of these movements, both Pentecostal and charismatic, have resulted in a major force in Christianity throughout the world with explosive growth rates not seen before in modern times. By 1990, Pentecostals and their charismatic brothers and sisters in the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches were turning their attention toward world evangelization. 

Only time will reveal the ultimate results of the Pentecostal movement, which has greatly impacted the world during the 20th century.