Conversation with Darrin Rodgers
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, a prominent event in the modern Pentecostal Movement. Within eight years of that great outpouring, the Assemblies of God came into being. Staff Writer Christina Quick spoke recently with Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine, about the importance of remembering our spiritual heritage.
tpe: Who were the men and women who helped establish the Assemblies of God?
RODGERS: The Assemblies of God was organized in 1914 by about 300 Pentecostal men and women who recognized the need to bring unity, accountability and structure to the young and sometimes chaotic Pentecostal movement.
These pioneers had a smoldering passion for souls and engaged in ardent prayer and great personal sacrifice. They saw the sick healed, drunkards delivered, hardened sinners converted and families reunited around makeshift altars in simple gospel missions.
Our founding fathers and mothers — hailing from diverse denominational, cultural and regional backgrounds — included many prominent pastors, evangelists and missionaries.
tpe: What role has missions played in our history?
RODGERS: Missions has always been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. In 1914, delegates to the second General Council unanimously adopted a resolution to Òcommit ourselves and the movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.Ó
Our consistent emphasis on missions has been a significant factor in the growth of the Assemblies of God, which numbered more than 54 million adherents in 2005. The Assemblies of God, which began in relative obscurity, in less than 100 years has become one of the great missionary-sending organizations.
tpe: Why is it important to preserve our Pentecostal heritage for future generations?
RODGERS: History gives a sense of perspective that is essential if Pentecostals are to survive the prevailing cultural and theological currents. It shows us how we got to this point in our pilgrimage of faith, and it helps inform the direction in which we are headed.
tpe: As we look toward the future, what lessons can be gleaned from the past?
RODGERS: Assemblies of God historian Carl Brumback, in his 1961 book, Suddenly From Heaven, described our pioneers as Òfrail children of dust.Ó Like any group of fallible humans, weÕve struggled to fully reflect the transforming power of Christ within us. Early on, the Fellowship dealt with some doctrinal tangents and its relationship to the broader body of Christ.
But God works through human vessels. ThatÕs really the story behind all of Church history, not just the history of the Assemblies of God. Our founders persevered and sacrificed greatly. They compassionately met the needs of those around them. They clung to orthodox doctrine.
The Assemblies of God was organized in order to better channel our Pentecostal passions in productive directions. Ninety-two years and more than 50 million adherents later, it would be hard to argue that the vision of our founders has not been realized at least in part. However, we have not yet arrived. Pentecostals continue to struggle with their own humanity, and lost souls remain to be won.
For more information visit the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Web site at www.agheritage.org.
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