Frank Bartleman; and a building, the Azusa Street Mission. On a short two-block street in downtown Los Angeles, Azusa Street is the most famous address. Azusa Street Testimonies. Frank Bartleman. Friday, June 15, at “Azusa,” the Spirit dropped the “heavenly chorus” into my soul. I found myself suddenly joining. From the pen of John Bartleman, an early leader of the Pentecostal movement, we have an eyewitness account of the “latter rain” when Pentecost moved from.

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Few events have affected modern church history as greatly as the famous Azusa Street revival ofwhich ushered into being the worldwide twentieth-century Pentecostal renewal. From this single revival has issued a movement which by numbers over 50, classical Pentecostals in uncounted churches and missions in practically every nation of the world. In addition to these Pentecostals, there are untold numbers of charismatics in every denomination who can trace at least part of their spiritual heritage to the Azusa Street meeting.

Seymour; a city, Los Angeles; a journalist! Frank Bartleman; and a building, the Azusa Street Mission. On a short two-block street in downtown Los Angeles, Azusa Street is the most famous address in Pentecostal-Charismatic history. Although he was not present at the beginning of the Azusa Street revival, Parham was in many ways the theological father of the event. A former Methodist minister from Kansas, Parham by had begun a healing home in Topeka where students were invited to study the Scriptures in a small Bible school community.

The students were not charged tuition, but were required to “live by faith. By he had about forty students in a rambling brick mansion known as “Stone Folly” on the outskirts of Topeka. In Januaryone of Parham’s students, an eighteen-year- old girl named Agnes Ozman, was baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. This came as a result of an intense study of the Scriptures concerning the “evidence” of receiving the Holy Spirit.

From this experience Parham constructed his thesis that glossolalia was the biblical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

From toParham and his “Apostolic Faith” band preached the pentecostal message in the Midwest, gaining converts wherever he went. In he moved his school to Houston, Texas, where the same charismatic manifestation occurred. From his Houston school, Parham evangelized through out Texas and the Southwest. From to he was able to win some 25, followers in a belt of states from Missouri to Texas. His Apostolic Faith missions were loosely held together by little else than their leader’s teaching and charisma, since Parham doggedly opposed all forms of ecclesiastical organization.

It was in Houston that a Southern black holiness preacher by the name of William J. Seymour joined Parham’s Bible school. Originally a Baptist, Seymour had entered the ranks of the holiness movement before and freely accepted Parham’s cardinal teachings which now included five points: Although Seymour accepted Parham’s teaching on tongue: The mantle of leadership in the fledgling pentecostal movement was soon to be transferred from Parham to Seymour, and the “place of blessing” from Houston to Los Angeles.

In Seymour received an invitation to preach in a black Nazarene church in Los Angeles pastored by a woman preacher, Reverend Mrs. When he arrived in Los Angeles in the spring ofSeymour found a city of somewhich was growing at a rate of 15 percent a year. Many strange religions and a multiplicity of denominations occupied the religious attentions of the city.

Los Angeles was a melting-pot metropolis! The religious life of the city was dominated by Joseph Smale, whose large First Baptist Church had been transformed into the, “New Testament Church” due to the effects of the Welsh revival which were being felt in Los Angeles at the time. Another important religious influence in the city was Phineas Bresee, who had founded the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene in in an attempt to preserve the teaching of holiness which he felt was dying out in the Methodist Church, a denomination in which h had served as a leading minister for some thirty years.


Starting his work at the Peniel Mission in the very poorest section of the city, Bresee was repeating Wesley’s work of a earlier century in England by ministering to the disinherited of Los Angeles society. His Nazarene followers were rapidly becoming the largest holiness church in America. In the black community, a rich social and religious life had developed during the last years of the century with numbers of Methodist, Baptist, and holiness churches located in the black community that centered around Bonnie Brae Street.

Without question, William J. Seymour was the central figure of the Azusa street revival and will always be remembered as the vessel chosen of the Lord to spark the worldwide Pentecost revival. Yet, little that he wrote has been preserved for posterity. This fact is not to be despised, however, when one reflects that neither Socrates nor Jesus left a body of written works for future generations to read.

Socrates had his Plato to record his dialogue while Jesus had the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to leave a written record of His teachings. Seymour had his Frank Bartleman.

It was Bartleman’s diary and reports in the holiness press that constituted the most complete and reliable record of what occurred at Azusa Street. In later years, Bartleman gathered together his diary entries and articles written to various periodicals and published them in book form. In this book, entitled “How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles,” one feels the excitement of the events at the old Azusa mission.

From the beginning, Bartleman seemed to sense the historic significance of the Los Angeles Pentecost. From the first meeting he attended in Aprilhe felt that a “world wide revival” would be the result. In many ways, Bartleman’s entire life had been spent in preparation for reporting the Azusa Street meeting. It is probable that without his reporting, the Pentecostal movement would not have spread so quickly and so far as it did.

His journalism not only informed the world about the Pentecostal movement, but in a large measure also helped to form it.

Born in Rucks County, Pennsylvania, in to a German-born Roman Catholic father and an English-born Quaker mother, Bartleman grew up on a farm where his first job was that of following a plow. While he feared his stern father, he enjoyed a tender relationship with his mother.

Books by Frank Bartleman (Author of Azusa Street)

From his earliest days, he suffered from frail health. In his own words he was a “life-long semi-invalid” who “always lived with death looking over my shoulder. After Conwell baptized the twenty-two-year-old Bartleman, he offered to pay the young man’s way through college. Grank refused, explaining that “I made my choice between a popular, paying pulpit and a humble walk of poverty and suffering. I choose the streets and slums for my pulpit.

A lifelong devotion to the doctrine of divine healing followed. The desire to preach was overwhelming. In Bartleman left the Baptist ministry and cast his lot with the holiness movement.

Joining the Salvation Army, he spent a short time in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, as a captain before disillusionment led him to leave the army. He later traveled to Chicago to attend the Moody Bible Institute. Bartleman did not study long in Chicago, however. He had wandering feet. Soon he was on a “gospel wagon” franl his first tour of the South.

Here he befriended the blacks to the consternation of white Southerners. The wandering life occasionally depressed him.

Books by Frank Bartleman

On a second tour of the South in he became so despondent that he once actually contemplated suicide. Later, though, he felt well enough to contemplate matrimony.

In he married a Miss Ladd, matron of a school for fallen girls in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also experienced his first spiritual manifestation of “shouting and jumping,” although before this he had led a life of a “rather bartpeman tendency. This group was probably one of the small holiness groups of the day, who found frakn popular to use the word “pentecostal” in their name in reference to the second blessing of sanctification through the baptism in the Holy Ghost without any reference to glossolalia.


Near the time of his marriage he joined the Wesleyan Methodist Church and was assigned a pastorate in Corry, Pennsylvania. This pastorate was an unhappy experience for Bartleman, since he found the church to be “not even spiritual” and, in his judgment, a “backslidden holiness charge. In a camp meeting he felt “electric shocks” to the point that he fell unconscious. Later after his horse was healed in answer to prayer, Satan attacked him in his azsa at night “to destroy me.

Also, after miraculous healing, he was “slain in the Spirit” for one-half hour before a congregation where he had been preaching. While the Methodist Church was moving away from emotional and expressive holiness religion in this period, Bartleman was moving in the opposite direction.

He branded the Methodist Church as being “dead and compromised. Working at odd jobs, he led his wife and newly born daughter, Esther, on a trip to Colorado, with California as his eventual goal.

In Denver, he went to work with Alma White, head of the Pillar of Fire church, a small holiness group that specialized in the “holy dance. Most of this work was done streey the holiness rescue missions that were located in the central areas of the nation’s larger cities. He also felt compelled to print and distribute tracts as part of his ministry. In addition to tracts, Bartleman often painted Scriptures on bridges, streft beside the highways, or other public places.

Because of these activities he occasionally ran afoul of the law. In he was arrested in Boulder, Colorado, for wzusa Scriptures on canyon walls near the city.

Beyond these activities the indefatigable evangelist felt led to preach in every saloon and house of prostitution in every city he visited. In Denver that included azsa a hundred saloons. It was in that Bartleman finally reached his goal, California, where he exclaimed, “Here we reached paradise.

Azuwa work at Peniel failed “because of incompetent workers” and the aggressive proselyting of the rival Burning Bush and Pillar of Fire steret. After leaving the Peniel Mission, Bartleman frantically tried to reenter the stfeet ministry. An attempt to gain an appointment in the Wesleyan Methodist Church failed, as did an application to Phineas Bresee for a Nazarene pastorate.

The desperate Bartleman turned to whatever odd jobs he could obtain-painting, picking apples, cutting wood, etc. Things got so bad that their second baby was born in a rescue home.

The leaders of the home refused to let the hapless evangelist stay with his wife and baby. Later his wife was reduced to scrounging for food in garbage cans. They could not afford proper clothing, their feet wearing through the soles of their shoes. By DecemberBartleman left Sacramento for Los Angeles, where he was destined to record some of the most stirring events in the history of the church.

Manie Ferguson, author of the hymn “Blessed Quietness. Bresee worked on the Peniel staff before founding the Church of the Nazarene in For Bartleman, hardship vartleman tragedy awaited him in Los Angeles.

Poverty, sickness, and the death of his oldest child, “Queen Esther,” in January,left the hapless preacher and his wife grief-stricken but more determined than ever to fulfill their ministry in the “city of the angels. But many of the holiness churches had become rigid and negative to any new winds of revival that might begin stret blow.

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