William J. Seymour

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William Joseph Seymour
William seymour.png
Leader of the Azusa Street Revival
Born (1870-05-02)May 2, 1870
Centerville, Louisiana, United States
Died September 28, 1922(1922-09-28)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Evangelist
Spouse(s) Jenny Evans Moore, 1906–1922, (his death)
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Pentecostalism
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William Joseph Seymour (May 2, 1870 in Centerville, Louisiana – September 28, 1922) was an American minister, and an initiator of the Pentecostal religious movement.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

He was born the son of former slaves named Simon and Phyllis Salabar Seymour in Centerville, in the U.S. state of Louisiana.[2] At the age of 25, Seymour moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to work as a railroad porter, then later as a waiter at a restaurant. It was during this time that he contracted smallpox and subsequently went blind in his left eye. [3] After overcoming the smallpox, Seymour was ordained by the Evening Light Saints. [4] As a grown man he became a student at a newly formed bible school founded by Charles Parham in Houston, Texas, in 1905. It was here that he learned the major tenets of the Holiness Movement. He developed a belief in glossolalia ("speaking in tongues") as a confirmation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit when he witnessed it from one of his followers. He believed this proved that the person was born-again and could then go to Heaven.[5] Itinerant, upon the request of Neely Terry, he moved to Los Angeles to candidate for the pastorate of her Holiness Mission.[6] As a consequence of his newfound Pentecostal doctrine he was removed from the parish where he had been appointed. Without a place to go, Seymour began staying at the home of Edward Lee. Edward Lee became impressed by Seymour's spirituality, humility, grasp of theology and persuasive abilities.[7] There he held prayer meetings, which eventually grew so large that he had to move the gatherings to Richard and Ruth Asberry's Bonnie Bray Street home. It was here that he received his own baptism in the Holy Spirit on April 12, 1906.[8] Soon after, the prayer group once again outgrew its meeting place, causing Seymour to make the move to 312 Azusa Street.[9]

Azusa Street Revival[edit]

From his base on Azusa Street he began to preach his doctrinal beliefs. Seymour not only rejected the existing racial barriers in favor of "unity in Christ", he also rejected the then almost-universal barriers to women in any form of church leadership. This revival meeting extended from 1906 until 1909, and became known as the Azusa Street Revival. It became the subject of intense investigation by more mainstream Protestants. Some left feeling that Seymour's views were heresy, while others accepted his teachings and returned to their own congregations to expound them. The resulting movement became widely known as "Pentecostalism", likening it to the manifestations of the Holy Spirit recorded as occurring in the first two chapters of Acts as occurring from the day of the Feast of Pentecost onwards. It is believed, Charles Harrison Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ, received the Holy Spirit at the revival.[10] During the revival, Seymour also spearheaded the publication of the Apostolic Faith newsletter, which was distributed from 1906 to 1908.[11]

Seymour died of a heart attack in 1922.

Legacy[edit]

Most of the current charismatic groups can claim some lineage to the Azusa Street Revival and Seymour. While the movement was largely to fracture along racial lines within a decade, the splits were in some ways perhaps less deep than the vast divide that seems often to separate many white religious denominations from their black counterparts. Probably the deepest split in the Pentecostal movement today is not racial, but rather between Trinitarian and Oneness theologies.

While there had been similar religious movements in the past (the Cane Ridge, Kentucky, religious movement a century before in the Second Great Awakening being one such example), the current worldwide Pentecostal and charismatic movements are generally agreed to have been in part outgrowths of Seymour's ministry and the Azusa Street Revival.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Corcoran, Michael. "How a humble preacher ignited the Pentecostal fire". Austin news. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Espinoza, Gaston. William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism. Duke University Press. 2014. P. 47.
  3. ^ Synan, Vinson. Pentecostalism: William Seymour. Christianity Today. 2015.
  4. ^ Espinosa, Gaston. William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism: A Biography and Documentary History. Print.
  5. ^ Espinosa, Gaston. "William J. Seymour and the origins of Global Pentecostalism." Duke University Press, 2014. p. 66.
  6. ^ Espinoza, Gaston. William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism. Duke University Press. 2014. P. 51.
  7. ^ Espinosa, Gaston (2014). William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism. Duke University Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-8223-5635-6. 
  8. ^ Espinosa, Gaston. William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism: A Biography and Documentary History. Print.
  9. ^ Espinosa, Gaston (2014). William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism. U.S.A.: Duke University Press. pp. 53–57. ISBN 9780822356356. 
  10. ^ McGee, Gary. "William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival". The Enrichment Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ Seymour, William. Apostolic Faith Church http://www.apostolicfaith.org/Library/Index/AzusaPapers.aspx. Retrieved 14 April 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]