January 2017 Viewpoint

January 26, 2017

By Darrel Lee

You may have observed that our flagship publication has a new name. However, it is not new at all. The phrase “apostolic faith” was first used by a man named Charles Parham in the late 1800s.

Parham was a preacher and evangelist who was devoutly non-denominational, having left the Methodist Church because they had departed from the holiness teachings, practices, and traditions of their founding. He settled in Topeka, Kansas, in 1878, and traveled from town to town in the Midwest preaching the holiness Gospel he had been taught. His self-proclaimed purpose was to seek restoration of the faith of the Apostles. Later, he came to be known as the father of the “Apostolic Faith Movement.”

Parham established a Bible school in Topeka, and then began printing a magazine in 1899. Its purpose was to declare what he saw as the faith of the Apostles: the tenets and doctrines they preached, experienced, and stood for. Those doctrines included divine healing, justification, entire sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost as received on the day of Pentecost and recorded in Acts 2, accompanied by the initial witness of speaking in tongues. Parham called his magazine “The Apostolic Faith,” and used a portion of Jude 3 as a motto: “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Five years later, Parham took the message of this faith to Houston, Texas, where William Seymour heard and embraced it. Early in 1906, Seymour took the same message to Los Angeles, California, and preached on the baptism of the Holy Ghost, though he had not yet experienced his personal Pentecost. When the message was rejected and he was expelled from the church that had invited him to Los Angeles, Seymour accepted an invitation to lead prayer meetings in a home on Bonnie Brae Street.

On April 9, after ten days of prayer and fasting, several received the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Three days later, during a continual outpouring of God’s Spirit, Seymour also received this experience. Word of the revival spread rapidly and within days the crowds that gathered outgrew the house on Bonnie Brae Street, so the meetings were moved to a mission on Azusa Street.   

Soon, dramatic conversions and astounding healings were taking place almost daily. Within weeks, a steady stream of seekers was coming from every continent, drawn by the testimony that the Holy Spirit’s power was being poured out.

As interest in the Azusa Street meetings grew, reports were compiled and printed in newspaper form. The first issue was published from Los Angeles in September of 1906.

As interest in the Azusa Street meetings grew, reports were compiled and printed in newspaper form. The first issue was published from Los Angeles in September of 1906, carrying the same title and motto as Parham’s paper, and expounding the same doctrines—those adhered to by the Apostles. Thirteen more issues followed from 1906 to 1908, some with this note: “Published by The Apostolic Faith Movement.”

Many who came to Los Angeles to “experience Pentecost” left bearing the message of that faith wherever they went. Florence Crawford was one of those. After doing some itinerant preaching in Northern California and Salem, Oregon, she was invited to hold meetings in Portland, Oregon. She arrived in Portland just after Christmas in 1906, and for two weeks preached the faith of the Apostles. After several more visits, well documented in the first issues of the Los Angeles based The Apostolic Faith, she settled in Portland in 1908. At that point, the Azusa Street ministry transferred to her the responsibility of publishing The Apostolic Faith, and she was joined by Clara Lum who had been instrumental in producing those early newspapers.

Before long, acquisition of real property required that the group in Portland formally incorporate. That was done, and what began as a faith movement became “The Apostolic Faith Mission of Portland, Oregon.” The fourteenth issue of The Apostolic Faith newspaper published from Los Angeles included this notice: “For the next issues of this paper address The Apostolic Faith Campmeeting, Portland, Ore.” 

As reports of the widespread revival continued to come in from around the world, they were published from Portland under the same name and motto as before, and The Apostolic Faith newspaper became our organization’s flagship publication. The first Portland issue—Volume II, Issue 1—carried the date of July and August, 1908.

Over time, the look and format of this publication has changed while the content has remained the same. In 1966, it was renamed The Light of Hope. In 1981 the layout went from newspaper style to that of a magazine, and in 1995 the magazine was renamed Higher Way.

Now, it becomes necessary to make another change. Over the past several months, our organization has begun moving toward continuous multi-channel publishing. More and more people are using electronic devices in nearly every aspect of life, and we want to capitalize on the opportunity to reach them as effectively as possible. We have started doing this through a variety of digital channels, including our mobile-friendly website, an app, social media, and digital subscriptions. In addition to text, we are publishing in audio and video formats. Our goal is to streamline and maximize the manner in which we deliver the Gospel message.

The name of Charles Parham’s magazine and the newspaper published from Azusa Street perfectly described the movement that endeavored to emulate and declare the faith of the Apostles. As this remains our mission today, that name still reflects who we are and the content of our publication.

With this new focus, it seemed appropriate to evaluate the name of our flagship publication. The name of Charles Parham’s magazine and the newspaper published from Azusa Street perfectly described the movement that endeavored to emulate and declare the faith of the Apostles. As this remains our mission today, that name still reflects who we are and the content of our publication. Therefore, with this issue, we have returned to using The Apostolic Faith as the name of our magazine. The content has not changed; we will continue to declare the teachings of the Apostles through the publishing of what happens in our church services and outreach activities. Yet we will strive to reach even more people, having the benefit of digital advances not available to those who came before us.

Just as God blessed the efforts of our predecessors, we depend upon Him to bless the labors of current and future generations until Jesus returns. We thank the Lord for those who have supported the Apostolic Faith organization with their freewill tithes and offerings. It is deeply appreciated, with results continuing to span the globe. Above all, thank you for your prayers as we point readers to Jesus, the Light of the World.

About the author

Darrel Lee is Superintendent General of the Apostolic Faith Church and pastor of the headquarters church in Portland, Oregon.