Portraits of a Generation


Early Pentecostal Leaders
Edited by James R. Goff, Jr. and Grant Wacker
With an Afterword by David Edwin Harrell Jr.
978-1-55728-731-1 (paper)
July 2002


Add to Cart


A spirit of religious revival blazed across the United States just after 1900. With a focus on Holy Spirit power, early adherents stirred an enthusiastic response, first at a Bible school in Topeka and then in a small mission on Asuza Street in Los Angeles. Almost immediately, the movement spread to Houston, Chicago, and then northeastern urban centers. By the early 1910s the fervor had reached most parts of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico, and eventually the converts called themselves pentecostals. Today there are pentecostals all over the world. From the beginning the movement was unusually diverse: women and African Americans were active in many of the early fellowships, and although some groups were segregated, some were interracial. Everytwhere, ordinary people passionately devoted themselves to salvation, Holy Ghost baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues, divine healing, and anticipation of the Lord’s imminent return.

This movement saw itself as leaderless, depending on individual conversion and a radical equality of souls — or, as early devotees would say, on the Holy Spirit. But a closer look reveals a host of forceful, clear-eyed leaders. This volume offers twenty biographical portraits of the first-generation pioneers who wove the different strands of Holy Spirit revivalism into a coherent and dramatically successful movement.

James R. Goff Jr. is a professor of history at Appalachian State University and Chief Historical Consultant of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He is also the author of Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism and Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel.

Grant Wacker is an associate professor of American church history at Duke University and a senior editor of the journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture. His publications include August H. Strong and the Dilemma of Historical Consciousness, Religion in Nineteenth Century America, and Heaven Below: Pentecostals and American Culture.

David Edwin Harrell Jr. is Breeden Eminent Scholar in the Department of History at Auburn. His books include All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America.

“This book fills significant gaps in the historical account of the early leaders of the Pentecostal movement. The solidly researched and well-written essays serve not only as portraits of the movement’s early leaders, but also as a set of windows through which readers can look from different angles at one of the most important and dynamic developments in the religious world during the twentieth century.”
—William C. Martin, author of With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America

“This book will fill a great void. . . . What is impressive is the range of subjects: the balance between men and women, between whites and non-whites, and between areas of geographical work.”
—Charles H. Lippy, author of Pluralism Comes of Age: American Religious Culture in the Twentieth Century