William Seymour’s connection to our Pentecostal roots began when he became the interim pastor at Lucy Farrow’s Houston church when she went to work for the Parham family. When she returned to Houston, she shared her testimony of speaking in tongues with Seymour who promptly left Texas to sit outside Parham’s all White Bible school classes in order to learn what the Word had to say about the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Seymour’s hunger grew, as did his zeal to see the Body of Christ united across racial barriers. Having received an invitation by a Black woman pastor to preach in Los Angeles, Seymour traveled west to preach his conviction that the Holy Spirit manifestation of tongues was a gift for all believers. Although not received well by his host, many embraced Seymour’s message and joined him in a warehouse on Azusa Street to pray for an outpouring of the Spirit. When members of the Azusa street church began speaking in tongues in April 1906, word of a one-eyed Black preacher and his message of love, unity in the faith, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit spread throughout the world. At Azusa, Blacks, Latinos, Whites, and others prayed and sang together, creating a dimension of spiritual unity and equality almost unprecedented for the time. It allowed men, women, and children to celebrate their unity in Christ and participate as led by the Spirit. Surely, William Seymour was not only a father of modern Pentecostalism, but also a pioneer who blazed the trail for racial unity in the modern day Body of Christ.
February 12, 2011