The Apostolic Faith Mission building at 312 Azusa St. was ground zero for the Pentecostal movement.
How Los Angeles paved the way for Pentecostalism
“L.A.’s most successful export is not Hollywood but Pentecostalism,” the Economist once wrote.
In April 1906, an itinerant black preacher, William Seymour, kicked off what became known as the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. Historians now regard the religious revival as the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.
Seymour was a student of Pentecostal preacher Charles Parham, who believed that baptism with the Holy Spirit was a third work of grace, along with conversion and sanctification, and that speaking in tongues was evidence of its truth.
Thousands of people of all races were drawn to Seymour’s services, which were held virtually around the clock in a run-down building on Azusa Street. The L.A. Times reported disparagingly about the zeal of the new sect, its “disgraceful intermingling of the races,” and nights “made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers.”
The revival lasted until roughly 1909, inspiring thousands of worshippers to split off with intentions to evangelize across the U.S. and around the world. Today, Pentecostal believers number roughly 280 million.
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