|The first edition, dated July 19, 1913, of what later would be known as the Pentecostal Evangel.|
The centennial of the Assemblies of God is approaching - April 2014. However, what many people may not realize is that the weekly Pentecostal Evangel magazine, often referred to as the voice of the Assemblies of God, preceded the birth of the Assemblies of God by nine months.
The magazine was originally launched as The Christian Evangel by Pentecostal believers, Joseph James Roswell Flower and Alice Marie Reynolds Flower (later known as "Mother Flower"), in July 1913. Flower would be elected the first secretary of the newly formed Fellowship in 1914 and the magazine continued to be produced, but now officially representing the Assemblies of God.
In 1915, the magazine's name was changed to The Weekly Evangel. It reverted back to The Christian Evangel in 1918 before becoming The Pentecostal Evangel in 1919. In 1974, "The" was formally dropped from the magazine's name.
"For the past 100 years, the Pentecostal Evangel has served as the communications glue that has held our Movement together," says General Superintendent George O. Wood. "It has carried defining doctrinal truths, told countless stories from missionaries and pastors of God's miraculous work in our day, and offered article after article that inspires, informs, and motivates us to live for the Lord."
Ken Horn, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, says that the Evangel has adapted over the decades to better communicate the gospel message, but has never wavered from its original calling.
"Through the years the magazine has changed as needed to effectively communicate with a culturally changing readership." Horn says. "But in the midst of these changes, the 'Evangel' has always remained true to its mission - communicating the gospel, teaching the Word of God, sharing testimonies of those whose lives have been dramatically transformed, and prophetically speaking to the issues of the day."
The original July 19, 1913, edition of The Christian Evangel, can be viewed online through the efforts of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (named after J. Roswell Flower) by clicking here. However, only a partial edition of this historic work has ever been found and preserved (contact the FPHC to donate historic AG materials).
In addition, the Pentecostal Evangel has issued a centennial edition of the magazine, which takes readers through each decade of the publication, from the 1910s through the 2000s. The edition also includes a special "Connections" interview of David Flower, the youngest son of J. Roswell and Alice Flower. To read some of the articles of the July 14, 2014, edition, or to watch the interview with David Flower, click here. Copies of this commemorative magazine can still be purchased by calling 1-800-641-4310 and asking for the Centennial Edition Pentecostal Evangel, #69-8328 (cost ranges from 25 to 75 cents per issue, plus shipping, depending on quantity ordered).
"To think that this great written ministry has been touching lives and souls for an entire century is incredible," Horn says. He also points towards the future and what lies immediately ahead for the Evangel, stating, "When we finish this centennial year of the magazine, we will move right into an even more exciting year-long centennial celebration of the Assemblies of God Fellowship!"
For more information about the weekly Pentecostal Evangel, see its website at pe.ag.org.