The Azusa Street Revival

The Azusa Street Revival was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. The meetings were led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued seven days a week until roughly 1909. The revival was characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by miracles, dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling. The participants were criticized by the secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.

Perhaps the most important legacy of Azusa Street was the renewal of the charismata (gifts of the Spirit) for the modern church. For centuries, Western churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, had adopted the view that the gifts of the Spirit had ceased at the end of the Apostolic Age. Known as the cessation theory, this view became especially dominant among Fundamentalists and some Holiness groups that rejected Pentecostalism. With the explosion of tongues at Azusa Street, the attention of the Church was also drawn to the other gifts of the Spirit. In addition to glossolalia, the gifts of prophecy and healing came into prominence.

Pentecostals were the first Christians since the Early Church to associate speaking in tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Before 1901, thousands of people in Holiness and Keswick groups had claimed a baptism in the Holy Spirit with various evidences to validate their experience. After 1908, Pentecostals chose the phrase initial evidenceto describe their understanding of the Pentecostal experience. This meant the other gifts of the Spirit were also evident, although tongues was the first to be manifested, as it was in the Book of Acts. Since the major text used to validate the experience was Acts 2, the Movement was given the name Pentecostal movement.

Today, there are over 500 million followers and it was significant impacted by what took place on Azusa Street between 1906 and 1909.