OVERVIEW OF PENTECOSTALISM GLOBALLY
Pentecostalism emerged in the early 20th century among radical adherents of the Holiness movement, who were energized by revivalism and expectation for the imminent Second Coming of Christ. In 1900, Charles Parham, an American evangelist and faith healer, began teaching that speaking in tongues were the Bible evidence of Spirit baptism. The three-year-long Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, resulted in the spread of Pentecostalism throughout the United States and the rest of the world as visitors carried the Pentecostal experience back to their home churches or felt called to the mission field.
There are thousands of million Pentecostals worldwide, and the movement is growing in many parts of the world. Since the 1960s, Pentecostalism has increasingly gained acceptance from other Christian traditions, and Pentecostal beliefs concerning Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts have been embraced by non-Pentecostal Christians in Protestant and Catholic churches through the Charismatic Movement. Together, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity numbers over 750 million adherents.
Toward the end of the 19th century, there was a dramatic rise in religious fervor as various groups anticipated the end of history and the return of Christ in 1900. Much of this fervor was driven by the revival meetings held by those in the Holiness movement, and there were occasional reports of people speaking in tongues.
The first widespread use of tongues was at a revival in Topeka, Kansas, in January 1900, led by Charles Parham. Agnes Ozman, a Methodist, began to speak in tongues, and others in the meeting eventually followed suit. In 1906, a series of revival meetings on Azusa Street in Los Angeles led to a widespread experience of tongues-speaking, which spread to many parts of the country. The meetings were led by William Seymour, one of Charles Parham’s students.
Though the Azusa Street mission had a brief life, its impact on the Pentecostal movement has been a lasting one. Many new churches and missions were founded across America which carried the new emphasis on seeking the baptism of the Spirit. Today, there are over 600,000,000 denominational Pentecostals and another 600,000,000 who identify themselves as Pentecostal or charismatic in mainline churches.