Pentecostal Archivists’ Conference Meets During PWC

May 29, 2001

Los Angeles—An unprecedented gathering of nearly 60 archivists representing Pentecostal fellowships from around the world met on Tuesday at the headquarters of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. This effort sought to launch a global network of pentecostal resources while teaching emerging collections the value of collecting, preserving and accessing historical documents particularly those that are rare and fragile. The theme “Claiming Our Legacy” was appropriated to capture the vision that the mighty works of God accomplished among us around the world should not be forgotten. The meeting combined with the Azusa St. tours helped accentuate the Pentecostal Centennial celebrated at the 19th Pentecostal World Conference held here this week.

Dr. Harold D. Hunter, director of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) Archives and Research Center, opened the seminar. Hunter conceived and coordinated the event by forming a planning committee drawn from six continents. Peter J.H. Dewitt, general treasurer of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, gave a devotional recalling his great-grandfather’s conversion under the ministry of Azusa St. missionary-evangelist John G. Lake on the streets of Johannesburg in 1908.

Recognizing the opportunities and challenges of the new millennium, the opening plenary highlighted digital resources. Brett Pavia, coordinator of special projects for the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (U.S.A. Assemblies of God), used a hookup to the Internet to give a live demonstration of select digital materials made available on-line by established archives in the West. To illustrate needed equipment, Pavia also used a digitized version of “Leaves of Healing,” a John Alexander Dowie publication from Zion, Illinois started in 1894.

Some of the countries represented have no official archives, so a session on “Getting Started” was well received. Kate McGinn, formerly archivist for the David du Plessis Center at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, distributed free sample archival materials during her animated presentation. Dr. David Roebuck, director of the Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center (Church of God, Cleveland), put together the seminar notebook and gave a presentation titled “Navigating Institutional and Public Services.” Participant Chris Thompson, superintendent for the North Carolina Conference of the IPHC, noted that “the notebook alone made the workshop worthwhile.”

The seminar planning committee, which twice met separately, held a roundtable discussion dedicated to sharing resources worldwide. Presentations to the committee were also made by Jan-Endy Johannesson, director of the Swedish Pentecostal Research and Information Center in Stockholm, Sweden and Wayne Warner, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. Counting 12 missionary books, Johannesson said, “Our first book was on missions in China, which began in 1908.”

Host Archivist, Steve Zeleny, director of Archives and Data Management for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, not only managed well the venue but in a plenary session projected details of the state-of-the-art archives to be constructed under his supervision. Other participants were Desmond Cartwright, past director of the Donald Gee Centre at the University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England, and Geir Lie from the Norsk Katismatisk Bibliotek og Arkiv in Norway.

Helen Masongsong, tour guide, brought the conference to a fitting conclusion. The group viewed a video about the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson then took a tour of the historic Angelus Temple that was erected in the early 1920s.