This Week in AG History -- December 1, 1957
During the past century, countless Native Americans have been moving from reservations and rural areas to the urban centers of America. One of the top destinations has been Los Angeles, where over 250,000 people of Native American descent now live.
In 1956, Assemblies of God evangelist Arthur Stoneking recognized this demographic shift and pioneered Indian Revival Center (now Indian Revival Church), a congregation for Native Americans in Bell Gardens, which is located in Los Angeles County. Stoneking, a member of the Winnebago tribe, had remarkable success in bringing together people from various tribes. Started as a home bible study, the congregation soon became the largest Native American congregation in Los Angeles.
By 1964, several hundred Native Americans originating from over 30 tribes had joined Indian Revival Center. This diversity could have pulled the congregation apart. However, Stoneking emphasized similarities within various Indian cultures, creating a vibrant community for people who had been removed from their familial or tribal networks. Importantly, he also taught that earthly allegiances should pale in comparison to one’s heavenly citizenship, and that the bonds between Christians should be greater than tribal differences.
One of Indian Revival Center’s most successful ministries was its choir, which traveled across America. Choir members sang and testified in a variety of Native American languages and recorded a popular LP record. Stoneking also started a radio program that featured church members preaching in Native American languages, along with translation of the sermons into English.
Stoneking wrote an article about his fledgling flock in the Dec. 1, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He noted that salvation “wrought many miracles” in the lives of his church members, including the restoration of broken families and freedom from addictions to alcohol and drugs. One of the miracles, he noted, was “happy fellowship” among members of different tribes who would not ordinarily mix. Sixty years later, Indian Revival Church continues to build bridges across the ethnic divides, providing a welcoming home to people from Native American and numerous other ethnic backgrounds.
Read Arthur Stoneking’s article, “Indians in Los Angeles,” on pages 12-13 of the Dec. 1, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Holy Quest,” by Leonard Palmer
• “Even So I Send You,” by Paul E. Lowenberg
• “We Are His Workmanship,” by David McKee
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived edition courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.