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This Week in AG History -- July 19, 2015

The "Pentecostal Evangel," now posted digitally as "PE News," was first published out of the home of J. Roswell and Alice Flower as the "Christian Evangel" 102 years ago this week.

The Pentecostal Evangel, now known as PE News, is 102 years old this week.

The magazine, launched as the Christian Evangel in 1913, transitioned from print to a digital platform at the beginning of 2015.

Over the years, PE News witnessed numerous changes. The title changed six times, and the place of publication changed three times. Publishing the weekly magazine was quite an undertaking. To lessen the cost and workload, the magazine was only published every other week from 1918 to 1923.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower established the Christian Evangel to report on revivals and missions activities and published it out of their home in Plainfield, Indiana. The first issue, dated July 19, 1913, featured interracial content. Three articles were by or about G. T. Haywood, the African-American pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in Indianapolis. The Flowers selected a masthead that remains relevant 102 years later: "The simplicity of the Gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith." Their call to unity implicitly recognized that their readers did not yet have "unity of the faith" -- that disagreement existed on some matters. In the meantime, they affirmed that believers should aim for "unity of the Spirit."

This language recognizing spiritual unity amidst diversity was included in the preamble of the constitution adopted by the first General Council of the Assemblies of God in April 1914. At that same meeting, J. Roswell Flower was elected to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. The Flowers gave their magazine to the newly formed Assemblies of God. E. N. Bell, the first chairman, also gave his magazine, Word and Witness, to the new organization. The two periodicals merged in January 1916. The title changed in 1919 to Pentecostal Evangel, and under that name the periodical became one of the most prominent publications in the Pentecostal movement.

Today, PE News is the official news agency for the Assemblies of God and continues to network believers around the world.

Click here to read the first issue of the Christian Evangel.

Click here to read an engaging history of the Pentecostal Evangel, published in the 2013 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage.


Darrin J. Rodgers

Darrin J. Rodgers has served as director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) since 2005. He earned a master's degree in theological studies from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and a juris doctorate from the University of North Dakota School of Law. He previously served at the David du Plessis Archive and the McAlister Library at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of Northern Harvest , a history of Pentecostalism in North Dakota. His FPHC portfolio includes acquisitions, editing Assemblies of God Heritage magazine, and conducting oral history interviews. His wife, Desiree, is an ordained AG minister.