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This Week in AG History -- Oct. 14, 1916

The ministry of famed evangelist Maria Woodworth-Etter over a century ago laid the groundwork for the 15 Assemblies of God churches that now proclaim the gospel in Salt Lake City.
Few early Pentecostal evangelists were as widely known as Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924). She traversed North America, holding services in large churches, auditoriums, and tents. Reports of revivals, including souls saved and bodies healed, regularly followed her ministry. People from a variety of backgrounds, including many non-Pentecostals, crowded into her meetings. Many heard about her reputation and sought to be healed.

Woodworth-Etter held an evangelistic campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 1916. The Pentecostal Evangel issue dated Oct. 7 and 14 promoted the campaign, which began on Oct. 6 and which was expected to continue three weeks or longer. Campaign planners rented an auditorium that seated 1,100, expecting to draw attendees from as far away as Denver, San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles.

The article noted that the Assembly of God mission in Salt Lake City was small. It had been opened just two years earlier, in August 1914. Several Assemblies of God evangelists, including Samuel and Sadie Finley, Robert Lowe, and Philip and Catherine Stokeley, helped develop the fledgling flock. Their hearts were drawn toward establishing a ministry of compassion. According to an Oct. 24, 1914, Pentecostal Evangel article, they desired to start a “Rescue Home for fallen girls.” They were unaware of the existence of any similar ministry in the city.

It was with the help of these local leaders in Salt Lake City that Woodworth-Etter began her 1916 campaign. Several weeks into the campaign, Woodworth-Etter’s associate August Feick reported that “there is much interest over a good part of this city.” According to Feick, “Many people are under deep conviction, and people surrender daily to God and get saved. Others again get healed and baptized with the Spirit.” The meetings were held in an auditorium that was a regular venue for boxing matches. Feick wrote, “On the same mat where prize fights are staged — stained with blood — sinners weep their way through to God, and saints receive their baptism.”

Feick reported a deeply spiritual atmosphere, noting that some participants could sense the glory of God present in the auditorium. Others saw a “peculiar mist” in the building, and several had visions of Jesus and angels. Bodily healings convinced many of the reality of the Pentecostal message. Feick explained that these healings were “proof” of the gospel that could not be denied.

These early meetings, over 100 years ago, helped to lay the foundation for the 15 Assemblies of God churches that today share the gospel in Salt Lake City.

Read reports of Maria Woodworth-Etter’s evangelistic 1916 campaign in Salt Lake City in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

October 7-14, 1916 (page 13).

November 4, 1916 (page 15).

Also featured in these issues:

• “Putting the Enemy to Flight,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “What it Costs to be a Missionary,” by Jessie Hertslet

And many more!

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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.