This Week in AG History -- Oct. 4, 1941
Fred Vogler, who immigrated from Australia when he was 17, became an influential leader in the Assemblies of God, including serving as the first executive director of Home Missions — now known as U.S. MissionsFred Vogler (1888-1972), an immigrant from Australia, impacted the Assemblies of God in many ways, including serving as the first director of what is now U.S. Missions.
Vogler was born in Boonah, Queensland, Australia, and immigrated in the spring of 1905 with his parents and four of his 12 brothers and sisters, along with some 60 other Australians, to Zion City, Illinois, which was founded as a Christian community about 30 miles north of Chicago. They became affiliated with healing evangelist John Alexander Dowie, who also was originally from Australia. The Voglers learned about him through his magazine, Leaves of Healing, which reported on many testimonies of divine healing.
Fred Vogler was 17 when he arrived in Zion City, and previously he had been saved and felt called to preach. He had contact with the Salvation Army while still living in Australia, but he discovered a new dimension of Christian experience in Zion City. He attended some cottage prayer meetings that Charles Parham conducted there. This led him to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1907, and he joined with other young people who spent many hours waiting on the Lord. He also began to diligently look for opportunities for Christian service. Vogler was among a group who had weekly prayers meetings and who traveled on Sunday afternoons to nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, to hold street meetings.
Early in 1908, Vogler (who had been working as a carpenter), left his employment to evangelize with Bennett Lawrence. A few months later, J. Roswell Flower joined them for meetings in the Indiana towns of Mooresville, Farmersburg, and Worthington. They also evangelized in other places, often without any advance arrangements. In spite of opposition at times, Vogler recalled, “God gave us the victory.”
In 1909, Vogler and Flower went to Kansas City, Missouri, to assist in tent meetings sponsored by A.S. Copley, an influential Pentecostal editor and preacher. There was opposition from some holiness preachers who strongly opposed Pentecostalism. But in the end, the sympathetic crowd sided with Vogler and Flower. One sister said, “God bless these young men! We ought to help, not condemn them.”
On April 7, 1910, Vogler married Margaret Boyer, who also had been part of the young people’s group at Zion City, Illinois. She had ministered for a while with a gospel team directed by William Manley, another influential early Pentecostal. For two years after their marriage, the Voglers lived in Zion City, where Fred was employed as a carpenter, and the Voglers were active in the local Christian Assembly as well as evangelism in the surrounding area.
In 1912, the Voglers left Zion for Plainfield, Indiana, where they enrolled in a new “faith” school called Gibeah Bible School, which was conducted by D.W. Myland. There they kindled friendships with J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds Flower and Flem Van Meter who also attended this Bible school.
After three terms at the school, the Voglers took over as pastors of a mission in Martinsville, Illinois, where they stayed for seven years. While living there, Fred Vogler was ordained by J. Roswell Flower and Ed Armstrong, becoming affiliated with the Assemblies of God on June 1, 1914.
Vogler also was a building contractor, which helped to support his growing family. Flower and others knew of his abilities, and in 1920, Vogler was enlisted to build the first wooden structure for Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri. This building later housed the first two years of Central Bible Institute.
During his time in Springfield, Vogler visited his sister in Topeka, Kansas. He saw a great need for evangelism in the capital city of Kansas, so he began planning to pioneer a work there as soon as he finished the building project in Springfield.
Vogler moved his family to Topeka, where he rented a basement room across the street from the governor’s mansion. By day he worked as a carpenter/contractor building a large contracting firm in Topeka, and the rest of the time he devoted to establishing a church in cooperation with the fledgling Kansas district. In 1921 he accepted the added responsibility of serving as secretary-treasurer of the Kansas district.
In 1923, the Kansas district elected Fred Vogler to the office of superintendent, a role he filled for 14 years (1923-1937). In 1927, his beloved wife, Margaret, passed away, leaving him with five young children. He married Nettie Voelkel in 1931, who became a wonderful helpmate to him and a mother to his children.
In 1937, Fred Vogler was elected to the office of Assistant General Superintendent and moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he served 14 years as an executive officer for the Assemblies of God. As part of his duties, he became the first executive director of the Home Missions and Education Department. When the two areas were separated in 1945, he became the director of the Home Missions Department (now called U.S. Missions). Under his leadership, many churches were built in Alaska as well as other places across the U.S. He also had a burden for reaching Native Americans, which led to a number of Indian mission churches springing up in many areas. He also supervised the formation of the Ministers’ Benefit Association which later was called Aged Ministers’ Assistance, and in 1947 he headed the newly formed Department of Benevolences.
In 1954, Vogler retired from his executive duties and moved to Belleville, Illinois. He passed away there in 1972 at the age of 84. His wife, Nettie, passed away in 1982 at the age of 91. Three of Vogler’s children followed their parents into ministry. His only son, David, was an ordained Assemblies of God minister. Daughter Kathryn spent two years in home missions work, received ordination, and was an appointed missionary to India. Daughter Mary Vogler was an ordained minister who was active in child evangelism and in teaching at Great Lakes Bible Institute in Zion, Illinois. The two younger daughters, Ruth Riegle and Alice Howard, became active lay workers.
Commemorating this pioneer evangelist, pastor, builder and church executive, who influenced a full range of ministries, the Pentecostal Evangel observed, “His accomplishments were great because he had vision and was willing to give himself without reservation to see the vision fulfilled.”
During World War II, Fred Vogler, as executive director of Home Missions, talked about many critical issues the U.S. was facing, including crime, alcohol, and spending, as well as some religious statistics. He identified 60 million people in the United States without any church affiliation and 13 million children without any religious training. With so many people without God, he said, “We have a great field right here in America.” He expanded on this thought by saying, “We are not responsible to God for past generations, neither are we responsible to God for future generations, but we are responsible to God for the generation that now lives.” Vogler recognized the need for missionaries abroad, but he also saw a real need to evangelize and win the lost in the United States, especially during the crisis in the 1940s.
Read the article, “Home Missions in the Light of the Present World Crisis,” on page 2 of the Oct. 4, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Place of Youth in Our Movement,” by Wesley R. Steelberg
• “The Gospel in India” by Maynard L. Ketcham
• “A Call to Missionary Work,” by J. Bashford Bishop
And many more!
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Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.