Pentecostalism’s growth in the early 20th century made it a global movement. Just prior to and following World War II, efforts were made to build bridges between the various Pentecostal fellowships around the world for the purpose of cooperation in evangelism, publications, and education. One of the important organizations that emerged to fulfill these aims was the Pentecostal World Conference (PWC).
In 1921 the Assemblies of God passed a resolution on “World-Wide Cooperation” which helped to lay the groundwork for the PWC. Then in 1937, several Pentecostal leaders from various nations were invited to attend the Assemblies of God General Council in Memphis. This was followed by a European Pentecostal Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1939.
After World War II, Gustave Kinderman served as field secretary for the Assemblies of God Foreign Missions Department in Europe, and he opened an office in Basel, Switzerland, in 1946. He began working closely with Leonard Steiner, pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in that city. Through their efforts, and with cooperation from many Pentecostal leaders around the globe, the Pentecostal World Conference was organized at a conference for Pentecostal leaders held in Zurich, Switzerland, May 4-9, 1947.
Since that time, the PWC has met every three years in various locations, attended by church leaders and members from around the world. One of main purposes of the PWC is to promote spiritual fellowship among Pentecostals, regardless of denominational affiliation or ethnic background. Another outgrowth of these meetings was the publication of a worldwide Pentecostal magazine founded by Donald Gee. It was called Pentecost (1947-1966) and was succeeded by World Pentecost (1971-1998). It reported on Pentecostal revivals, church growth, and events happening around the globe. For its first 54 years, the PWC was more of an event than a formal organization. In 2001, the group adopted a constitution and changed its name to Pentecostal World Fellowship.
Sixty years ago, in a special declaration given at the Sixth Pentecostal World Conference in Jerusalem, held May 19-21, 1961, the delegates advocated for a “renewing of the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit with all believers” and they pledged to “call all believers to continued prayer, faith, and obedience to the Word of God.”
This meeting closed on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1961. It was reported that “volumes of praise swell from thousands of voices and God moves upon us in a significant way.” The morning speaker on the closing day was the esteemed Pentecostal veteran, Lewi Pethrus of Stockholm, with Frank Lindquist of Minneapolis serving as interpreter. Afterwards the delegates shared Communion. Thomas F. Zimmerman gave the final message, challenging the delegates to help promote 20th-century Pentecost. The final report of those registered for the 1961 conference was 2,595 delegates from 40 different countries.
Read the article, “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough, on page 12 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Prophets of the Lord,” by Violet Schoonmaker
• “It’s Miserable to Be a Mule,” by Donald Gee
• “A Day in the Life of a Missionary’s Wife,” by Mrs. O. B. Treece
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.