Adam Edgar Kroll (1918-1993) was a Presbyterian layman with little use for the miraculous claims of Christianity until he experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in a charismatic prayer meeting under the leadership of Presbyterian pastor James H. Brown. In 1962, the Pentecostal Evangel shared Kroll’s story, documenting that an Assemblies of God prayer meeting played a role in his conversion.
Kroll received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Temple University in 1942. He went to work with E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (now DuPont, after its merger with Dow Chemicals) in their military explosives division. After receiving his Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in 1946, he was promoted to supervisor of the research division of the Polychemicals Department, holding the 1956 patent for the polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene.
As a youth, Kroll recalled going to church for special holiday services but never to Sunday School. He confessed, “I was well grounded in science and mathematics, but I did not know a word of Scripture. In fact, some of the things I heard about Christianity I found extremely hard to believe. My greatest stumbling blocks were the ‘miracles’; because, like many who study natural phenomena, I rejected the supernatural.”
After settling into marriage and his profession, Kroll began to think about metaphysical things, such as “What is man?”, “What is he born for?”, and “After death, what?” Philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry did not provide the answers for which he was searching.
In the early 1950s, Kroll and his wife thought it would be a good idea to take their young son, Barry, to a Presbyterian Sunday School. Not wishing to make the drive to the church twice each Sunday, Kroll stayed during the Sunday School hour and attended a men’s Bible class. However, it seemed the more he learned about the Bible, the more he thought he would need to commit intellectual suicide to believe its teaching.
Despite his skepticism, Kroll and his family continued to attend the church and, due to his intellect and standing in the community, he soon became an elder in the church and a Sunday School teacher, even filling the pulpit at times when the minister was absent.
In 1961, Barry Kroll experienced a genuine salvation and began to pray for his family. He learned that Revivaltime, an Assemblies of God evangelistic radio program, would pray for anyone who sent in their name. In November, Barry sent the name of Edgar Kroll, asking for prayer for his father’s salvation. Soon after submitting this prayer request, Barry received the infilling of the Holy Spirit in a January 1962 prayer meeting, and in a few weeks his mother and younger sister were also filled with the Spirit.
The prayer meetings Barry was attending were being held at the Upper Octorara Presbyterian church in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. They were led by Presbyterian minister, James H. Brown (1912-1987), who experienced a dramatic conversion to Christ in a Pentecostal meeting after serving more than 10 years in the pastorate and as theology professor at Lincoln Theological Seminary.
When Brown was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues in the late 1950s, he asked Assemblies of God leader David du Plessis for advice. “Stay in your church and renew it,” was the counsel he received. Taking this advice to heart, he continued to conduct traditional Presbyterian services on Sunday, while adding an informal Saturday evening prayer meeting to the church schedule. In time, the Saturday prayer meetings attracted hundreds of enthusiastic worshipers, including the Kroll family.
In April 1962, six months after requesting prayer from the Assemblies of God Revivaltime prayer meeting, Barry and his sister convinced their father to join them at the Saturday night prayer meetings at the Presbyterian church. After attending for three weeks, Edgar Kroll responded to an altar call and the self-professed skeptic and church elder gave his life to Jesus Christ.
In a report in the Oct. 21, 1962, Pentecostal Evangel, Kroll states, “While still on my knees with my hands lifted to God in praise, I began speaking in an unknown language. I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. After this glorious experience, my son told me that he had written to Revivaltime requesting prayer for my salvation. I know now that intercessory prayer led me to the meeting in Parkesburg.”
The Kroll family continued to attend their Presbyterian church but the experience of salvation and baptism in the Spirit changed their family. Barry Kroll wrote to the Revivaltime staff, “When Christ came into our home, He ruined us … for the world. Families without Christ do not have the slightest idea of how glorious life can be with Him.”
The Krolls were among the first generation of people who were Spirit-baptized in mainline churches during the charismatic movement. Some of the new charismatics ended up joining the Assemblies of God or other Pentecostal churches, while others, such as the Krolls, remained in their churches and brought new spiritual life to their congregations.
The Upper Octorara Presbyterian neo-Pentecostal prayer meetings, under Brown’s ministry, continued for more than 20 years, seeing thousands of clergy and laity baptized in the Spirit. In 1960, Brown was invited to address a gathering at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri, where he shared the story of this Presbyterian charismatic revival.
The Assemblies of God and the broader Pentecostal movement left a remarkable imprint on countless mainline churches during the charismatic movement. The story of Adam Edgar Kroll, who was simultaneously a skeptic of Christianity and a Presbyterian elder, demonstrates how the power of the Holy Spirit can bring unbelievers to embrace the gospel.
Read the report of A. Edgar Kroll’s conversion, “Scientist Saved After Prayer at Last Year’s World Prayermeeting,” on pages 12 to 13 of the Oct. 21, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit” by Hardy Steinberg
• “Home Missions from a New Viewpoint” by Pauline Mastries
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.