Charles Fox Parham’s Bethel Bible College at Topeka in Kansas, was the source of the Pentecostal movement. It was here that Parham’s students began to speak in ‘tongues’ – ecstatic speech or glossolalia. Initially met with disbelief and ridicule, Parham’s espousal of the practice of faith healing also became a hallmark of Pentecostalism and the new spiritual outpouring began to spread in the south and southwest, as missionaries from Topeka began to attract new converts. In April 1906 a revival movement began amongst a near-destitute congregation meeting in a derelict building in Azusa Street, Los Angeles, led by an African-American preacher named William J Seymour, a former student of Parham. This revival, traditionally seen as the starting gun for global Pentecostalism, was in fact the point where long-standing interests in holiness, “baptism of the spirit” and spiritual gifts in certain strains of Methodism and Evangelicalism, came together. Early visitors to Azusa Street took the Pentecostal message back to their home countries.
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