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Women in the Pentecostal Movement

by Joyce Lee and Glenn Gohr

From the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement, women have made vital contributions. Though the spiritual outpouring came at a time in history when, culturally and socially, women were not afforded great freedoms, the women of the Pentecostal movement took their mandate from a higher source—“Your sons and your daughters will prophesy…” (Joel 2:28, NIV). This mandate, coupled with a sense of urgency of the soon return of Christ, presented opportunities for ministry based not so much on gender as on the anointing of the Spirit.

It was to a young woman, Agnes Ozman, that the distinction, “the first to speak in tongues,” was given in January 1901 at Charles Parham's Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas.

Five years later, when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Los Angeles, several women connected with the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street gained recognition with their ministries. Lucy Farrow, who was used of the Lord to pray for people to receive the infilling of the Spirit, later took the Pentecostal message to Liberia. Jenny Evans Moore ministered at the Apostolic Faith Mission both before and after her marriage to the pastor, William Seymour. Florence Crawford assisted with publishing The Apostolic Faith, the newspaper sponsored by the mission. She later founded the Apostolic Faith organization with headquarters in Portland, Oregon, one of the earliest Pentecostal denominations in the country.

Rachel Sizelove, whose family lived in the small midwestern town of Springfield, Missouri, shared the message that led to establishing a Pentecostal church in that town. Her subsequent vision of a “sparkling fountain” rising up from Springfield and flowing to the ends of the earth was prophetic. The Assemblies of God would later be established, move to Springfield, and be instrumental in sending the gospel around the world.

Ivey Campbell is reportedly the first person to carry the Pentecostal message to her home state of Ohio. She later ministered in places in Pennsylvania that helped spread the Pentecostal message throughout the Northeast.

Carrie Judd Montgomery was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1858. She became an invalid at an early age and was healed through the ministry of a holiness preacher, Elizabeth Mix. Carrie's healing provided opportunities to share her testimony, and thus began her ministry that later broadened into preaching, teaching, writing, and social outreach. She moved to Oakland, California, in 1880, where she married George Montgomery, a wealthy Christian businessman. After her Pentecostal baptism in 1908, she made a worldwide tour observing the Pentecostal outpouring. Upon her return, she began publishing articles that reported the move of the Spirit around the world. Though she is probably best known for her publication, Triumphs of Faith, a journal on healing and holiness, she along with her husband established an orphanage, a missionary training school, and the Home of Peace, a haven for missionaries on furlough and other travelers.

Perhaps one of the best-known holiness preachers of the 19th century was Maria Woodworth-Etter. Born in 1844, she began her evangelistic ministry in the 1880s. Traveling across the country with her message of salvation, holy living, and faith healing, she attracted crowds as large as 25,000. After receiving her Baptism in 1912, at the age of 68, she continued traveling and spreading the Pentecostal message. In 1918, at the age of 74, she founded and pastored a church in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is today known as Lakeview Christian Center, a congregation of 1,300 members. She also wrote several books recounting the marvelous miracles and wonders that took place in her ministry.

Aimee Semple McPherson (1890– 1944), a dynamic and innovative Pentecostal evangelist and founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–76) are two well-known women ministers whose Pentecostal influence crossed denominational lines.

Though these women have enjoyed wide recognition, the vast majority of women in the Pentecostal movement were not so widely known. They served as pastors, missionaries, writers, teachers, and founders of rescue missions and faith homes. Following are three such women whose spiritual influence touched many lives.

Alice Reynolds Flower, affectionately known as “Mother Flower,” lived to be 100 years of age. Her life and ministry spanned most of our Assemblies of God history.

Mrs. Flower's mother was an invalid and was given up for dead after giving birth to twins. The Lord miraculously healed her, and 8 years later Alice Reynolds was born.

When Alice was 17, she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. She became a licensed minister in 1910 and was ordained in 1913. In 1911, she married J. Roswell Flower, also a minister. By 1913, the Flowers had started printing a small weekly newspaper, Christian Evangel, later changed to the Pentecostal Evangel. Alice Flower wrote children's Sunday school lessons that were printed weekly in the paper.

When the Assemblies of God organized in April 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, J. Roswell Flower was elected the first secretary. He was away from home 4 weeks. During that time, Mrs. Flower published the paper by herself.

In 1914, the Flower family moved to Findlay, Ohio, where the first Assemblies of God headquarters was established. The Assemblies of God national offices were later moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1915 and to Springfield, Missouri, in 1918.

In 1919, when the Gospel Publishing House began producing its own Sunday school literature, Mrs. Flower wrote the quarterlies for primaries and juniors.

Sister Flower taught Sunday school classes from the time she was a teenager until she was 90 years old. As well, she led a weekly prayer and Bible study group for more than 45 years. In addition to Sunday school materials and articles in the Pentecostal Evangel, “Mother Flower” authored 17 books and more than 250 poems.

Anna Ziese is remembered for her ministry in mainland China and for a decision she made in the 1940s. Born in Germany on February 4, 1895, Anna's family immigrated to the United States when she was small. She first heard the Pentecostal message in the United States. As a young woman, the Lord spoke to Anna about going to China as a missionary. She was engaged to marry a young dentist; but after a time of heart-searching, he admitted he was not called to go to China.

In the spring of 1920, Anna sailed alone to China. She ministered to the Chinese people 28 years. In 1948, the American consulate recommended all missionaries return to America because the Communist government was about to take control of China.

Anna packed her bags and shipped them to the coastal city of Shanghai. Her trunks were loaded on the evacuation ship. When it came time to leave, she was overcome with compassion for the Chinese people. She decided to remain in China. Anna took the last flight back to Taiyuan, China, where she had ministered for many years.

For a long time no one heard from Anna; it was assumed she was dead. At last a letter came from her that stated in part: “It is over 14 years since I had any communication with you…. I am now 70 years old and have been in Taiyuan over 40 years. I am very well treated by all.” Anna was last heard from in 1966. She died in Shansi, China, in 1969.

Marie Burgess Brown leaves us a great spiritual legacy. As a young woman, Marie hungered to know more of God. When she was 19, she had a vision of Jesus. He asked, “Will you forsake all and follow Me?” Marie replied, “Yes, Lord, all.”

Marie graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and did home missionary work in Chicago, Illinois; Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan. She still longed for a deeper walk with God. At Bible school she learned about the Holy Spirit, but had never experienced the fullness of Spirit baptism.

She began attending cottage prayer meetings where believers were seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. After fasting and praying, Marie was baptized in the Holy Spirit on her 26th birthday.

Within a few months she felt an urgency to minister to the people of New York City, and in 1907 she opened a mission there. In 1909, she married Robert A. Brown who had been a Methodist minister before he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The Browns copastored their first church, Glad Tidings Hall, in New York City. The church grew rapidly. In the 1920s, the church purchased a large former Baptist church building and renamed the church Glad Tidings Tabernacle.

This church sponsored huge evangelistic rallies and sent its young people to missions efforts around the world. It also supported a weekly radio broadcast. For years it led in foreign missions giving among churches in the Assemblies of God.

Robert Brown died in 1948, leaving Marie to pastor the church alone. She was reluctant, but God told her that now was her time to live what she had preached and to prove His promises.

Marie pastored the church for 23 years after her husband's death. She was assisted by her nephew, Stanley Berg.

Marie continued to serve the congregation as pastor until her death in 1971, ending a 64-year pastoral career.

These women were dedicated pioneers whose faithfulness, sacrifice, and influence will only be revealed in eternity.


Joyce Lee, M.A., is archivist at the Assemblies of God Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

Glenn Gohr, M.Div., is assistant archivist and copy editor of Assemblies of God Heritage at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

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