“Incredible”: autobiography of John Nelson Parr — Contents
Chapter Five: Incredible Impoverishment
AN INCREDIBLE BURDEN
In 1923 a great burden came upon me to do something to unite these independent Pentecostal meetings seeing, apart from the lack of consideration received by our Pastors and Leaders at the conscientious objectors tribunals during World War One, and also the brutal treatment some of them received in prison, havoc was being caused by false teachers and others who persisted in fanatical practices. It will, therefore, be seen that three dominating factors moved me to try and unite all the independent Pentecostal meetings into one fellowship or union i.e. 1. The disgraceful treatment meted out to our Pastors and Leaders by the tribunals and prison officers; 2. The havoc being created by the teachers of universalism and 3. The divisions caused by the erroneous teaching and fanatical practice of the prophetic gift. The two greatest errors which were creating divisions and trouble were “universalism”, and the abuse of the prophetic gift. Nearly all messages given by the prophet were accepted as the word of God or Divine direction. The following scripture was either ignored or explained away “Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge”, 1 Cor. 14:29. The people who abused the gift of prophecy also condoned a practice which was called “Consulting the Prophet”, and many people went to the recognised prophet seeking to know the will of God on business affairs, domestic and matrimonial matters. Those who propagated these errors were creeping into the independent Pentecostal meetings and created discord and division; then again, although it was not mentioned in the first circular, it seemed to me our official constitution must include a clause setting forth our views on war so that we should have some standing in the eyes of the government authorities should another war break out.
I discussed the situation with several leaders and Pastors and they agreed that something should be done to bring about a union or fellowship of the Independent Pentecostal Assemblies. A previous attempt had been made by certain brethren to bring them into a united fellowship but this had failed, so I decided to move very cautiously and prayed very much for heavenly wisdom.
About 1922 Pastor Archie Cooper of South Africa visited this country and as it was not possible for me, owing to business demands, to go round the country, I asked him to test the feelings of the Pastors and leaders of the Independent Pentecostal Assemblies towards a united fellowship. He came to see me before returning to South Africa and his report was very favourable.
My first letter enclosing a copy of my proposals for creating a United Fellowship was sent out to a chosen small number of Pastors on November 23rd, 1923, and twelve well-known Pastors gave me permission to append their signatures to my proposed circular (see Appendix A for copies of Circulars “A” & “B”). The next step was to send Circular “B” to about ninety independent Pentecostal meetings. About this time I suggested to Mr. Tom Myerscough, who was Pastor of the Preston Assembly, that he should now handle the matter, seeing he was an older Christian and far more experienced than myself, however, he thought I should go ahead with all the arrangements and he would give me his whole-hearted support, and I wish to pay tribute to the help received from our departed brother. A meeting of the signatories to Circular “B” was called and this was held in Birmingham on February 1st, 1924.
It seemed to me it would be a good plan to bring before these brethren a rough draft of the proposed constitution before bringing it before a united conference (see Appendix “B”). “The Proposals” referred to in circular “Appendix B” refers to the constitution. When sending a copy of the proposed constitution to the twelve signatories of the first Circular my letter made it clear to them that I accepted sole responsibility for this draft of our first constitution and requested them to bring any amendments or alterations to the meeting. The constitution and statement of fundamental truths was amended and finally after much prayer for divine guidance, it was, with great praise and thanks to our God, finally approved at the Birmingham meeting held on February 1st, 1924.
It was decided to send a copy of the Constitution and the Statement of Fundamental Truths to all the Independent Pentecostal churches who had replied favourably to our first Circular. This was sent out in February 1924 and attached to this Circular was a Form including Application “A” to be filled up by those meetings which decided to apply for recognition as an Assembly of God and Application “B” to be filled up by those who desired further information before applying for recognition as an Assembly of God (see Appendix “C”).
Chapter 7: An Incredible Accomplishment
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