JOHN NELSON PARR
John Nelson Parr, Fleetwood, Lancs. England.
“Incredible”: autobiography of John Nelson Parr — Contents
Chapter Eighteen: Incredible Moscow
AN INCREDIBLE SERVICE
About 1960, once again it seemed essential to make provision for the future of Bethshan Tabernacle by appointing a co-pastor. I had turned seventy-five and although working and preaching as hard as ever, the future prosperity of the work at Bethshan weighed heavily upon me, and that is the only reason why, as I approached my seventy-eighth birthday I resigned the Pastorate of Bethshan Tabernacle on October 24th, 1964. The following is a report of that historic occasion, which was not only a recognition service but also an induction service.
An historic occasion in the British Pentecostal movement was held on October 24, 1964, in Bethshan Tabernacle, Manchester, with over 1,400 people present to honour the founder and minister of the church, J. Nelson Parr, who was retiring from pastoral ministry. It was a moving service, packed with pathos but anointed of God. Earlier over 400 members had sat down to tea, and had also heard a high and worthy tribute paid to brother Parr by Alderman Leslie Lever, M.P., J.P., who referred to the vast amount of work done for youth in the city by Mr. Parr and his workers for thirty-seven years.
That this service was so widely representative evidenced the high esteem in which brother Parr is held. Tributes were paid to the British Assemblies of God’s first chairman-secretary, first editor of “Redemption Tidings”, and pastor of their largest church for thirty-seven years. The executive council, radio council, district council, and numerous societies spoke of the tremendous contribution brother Parr had made, and of the stream of God-anointed men and women who had proceeded from Bethshan to the continents of the world, each in turn infused and enthused with the passionate zeal and abandonment of John Nelson Parr. The scope of the vision and ministry of this man of God was evidenced by the receipt of telegrams from workers all over the world, and in some instances by tape-recordings. Lifelong colleagues included W. F. P. Burton (by letter from South Africa) and James Salter (in person), co-founders of the great Congo Evangelistic Mission, who paid their sincere tributes.
Among the many presentations made to brother Parr were those from the members of Bethshan — a cheque for £500 ($1,500), a camera from “old boys” now in active ministry, and an illuminated address by the South Lancashire D.C.
Ernest Crew (British executive council) brought a short message and spoke of the thirty years he had known brother Parr personally, and of the tremendous inspiration he had been to him, after which brother Parr responded to the many expressions of admiration and gratitude. It was a deeply touching moment as this silver-haired giant spoke not only of the past, but more so of the future. At seventy-eight years of age he is still obsessed with the burning mission of evangelism, and although retiring from pastoral ministry is to undertake a vigorous programme of evangelism in campaign and radio ministry. He proceeds to Florida, U.S.A., for several revival campaigns. Well might the words of Goethe apply to brother Parr: “As long as enthusiasm lasts, so long is youth still with us”.
At the close of the service brother Parr solemnly inducted as his successor George Stormont, who had been his co-minister for sixteen months. Brother Stormont was formerly superintendent of the Essex Elim Pentecostal Churches, and his many abilities should find ample scope and challenge in pastoring the renowned Bethshan.
Reported by G. Jeffreys Williamson, Bury.
When I resigned the Pastorate of Bethshan we had over eleven hundred boys, girls, teenagers and young people attending our “Y.E.S.” Centres, Branch Sunday Schools and Young People’s Meetings, in addition to this nearly one thousand people would attend the Sunday evening service and when anything special was taking place the new tabernacle would be crowded to its utmost capacity. Compared with the early days of 1928 “This was the Lord’s doing and it was marvellous in our eyes” and compared with 1918 when we were a small company of fifteen one could only exclaim “What hath God wrought?”
In December, 1963, Mrs. Green (who had been a faithful member of the Manchester Pentecostal Church before Bethshan was built and also nursed her husband very efficiently before he was promoted to heaven) became my wife and has proved to be a great co-worker in our world-wide crusades and also a wonderful nurse during my serious illness in 1970.
Chapter 20: Incredible Evangelist to the World