William Seymour


William Seymour (1870-1922), Pentecostal pastor and founder of Azusa Street Mission, was born in Centerville, Louisiana. Initially influenced by Methodism and holiness teaching, Seymour embraced Pentecostal teaching when he encountered Charles Parham’s Bible school in Houston. Seymour’s advocacy of Pentecostal teachings, that speaking in tongues evidenced Spirit baptism for example, was controversial and led to his departure from a black Holiness mission in Los Angeles.

Soon after, however, Seymour began to attract large crowds from all over the world with his Pentecostal teaching and commitment to racial integration. Reports subsequently followed that hundreds of people were experiencing Spirit baptism and divine healings at 312 Azusa Street, Los Angeles. Although internal divisions and outward schisms ensued at Azusa Street Mission, Seymour continued to preach there until his death.

For further reading see Grant A. Wacker, Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Harvard University Press, 2001). 

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