illustrious past men and ministries

 william durham

Rev. William Han Durham

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

Durham was born in 1873 in rural Kentucky and joined his family’s Baptist church; however, he would only experience conversion later. He joined the Holiness movement  and by 1901 founded the North Avenue Full Gospel Mission, a store-front church in Chicago.

When the influence of the Los Angeles Asuza Street Revival  spread to Chicago, one member of his congregation was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Initially, Durham was dubious about the new Pentecostal movement, but when he visited the Azusa Street Mission for himself, he had his own experience of Spirit baptism with speaking in tongues and was convinced. Upon returning to Chicago, Durham transformed his North Avenue Mission into a centre to disseminate the Pentecostal revival in the Midwest and among ethnic minorities. Durham started publishing a periodical, The Pentecostal Testimony, and travelled extensively to diffuse the Pentecostal message.

Raised in a Reformed tradition, Durham found difficult to accept the then-widespread Wesleyan doctrine of a three-stage salvation process held by most Pentecostals. Durham began preaching the Finished Work doctrine  that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit comes after salvation . Quickly Durham acquired supporters among Pentecostals of Reformed, Baptist, and Christian Missionary Alliance backgrounds, and many missionaries abroad, but entered at odds with the older Pentecostal preachers, such as William Seymour, Charles Parnham, and Florence Crawford..

Durham planned to systemize his theology in order to explain his point of view and published drafts of it in his periodical, but he would not complete it as he died of pneumonia in Los Angeles in 1912.

LEGACY

Durham was a mentor to a whole generation of Pentecostal leaders: Loiis Francesson,  who preached among Italians in North America, Argentina, Brazil, and Italy; F.A. Sandgren, a pioneer among Scandinavians in the Midwest, one of them Daniel Berg, a Swedish Pentecostal missionary in Brazil; Andrew Urshan, a leader in the Persian, Assyrian, and Oneness Pentecostalism; Andrew H. Argue, pastor in Canada; Eudorus N. Bell, a leader in the Assemblies of God; Aimee semple McPherson, evangelist and church founder; John C. Sinclair, pastor in Chicago and church founder; and Frank Ewart and Howard Goss, leaders in the Oneness Pentecostalism.

Although he was a staunch Congregationalist and against denominationalism, there are many denominations that trace their roots from Durham’s work: General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of AmericaInternational Church of the Foursquare GospelOpen Bible Standard ChurchesNew Testament Christian Churches of America, Inc.; the Scandinavian-American Fllowship of Christian Assemblies and the Independent Assemblies of God, International;the Italian-American International Fellowship of Christian Assembliesand its counterparts abroad, like the Christian Copngreation in Brazil; the Assemblies de Deus of Brazil; Pentecostal Church of God’; the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada; the Oneness United Pentecostal Church; and many independent Pentecostal congregations, mainly in the Northeast United States.

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