Last week, the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS), a community of scholars and students focused on exploring the history, theology, and cultural impact of the Pentecostal movement, held its 40th annual conference in Memphis, Tennessee. Vanguard was represented by a great team, as I got to join Dr. Rich Israel, Dr. Frank Macchia, Dr. Derrick Rosenior, Dr. Ed Rybarczyk, and Dr. Gary Tyra. Each of us presented papers or facilitated sessions at the conference and enjoyed interaction with more than 300 other scholars of Pentecostalism from around the world. Vanguard professors are leaders in this international fellowship and are highly esteemed by their colleagues and students.
The opening session was held at Mason Temple, headquarters of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), one of the earliest Pentecostal denominations. COGIC was founded by African-American leader Charles Mason, who was a participant in the Azusa Street revival that began in 1906 and launched the global Pentecostal movement from which Vanguard University was birthed. Mason Temple was also the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his “I’ve Seen the Promised Land” sermon. You might recall that on that night, April 3, 1968, King said, “I might not get there with you… But we as a people will get to the promised land…I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The next day, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Martin Luther King was shot to death by James Earl Ray. But the truth of the Gospel that shaped King and Mason continues to ring out today, and it echoes through the singing at Mason Temple and the insights of SPS scholar-servants like Rich, Frank, Derrick, Ed, and Gary.
Grace and peace,