SGT and Thomas Ball Barrett

Pentecostals are prone to tracing their lineages. I think it’s because we recognize that what happened at the Azusa Street Revival was a significant world-changing event that we want to be included in and, indeed, have been. The following simple lineage trace is a good example of the process.

If you know anything about the 20th century Pentecostal outpouring, you know that most attention gets focused on the Azusa Street revival, and William J. Seymour (whose Pentecostal lineage, by the way, traces back to Charles Parham and the Tipton Pentecostal outpouring in Kansas on January 1, 1901, when Agnes Ozman received the baptism in the Holy Spirit after intentionally asking Parham to lay hands on her that she might be Spirit baptized with the evidence of speaking in tongues).[1] History shows that a somewhat simultaneous outpouring was happening around the world, certainly in America, at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century.[2]

It just so happened, that in 1906, in New York City, an English born Methodist minister from Norway, Thomas Ball Barrett, was in America to raise money for his Christiania mission back in Norway. He had met resistance from his own church leaders and was unsuccessful at raising the money needed. Having suffered the loss of a daughter, a brother-in-law, and his mother all in the space of a year and a half, and now facing defeat in America, Barratt was at a low point. On October 6, the first accounts of Azusa Street hit the Norwegian Byposten. As a result of reading the reports and his own Wesleyan hunger for the higher life, Barratt had a spiritual experience on October 7, but without glossolalia. On the 15th of November, he spoke in tongues. Barratt had now been baptized in the Holy Spirit.[3]

Incidentally, Barratt’s own view of his Spirit baptism was that he received his baptism on October 7, but finally spoke in tongues on October 15.[4] Bundy alludes to the fact that Barratt later adopted the view that tongues were not mandatory or the only Bible evidence,[5] but the source Bundy refers to seems to affirm that Barratt believed that Spirit baptism, “when accompanied by the speaking with tongues,” was a special and precious token of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.”[6]

When Barratt returned to Norway, Pentecostal revival broke out[7] to the degree that it got the attention of Alexander A. Boddy in England. Boddy was hungry for the move of God. He had even made the journey to the Rhondda Valley in Whales in order to see first hand what God was doing through Evan Roberts. After hearing about Barratt and his Pentecost, he made the journey to Norway. He wrote, “My four days in Chritsiania can never be forgotten. I stood with Evan Roberts in Tonypandy, but have never witnessed such scenes as those in Norway.” Boddy begged Barratt to come to Sunderland.[8] Barratt arrived in Sunderland on August 31, 1907. He stayed for seven weeks.[9]

On September 11, Boddy’s wife, Mary, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, receiving a vision about the blood of Jesus that would ultimately lead to the concept of “pleading the blood.”[10] By December 2, the fiftieth person at All Saints Church received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Boddy was that fiftieth person.[11] Going forward, Boddy would become the pioneer of Pentecostalism in Britain.[12]

Just after Barratt left Sunderland. Mrs. Boddy laid hands on Smith Wigglesworth and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.[13] Fast forward to 1936 and to Smith Wigglesworth, ministering in South Africa and prophesying over David du Plessis that he would become a major catalyst for Pentecost in the traditional denominations. Du Plessis became known, unofficially, as “Mister Pentecost.” [14]

Barratt and Cashwell?

At this point, one begins to see how God chose certain ones to carry the Pentecostal message to the world. Though it may be “coincidental,” Barratt’s connection with G. B. Cashwell is intriguing as well! In a letter to Barratt, November 22, 1906, Clara Lum, writing from Azusa Street in response to a letter from Barratt saying he had received his baptism in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues, writes:

We received your last letters and were rejoiced beyond measure to

read them, especially the last one. I felt the power of God as I handled

it and copied it off and edited it for the paper. Took it in and read it

to the saints and the power of God fell upon them as I read and one

received his Pentecost and began speaking in a new tongue. It was

Bro. G. B. Cashwell, a holiness preacher who came all the way

from Dunn, N.C., to receive his Pentecost. He had been waiting on

God for a few days and he was in the meeting that afternoon, the fire

fell upon him as your letter was read and he received the real Pentecost.[15]

Barratt and Lewi Pethrus

The FCA is deeply influenced by Lewi Pethrus, a Swedish man who was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a Barratt meeting in 1907.[16] After some education, he began pastoring a Baptist church which was ultimately kicked out of its Swedish Baptist conference for allowing non-Baptist’s to partake of the Lord’s Supper. But Barratt said it was also because of “a definite feeling of ill-will towards Pethrus’s Pentecostal feelings.”[17] At this, many other Baptist churches, also with “Pentecostal feelings,” were outraged and rose up to defend the autonomy of the local church, something Pethrus championed throughout Scandinavia.[18] Local church autonomy was one of Pethrus’s strong values, part of an overall church polity that would strongly influence Scandinavian Pentecostal churches in Scandinavia and America.[19]

Pethrus, the FCA, and the Latter Rain Movement

In 1922 a loosely organized fellowship of autonomus local Pentecostal churches was established called the Independent Assemblies of God.[20] The influence of Pethrus upon Scandinavian Pentecostal churches was carried over to the Scandinavian-American  Pentecostal churches as well. The group, even today, strongly holds to the value of an autonomous local church assembly, as well as other of Pethrus’s teachings.[21] The group experienced a split as a result of the Latter Rain controversy.[22]

The Latter Rain controversy in the Independent Assemblies of God centered around the restoration of the offices of the prophet and the apostle. The larger part of the group felt that this move would threaten the authority and autonomy of the local church. The group would split, with the larger section renaming themselves the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies (FCA).[23]

The FCA’s summarizes its Latter Rain controversy in the following way:

During the period up to 1950 the fellowship was fairly informal in its pursuit of Pentecostal experience combined with local-church autonomy and evangelism. Turmoil during the so-called “Latter Rain” movement of the late 1940s stimulated a quest for clearer identity and more cohesive practical cooperation. The ministerial listing process was strengthened. A new magazine, Conviction (later renamed Fellowship Today) was launched in 1963. The working process of the fellowship was defined in a brochure in 1959, and a new name, Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, was adopted in 1973.[24]

Colletti claims that Lewi Petrus’s influence is still celebrated,

The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies has always recognized Lewi

Pethrus as the principal driving force behind the success of the local

church organization of Scandinavia’s Pentecostal movement.[25]

Evidence of this can’t be confirmed on the group’s website. Pethrus is mentioned among many other names.[26] Lewi Pethrus, though he renounced the Latter Rain group only four months after the split, the damage was done and his influenced waned in the FCA from that point.[27]

SGTs Sanctuary

The very sanctuary at Smithtown bears the marks of Barratt’s Oslo Filadelfia Assembly. Stanley Frodsham, quoting William S. Johnson, responding to claims that Pentecostals do not focus on Jesus,

Writing about the opening of this Filadelfia Temple, William S. Johnson states: “There is a name which is the center of our divine service, and that name, seen in large letters on the front of the platform, is– ‘JESUS.’ Everything centers around this one point– this holy name of JESUS. Our preaching is centered around this name. Many are of the opinion that we Pentecostal people are always in a state of ecstasy, because we, like the first Christians, speak in tongues and believe in miracles. But the main points of our doctrine, our speaking in tongues and interpretation, our prophesying, our song and music, our meetings, all are centered around Jesus.”[28]

The Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle (SGT) in its present state is a result of the confluence of many different streams of influence from the Pentecostal and charismatic movements of the twentieth century.

Although in popular usage the words “Pentecostal” and “Charismatic” are used interchangeably—particularly by those who are neither—there are distinctions to be made between the two.

I am also aware that one cannot simply equate Pentecostal and charismatic spirituality. In fact, it may be more appropriate to speak of Pentecostal faith and spirituality in an Assemblies of God or Church of God congregation, just as one could readily identify Catholic faith and charismatic spirituality in a parish prayer group or covenant community. . . . Additionally, one cannot simply ignore the Pentecostal origins of the charismatic movement, despite the differences in spirituality, worship and understanding of Spirit-baptism and the charismata. . . . The interesting question regarding the quest for a Pentecostal charismatic

spirituality is the juxtaposition of these related movements and their relationship with existing Christian spiritualities and ecclesial expressions. The juxtaposition is curious considering that many Pentecostals and charismatics have often defined themselves on the basis of their dissimilarities rather than their similarities. Yet one

cannot dispute the obvious. They do share the experiential reality of Spirit-baptism (even if called by another name) and the manifestation of the charismata.[29]

Started as a bible study by its mother church (the Salem Gospel Tabernacle) in 1950, it has grown to a church of 3,000 by spring 2015. Salem Gospel Tabernacle, located in Brooklyn, New York, was concerned to reach those who were leaving en masse from the city and spreading into Long Island. A bible study that began in a home grew to a church that met in the VFW in Hauppauge. It then built and outgrew a facility in Smithtown, New York and in 1983 (?) purchased Sweet Briar elementary school, improving that property to include an auditorium that seats almost 1,500. At present, the church holds three services on Sundays in order to accommodate its growth, operates one of the most successful K-12 Christian schools in the nation, and with the addition of three new young pastors to its staff, is poised to move forward in a significant way in the twenty-first century.

The Salem Gospel Tabernacle began as a Scandinavian-American Pentecostal church. Among its charter members were members of T. B. Barratt’s church in Oslo who migrated to Brooklyn in the 20s.[30]

Although in its polity, SGT is clearly an FCA, it is less classical Pentecostal than it is charismatic. This is largely, if not completely due to the strong influence of its senior pastor, Gary A. Zarlengo.

Zarlengo, who has been the senior pastor for eighteen years, was on staff at SGT as its evangelism pastor for ten years before that. His influence on the church cannot be overestimated.

Zarlengo was raised as a staunch Catholic, even planning to enter the priesthood, when he was born again at the age of sixteen. Although he was mentored by both Norwegian and Italian Pentecostal leaders at the Homewood Full Gospel Church, and FCA church in the suburbs of Chicago, he was greatly influenced by his Catholic upbringing and admits to have been influenced by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal as well. Zarlengo was educated at ORU, and was Dean of Students for five years at Christ for the Nations.


[1] Vinson Synan, In The Later Days, (Fairfax: Xulon, 2001) 47. The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 90-98.

[2] Some spoke in tongues during the Shearer Schoolhouse revival in 1896 (Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 72). In 1901, Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues , along with the other students and eventually Parham himself (Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 91). What makes the Topeka outpouring so significant is that it came after they had studied scripture for themselves which led them to intentionally seek for Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 90-91).

[3] David Bundy, “Thomas Ball Barratt: From Methodist to Pentecostal,” EPTA Bulletin, Vol. XIII, 1994, 33-40.

[4] Nils Bloch-Hoell, The Pentecostal Movement, (New York: Humanities Press, 1964), 66-67.

[5] David Bundy, “Spiritual Advice to a Seeker: Letters to T. B. Barratt from Azusa Street, 1906,” PNEUMA: Vol. 1. 14, No. 2, Fall 1992, 168.

[6] Bloch-Hoell, 70.

[7] Ibid., 159.

[8] Tony Cauchi, “Alexander A. Boddy 1854-1930,” http://smithwigglesworth.com/pensketches/boddya.htm.

[9] Ben Pugh, “The Mind of the Spirit: Explorations in the reciprocal relationship between the work of the Spirit and the work of the Son,” JEPTA, 2012, Vol. 32, Issue 1, 46.

[10] Ben Pugh, “The Mind of the Spirit: Explorations in the reciprocal relationship between the work of the Spirit and the work of the Son,” 46-53. Pugh gives evidence of Barratt’s influence upon Mary Boddy and of Azusa’s influence on Barratt as pertains to an understanding of the power of the blood.

[11] Ibid., 46.

[12] Tony Cauchi, “Alexander A. Boddy 1854-1930,” http://smithwigglesworth.com/pensketches/boddya.htm.

[13] Desmond W. Cartwright, “The Real Wigglesworth,” JEPTA, Vol. XVII, 1997, 92.

[14] Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 224-226.

[15] Bundy, “Spiritual Advice,” 166. The text of Cashwell’s “Came 3000 Miles to Receive His Pentecost,” In The Apostolic Faith, Vol. 1 #4, December 1906, confirms that Cashwell received his Pentecost as “Sister Lum was reading of how the Holy Ghost was falling in other places.”(page 3). See also Synan’s article on Cashwell in the Dictionary of Pentecostal Movements.

[16] Colletti, Joseph R. “Lewi Pethrus: his influence upon Scandinavian-American Pentecostalism.” Pneuma 5, no 2 (September 1, 1983) 18-29. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 22, 2015).

[17] Ibid., 19.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., 22.

[21] Ibid., 19. The author can attest to this fact as well, serving for the last eight years in an FCA church.

[22] Ibid., 25-29.

[23] Ibid.

[24] http://www.fcaministers.com/about-us/our-history/#.VQ7nKfzF8dU

[25] Colletti, “Lewi Pethrus,” 24. It should also be mentioned that a description of Barratt’s own convictions about the autonomy and independence of the local church read almost like an FCA advertisement. “In 1910 . . . Barratt proposed to establish a union or an alliance of independent Pentecostal assemblies.” (See Bloch-Hoell, The Pentecostal Movement, 69.)

[26] http://www.fcaministers.com/about-us/our-history/#.VQ7nKfzF8dU. See also Dr. Warren Heckman, Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, (Beaverton: Good Book Publishing, 2011). In his book, Heckman gives the lion share of credit to William Durham (13-14, 41-48).

[27] Colletti, “Lewi Pethrus,” 28-29.

[28] Stanley H. Frodsham, With Signs Following, (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1946), 72.

[29] Ralph Del Colle, “Spirit-Christology: Dogmatic Foundations For Pentecostal-Charismatic Spirituality,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Vol. 3 (1993), 92, 101. Del Colle is a Roman Catholic.

[30] Stanley Johannesen, “The Holy Ghost in Sunset Park,” Historical Reflections/Reflexiones Historiques, Vol. 15, #3, 1988