As the Society for Pentecostal Studies celebrates its 50th year, we have prepared this monograph as a compendium to previous historical documents related to the Society for Pentecostal Studies. In this time, we pause to celebrate the goodness of God in His continued faithfulness to guide our steps. As the prophet Samuel did when he set a stone as a marker between Mizpeh and Shen (1 Sam 7:12), we pause to say, “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”
— Compiled by David Roebuck —
An organizational meeting for the SPS was held on Friday, November 9, 1970, in conjunction with the Ninth Pentecostal World Conference in Dallas, Texas. One-hundred thirty-nine people were in attendance.
The meeting details of the luncheon in the “French Room” of the Adolphus Hotel announce that the featured speaker will be “noted Pentecostal historian” Klaude K. Kendrick, and the purpose of the proposed “Society of Pentecostal Scholars” is “To offer Pentecostal Scholarship in all academic disciplines as a spiritual service to the Kingdom of God.” The announcement includes seven objectives for the proposed society.
A partial draft of “A Proposed Constitution for the Society of Pentecostal Scholars” includes Articles on name, purposes, membership, committees, meetings, and amendments.
“Following the Spirit of Truth” is the theme of the organizational meeting of “The Society of Pentecostal Scholars.” The back of the program is an application for membership. Full membership requires an academic degree and initial dues of $5. Associates may join for $3 and students for $2.
A photograph of officers elected at the organizational meeting includes (l to r) Reverend Edward Wood, treasurer; Dr. William Menzies, president; Dr. Hollis Gause, president-elect; and Dr. Vinson Synan, secretary.
An article in the Pentecostal Holiness Advocate celebrates Vinson Synan’s election as the SPS secretary. The article describes the genesis of the Society as a research trip Synan took to several Pentecostal archives in 1969. According to the article, 139 people attended the organizational meeting where 108 organized the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The ad hoc organizational committee and the newly elected officers are noted, along with an accompanying photo.
The first annual meeting was in November 1971 on the campus of Open Bible College in Des Moines, Iowa. The meeting was in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, and the theme was “Higher Education within the Pentecostal Perspective.”
Among other items, the SPS Executive Committee agrees “That the SPS is an autonomous organization of individual members without any organic connection with any other organization. However, for mutual benefit, concurrent sessions may be held in the future with the PFNA and the World Pentecostal Fellowship.” The treasurer reports 177 members paying $721 in dues.
“The Theology of Hope is replacing the Theology of Despair,” President William Menzies proposes during his presidential address at this first SPS banquet. Menzies concludes, “As we meditate together this evening on the significance of the modern Pentecostal movement, and our role as servants of God within it, let us bear in mind that the Holy Spirit is breathing upon the Church of Christ today in diverse places for more than casual reasons. Surely He is preparing His bride for the Coming Bridegroom.”
SPS announces the conclusion of its meeting with proposals for “mini-seminaries,” an authoritative book of essays, and a journal related to Pentecostal studies. “Catholic spokesman Killian McDonnell, O.S.B.,” invites Pentecostals to participate in a five-year dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostals.
A 1973 invitation brochure informs interested persons about the history, purpose, projects, membership, and officers, along with the doctrinal commitment of SPS, which is the doctrinal statement of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North American. Full members must agree to the doctrinal statement and pay dues of $10.
Vinson Synan chronicles the organization and early years of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in his 1974 Presidential Address.
Early stationery lists current and previous officers of the Society with Leonard Lovett serving as president in 1975.
Vinson Synan recounts the first fifteen years of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in an audio recording of his 1985 presentation to the Fifteenth Annual Meeting at the Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Vinson Synan recounts the context and organization of the Society for Pentecostal Studies as well as significant events in the life of the Society in his 2005 plenary paper at the 34th Annual Meeting at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The 2012 information brochure reveals through text and photographs the diversity of people and interests that exists in the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
Founder Vinson Synan describes events leading to the organization of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in this brief video clip from an oral history of his life and ministry recorded at the Oral Roberts University Holy Spirit Research Center.
In this interview with Hanna Larracas, Russell Spittler recounts events and people leading up to the organization of the Society for Pentecostal Studies along with his appreciation for the evolution of the identity of the Society.
Secretary Vinson Synan sends out the first SPS Newsletter in February 1971 “to inform the membership of the Society of developments within the group and of matters of mutual interest outside the membership.” The Newsletter provides an approved news release announcing the organizational meeting in Dallas.
The State of Oklahoma issues the Society for Pentecostal Studies a Certificate of Incorporation in June 1972.
The Society publishes the first issue of Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Spring 1979. William W. Menzies is editor.
with Hanna Larracas
with Asia Lerner
Cheryl Bridges Johns
with Alejandra De Jesus G'valen (Alejandra Guajardo)
with Jordan Reed