Home Up Precious Stone Church Church of God Origins The Spirit of Truth




“Daniel Awrey, the Fire-Baptized Movement, and the Origins of the Church of God: Toward a Chronology of Confluence and Influence”[1]


By Dr. Daniel G. Woods




            On 4 December 1899, Sarah A. Smith wrote to B. H. Irwin’s Nebraska-based Live Coals of Fire from Dare, a rural community in Bradley County, Tennessee.  “We are praising God for what He is doing for us here in the little log cabin used as a house of worship by the fire-baptized people. . . .  When we got here,” she explained, “we found them praying for revival.”  The first meeting was 

a day of shouting and leaping and praising God.  The Lord put the dance on me for the first time.  Hallelujah!  Bertha Jane [her traveling companion] was sanctified, and six souls were saved, glory, glory, glory!  The work is still going on, eighteen have been saved, sixteen are sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, eight or ten have the baptism with fire and several have the dynamite. . . .  Last night the Lord put the dance on five at one time.  Brother Awrey came over last Wednesday and was with us for four meetings, and Sister Awrey is still here, filled with the Spirit.  Many are under awful conviction, and the shouts of the fire-baptized ring out all over the neighborhood.  Yours, dynamited for God.[2]


Daniel Awrey described the meetings this way:  “The jumping, and dancing and shouting was wonderful, and the Lord was doing a mighty work there.  Numbers were getting saved, sanctified wholly, filled with the Holy Ghost and fire, and dynamited.”[3]  The services ran for three weeks, after which Smith reported “twenty-one conversions and all but two were sanctified: nearly all were baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, and dynamited.” Eight of these “received the manifestations of God’s presence, so that they could praise the Lord in the dance,” and several “took the Lord as their healer and were healed.”[4]

            Taken together, these three revival reports suggest not only the dynamic intensity but also the theological imprecision of the Fire-Baptized services that satisfied so many souls in the area--and provoked the ire of so many of their neighbors--at the turn of the century.  In Sarah Smith’s first letter, for example, she followed the common holiness practice of combining sanctification and Spirit baptism together as a “second blessing.”  Then she added the “baptism with fire” as a “third blessing.”  (In fact, most of their critics within the holiness movement called them the “Third Blessing People.”)  But the name was soon outdated.  Before the movement ever came into the southern mountains, leader B. H. Irwin had identified the fourth blessing Smith called “the dynamite.”  What was the dynamite?  “Aunt Nancy” Lawson, who hosted the Dare meetings in her home, wrote that she was not quite sure how to explain it, except that it “overpowered” her until she was “strengthened with all might.”[5]  In Awrey’s letter about the same revival, there is a slight but important difference.  He reported that “numbers” were 1) saved, 2) “sanctified wholly,” 3) “filled with the Holy Ghost and fire,” and 4) “dynamited”--coupling Holy Ghost infilling with the fire baptism, rather than with sanctification. In Smith’s second report on the meetings, however, she gives us what seems to be five separate experiences when she writes that “nearly all” of the nineteen people who were sanctified “were baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, and dynamited.”  (And perhaps there was a sixth experience as only eight of these manifested the Lord’s presence “in the dance.”)  But no matter how shifting the theological ground they were standing on, we can not deny that deep spiritual hunger found intense gratification in that windowless little Bradley County cabin late in 1899.

            We have known for a long time that the Fire-Baptized movement--though it was almost as brief as it was intense--somehow overlapped in important ways with the story of Church of God origins, and especially with the remarkable outpouring in Cherokee County, North Carolina, that began at Shearer Schoolhouse in 1896 and ultimately led to the formation in 1902 of the Holiness Church at Camp Creek (later known as the Church of God).  But exactly who influenced whom?  Where?  And, especially, when?

            We have two working models before us.  First, historians associated with several Church of God organizations have envisioned the Fire-Baptized movement as the source of “false teachings and fanaticisms” that nearly destroyed the revival and ultimately forced Richard G. Spurling and Frank Porter in 1902 to organize a new church in W. F. Bryant’s Camp Creek home.  In this understanding, Fire-Baptized teachings did not arrive until well after the revival had begun.[6]  Second, a later generation of pentecostal historians have in recent years uncovered strong evidence that many in the forefront of the Cherokee County outpouring were also leaders in Irwin’s mercurial Fire-Baptized Holiness Association--suggesting that the “third blessing” message may have played more of a creative than adversarial role in the origins of the Church of God.  Furthermore, the date of Fire-Baptized influence was pushed back, possibly even before the Shearer Schoolhouse revival broke out.  In recent revisions of Old-Time Power and The Holiness-Pentecostal Traditions, for example, Vinson Synan has William Martin, Joe Tipton, and Milton McNabb leaving their Methodist and Baptist churches in Monroe County, Tennessee, “to join the fire-baptized movement” during 1896.  Hence, the Shearer Schoolhouse revival was a “Fire-Baptized outbreak,” and for the next two years Irwin’s message had an “unorganized” but “loyal” band of followers in the Tennessee-North Carolina mountains.[7]

            We can not yet determine which model is more accurate.  The evidence is so skimpy, in fact, that we may never be able to.  But I believe that we can move closer to understanding the  relationship of the Fire-Baptized movement to the origins of the Church of God by clarifying what we know about the peripatetic ministry of Daniel Awrey, the evangelist who helped Sarah Smith in the Dare meetings, and using his movements as the first step in establishing a more accurate timeline for the years surrounding the Shearer Schoolhouse revival (especially 1895 to 1900).

            Born in Canada in 1869, Awrey was an evangelist, Bible teacher, and later missionary.  His family moved to Minnesota when he was a teen.  After accepting salvation in a Methodist church at age 21, Awrey attended college in the holiness hotbed of Delaware, Ohio.  He began to hunger for deeper spiritual experience while reading J. A. Wood's Perfect Love.  On New Year’s Eve in 1890, Awrey felt the “old man” being rooted out of his heart, and during a prayer meeting the following evening he suddenly starting speaking in tongues after seeing a flame shoot toward his head.  (Although there is no record of Awrey testifying to the later experience until after he embraced the Azusa Street revival in 1906.)  As shadowy as he was intriguing, Awrey next appears in the standard pentecostal histories as a leader of the Fire-Baptized movement in Tennessee from 1898 to 1900.  Then he drops off our radar scope again until he traveled in 1906 to Azusa Street, where he accepted the pentecostal message of Holy Ghost baptism as the true “third blessing” and speaking in tongues as the invariable initial evidence of it.  After several years of teaching this “new light” in California and Oklahoma, Awrey then carried the Azusa message around the world three times before succumbing in Liberia to fever in 1913.[8]

            My initial interest in Daniel Awrey did not involve the Fire-Baptized work in Tennessee; instead, I was attempting to collect any published material that might shed light on what he taught after traveling to the Azusa Street outpouring in 1906.  The sermons I have found so far reveal a rare balance between an enthusiastic thirst for God’s empowering presence and a consistent and careful emphasis on the importance of biblical order.[9]  But in these writings, most of which date from the last four years of his life, I was pleased to find a series of three autobiographical articles detailing his life and ministry, at least until the narrative abruptly cuts off in early 1898.[10]  It was the contents of these memoirs that led me to take up the thorny question of Fire-Baptized influence on the seedbed of the Church of God.

            My starting place has been Harold D. Hunter’s creatively researched and richly evocative study of Fire-Baptized activity in Beniah, a Bradley County crossroads once located along the rails between Cleveland and Charleston.[11]  He found that Beniah served as Awrey’s home base as the nineteenth century drew to a close.  In 1898 he represented Tennessee when B. H. Irwin organized the various state associations into the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association.  By 1899 Awrey was serving as the Ruling Elder for Tennessee from his residence in Beniah.  In October of that year Irwin made his first trip to the area.  During a successful series of meetings, he decided to build a School of the Prophets on land donated by Beniah resident Dollie Currie (Curry) Lawson.  Before this training center for Fire-Baptized ministry could swing into full operation, however, the revelation of Irwin’s moral collapsed the enterprise. 

In his research on Beniah, Dr. Hunter discovered that Awrey had preached holiness in the area as early as 1894.  When combined with the accepted dating of the spread of Irwin’s movement--that he experienced the fire in the Fall of 1895, started several local Fire-Baptized chapters and then formed them into a Fire-Baptized Holiness Association of Iowa by the end of that year, organized state associations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas also by the end of 1895, and began to organize the South in 1896--it seemed reasonable to suggest that Awrey could have spread the Fire-Baptized message throughout southeastern Tennessee even before revival broke at Shearer Schoolhouse.[12]

            But there are two problems:  1) A close examination of the evolution of Irwin’s movement strongly suggests that the Fire-Baptized movement neither spread nor organized that quickly.  For example, by the beginning of the Shearer Schoolhouse revival, Irwin had only ministered the fire in Iowa and perhaps Oklahoma.  As late as the beginning of 1897, when Irwin was making his first preaching venture into the South, he was still organizing congregations for his Wesleyan Methodist denomination.  And he did not organize any state associations (even in Iowa) until the second half of that year, perhaps not until after his revelation that dynamite can follow the fire greatly accelerated opposition to his teachings.  If Irwin’s movement did not spread, radicalize, or organize as quickly as hitherto thought, it no longer seems as plausible that the Fire-Baptism movement could have moved into Beniah, Coker Creek, or Camp Creek during 1896.[13]  2) But even if the Fire-Baptized revival did somehow spread into the region by 1896, Daniel Awrey was not its apostle.  He had left Tennessee for Texas before the movement began and did not return until 1898.[14] 

Awrey was indeed living and ministering in the area beginning in 1893.  Shortly after marrying Nowegian-born Elsa Braseth, he moved to northern Bradley County, where he had family.[15]  The community was not yet known as Beniah, but rather as Bellfonte (spelled variously), Curry Spring, or simply a crossroads “near Charleston.”  Whatever the name, the area was not devoid of holiness.  Situated in a broad valley along a busy rail line between Chattanooga and Knoxville, it was just the kind of place where the holiness teachings found fertile soil to grow in the late nineteenth South.  In fact, the East Tennessee Holiness Association had been operating in the more populous communities of the region since at least 1888.  The organization’s founder was F. W. Henck, Dollie Curry’s brother-in-law.  Known as “Holy Henck” and the “Railroad Evangelist,” the Baltimore-born Methodist preacher had married Mary Curry in 1882.  The following year they moved to Boston, where Mary had earlier attended school.  F. W. attended Boston University while pastoring a Methodist mission in the impoverished Roxbury section of the city.  After two years, the couple returned to her home place in Bradley County.  F. W. Henck left the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1888 and thereafter found fellowship with holiness-oriented believers in several denominations through the ETHA.  Henck served as the group’s president until his death in 1893 at the age of thirty-seven, around the same time that the Awreys moved into the community.[16] 

Shortly after Awrey’s arrival in the center of ETHA activity, he headed seventy miles north of the holiness to a place in Roane County where he “heard preaching was needed.”  After finding only persecution and poverty there, he did some mining so that he could rent a house for his pregnant wife.  In the meantime he read holiness periodicals from the Midwest, writing to Martin Wells Knapp in January 1894 that he praised God “for The Revivalist and entire sanctification.”[17]  After an even longer “missionary trip,” this time to western Kentucky, Awrey began to find success closer to home, when a “Brother Stanton” asked him to help in his meetings at Union Grove in Bradley County and then at Birchwood in neighboring James County.[18]  During the second half of the year, he made several trips to preach with a cousin in the Cumberlands, especially in coal mining camps of Grundy County.  It was there, he later remembered, that God gave him the gift of prophecy. 

            In early 1895, Awrey accepted ordination as an elder in the holiness-oriented Congregational Methodist Church and “received some wonderful promises for the pouring out of God’s Spirit.”  He traveled fifty miles “up into the mountains” and conducted his most successful meetings to date in a schoolhouse.  At least fifty people were saved and sanctified, and Awrey operated in what we might today call “the word of knowledge.”  He did not identify which mountains he went up into, but since he never called the Cumberlands “mountains,” it is possible that this was his first trip east out of Bradley County into the high terrain of Monroe, Polk, or Cherokee Counties.  The opposition he faced there for preaching sanctification--he was turned out of the school building and threatened with whips both by impromptu groups of ruffians and by more organized “whitecaps”--is certainly consistent with the treatment that Spurling, Bryant, and Tomlinson experienced in the area.[19]  If Awrey did travel east for these meetings, it is possible that he encountered Billy Martin, Joe Tipton, and Milton McNabb.  According to A. J. Tomlinson, the three men embraced holiness in the Spring of 1895, the very time of Awrey’s mountain revival.[20] 

            During the Fall of 1895, just before the Fire-Baptized movement began in Iowa, Daniel Awrey heard the Holy Spirit tell him to leave for Texas with his cousin:  “I have many along the way who need the truth, and I want you to walk.  Will you go?”  The two men walked together to Louisiana before separating.  Awrey pushed on to Texas alone.  While attending a camp meeting near Marshall, new friends raised money to bring his growing family out from Tennessee.  For nearly two and a half years, Awrey ministered all over Texas and the southwestern part of Arkansas--at times having great success at times, at others suffering severe persecution and personal loss.  (He was beaten so severely on one occasion that someone called him “the worst treated white man he had ever seen.”)  It was in Texas that Awrey became fully committed to “divine healing through reading one of A. B. Simpson’s books.”  And it was probably in Texas that he embraced the Fire-Baptized movement.  Irwin’s teaching did well among the holiness folk there, causing tremendous excitement as well as bitter division.  Irwin made his first preaching foray into the state in the Spring of 1897, and found his some of his greatest successes in several of the very camp meetings and missions Awrey had earlier visited.[21]  In Awrey’s memoirs, written more than a decade later, he makes no mention of the long-discredited Irwin or the “fire,” but he does tell us that in July 1897 he was shut out of a camp meeting near Waco for preaching “a sermon on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in addition to sanctification” (in other words, for advocating a “third blessing”).  In early 1898, Awrey heard the Lord call him to leave Texas for a “wider field,” and he sold nearly all of his family’s possessions to move back to his Minnesota home.  Here his 1910 memoir abruptly ends. 

            Our next sighting of Awrey is in the Summer of 1898, when he is in Anderson, South Carolina, as the only Tennessee delegate to the organizational meeting of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association of America.  We do not know how long Awrey had been back in Tennessee, or if he had successfully preached “the fire” in the state.  But when Irwin appointed ruling elders for the various state associations, Tennessee was omitted (presumably because there was yet little to rule over).[22] 

            For the next year, the evidence is especially sparse.  Aside from Awrey’s presence at between the FBHA organizational meeting at Anderson, which lasted from July 28th to August 8th, we know nothing of his activities between his departure from Texas around February 1898 and his attendance at the 2ndAnnual FBHA Convention in Royston, Georgia, in April 1899.  But we do know something about the Curry sisters and the birth of Beniah at this time thanks to letters Mary Henck wrote to Henry Clay Morrison’s Louisville paper The Pentecostal Herald in May 1898 and March 1899. 

The first letter recounts Mary Henck’s movements since the death of her husband in 1893.  Before his death, F. W. Henck arranged for his wife and six children to move to Highway, Kentucky, where John S. Keen pastored and operated a holiness school.  However, the dying Henck warned his wife not to become too comfortable there because he believed that the Lord would begin a similar school in Bradley County in the near future.  Mary Henck confessed that she moved to Kentucky “to stay,” but soon grew restless.  “The Spirit revealed to me, she explained, “that unless I came back to east Tennessee many of his lambs would perish for lack of knowledge.”  Against strong opposition from Keen, Mary Henck returned home in 1894 to “agitate the thought of a holiness school in East Tennessee.”  Soon a ‘board of sanctified directors were appointed, and a charter obtained,” but nothing concrete came of it.  In 1897 Henck decided to take matters into her own hands.  She and her sister Dollie “moved into a lowly cottage and began teaching our six children and two young men, who did the outside work for us.”  By the following May the “Bellfonte Holiness Industrial School” had “twenty seven in family,” including a gardener and “four female workers, besides the two literary teachers”—all working without a salary.  Also, the “lord has sent us a man to be the head of the farm work.”[23]  Was this perhaps Daniel Awrey?  He left Texas for Minnesota in February 1898 and was listed at the FHBA meeting at Anderson that Summer as a resident of Tennessee.  It seems possible that the Curry sisters’ needy new ministry triggered his return to Bradley County.  Yet there is no indication in Henck’s first letter that the Fire-Baptized movement had arrived in the area.[24]  (Of course, we can not be completely certain that Awrey had been fire-baptized before leaving Texas.)

Mary Henck next wrote to Morrison’s paper in March 1899.  According to Henck, she and Dollie had closed the school the previous July after the prolonged illness and death of their father.  But at the beginning of 1899 “the Lord plainly showed” them to “take up the work again.”  She makes no mention of Awrey, and he does not seem to be preaching there at the time.   A “Brother and Sister Loomis,” former associates of F. W. Henck, came from Chattanooga once a month to hold services, and Frank Pendleton, who would marry Mary Henck and receive “the fire” before the end of the year, had charge of the services at other times.  Nor does Henck mention the FBHA.  She does, however, announce that the sisters felt “God intends to add a `school of the prophets’” to the work in Beniah.[25]

            About this time Awrey, who is apparently now the FBHA Ruling Elder of Tennessee, left the state for an eight month preaching tour that would see him travel 7,100 through 18 states and Canada.  He began his trek at the 2nd Annual FBHA Convention, leaving Georgia with J. H. King in mid-April for a preaching trip to Toronto.[26]  After parting with King, Awrey preached at several his way across the the Midwest and visited Irwin in Nebraska, before returning home to Minnesota to earn enough money “to get out of debt.”  Before heading back to Tennessee, he stopped by Zion City, Illinois, for several days to hear the famous healing evangelist John Alexander Dowie preach several times.  Through it all, God kept him “dynamited with all dynamite,” so that “at times it exploded in a short message that sent terror into the hearts of those around me.”  On “the way home on the train,” Awrey read the first issue of Irwin’s paper, Live Coals of Fire.  The “Lord so filled me with dynamite that I shouted, which made the passengers stare, but I was just as free as I would at a camp meeting.”  (He may have shouted when he read Irwin’s claim that “the fire-baptized saints . . . will constitute the inner circle of the aristocracy of heaven.”)  Awrey arrived in Beniah just before Thanksgiving.  More than a month had passed since Irwin conducted the explosive meetings there, during which Dollie Lawson offered to donate her farm if he would build a School of the Prophets.[27]  

            Just before Irwin’s trip to Beniah, he had replaced Awrey as Ruling Elder with Frank Porter, who in Awrey’s long absence had traveled with his wife and Billy Martin to hear Irwin preach at a Fire-Baptized camp meeting in Moonlight, Kansas.[28]  Porter and Martin then seem to have traveled with Irwin to Pennsylvania and Iowa for meetings during August and September.[29]  Both Irwin and Edward Kelly, Ruling Elder of North Carolina, credited Porter and Martin with pioneering the Fire-Baptized movement in Tennessee, suggesting that the movement did not flourish there until after Awrey left on his evangelistic tour in April.[30]  Both men had both been part of the holiness outpourings in the Coker Creek and Camp Creek communities for several years.  Porter had attended the 2nd Annual FBHA Convention in April 1899, probably with Awrey.[31]  In July, he and Martin conducted Fire-Baptized meetings in Beniah, Dare, and Chestuee, where Porter’s new tent was burned.[32]  But we do not know when or how they entered the Fire-Baptized movement.  If they had connected with Awrey during his 1895 revival “up in the mountains,” then he may have taken Irwin’s message to them when he returned from Texas in early 1898.  Or they may have heard another Fire-Baptized advocate preach in the area.[33]  Or they may have read about Irwin’s ideas in a paper like The Way of Faith.[34]  Within weeks of Awrey’s return, Porter and Martin were making plans to go with Irwin’s son Stewart as a missionary team to South Africa.  (And Awrey resumed his role as Ruling Elder of Tennessee.)  In early 1900, though, the escalation of the Boer War nixed the trio’s missionary plans, and they continued to minister in the South—Porter with Stewart Irwin in Georgia and Martin with Awrey in Tennessee.[35]           

            Meanwhile a Birchwood teacher and evangelist named Emma DeFriece had opened the School of the Prophets in Beniah by the end of 1899.  However, she appears to have taught community children rather than Fire-Baptized evangelists and missionaries.  In fact, she confessed that several of her students were not yet saved.  Even though the Live Coals of Fire carried monthly reports on the School of the Prophets, the ministry training school for adults apparently never opened.  Irwin had envisioned a department of the school that would train the children of the Fire-Baptized people.  Apparently this was the first phase of the larger plan, or perhaps simply a continuation of the older Bellfonte Holiness Industrial School under a new name.  Irwin had hoped to open the entire school in June 1900, the very month his moral failure became known.[36] 

            In the last months before Irwin’s fall, we finally have clear evidence of a Fire-Baptized presence at Camp Creek.  In April 1900 Sarah Smith, with whom we began our exploration of Fire-Baptized spirituality in the region, was ministering in the Epperson-Coker Creek area of southern Monroe County that had produced Tipton, McNabb, Porter, and Martin.  There were “wonderful manifestations,” she wrote, particularly among the children.  In early May, Smith and “Sister Martin,” whose husband had been gone for some time preaching with Awrey in the Sequatchie Valley, went “on to Patrick, N.C., to assist in the meetings in progress here, and God is with us in great power, and sinners are in a rage. . . .  Praise God for the fire, and dynamite, and lyddite.”[37] 

            As in many FBHA strongholds, the organization in Tennessee seems to have crumpled almost immediately after Irwin’s disgrace.  Daniel Awrey last appears in local records on 6 June 1900, when the census enumerator found his family living alongside those of the Curry sisters and at least three Fire-Baptized evangelists—W. W. Newberry, Hollie Pulliam, and Billy Martin.[38]  But what happened to the saints who had experienced the fire and dynamite in southeastern Tennessee and southwestern North Carolina?  Sarah Smith provides the best clue, at least for those in the Camp  Creek and Coker Creek communities.  In a letter written for B. F. Lawrence’s 1916 history of the pentecostal movement, she described an outpouring of God’s Spirit in the area just after the FBHA of Tennessee disbanded.  As Lawrence summarizes her accounts:  “Over in North Carolina there was a body of people who had withdrawn from the Baptist Church on account of their faith on the doctrine of the second work of grace.  Former members of the [FBHA] frequently went over from Tennessee (where they lived) to hold meetings for them.  At the time, two brethren were holding a meeting there.  Their names were Joe Tipton and William B. Martin.  One night, while the meetings were in progress, a woman began to pray, and presently broke out speaking in another tongue.  Those present believed at the time that it was a revival of the original Pentecostal blessing and Bro. Tipton and others soon received the experience.”  When they returned to Tennessee, “perhaps 40 or 50” had similar experiences, including Sarah Smith herself, who “fell under the power . . . and spoke in tongues.”  A few days later, she recalled, “the power for interpretation came upon me and I interpreted everything I spoke.”[39]   

            And what of our two prevailing models of Fire-Baptized influence on the origins of the Church of God?  Given our current pool of evidence, the jury must remain out.  But what we now know about the life of Daniel Awrey and his associates suggests that the “third blessing” story in the southern mountains is tightly interwoven with the origins of the Church of God.  The relationship produced both positive, proto-pentecostal spiritual energy and an irritating tendency toward arrogance and extremism, but it is highly unlikely that the two movements crossed paths before at least 1898.


[1] This was presented as a paper for discussion at the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Church of God Movements Historical Society, Cleveland, Tennessee, 24 May 2003.


[2] “Sarah A. Smith’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 15 December 1899, 8.  Smith also referred to the Dare community as Union Grove, which would later become a Church of God hotbed.


[3] “Daniel Awrey’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 12 January 1900, 2.  Awrey later claimed that his wife and about a dozen others had spoken in tongues in 1899.  This may have happened in the Dare meetings—although it should be noted that no contemporary Fire-Baptized testimonial letters or sermons specifically mention glossolalia (B. F. Lawrence, “Apostolic Faith Restored, Article V: Incidents of the Spirit’s Work from 1890 to 1900,” Weekly Evangel, 29 January 1916, 4).


[4] “Sarah A. Smith’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 12 January 1899, 7. 


[5] If we project ahead a few months to May 1900, just before the revelation of Irwin’s weakness for prostitutes devastated the movement, Lawson experienced a fifth blessing, the “definite experience of lyddite.”  When she “asked God what lyddite meant,” all she heard was “more power” (“Aunt Nancy’s Testimony,” Live Coals of Fire, 5 May 1900, 6-7). 


[6] E.g., see Charles W. Conn, Like a Mighty Army: A History of the Church of God, Definitive Edition, 1886-1995 (Cleveland TN: Pathway Press, 1996), 48-53. 


[7] Vinson Synan, Old Time Power: A Centennial History of the Pentecostal Holiness Church (Franklin Springs GA: LifeSprings, 1998 [1973]), 52-53; Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1997 [1971]), 54, 72. Also, see Harold D. Hunter, “Beniah at the Apostolic Crossroads: Little Noticed Crosscurrents of B. H. Irwin, Charles Fox Parham, Frank Sanford, A. J. Tomlinson,” Cyberjournal of Pentecostal Research #1, January 1997, <www.pctii.org/cyberj/index.html>; and, Wade H. Phillips, “Concise History of the Church of God of Prophecy” in Foundations: A Concise History/Doctrine (Cleveland TN: White Wing Publishing House, 1998), 17.


[8] Daniel Woods, “Awrey, Daniel P.,” New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 2002), 334.    


[9] My goal is to publish a collection of Awrey’s messages.


[10] Awrey’s memoir titled “Life Sketches” appeared in the March, April, and May 1910 issues of The Latter Rain Evangel, a monthly pentecostal paper published in Chicago. 


[11] Hunter, “Beniah at the Apostolic Crossroads.”


[12] Historians associated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church have been primarily responsible for pushing the organization of Irwin’s movement back into 1895-1896, beginning with J. H. King’s “History of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, Chapter I,” The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate, 24 May 1921, 2-3.  For the latest—and most rigorous—expression of this chronology, see Synan, Old Time Power, 46-50.  Non-pentecostals historians of the movement, however, have expressed doubts that there was much organization in either 1895 or 1896.  E.g., see Martin Schrag, “The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Benjamin Hardin Irwin,” Brethren in Christ History and Life, June 1981, 14-15.


[13] A close examination of J. M. Pike’s The Way of Faith and Neglected Themes (Columbia, South Carolina), which is particularly helpful in tracking Irwin’s movements in 1896, proves that Irwin did not bring his message into the Southeast until he arrived in South Carolina the last week of the year.  And while Irwin’s reports had been carried in a number of popular holiness periodicals, including The Way of Faith, The Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness  (Boston and Chicago), and The Wesleyan Methodist (Syracuse, New York), there is no evidence in these papers or in local documents from southeastern Tennessee and western North Carolina to suggest that Fire-Baptism entered the area through these papers during 1896.


[14] Unless otherwise noted, the information in the next several paragraphs come Awrey’s 1910 series of “Life Sketches.”


[15] Dr. Hunter found Awrey, his wife, and children in the 1900 census sharing a residence with his uncle, George Curry.  In the next dwelling lived Napoleon Lawson, husband to Dollie Currie (Curry) Lawson, who in late 1899 had given Irwin the land to build a School of the Prophets.  Although Awrey mentions several times in his 1910 memoir that he preached in Tennessee with a cousin (never named)—and the census taker listed Dollie Lawson’s uncle George Curry as Awrey’s uncle—it may not be safe to assume that the Currys were Awrey’s family connection in Bradley County.  One problem is that Awrey’s parents were both born in Canada, and all the Currys had their roots in Tennessee and Virginia (Twelfth Census of the United States, 1890, Bradley County, Tennessee).


[16] The best source on Henck’s ministry is John S. Keen, Memoir of F. W. Henck, with Notes and Comments (Highway KY: Bible Advocate Print[ers], 1899).  Henck regularly preached outside of Tennessee and shared the pulpit with such holiness notables as J. W. Hughes, future president of Asbury College, and W. A. Dodge, editor of The Way of Life in Atlanta.  Keen based his book on Henck’s diaries and letters.  Perhaps these made their way into an archive.  Finding these papers would add considerably to our understanding of the early holiness movement in the area, and especially of the history of the ETHA.  Andrew Lawson, a Church of God minister and close associate of A. J. Tomlinson, joined the organization on May 8, 1888 in Cleveland (“A. J. Lawson Dies Here This Morning,” Cleveland Daily Banner, 7 September 1948, 1).  According to Lawson, the ETHA blew apart in the late 1890s over the Fire-Baptized movement (C. T. Davidson, Upon This Rock, Vol. 1 [Cleveland TN: White Wing Publishing House, 1973], 289-290).  This seems reasonable given what we know happened to the North Carolina Holiness Association after “Irwinism” came through in 1898.


[17] The Revivalist, January 1894, 3. 


[18] Henck had earlier preached with a “Brother Stanton” from Chattanooga (Keen, Memoir, 243-244).  Perhaps this is E. M. Stanton, a Methodist prominent in the North Georgia Holiness Association who later openly embraced the pentecostal revival (though he never left the Methodist ministry).


[19] Awrey also recalled that he received only 20 cents during the meetings because “the people were not accustomed to contributing very largely to God’s work.”


[20] [A. J. Tomlinson], “History of Pentecost,” The Faithful Standard, September 1922, 5-6.


[21] On Irwin’s 1897 work in Texas, see C. B. Jernigan, Pioneer Days of the Holiness Movement in the Southwest (Kansas City MO: Pentecostal Nazarene Publishing House, 1919), 152-154.  Note: J. M. Pike continued to cover Irwin’s activities in The Way of Faith through at least 1899; however, there are only two extant issues for 1897-1899 (13 October 1897 and 20 October 1897).


[22] Synan, Old Time Power, 50.  It is even possible that like Awrey, like J. H. King, attended the FBHA meeting without yet having made a commitment to Irwin’s movement.  Before the Anderson gathering, King found Fire-Baptism both attractive and troubling.  He only cast his lot with the movement after hearing Irwin preach in person (Joseph H. King and Blanche L. King, Yet Speaketh [Franklin Springs GA: Publishing House of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, 1949], 86).    


[23] Mary Curry Henck, “Holiness Schools for Our Children,” The Pentecostal Herald, 4 May 1898, 3.  The day after this letter was published, Henck was confirmed as postmistress of a new post office named Beniah, apparently operated out of the school.  She continued in this position until the Beniah post office was closed in 1901 (William R. Snell, Bradley County Tennessee Post Offices [Cleveland TN: Bradley County Historical Society, 1994], 5.).


[24] Nor does her hope that such holiness educational efforts would help “speedily usher in the millennium” suggest that she had accepted the premillennial eschatology so central to Irwin’s teachings (Henck, “Holiness Schools”).


[25] Mary C. Henck, “Beniah, Bradley County, Tennessee,” The Pentecostal Herald, 15 March 1899, 9.


[26] King stayed on Toronto to pastor the FBHA congregation there for nearly a year before moving to Nebraska to serve as Assistant Editor of Live Coals of Fire (King, Yet Speaketh, 98-101). 


[27] “Daniel Awrey’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 1 December 1899, 5.


[28] B. H. Irwin, “Editorial Correspondence,” Live Coals of Fire, 6 October 1899, 1.


[29] B. H. Irwin, “Editorial Correspondence,” Live Coals of Fire, 13 October 1899, 1; Irwin, “Editorial Correspondence,” Live Coals of Fire, 20 October 1899, 1.


[30] Kelly made this observation first (“Beniah, Tenn.,” The Pentecostal Herald, 12 July 1899, 7).  Irwin also gave credit to Joe Tipton (Irwin, “Editorial Correspondence,” Live Coals of Fire, 20 October 1899, 1).


[31] “Frank Porter’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 6 October 1899, 2.


[32] Kelly’s letter is the first clear evidence of the Fire-Baptism message being preached in Beniah.  He notes that he came to Beniah “under the solicitation of the fire-baptized saints,” but that “the victory was not as great as it could have been” due to the operation of the “tobacco devil, the fancy dress devil, and the tame holiness devil” in the community (“Beniah, Tenn.,” The Pentecostal Herald, 12 July 1899, 7).  On the tent burning at Chestuee (Polk County), see “Frank Porter’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 6 October 1899, 2.


[33] E.g., in the Fall of 1898 Kelly preached “on the line of red hot, radical, fiery holiness” at Carlock (in McMinn County) and in Charleston, just a few miles from Beniah (Edward Kelly, “Birmingham, Ala.,” The Pentecostal Herald, 14 September 1898, 8).


[34] I have found one case of a Bradley County resident discovering Irwin’s message via reading.  Nancy Lawson of Dare (Union Grove) wrote that she had “read B. H. Irwin’s experience on the fire” and “at once became hungry for it.”  Though she gives no date, internal evidence suggests a date no later than the Fall of 1898.  Interestingly, in the Fall of 1899 Lawson “received a letter from a saint in Kansas” (more than likely either Porter of Martin writing from the Moonlight Camp Meeting), in which “he testified to the dynamite.”  (Irwin did stress the dynamite at Moonlight, where the teaching proved to be divisive.)  In both cases, reading helped Lawson overcome her rural isolation (“Aunt Nancy’s Testimony,” Live Coals of Fire, 5 May 1900, 6-7).


[35] Interestingly, this escalation resulted in part from a new British explosive called lyddite.


[36] B. H. Irwin, “The School of the Prophets,” Live Coals of Fire, 12 January 1900, 1.  See also the reports from the school in nearly every issue of Live Coals of Fire beginning 26 January 1900.  DeFriece did hold “revival meetings” for the whole community at night after teaching the children during the day.


[37] “Sarah A. Smith’s Letter,” Live Coals of Fire, 18 May 1900, 2.


[38] Twelfth Census of the United States, 1890, Bradley County, Tennessee.  Awrey’s next known home is Dudleyville, Arizona, where he was operating a mission when he heard about the Azusa Street revival and moved to Los Angeles in 1906 (The Apostolic Faith [Los Angeles], October 1906, 4).


[39] Quoted in B. F. Lawrence, “Apostolic Faith Restored, Article V: Incidents of the Spirit’s Work from 1890 to 1900,” Weekly Evangel, 29 January 1916, 4.  The emphasis is Lawrence’s. 


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