From its inception, the driving force behind the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has been church planting. Our forefathers believed that this would be the last generation before the return of Christ. Even as the church was born in an outpouring of the Spirit, so would it be raptured while in revival. As in the first century, so in the last, this renewal would result in the conversion of people and the creation of many local congregations. To that end they prayed and laboured.
Their vision came from the Scriptures. When Jesus said to go and make disciples, He provided the Gift of the Holy Spirit as the power for effective witness. He said He would build His church. As Pentecostals, we have demonstrated that the “power from on high” is the method the Master uses. The apostles went with an anointing to announce the Good News. Congregations came into being as Pentecostal power penetrated the population centers of that time. And so it continues.
Our charter of 1919 states three very significant purposes for which we exist: “to conduct a place or places of worship; to organize and conduct schools of religious instruction; to carry on home and foreign missionary work for the spread of the gospel.” We began with the vision to reach the lost.
This vision was continually cast in every means of communication. The first issue of the Pentecostal Testimony in December, 1920, contained a letter by the Secretary-Treasurer, R. E. McAllister, in which he spoke of the “opening up of new Assemblies”, and further stated, “Pastors and Assemblies ought to take this phase of the work to heart and lift an offering at least once a year for this very important work. Only as we extend the home work are we in a position to care for the Foreign Missionary enterprise, and we have demonstrated in the past that a hundred dollars spent wisely in the opening up of Home Missions under ordinary conditions will result in a hundred per cent increase to the Foreign work within a year. Every Home Mission opened in turn becomes a factor in the Foreign Missionary enterprise.” This statement was followed by a listing of the current churches within the Fellowship. There were 27.
By May 1, 1939, the Pentecostal Testimony was able to report over 300 assemblies affiliated. There were 190 ordained ministers and 52 missionaries. Over a full page was given to report a new church opening in Paris, Ontario. With two pages devoted to missionary news, another two pages reported on church revival and growth in Canada, and yet another full page was an appeal for a Home Mission outreach. The vision of church growth was continuing to carry the new Movement forward.
It is our firm belief, that this same vision is still at the heart of our Fellowship, and still the motivation behind our momentum. We have called the 1990’s our Decade of Destiny. In accordance with the faith and foresight of our forefathers, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has articulated its Mission Statement as “to make disciples everywhere by the proclamation and practice of the gospel of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit; to establish local congregations, and to train spiritual leaders”.
The following excerpt is from Victor G. Brown’s Fifty Years of Pentecostal History: 1933-1983, published by the Archives Committee of the Western Ontario District of the PAOC.
At the turn of the century suddenly the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the world. The promise of Joel the prophet is repeated in the twentieth century. All over the world people are receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles. Many mighty miracles are done among them. Thus a Holy Ghost revival is launched in this world.
For the main part, the roots of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada came out of the Holiness Movement and Methodist soil. This was very evident in the early preaching of such ministers at Rev. Solomon Eby, Rev. G. A. Chambers, Rev. R. E. McAlister, Rev. R. E. Sternall, and others. No better basis could have been found by the Holy Spirit to launch a spiritual revival movement.
In 1919 there was a preliminary gathering of seven ministers at Mille Roches, Ontario, to consider organization. Those present were R. E. McAlister, R. E. Sternall, C. E. Baker, W. L. Draffin, H. A. Goss, C. L. Cross, and G. A. Chambers. Later that same year another meeting was held in Montreal. Arising from this second meeting, application was made to the Canadian Government for a Dominion Charter which was granted on May 17, 1919, recognizing The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada as an official body of Christian believers, functioning as a church. The first meeting of the Provincial Trustees and Charter Members took place in Ottawa, Ontario, May 26, 1919. From this historic date The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has been recognized by the Canadian Government as a religious organization.
Ontario was included in God’s sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. “Several streams of Pentecostal blessing, beginning independently of each other, gradually increased in size and power. Soon they converged into a great Pentecostal revival that has brough untold blessing to the entire Dominion.” I have quoted from page 35 of Third Force, written by Rev. G. F. Atter.
One of these streams of blessing was the Hebden Mission in the City of Toronto under the leadership of Pastor and Mrs. Hebden. A Pentecostal revival broke out in which many were filled with the Spirit, including Rev. George A. Chambers. He came from a Mennonite background to become the General Superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. By 1907 the message from the Hebden Mission reached such centres as Ingersoll, Norwich, Markham, Simcoe, Stratford, Vineland, Wingham, and Woodstock.
In 1909 a small group of Christians gathered in the first Pentecostal convention in Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener. Prior to this convention the Holy Spirit had fallen in the United Missionary Church. This caused division, with the result that eight ministers resigned from the Missionary Church. Their names are as follows: A. G. Donner, J. T. Ball, G. A. Chambers, C. R. Miller, E. M. Guy, M. M. Heisey, M. Holmes, and M. E. Ward. Along with these ministers were 80 members of the United Missionary Church. These people formed four assemblies at Toronto, Berlin (Kitchener), Markham, and Vineland, the nucleus of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in Ontario.
Some of the first missionaries of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada went out to the foreign field from the Hebden Mission in Toronto. Among them were A. M. Atter, Charles Chawner, Robert Semple (husband of Aimee Semple McPherson), and Thomas Hindle. There were other streams as well, such as the Revival in London, Ontario. In 1910, meetings of the first Pentecostals were held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Wortman (parents of the late Dr. C. M. Wortman). By 1912 property was purchased at 557 Dundas Street and another church was founded for the glory of God.
The first General Assembly of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada convened in the Scott Street Mission in Kitchener, Ontario, November 25-28, 1919. By 1920 there were 16 affiliated churches in Ontario, three in Quebec and nine in Western Canada. Thus, from this small beginning came one of Canada’s largest districts with approximately 160 churches and three camp meetings.
At the beginning, the denomination was divided into two districts for all of Canada—Eastern and Western. From the minutes of September 10, 1929 of the conference held at Evangel Temple, Toronto, we learn that Rev. G. A. Chambers was named General Chairman.
On August 26, 1932 the following resolution was presented and passed:
“Whereas our Eastern District Conference, composed of Ontario and Quebec, has become so large that it is difficult to handle the delegates in one Conference, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS TERRITORY BE DIVIDED INTO TWO CONFERENCES, THE BOUNDARY LINE OF SAID CONFERENCES BE DETERMINED BY THE GENERAL CONFERENCE.”
It would appear that Rev. W. L. Draffin served as the Superintendent of Western Ontario District from 1929 until 1933. On September 5, 1933 the Western Ontario District Conference was held at Central Tabernacle in Hamilton, Ontario. At this time Rev. J. H. Blair was elected Superintendent, a position he held for more than 33 years.
EMPOWERING CHURCHES: We seek to develop, nurture and provide a spiritual covering for ministers, ministries and churches for the purpose of world evangelism and discipleship.
“He told His disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world’.”
“When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection.”