Arroyo Seco, California
The First Worldwide Pentecostal Campmeeting
In April, 1913, at a "worldwide" Pentecostal camp meeting being conducted at Arroyo Seco, near Los Angeles, a new "revelation" (not an uncommon thing in those days) received considerable emphasis. The main speaker at the camp meeting was Mrs. Mary Woodworth-Etter, but the speaker who unwittingly triggered the eruption was R.E. McAlister. At a baptismal service held near the main camp meeting tent, Brother McAlister casually observed that "the apostles invariably baptized their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ," and that the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism." When they heard this, "a shudder swept the preachers on the platform," one preacher even stepping over to whisper to Brother McAlister to refrain from emphasizing that doctrine or it would "associate the camp with a Dr. Sykes who so baptized."
Reaction to this announcement was varied. One earnest preacher in particular, though, was deeply moved by the significance of the "name of Jesus." John G. Scheppe spent much of the night in prayer. In the early light of morning he "was given a glimpse of the power of the name of Jesus." He jumped to his feet, ran through the camp grounds, startling early risers, and awakening those still asleep. Scheepe shouted his "new revelation" of the power in the name of Jesus. His enthusiasm caused many to spend the day searching their Bibles regarding "the name of Jesus."
The enthusiasm created at Arroyo Seco gained such momentum that is soon affected many Pentecostal churches up and down the West Coast. At Long beach a large company of people were rebaptized in the new formula being advocated., "in the name of Jesus only." This rebaptism with the new formula was felt to be the gateway to new blessing. Attention was focused on the use of "THE NAME" invoked by the apostles in the book of Acts in connection with the performance of miracles, exorcism of evil spirits, and, partucularly, water baptism. Yhis emphasis led rapidly to the virtual denial of the Trinity, a type of Modal Monarchianism being espoused. Following the identification of the Holy Spirit with Jesus, the next step was the declaration of some that unless one had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, accompanied by speaking with tongues, he was not truly saved.
This species of "Pentecostal Unitarianism" gained great strength chiefly through its promulgation by Frank J. Ewart, prominent West Coast Pentecostal leader who was present at the Arroyo Seco camp meeting. Ewart, originally from Australia, lately from Canada, and most recently from Portland, Oregon, had developed a reputation as a fearless Baptist preacher. In 1908 he accepted the Pentecostal message in Portland. His outspoken preaching of Pentecost led to his expulsion from the Baptist communion. Ewart joined William H. Durham in Los Angeles, serving as his assistant in the important mission at Sevength and Los Angeles Streets. When Pastor Durham died, Ewart fell heir to the pastorate, and by the time of the "Jesus Only" issue he was recognized as one of the leading Pentecostals in the West.