Rev. Joseph Roswell Flower
Assemblies of God
1888 ~ 1970
Reverend J.Roswell Flower was born in 1888, Belleville, Canada, to George Lorenzo and Bertha Rice Flower. While still a young man, Flower's parents and grandparents came into contact with followers of John Alexander Dowie. In 1902 the family moved to Dowie's community in Zion City, Illinois. Disillusionment, however, prompted the family to move to Indianapolis, Indiana where they soon identified with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. When the Pentecostal message came to Indianapolis in January 1907 through the ministry of Glenn A. Cook, it strongly impacted the congregation of the Gospel Tabernacle.
As the revival continued, Flower surrendered his life to Christ (April 14) and shortly after became active in the ministry. In 1908, Flower spent one month in St. Louis, Missouri at the "Faith Home" operated by "Mother" Mary Moise where he experienced the power of the Holy Ghost. In 1911, J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds were united in Holy Matrimony.
In 1913, Flower began his first pastorate in Indianapolis. Over time, he became friends with Elder G.T. Haywood. In that same year, the first World-wide Pentecostal Campmeeting was held in Arroyo Seco, California. It was during this campmeeting that the name of Jesus was given special attention, especially after Rev. Robert McAlister mentioned that none of the Apostles ever baptized using the "Titles" Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but that they always used the shorter formula, "In the Name of Jesus". This enlighenment brought about such turmoil until it divided many of the Pentecostal preachers of that time.
The Assemblies of God was formed (in April of 1914) after the Arroyo Seco meeting, and as the issue of baptism in the Name of Jesus intensified among these Pentecostal ministers, J. Roswell Flower became set in the defence of his trinitarian position. He had been elected to serve as the first General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, and because of this position he had great influence on the acting members of the General Board. At this time the Assemblies of God had their headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri on 2800 Easton Avenue, and some of the officials from this organization were living in Mother Moise's home.
One day, Glenn Cook visited Mother Moise's home on a friday evening. He was on his way to Indiaiapolis, Indiana, but stopped in St. Louis to visit his friend Ben Pemberton. That day, Mother Moise and Brother Pemberton spoke with Brother Cook concerning the Oneness doctrine. Brother Cook stayed at the home until Sunday afternoon, because Mother Moise had asked him to preach for the Sunday morning service. At this particular service were E.N. Bell and Roswell Flower. Brother Cook chose Acts 2:38 as his text and preached water baptism in Jesus' name. Brother Pemberton being convinced of the sermon, asked Brother Cook to baptize him.
After his victory in St. Louis, Brother Cook traveled to Indianapolis in an attempt to persuade G.T. Haywood to accept baptism in Jesus' Name. J. Roswell Flower wrote Haywood a letter, warning him that Cook was on his way with a disruptive doctrine, and not to accept it. Little did he know that Cook had already arrived in Indianapolis ahead of the warning, and after listening to Brother Cook, Haywood, accepted the message and was re-baptized in Jesus' name, and afterward led his entire congregation into the Apostolic formula of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Haywood wrote Flower back saying, "Your letter came too late. I have already accepted the message, and have been baptized."