Rev. Robert Edward McAlister
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
1880 ~ 1953
Robert E. McAlister was born at Ross, Renfrew County, Ontario in 1880. His father, James McAlister, was a elder in the Presbyterian Church. The family, of Scotch descent, had immigrated to Canada in the early 1800's.
When Robert was only one year old, his parents moved to Cobden, Ontario where he spent his youth. When he was twenty-one years old he attended an evangelistic meeting in Cobden and accepted Christ as his Savior.
As a young believer, Robert felt the call to the ministry. He left the security of home and enrolled in "God's Bible School" in Cincinnati, Ohio. With less than two years of training, Robert, syffering from ill health, returned to Cobden. When he was sufficiently recovered, however, he began conducting evangelistic meetings in western Canada.
During the fall of 1906, Robert heard glowing reports about a spiritual outpouring in Los Angeles, California. Soon he, like so many others, made his pilgrimage to the Azusa Street Mission. On December 11, 1906, Robert received the baptism of the holy Ghost. He was one of the first Canadians to receive the Spirit with the evidence of tongues speaking.
He continued to preach, but now his message had a Pentecostal anointing. In 1908, he was "a key figure" in a mighty revival that broke out in Ottawa County of Canada. The results of the revival included the construction of the first Pentecostal church building in the Country.
Then the pioneer preacher opened a Pentecostal Mission in Ottawa, one of several congregations he pioneered. When the church began conducting worship services, there was a dance floor over the humble mission, nevertheless, the Lord prospered the work.
In april 1913, Robert McAlister participated in "The World-Wide Apostolic Faith camp Meeting" in Arroyo Seco, Cal;ifornia. Faith healer, Maria Woodworth-Etter, was the featured speaker. As was often the case, hundreds were healed as Woodworth-Etter laid hands on them in Jesus' name.
Many unbelievers were also converted in the meeting. so many in fact, the promoters planned a baptismal service and asked McAlister to preach. The Canadian discussed baptismal formulas and suggested that the disciples baptized in "Jesus' name" and the words "Father, Son and Holy Ghost were never used by the early church in Christian baptism."
That evening, John G. Sheppe meditated on McAlister's remarks and the wonderful healings performed as woodworth-Etter prayed in Jesus' name. The following morning, Scheppe ran through the camp shouting that God had given him a revelation that believers were to be baptized in the name of "Jesus Only."
Frank Ewart, a former associate of william Durham, attended the meeting and was taken with the idea of the "Jesus Only" issue. He, along with mcAlister and Glenn A. Cook, developed the idea of rebaptizing in Jesus' name.
McAlister returned to Canada in November 1913 to preach at the annual Pentecostal conventiuon at Winnipeg. he was the first to introduce the oneness message to his homeland. He and Franl Small baptized thirty candidates in the name of jesus Christ, even though neither of them had been rebaptized at the time. In only a matter of months, "the main contingency of Pentecostals in canada were rebaptized."
Within two years, "the new issue" had splintered the Pentecostal movement. Howard Goss, E.N. Bell, D.C.O. Opperman and other leaders in the Assemblies of God were rebaptized. When the PAOC was formed in 1919, with McAlister as General Secretary and Treasurer, it was a oneness Pentecostal organization.
Historian Gordon F. Atter remembers McAlister as one of the greatest preachers of the early Pentecostal revival in Canada. With a photographic memory, he would recite entire chapters from the Bible while preaching his message. McAlister's delivery has been described as monotone and "long-winded," but his preaching was so full of Holy Spirit anointing "it was a common thing for his message to be interrupted by spontaneous praise to God from his audience."
The faithful pastor and publisher laid down his cross and took up a crown on September 25, 1953.