The great Welsh Revival at the turn of the century in 1904 saw 100,000 people coming
to Christ. This was quickly followed by the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angeles in
1906. Both these great outpourings saw a rediscovery of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
but sadly many people were slow to accept the manifest gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The result was that many men and women struggled to find freedom and acceptance
in many of the established Churches of the day and for one reason or another they
had to leave. Conferences were organised so that those who found rejection elsewhere
could meet and encourage one another as they openly practiced the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. One such man was William Oliver Hutchinson. Having been greatly impacted
by the Welsh Revival and Azuza Street he prayed that God would give him somewhere
where he could freely practice the Gifts of the Holy Spirit without reproach.
Led By God
William records how after praying for somewhere to hold meetings he found himself
surrounded by angels who led him to a plot of waste land located on a substantial
and elevated site in Winton, Bournemouth. He had only nine pence in his pocket but
took out a 99 year lease on the plot which was set back from Muscliffe Road near
to its junction with what is now Castle Road. Without him noticing the owner wrote
a clause into the lease giving William the right to buy after an eight year period.
Gifts of money started to come William's way. In 1907 he commenced Tent meetings
on the site whilst, with the help of a sympathetic bank manager, he built Emmanuel
Hall as the first Pentecostal Church in the United Kingdom. To this day a memorial
stone in the entrance bears the inscription "In The Beginning God 1908." William
was greatly impacted by the Welsh and Azuza Street revivals and indeed in one of
the Welsh Revival meetings he experienced a vision in which he saw three balls of
fire resting on his head. Shortly thereafter he came into the experience of being
baptised in the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. In 1908 he attended Pentecostal
convention meetings in Sunderland, England, and was prayed for by Anglican Priest
Rev. A. A. Boddy and received further blessing. Later in 1908 Emmanuel Hall was
opened and the worshipping group called themselves The Apostolic Faith Assembly.
The Church continued to grow and on 20th October 1910 Emmanuel Hall was registered
as the Church Headquarters and as a place of worship. In 1910 the Church was named
the Apostolic Faith Church and published its constitution in 1916 which was duly
registered by Deed Poll on August 30th of that year.
Fire Of Revival Falls
The Church saw rapid growth as revival fire fell causing many to come to faith. Meetings
were marked by many divine healings and tangible outpourings of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. People travelled, and even walked, for miles to attend services. In
the 1920's in particular, droves of people walked or cycled from other parts of England
to be blessed and to be healed. William played host to growing numbers of Pastors
who in some cases would establish their own versions of the Church. Des Cartwright
writes, “Separate Pentecostal groups began to emerge in Britain. The first was the
Apostolic Faith Church of William Oliver Hutchinson. Next came what was to become
the Elim Pentecostal Church that George Jeffrey's first founded in Ireland in 1915.
This was followed by the Apostolic Church established in Penygroes, Wales in 1916
by Daniel Powell Williams. He had initially worked with William Hutchinson. Many
of the remaining Pentecostal Churches came together in Birmingham in 1924 to form
the Assemblies of God of Great Britain and Ireland. Each of these groups began to
use their own magazines. The Apostolic Faith Church in Bournemouth issued the first
of these in January 1910. This was entitled Showers of Blessing." Pastor Hutchinson
died in 1928 leaving a great legacy to those who followed on and who today continue
to carry the torch of the Apostolic Faith Church that he founded.
The British Broadcasting Corporation Records History
The historic record of the BBC records that the first Pentecostal Church in the UK
was founded by William Oliver Hutchinson in 1908 at the Emmanuel Mission Hall, Bournemouth.
It became the headquarters of a network of Pentecostal Churches which became known
as the Apostolic Faith Church.
The Church Is Planted On The African Continent
The work and reputation of the Church expanded rapidly. In 1911 thirty six "Ethiopian"
native Churches in South Africa expressed the desire to make a permanent link with
the Apostolic Faith Church in Bournemouth England. William Oliver Hutchinson visited
Africa himself and this was followed by brother and sister Hicks-Roderick being sent
from Wales with the task of establishing the work of the Church there. They were
followed by Mr and Mrs James Brooke and others including the present International
Chief Overseer of the Church, the Rev. Duncan Lee and his wife Jean. Today the Church
has its African Headquarters in Daveyton, Johannesburg, South Africa but the work
has expanded to cover eleven African Countries. They are: Angola, Botswana, D.R.
Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and