Florence Crawford, founder of the Portland Apostolic Faith work, received sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit at the Azusa revival.
Florence Crawford, founder of the Apostolic Faith work in Portland, Oregon, was among those who received the experiences of sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Azusa revival. [For more of her story and her personal recollections about the revival, see the chapter “Azusa Roots.”] A dynamic woman, she entered wholeheartedly into the efforts there, assisting mission leader William J. Seymour. Many inquiries had begun coming in from people who wanted to know more about the Pentecostal outpouring, so Florence Crawford, with the help of a woman named Clara Lum and others, began recording what was being said in the meetings and putting it into a newspaper format. That publication was called The Apostolic Faith.
In addition to her efforts in the publishing work, Florence Crawford felt God’s call to travel beyond the boundaries of Los Angeles with the Pentecostal message. In December of 1906, she made her initial visit to Portland, Oregon, where she had been invited to preach in an independent church at Southwest Second and Main Streets. Subsequently, the pastor of that church offered her his pulpit permanently, and in 1908, she moved to Portland.
Raymond Crawford succeeded his mother as leader of the Apostolic Faith organization.
Florence Crawford continued to teach and publish the experiences of justification by faith, entire sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. She took a firm stand against any compromise of these vital doctrines—and it was just such a compromise that ultimately divided the Azusa ministry. She nurtured the Apostolic Faith organization for thirty years until her death in 1936. Following the founder’s decease, leadership of the work was transferred to her son, Raymond Robert Crawford.
From the time of his conversion, Raymond Crawford set an example of the joy in giving one’s life wholeheartedly to the work of the Lord. As an enthusiastic and Spirit-filled evangelist, he incorporated progressive methods into outreach efforts of the organization, and continued the emphasis on the publication of printed literature as a primary means of evangelism. A fearless defender of the Gospel truths, he faithfully admonished Christian brethren around the world during his fifty-five years of ministry. He triumphantly finished his earthly life on June 3, 1965.
In a letter written several months before his death, Reverend Crawford recommended that at his passing, Loyce Carver take his place as leader of the Apostolic Faith work. The governing body of the organization approved that recommendation, and on June 4, 1965, Reverend Carver assumed the leadership responsibility. During his tenure, the Apostolic Faith work continued to expand around the world. New churches were begun in a number of African nations, enlarging the work on that continent to hundreds of established churches. Gospel work was begun in Korea, new areas were opened up in the West Indies, and additional churches were established in the United States. Reverend Carver supervised the construction of the new International Headquarters Office, as well as a new church building in Portland.
During the 1993 camp meeting, Reverend Carver brought before the Board of Trustees of the church his prayerfully-made decision to retire from his leadership role. He requested that Dwight Baltzell be appointed to serve as his successor. On July 10, 1993, that recommendation was made official, and Reverend Baltzell was installed as the next leader of the organization with the unanimous backing of the congregation gathered at the annual camp meeting. Reverend Baltzell led the work of the Apostolic Faith worldwide for seven years, during which time he toured many of the foreign branches of the work.
Members from around the globe stood to pledge their support of the transition in leadership.
In July of 2000, Reverend Baltzell expressed to the congregation his intention of stepping aside as the Superintendent General, and recommended that Darrel Lee, then serving as pastor of the Portland headquarters church, assume leadership of the work. The baton of leadership of the Apostolic Faith work was passed to Reverend Lee during the annual camp meeting convention in Portland, Oregon. In a heart-stirring display of unity, the group of believers, who were gathered on the campground from around the globe, stood to pledge their support of Reverend Lee’s appointment as leader of the Apostolic Faith churches worldwide.
In order to function and fulfill its mission, a church must have a certain legal form of government with qualified executive officials. The Apostolic Faith organization is incorporated under the laws of the state of Oregon with the official name, “Apostolic Faith Mission of Portland, Oregon.” It has written articles of incorporation, which provide the framework for legal, administrative, and business decisions. All branches of the organization, both domestic and international, are under the leadership and direction of the organization’s headquarters.
The governing body of the Apostolic Faith work is a board of five trustees of which the Superintendent General is the chairman. A board of elders, though not mentioned in the articles of incorporation and by laws of the organization, is an informal group that provides a basis of support in the decision-making for the organization. Generally consisting of United States pastors and retired pastors, this group also includes ministers and workers who are asked to participate in any given organizational decision-making process.
As the worldwide scope of the work expanded, a long-range goal of further distributing the organization’s leadership load was established. Directors were appointed to oversee various areas of the international outreach. District Superintendents supervise the efforts in specific countries and regions, with the pastors and ministerial staff working under their direction.
The leaders of the Apostolic Faith work have always had a sincere desire and prayer that the organization be led by God. The ministry is supported in its efforts by thousands of spiritually-committed believers worldwide, who are united in a determination to uphold and practice the teachings of God’s Word, walking in its light to the best of their knowledge and ability.