Parham's Trip East
After suffering several financial setbacks, and finding his ministry less successful than he would have hoped, Parham traveled east in 1900 to visit other Holiness and divine healing ministries. He hoped to receive inspiration for his own struggling ministry. Parham wrote:
"Deciding to know more fully the latest truths restored by later day movements, I left my work in charge of two Holiness preachers and visited various movements, such as Dowis's work who was then in Chicago... Malone's work in Cleveland, Dr. Simpson's work in Kyack, New York, Sanford's 'Holy Ghost and Us' work at Shiloh, Maine, and many others" (Parham 48).
Of these, John Alexander Dowie's healing ministry in Zion City, Illinois, and Frank W. Sanford's "Holy Ghost and Us" Bible school in Shiloh, Maine, would be the most influential on Parham's future ministry.
John Alexander Dowie
John Alexander Dowie immigrated to the United States in 1888 after a successful healing ministry in Melbourne, Australia. Much like Parham, Dowie denounced his eight year call to the Congregational Church because he felt it was "terribly overladen with worldliness and apathy" (Goff, Wacker 4). When Dowie moved to the United States, he preached for a while in San Francisco, then started a healing home in Chicago in 1894. His multiple run-ins with the law in Chicago, due to him breaking health code violations in his healing home, made him a famous local figure and attracted people to his message on divine healing.
Dowie left Chicago to secure 6,500 acres of land between Chicago and Milwaukee by Lake Michigan, which later became Zion City. Dowie's followers lived in Zion City, where Dowie claimed to be the third manifestation of Elijah. Dowie's appeal lay in his divine healing ministry, and the appearance of his and his followers' financial stability. The distance that Zion City provided from worldliness, gambling, and alcohol, as well as Dowie's progressive views towards race, made him admired by many. Parham's visit to Dowie would be short, but he was influenced by Dowie's healing ministry and the breadth of both his compound, his missionary efforts, and his financial stability (only later was Dowie's debt exposed). Parham didn't stay long, but would return again in 1906 to capitalize off of Dowie's fall.
It was Frank Stanford, in Shiloh, Maine (now Durham, Maine), who provided a crucial element to Parham's ministry. Stanford believed Americans were the descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and that an elite group of Americans would form the millennium's new religious order. With a belief that the second coming was near, Stanford believed that American Christians were receiving gifts, given through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to manage evangelizing the world. In February of 1900, after organizing and sending evangelists throughout the United States, two of Stanford's students traveled through Topeka where they met with Parham. Stanford himself met with Parham in Topeka in June of 1900.
Stanford was everything Parham wanted to be. In 1895, Stanford had organized a debt-free organization, providing free tuition and housing, which grew to 600 members by 1898. In 1905, there was a hospital for divine healing, a seven-story tabernacle, an orphanage, and a five hundred student dormitory (Goff 58). It was on this compound in Shiloh, Maine, that Stanford organized his ministry to convert the world before the millennium. Parham spent six weeks on Stanford's compound, at times allowed to preach, and traveling to Winnipeg, Manitoba with Stanford on a mission.
Parham's Return to Topeka
Parham was blinded by the success of others. Trying to mimic other more successful ministries, Parham made a slew of irresponsible decisions that created distance between himself, his employees, and his congregation. Parham's decision to not charge for the Apostolic Faith caused the paper to fold in June of 1900. In addition to this, his announced $10,000 construction to expand Bethel was halted, existing as a symbol of Parham's financial turmoil and his ministry's stagnant growth.
While traveling, Parham put his ministry in the hands of two Holiness preachers. His apathy for the financial stability and continued growth of the Bethel was notable. Parham's last minute changes to his ministry directly affected Bethel for the worse, and his two month absence caused his family to be locked out of the Healing Home upon his return in September 1900.
Later recalling the events, Parham wrote:
"Through underhanded scheming and falsehoods, the ministers I left in charge of my work had not only taken my building but most of my congregation. My friends urged me to claim my own, but the Word says, 'We have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say to unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, and is any man will sue thee at the law, and take away they coat, let him have they cloak also.' To practice His Word was our highest aim (Parham 34)."
Parham peacefully relented his ministry at Bethel with more ambitious plans on the horizon.
Goff, James R., and Grant Wacker, eds. Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002.
Parham, Sarah E. The Life of Charles F. Parham: Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement. The Higher Christian Life. New York: Garland Pub, 1985.