“The Holy Rollers Are Invading Our Territory”: Southern Baptist Missionaries and the Early Years of Pentecostalism in Brazil

Authors


Laura Premack is a PhD candidate in Global History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Abstract

Beginning with the often overlooked fact that the establishment of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the world, Brazil's Assembléia de Deus (Assembly of God), was not the result of missionary activity by the U.S.-based Assemblies of God, this paper makes creative use of Southern Baptist missionary sources to examine the first twenty-five years of Pentecostalism in Brazil. Considering not only what the first Pentecostal missionaries did but also what they did not do, it suggests the following reasons for the extraordinary growth of the emergent movement: early Pentecostals had neither the funds nor the theological need to focus on education; their personal class affiliations did not incline them to privilege efforts to evangelise the upper classes; there was no strong female Pentecostal missionary presence; and the Pentecostals were able to “poach” from the Baptists' “flock.” The paper concludes that greater attention needs to be paid to the specific historical circumstances of Pentecostal growth in Brazil, especially during the decade of the 1930s.

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