Azusa Street Mission

William Durham and the impact on Pentecostalism

Most of us know the names like William Seymour and Charles Fox Parham but another leader that you might not know about is a man by the name of William Durham.

He was pastor of North Avenue Mission in Chicago and he wanted more of the Lord. He had heard of what was happening in Los Angeles at what became known as the Azusa Street Revival.


It was at the Azusa Street Mission that he received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time. He would go on to preach about the glorious experience of “heavenly languages” until he passed away in 1912.

William Durham rejects Sanctification

At the end of the 19th century, there was a popular teaching in the churches across America about sanctification. It was believed that after being born again, you would have an experience that set you apart and cleansed you. Churches preaching this became known as the Holiness movement.

One of the people to receive this was William Seymour. It shaped a lot of what was happening in the revival. However, Durham did not find anything to justify it in the New Testament and he openly questioned it.


According to him, being less like the world starting at conversion and slowly worked out in one’s life until they are completely set apart from the things of the world.

Click here to see what Azusa Report believes about Sanctification

Trouble at the Azusa Street Revival

William Durham was preaching in the revival and he shared his views of being sanctified. Many in the meetings receivedĀ it as it was liberating from the self-degrading view of the Holiness movement.

William Seymour returned quickly to Los Angeles and boarded up the church so people could not hear what he viewed as “heresy.” That meeting would shape the course of history for Pentecostals. People who believed in the teaching of Durham would form what became the Assemblies of God that flipped the world upside down.


Still, to this day, there are movements that hold to the Holiness position and those who believe in what William Durham called “Finished Work of Christ.” Sometimes. Pentecostals change very slowly.