While the Pentecost Bands did eventually branch into overseas mission work (Africa, India, and Europe) in the mid-1890s onward, from 1885-1889 the bands ministered in the midwestern United States, traveling around Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Guidelines for band membership and the purpose of the Pentecost Bands were outlined in 1885 by Band One in Parma, Michigan. This is the first organizational step that set the bands apart from the Free Methodist Church, where their founder Vivan Dake was an ordained elder. 1
Purpose of the Bands & Basic Organizational Structure
- The object of these bands is to furnish an organized plan of cooperation for those interested in the success of our Pentecost work.
- Local bands shall be named by the place where the band resides, instance: the first local Pentecost Band was organized at Hanover, Mich. Hence the local Pentecost Band of that place is Hanover “Local Pentecost Band.”
- The officers of local bands shall be a leader and asst. -leader who shall be nominated by the Commander or Divisional Commander and shall be elected by the local band by acclamation. The Commander of Divisional Comm. shall have power to change the leaders, at any time.
- It shall be the duty of the leader to look after the spiritual state of members of his band, to visit, pray with, reprove, and instruct them and lead them all on to that “holiness'” without which no man shall see the Lord, meetings where they do not interfere with the regular church in the divine life, and shall report the names of any that he has taken into the Local band.
- It shall be the duty of the assistant leader to, at all times, the duties of the leader in his absence or inability to do the same.
- It shall be the duty of each person joining a local Pentecost Band at the time of the monthly praise meeting to make a free-will offering of at least (six) cents, and more according to their ability, for the pushing forward of our Pentecost work and answer the following questions which shall be asked by the Commander, Divisional Com. or leader of regular bands and when neither of these is present by the leader of the local band and after organization shall be received by a two- thirds vote of all the members of the Pentecost Band present.
Guidelines for Membership
Membership in any evangelical church shall be no bar to membership in our local bands. Members must be able to answer the following questions:
1) Have you the witness of sins forgiven?
2) Have you experienced that Death to the carnal mind which by faith results in heart purity, if not, wil1 you earnestly seek until you find?
3) Do you believe in the doctrines and precepts taught by the Pentecost Bands? and will you live by them?
4)Do you love Pentecost Band work and will you with your influence your time and money aid in pushing it forward?
The next post will explore some of the doctrines of the bands, but even these initial guidelines in 1885 make no mention of following Free Methodist theology or requiring membership in the Free Methodist Church to join. The distinct organizational divisions between the denomination and the bands is further illustrated in the 1891 Encyclopedia of Missions article that notes that even prior to establishing their own publication, The Pentecost Herald, in 1894 the bands used the St. Louis religious periodical The Vanguard, published by C.W.Sherman as their official news outlet–not The Free Methodist. 2
The bands also appointed their own missionaries, working outside the oversight of Free Methodist Mission Societies (a big source of tension in the late 1880s and 1890s with Free Methodist leaders). The bands also had their own annual conference called Harvest Home meeting, usually held sometime each summer, and they established their own orphanage Reaper’s Home with the intent of training orphans and dependent children for mission’s work. The Free Methodist Church already had numerous schools established such as Chili Seminary, Spring Arbor Seminary and the Gerry Homes of New York that were set up to minister to orphans or dependent children.
- See the transcript of minutes from the 1885 Parma Michigan Band ↩︎
2. Encyclopedia of Missions