Pentecost Bands

The Pentecost Bands were a group of Free Methodist mostly young, unmarried men and women evangelists who traveled throughout the American Midwest, West and South preaching the gospel in both rural and urban communities in the 1880s through 1895. Founded by Free Methodist minister Vivan Dake in Parma, Michigan, in 1885. By 1895, a variety of issues, including denominational politics, the death of Dake in 1892, and changes in band leadership led some band members to split from the Free Methodist Church. The bands changed their name to Missionary Bands of the World, Incorporated, in 1925, and merged with the Weslyean Methodist Church in 1958.

These fantastic photos below are courtesy of Chris Hansen. Many photos still need members identified- see captions for what we know so far…

This is an ongoing research project. Below are some resources for individuals interested in researching this fascinating group. The Pentecost Bands bridge the Holiness and Pencostal traditions and a ministry outlet for young women in the late 1890s. While men did serve and lead bands the bands were mostly staffed by women. In my research to date, I have found at least a 102 women who served in a band sometime between 1885-1920. In comparison, there were about 45 men who were active during those same years. The list of members is constantly evolving and if you are a descendant of someone who served in a band please reach out to me. I’m using a variety of news sources, biographies and journals to create the list I have below. No single record of band membership exists.

The Women of the Bands: Members’ Journals & Biographies

Minnie Baldwin Shellhamer’s 1903 biography A Brief Sketch of a Remarkable Life by her sister Bertha Smith. (Note: a 2nd edition was later published that included a forward by Julia Shellhamer. The forward re-positions Minnie’s life from the perspective of complementarian Biblical womanhood and downplays her influence as preacher and revivalist. Marston Memorial Historical Center has both copies. What is posted is the 1st edition. I apologize for the quality. It was very difficult to scan.)

Gertrude Hill Nystrom’s unpublished biography of her mother Sadie Cryer Hill, a Free Methodist evangelist and long-time member of the Pentecost Bands (the original copy is at Marston Memorial Historical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana).

Academic Studies

Additional research materials that might be helpful include Howard Snyder’s 1990 study on the Pentecost bands (one of the few academic articles on the bands).

Robert Danielson’s study on the Pentecost Bands in India.