A Shudder Swept Through Them

An Identification of the Controversial Joshua Sykes

In: Pneuma
Andrea Shan Johnson California State University

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Upon hearing that baptism should be administered by immersion while invoking the name of Jesus at the Arroyo Seco camp meeting of 1913, one minister expressed concern that this practice would associate the early pentecostal movement with a man named Sykes. Who Sykes was has been the matter of some mystery, but this research based on archival holdings and newspapers suggests that it was Joshua Sykes, a pacifist preacher who lived in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Sykes represents Progressive era controversies in religion and in pacifism, and his history explains some of the early resistance to adopting this particular form of baptism.

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