A Shudder Swept Through Them

An Identification of the Controversial Joshua Sykes

in Pneuma
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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.


The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies



Entry for Arthur R. Sykes, 27 Sep 1896, “Michigan Births, 1867–1902,” index and images, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2011; Entry for Marshall E. Sykes, “Michigan Births, 1867–1902,” database with images, citing Department of Vital Records, Lansing. Detroit City Directory (Detroit, MI: R.L. Polk, 1899); Detroit City Directory (Detroit, MI: R.L. Polk, 1900); Detroit City Directory (Detroit, MI: R.L. Polk, 1903); Detroit City Directory (Detroit, MI, R.L. Polk, 1904); Detroit City Directory (Detroit, MI: R.L. Polk, 1905); U.S. Census (Washington, DC, 1900).


Kevin Starr, California: A History (New York: Modern Chronicles Book, 2007), 198–202.


See, for example, “Taxpayers Column,” Oakland Tribune, July 26, 1914, 22.


Murray W. Dempster, “Crossing Boarders: Arguments Used by Early American Pentecostals in Support of the Global Character of Pacifism,” in Pentecostals and Nonviolence: Reclaiming a Heritage, ed. Paul Alexander (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012), 121–142.


Kevin Starr, California: A History (New York: Modern Chronicles Book, 2007), 199–200.


Ibid., 1.


Wollenberg, Berkeley: A City History, 72–74.


Joshua Sykes, Entry 3743, March 27, 1921, U.S. Penitentiary, Photos, and Records of Prisoners Received, 1887–1951, McNeil Island, Washington, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, Microfilm Series M1619, Roll 2; Joshua Sykes, McNeil Island Penitentiary Prisoner Identification Photographs, National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle, ARC No. 608846, Box No. 13.


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