Wacker collection donated to FPHC
Wed, 17 Oct 2012 - 11:47 AM CST
Dr. Grant Wacker, one of the most prominent historians of American religion, has deposited his Pentecostal research collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is located in the Assemblies of God national offices in Springfield, Missouri. The Grant Wacker Collection was dedicated in a special service held on Thursday, October 11, 2012, at Evangel University, also in Springfield.
Wacker, an Assemblies of God pastor's son, was raised in Springfield. He is the grandson of Ralph Riggs, who served as general superintendent from 1953 to 1959. Wacker earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University and has taught American religious history at Duke University Divinity School since 1992.
Pentecostal history has been one of Wacker's primary research interests, and his 2001 book, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, has become a standard text on the subject. Wacker is now writing a book entitled Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America, under contract with Harvard University Press, but retains interest in developments in Pentecostal history.
When Wacker began his Pentecostal historical research in 1979, he made a visit to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (then known as the Assemblies of God Archives). He struck up a friendship with the center's director, Wayne Warner, which has persisted to this day. The staff of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center provided camaraderie and scholarly assistance to Wacker over the decades. This ongoing relationship, along with his "confidence in the professionalism of the archives handling of donated materials," as he phrased it, led Wacker to place his collection at the archives, which he first visited 33 years earlier.
Evangel University President Robert Spence formally
dedicated the collection in Thursday's ceremony, which was held in Riggs Hall,
named in honor of Wacker's grandfather. Spence noted, "There are
few scholars who have left a greater mark on the landscape of American
religious history than Dr. Wacker." Wacker and the former and current
directors of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Wayne Warner and Darrin
Rodgers, also participated in the ceremony.
The Grant Wacker Collection consists of 13.75 linear feet of files plus numerous books, which together constitute the raw materials from which he crafted his scholarly assessments of the Pentecostal movement. In addressing Wacker, Rodgers stated, "I am humbled that you have entrusted a significant portion of your life's work to the Heritage Center. Because of this donation, future generations will continue to have access to the materials which formed the basis for your scholarship."
Wacker praised the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center for its significant role
in making Pentecostal historical scholarship possible: "The work that
historians do is utterly dependent upon the work of archivists. They build the
foundation for historians by collecting and cataloging
materials and interviewing people. This is what makes interpretation possible."
The Grant Wacker Collection takes its place alongside other notable collections, including the sermon notes of evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, the original Azusa Street newspapers, and the personal files of scholars and church leaders such as Gary McGee, William Menzies and Church of God in Christ Bishop J.O. Patterson Sr.
The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center is the largest Pentecostal archives and research center in the world, featuring research materials spanning the chronological, denominational, linguistic and national divides. The center is attracting increasing numbers of students and researchers to Springfield and also makes its collections accessible through its research website.