Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rev. Henry J. Olsen

My great-grandfather on my mother’s side, Henry J. Olsen, was a pastor in the Pilgrim Holiness Church. I have a little booklet that he wrote entitled, Christ and Christian Experience in the Tabernacle. In the preface of that booklet, it says that the went to God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and that while there he received “entire sanctification.” This is interesting to me because I just recently finished a class on the History and Theology of the Charasmatic Movement. Historic Pentecostalism developed out of the National Holiness Movement. At any rate, I recently had occasion to look at that booklet again and decided to do an Internet search to see if there was anything out there regarding my great-grandfather. He served as an editor of the Pilgrim Holiness Advocate and I thought I might be able to find some interesting stuff. I didn’t find much but what I did find was fascinating, at least to me and I suspect to some of my family members. I found two historical pictures, one was from around 1905 when he was in college at God’s Bible School and the other, taken somewhere between 1913 and 1918, is a picture of him as a member of The Holiness Singers, a group that sang for a Pilgrim Holiness church in Maryland. Here they are:

Henry Olsen (far left) as a student at God's Bible School

Henry Olsen (#14) as a member of The Holiness Singers


At 7:57 PM, Blogger Frank Sansone said...


It is pretty neat to be able to find something like that online. I will have to check on my wife's grandfather later on (I highly doubt any of my ancestors would be notable enough to show up, but her grandfather was a missionry with the American Sunday School Union years ago and started a number of Sunday Schools and planted a few churches in Ohio).

I believe that Dr. A. Philip Brown is a professor at God's Bible School. He "replaced" me in Reveal 1 when I moved on to staff at BJU and he became a G.A.

He is a very bright guy and I think he has presented papers at the Bible Faculty Summit, etc.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Don Johnson said...

Yes, Phil Brown is at GBS. It seems to be a bit of a fundamentalist oriented holiness school.

Andy, the Asuza Street Revival preacher was, if I remember correctly, trained (ordained?) by the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) variety. It is of interest to me because that is the group I grew up in. Through my growing up years, there was an ongoing pressure on the part of some in that group towards the charismatic movement, but stoutly resisted on the part of others (including my uncle, one of their pastors).

The holiness movement has its problems, but there were some good points to their work and ministry as well.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

I really know very little about God's Bible School, but I did know about Dr. Brown teaching there.

My Dad e-mailed me and sad that my great-grandfather spent his last years of teaching from his bed on a Bible school campus in Virginia, near Roanoke. Students when to his apartment for class.

Don, my understanding is that William Seymour of Asuza street fame was trained by Charles Parham who started the Bethel Bible Institute in Topeka, Kansas and then moved his "ministry" to Houston where he met Seymour. I'm fairly certain that this wing of the holiness movement was more extreme than the Church of God (Anderson, IN) variety. But the pressure to move towards tongues, etc as the sign of Spirit Baptism and/or entire sacntification was quite strong.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Don Johnson said...

Hi Andy,

It's funny, my comment "I seem to remember" falls under the rebuke of my own later post about taking time to be accurate over on oxgoad.

In any case, here is a link to a William Seymour biography that includes the link to the CoG. The Church of God Restoration Movement that is mentioned is indeed the Anderson, IN variety. Seymour met Parham after his CoG ordination.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

I see how the CoG contact fits into the history, now. I was not aware of his previous involvement, but it makes sense in how he progressed.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger jcb said...


I just ran across your web blog because I was researching "Rev. Henry J. Olsen." What a suprise to find one his great-grandsons talking about him.

I, too, live in the Atlanta area (Covington) and am pastor of a conservative Southern Baptist Church. I have an interest in old sermons, commentary or other Christian books and recently acquired the book by Henry J. Olsen that you mentioned. The tabernacle is of interest to me and I am excoted to see what he has to say about it.

If you have any interest in having this copy when I am finished I would be glad to see that you get it since you are in the family.

J. Clifton Brown

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Pastor Brown,

Thanks, that is very interesting. I have the book, so no need to acquire another. However, if you uncover anything interesting about my great-grandfather I would love to hear about it. It is surprising to me that anyone, outside family, would even know who he is.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Mary Ellen (Olsen) Huff said...

Hi Andy, I know this blog post is old but I'm hoping you still have an email address where you will get an alert that I am leaving a comment.

I am a great grand daughter of H.J. Olsen - I am J. Francis Olsen's grandaughter, my Dad is James Olsen.

I would love to talk to you about a phone call I recently got from an old friend of Uncle Clarence's regarding an upcoming trip to Normandy, and the blog you wrote soon after Uncle C's death quoting parts of what I had written one Veteran's Day. A really neat conversation about something special he wanted to do. If you see this, could you please email me at RHUFF99217@aol.com?

Mary Ellen (Olsen) Huff


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