Dr. Lamar Vest was honored with the Spirit of Azusa Award for his life-long leadership of the Pentecostal Movement. The presentation took place at the conclusion of the 13th Annual Azusa Lecture sponsored by the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center on Oct. 23 in Cleveland, Tennessee.
A native of South Carolina, Vest began his ministry in 1955 and has served as an evangelist, pastor, church planter and leader of Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) and parachurch ministries.
Vest's denominational leadership began as a regional youth and Christian education director in the states of Oklahoma, Southern California/Nevada, and Delmarva-D.C. (Delaware/Maryland/Washington, D.C.). Beginning in 1972, Vest served the Church of God's International Department of Youth and Christian Education in consecutive four-year tenures as administrative assistant, assistant director and director.
When the Lee University board of directors chose Vest as president in 1984, he initiated recruitment and fund-raising programs that launched a significant period of growth for the college.
Vest's service as president of Lee was interrupted with his election to the Church of God International Executive Committee, where he served a total of 16 years including eight years as general overseer (199-1994; 2000-2004). Other executive leadership has included director of Church of God Media Ministries, chancellor of Church of God education, chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals, vice chairman of the Pentecostal World Fellowship and president of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (2014-2016).
In 1991, the American Bible Society asked Vest to serve on its board of trustees. This led to additional leadership as chair of the ABS board, executive vice president of ABS Global Scripture Ministries, member of the United Bible Societies board of trustees, and president and chief executive officer of ABS (2009-2012). In 2012, ABS elected Vest as president emeritus.
Vest has authored several books, including his recent memoir, Reflections of the Journey.
"Dr. Vest is an exemplary model of a Christian leader," said Dr. David G. Roebuck, director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center and Church of God historian. "His deeply felt call to Christian ministry, faithfulness to serve wherever doors open and global vision of what God is doing echo the ministry of William J. Seymour. Seymour was pastor of the extraordinary Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles and is seen by many as a spiritual father of the modern Pentecostal movement. Like Seymour, Dr. Vest leads with confidence and distinction—all the while opening doors for others to lead wherever God has gifted them."
Founded by Charles W. Conn on the campus of Lee University, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center is one of the world's significant collections of Pentecostal materials as well as the archives of the Church of God. To celebrate the rich heritage of the Pentecostal Movement, the center launched its Azusa Lecture in 2006 on the occasion of the centennial of the revival at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles.
Dr. French L. Arrington presented the 2018 lecture, entitled "To the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Scholar Looks at the Global Pentecostal Movement." Arrington is professor of New Testament Greek and exegesis, as well as the Niko Njotorahardjo Chair for the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary.
Several ministries and persons joined with the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center to sponsor Spirit of Azusa Award, including the American Bible Society in recognition of Vest's "decades of ministry service declaring the life-changing message of God's Word." Other sponsors of the lecture and award included the Church of God Department of Youth and Discipleship, the Church of God Division of Education, the Church of God in California/Nevada, the Church of God in Delmarva-DC, Ken and Debbie Davis, Christopher and Sarah Moree, Mt. Olive Ministries, Pastor Niko Njotorahardjo, North Cleveland Church of God and Pentecostal Theological Seminary.
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