April 14, 2014
Marker Location: US 421 (Cumberland Street) at Wilson Avenue in Dunn, NC
Marker Text: “Pentecostal Apostle of the South.” Inspired by Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906, he led revival ¼ mi. S.W.
Gaston B. Cashwell (1860–1916) Gaston Barnibus Cashwell was an early Pentecostal leader in the southern United States. He was born in the Keener community of Sampson County, North Carolina. His importance lies in bringing several Holiness movements into the Pentecostal camp.
W. J. Seymour held a revival at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles from 1906 to 1909. People from across the United States and abroad travelled there in search of personal Pentecost through glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. Charismatic churchgoers believed that speaking the utterance of an unlearned “foreign” language was a gift from the Holy Ghost. Gaston Barnabas Cashwell, Holiness preacher from Dunn who read about the revival, purchased a one-way train ticket to Los Angeles in November 1906. Cashwell had not realized that the mission was an interracial church or that Seymour was African American. He was agitated and withdrew for a few days. In time he asked Seymour to lay hands on him and he began to speak in tongues. As he prepared to return to North Carolina, Seymour and his followers bought him a new suit and his return ticket. Back in Dunn in early December, Cashwell spread word of the Azusa Street revival. During the six-day train ride, he planned a large revival to begin on December 31, 1906. He secured a three-story tobacco warehouse (the building since has burned) at the corner of East Pope and Wilson Streets in Dunn and he advertised the event in the holiness magazines and through invitations to preachers in the Holiness, the Fire-Baptized Holiness, and the Free Will Baptist Churches. Cashwell wrote to Seymour that people “from all over the country” attended the Dunn revival and that “many have come from South Carolina and Georgia and have received their Pentecost and gone back … the fire is spreading.” After three weeks at Dunn, Cashwell accepted invitations to speak at other churches in the southeast. The tenet of speaking in tongues began to spread among the holiness faithful. A church leader later wrote that people “went down to Dunn by the dozens, went down for the Baptism … and were soon happy in the experience, speaking in tongues, singing in tongues, writing in tongues, shouting, leaping, dancing, and praising God. They returned to their respective homes to scatter the fire.” It was like fire that the movement spread. Cashwell has been called “Pentecostal Apostle of the South” and the Dunn revival, “Azusa East.” In his own time Cashwell was considered the informal leader of the Pentecostal movement in the Southeast. He is credited with having several movements adopt his Azusa Street message: the Church of God of North Carolina, the Holiness Church, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, and the Church of God. Other churches today also trace their genealogy to Cashwell including but not limited to the Assemblies of God and the Church of God of Prophecy. Cashwell’s revival in Dunn and his actions thereafter, including publishing a Pentecostal newspaper called “The Bridegroom’s Messenger”, challenged the region’s holiness churches to redefine their theological doctrines, uniting many of them, in Pentecostalism.
Although the influence of Cashwell was strong, his time of association with the Pentecostal movement was for a brief period of three years - from his “conversion” in 1906 until his departure from the “Pentecostal Holiness Church” in 1909. In 1910 and afterward, his name no longer appeared in the roster of ministers belonging to the “Pentecostal Holiness Church.” Cashwell distanced himself from “Pentecostalism”, rejoined the Methodist church, and died from a heart-attack in 1916.
Cashwell’s apostleship of Pentecostalism in the south influenced many denominations. About a Cashwell’s apostleship of Pentecostalism in the south influenced many denominations. About a dozen existing Pentecostal bodies can trace their Pentecostal heritage directly or at least in part to Gaston B. Cashwell, including:
* Assemblies of God USA
* Church of God (Cleveland)
* Church of God of Prophecy
* Congregational Holiness Church
* International Pentecostal Church of Christ
* International Pentecostal Holiness Church
* Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church