Lee News

Stephenson to Present Azusa Lecture on Benevolence Ministries


Lee University’s Dr. Lisa Stephenson will present the 14th Annual Azusa Lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in the North Cleveland Church of God’s Dixon Chapel. Stephenson will speak on “Unto the Least of These: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Benevolence.”

Following Stephenson’s presentation, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center (DPRC) will honor the Reverend Dave Lorency with the Spirit of Azusa Award and a reception for his life-long leadership in benevolence ministries.

Lisa Stephenson Promoted
Dr. Lisa Stephenson

Stephenson joined Lee’s faculty in 2007, where she serves as professor of systematic theology and director of the Master of Arts program in biblical and theological studies. Stephenson also directs the university’s benevolence program through which every student explores the biblical and theological basis of benevolence and participates in benevolence ministries each semester.

Stephenson’s book, “Dismantling the Dualisms for American Pentecostal Women in Ministry,” won the Society for Pentecostal Studies’ 2013 Pneuma Book Award. She has served on editorial boards for Baker Academic Press, T&T Clark, and the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Lee University honored her with its Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2013.

Following the lecture, the DPRC will present the Spirit of Azusa Award to the Reverend Dave Lorency. A reception will follow in Bryan Fellowship Hall.

David Lorency
David Lorency

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Lorency’s parents and his childhood church, Glad Tidings Assembly of God, modeled serving those in need. Lorency later joined the ministry team at Virginia Beach’s Azalea Gardens Church of God and is now an ordained bishop in the Church of God. He has served as youth minister, pastor, evangelist, church planter, and denominational leader.

Lorency started Youth Challenge Outreach (YCO) as an umbrella agency for numerous coffee houses, servicemen’s centers, and beach outreach stations. YCO grew to reaching thousands of youth, employing nine full-time and 70 part-time staff members. YCO moved beyond Virginia Beach and into Mexico where Lorency and his young family reached out to children and youth across the nation.

Lorency transitioned to pastoral ministry for various churches, until the Church of God appointed him to serve as the director for the Metro Church Plant in Northern New England. He continued to lead on the state level as evangelism director of both Chicago Metro and California. More than 100 churches were started during his ministry.

In 2000, the Church of God asked Lorency to serve as executive director of Operation Compassion, a non-profit international disaster relief charity with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee. He has guided and directed the growth and development of Operation Compassion from a small charity starting with a pickup truck and $200 to a charity handling 1,500 semis or more per year. He became president of Operation Compassion in 2006.

When Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in September, Operation Compassion coordinated shipments of food, water, clothing, bedding, household items, hygiene products, medical supplies, and building materials. Still responding to the ongoing need, Operation Compassion expects to ship more than 54 semi-trucks of supplies to the islands. Among those shipments are five-gallon “disaster buckets” containing food, first aid, hygiene and paper products along with a New Testament.

The purpose of the Azusa Lecture is to celebrate the rich heritage of the Pentecostal Movement. The DPRC launched the annual lecture in 2006 on the occasion of the centennial of the revival at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles. Church of God Historian Charles W. Conn noted that the Los Angeles revival, which lasted from 1906 to 1909, “is universally regarded as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal Movement.”

The Los Angeles revival began when African-American Pastor William J. Seymour preached a message of Spirit baptism following salvation and sanctification. What started as a home prayer meeting attracted throngs of seekers and was moved to an abandoned church building at 312 Azusa Street. Hundreds traveled to the Azusa Street Mission, received a personal baptism of the Holy Spirit, and took that message to their homes, churches, and communities. The Pentecostal Movement quickly became a great missionary movement, and the twentieth century came to be called the “Century of the Holy Spirit.”

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 resources as well as the archives of the Church of God. In addition to students at Lee University and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, numerous scholars use the center’s holdings related to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement. Dr. David Roebuck serves as director, and the Reverend David “Gene” Mills, Jr. is archivist.

The lecture and reception are free, non-ticketed, and open to the public.

For more information about the Azusa Lecture, contact the DPRC at 423-614-8576 or dixon_research@leeuniversity.edu.

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