Healing and Revival
"Healing and Pentecostal Breakthrough"
Cyrus Barnette Fockler was born March 19 1863. His parents were Jonathan and Mary Fockler and they owned a farm in Osnaburg, Ohio. When Fockler was 17 he decided to attend school at Mount Union College in Mount Union, Ohio. He studied there for two years. After leaving school he became a salesman in a hardware store and then learned to be a carpenter. For the next ten years he earned his living doing carpentry work. In 1884 he met and married his wife Harriet (Hattie) and they eventually had five children. Then in 1894 an event occurred which changed Fockler's life forever. His mother was ill and she attended a Christian camp meeting in Canton, Ohio where she was miraculously healed. It was a Church of God Winebrenner meeting led by Maria Woodworth-Etter. He joined the church and is listed as a helper in a Mansfield, Ohio event in 1898. Fockler became a passionate supporter of divine healing.
In 1899 everything changed for Fockler. He came into contact with John Alexander Dowie. He joined the Christian Catholic Church and quickly became an elder. His wife, Hattie, became an ordained evangelist in the organization. Fockler started a church in Mansfield, Ohio that same year. He had about 70 members but the local resistance was very intense. Like his mentor, Dowie, Fockler attacked secret societies, other denominations, and the local police and government. In the fall of 1899 and spring of 1900 a couple of church members' deaths angered the local populace, who believed that they could have been saved with medical intervention. The feeling against Fockler and "Dowieism" reached a fever pitch in Mansfield by the summer of 1900. Fockler, and other Zion elders, were receiving threats against their lives. Things went from bad to worse. On July 21, 1900 Fockler and another elder attempted to hold a church service. 3000 people took them to a local gas house, beat them and put some tar on them. What had been a local fight became national news and a major black eye to the city of Mansfield. On July 30, 1900 two elders were holding a church service in a local home, which was being protected by the police. A mob came, overpowered the police, took the elders, stripped them, beat them, and painted them blue. The police began stopping trains to remove all members of Dowie's church before they arrived in Mansfield. Mobs would break into the homes of church members hoping to find elders holding services. Things finally began to calm in the fall of 1900. Dowie held Fockler and the other elders up as heroes of the faith for their defense of divine healing. Fockler never returned to Mansfield as a minister again.
It is somewhat surprising that Fockler joined Dowie because Dowie actively taught against Maria Woodworth-Etter and what he called "trance evangelism". There was a break between Fockler and Dowie sometime after October 1902. Fockler's name no longer appeared in the Leaves of Healing magazine. By 1906 Zion City, Illinois was in financial collapse due to mismanagement of bank funds by Dowie. Charles Parham was invited to speak in Zion to hold Pentecostal meetings. Fockler attended these meetings, along with John G. Lake and F. F. Bosworth. Convinced of the need for the baptism of the Holy Spirit Fockler spent time on Lake Michigan in an old shed crying out to God. Nothing changed and he grew discouraged. Needing to support his family Fockler decided to farm in New Mexico. He headed to Chicago to catch a train but he ended up meeting with a Pentecostal group before he left. Fockler walked the streets and prayed that God would not allow him to make a mistake. While walking he received the baptism of the Spirit with the gift of speaking in tongues.
In April 1907 Fockler was invited to hold meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The next day he was invited to the home of Alice Baumbach, who had been seriously ill for over three years. She had tuberculosis and curvature of the spine. She was confined to a wheelchair and told that her situation had no hope and that it was only a matter of time before she died. She was instantly healed after receiving prayer from Fockler. The next Sunday Baumbach gave her testimony in a local church. Fockler did not stay in Milwaukee but returned a year later because many people had heard of Baumbach's testimony and were asking him to return and pray for them.
In February 1909 Fockler started a church in Milwaukee named Christian Assembly, which met in rented buildings. He had a very significant healing ministry. Lucille Erdmann, a pastor's wife from Wisconsin who knew Fockler once said, " It was estimated that no building in Milwaukee could hold the people who were healed under his ministry." Fockler believed that a city should only have one Pentecostal church and he renamed his church to Church at Milwaukee because of it. In fact, when two of the men under him wanted to start churches he allowed them to do so only with the understanding that they would be for those who were non-English speaking congregations.
Fockler traveled often once his church was established. He loved holding revival and healing meetings. In 1909 he ministered with F. F. Bosworth in Plymouth, Indiana. In 1913 Fockler was ministering with Maria Woodworth-Etter in Framingham, Massachusetts at the Montwait camp in South Framingham. Etter, Fockler, and Earl W. Clark (Etter's grandson-in-law) were arrested for claiming to heal people. They were eventually vindicated. Fockler took over meetings after Maria Woodworth-Etter left Atlanta, Georgia in May of 1914. When there was a gathering of Pentecostal leaders in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914 Fockler was so respected that he was selected to be one of the twelve men to lead the new Assemblies of God denomination. In 1915 Fockler invited F. F. Bosworth to hold revival meetings for seven weeks in a downtown hall of Milwaukee. Longing for a group of men with Christian accountability, Fockler along with John G. Lake, Charles Westwood, and Archibald Fairley, made covenant relationships in order to see the Holy Spirit move in a group unified in vision and call.
Things were going well for the Fockler family until World War I broke out in 1917. Fockler's oldest son, Harold, joined the army and was sent overseas in the spring of 1918. He was only 18 years old and died within six months. This shook Fockler deeply and he became a pacifist and later wrote and preached sermons against war.
Fockler felt God calling him to South Africa in 1926. He had been stirred by the stories he had heard from John G. Lake. With Lake's encouragement Fockler went, leaving his church in the hands of Edward A. Eggert, a faithful supporter. Fockler spent most of his time with Pieter le Roux, who had taken over the Apostolic Faith Mission started by Lake. He met with Elias Letwaba and God called Fockler to wash Letwaba's feet and those of the native workers with him. He took almost two years ministering in Africa, and went on to India and Egypt before returning home. Everywhere he went he prayed for the sick and preached the Pentecostal message of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were stirring days for Fockler. He had a hard time adjusting upon his return and published a note in the Pentecostal Evangel magazine that he was available for revival meetings. The Milwaukee Gospel Tabernacle had changed, however, since his leaving. The church had grown and many people only knew Eggert as their pastor. A split occurred and Eggert took a large group to form a new church named the Milwaukee Gospel Center. Fockler stayed as head pastor of the Milwaukee Gospel Tabernacle until his death on March 9, 1933. He had been praying for the sick for almost 40 years and seen many remarkable healings. Everywhere he went he proclaimed that God still healed and that the infilling of the Spirit was for today.
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a separate biography is found in the biography section of this site.
Thanks to Matt Saleske of Brookfield Assembly for verifying that Fockler's mother was healed under Maria Woodworth-Etter and information on his life between 1906 and 1907.
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