New Light On The Early Ministry Of A. W. Pink (Part 2)

Published in Banner of Truth Magazine (June 2018), 14–22.

California (1912–1913)

            Little documentation exists for Pink’s time in California. The Riverside Enterprise newspaper confirms—as Murray speculates—that Pink spent this time pastoring in the Garden Grove area. When Pink returned as an itinerant preacher in 1920, the Enterprise ran this announcement:

NOTED BIBLE TEACHER WILL SPEAK IN CITY ALL OF NEXT WEEK

Dr. Arthur W. Pink the well-known Bible teacher and author, will preach Sunday morning and evening, Sept. 26 in the United Presbyterian church. Dr. Pink is coming to Riverside under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A. Bible study committee. He is a Baptist minister, formerly pastor of Garden Grove Baptist church. He will speak each evening of next week in the United Presbyterian church. Orange and Eleventh Streets at 7:30.

Secretary W. R. Hale of the Y.M.C.A. heard Dr. Pink in San Francisco on his way east and wrote: “I heard Dr. Pink at the First Congregational church this afternoon. He was very fine. We have no fear in advertising him. His topic was ‘Grace’ and was wonderfully handled. He was very kind yet firm in the fundamental things. He is pleasing in personality and reminds you of one deeply consecrated.1)“Noted Bible Teacher Will Speak in City All of Next Week,” Riverside Enterprise, September 24, 1926, 7. A similar advertisement appears in “Well-Known Teacher and Author to Speak,” Riverside Daily Press (September 23, 1920), 6.

Only two other things are certain about Pink’s Garden Grove pastorate. First, Pink worked to combat the theological error of “Entire Sanctification” or “Sinless Perfectionism.”2)Arthur Pink, “The Great Change: Part 1,” Studies in the Scriptures, January 1947. Second, Pink was involved in the Santa Ana Valley Baptist Association. Seven months after his arrival in California, the November 8 Hemet News announced the twenty-first annual session of the association in Hemet. The meeting was greatly anticipated. Association leaders expected seventy-five to a hundred delegates from the churches which would have been “record breaking attendance.”3)“Baptist Open Annual Session,” Riverside Enterprise (November 12, 1912), 6; “Baptist Association Will Meet in Hemet,” Riverside Daily Press (November 11, 1912). The paper also states that “great preparations [were] made by the local church here to entertain the visitors, and it is expected that a very interesting convention will be the result.”4)“Baptists will Hold Convention in Hemet,” The Hemet News (November 8, 1912), 5.

Pink was slated to give the report for the committee of the association’s “Next Anniversary” during the Thursday morning session and also provide a fifteen-minute devotional during the Thursday afternoon session. Yet, for an unknown reason Pink’s role in the meeting never materialized. The post-meeting reports only say that “A report on the committee of the next anniversary was to have been made by Rev. Arthur Pink, but as he was unavoidably absent the report was made by Gordon Green.”5)“Baptist Convention is Most Successful,” The Hemet News (November 22, 1912), 8. See similar statements in “Present Meeting Best in History,” Riverside Enterprise (November 14, 1912), 6 and “Baptist Meetings Brought to Close,” Riverside Enterprise (November 15, 1912), 2.

Kentucky (1915–1917)

            Pink spent the fall of 1913 through April 1915 in England.6)Murray, Life of Arthur W. Pink, 28–29. After this time, he returned to the U.S. and began two part-time pastoral positions in rural Burkesville and Albany, Kentucky. Little is known of this “joint pastorate of two half-time churches”7)Pink’s own description of his ministry (ibid., 28). other than the content of Pink’s teaching, which Murray reproduces in his biography from Pink’s sermon notes.

Pink served as a “joint” pastor only temporarily. If his dual pastorate did in fact begin in May 1915, then he served in such a capacity for less than a year. In January 1916, a member of the pulpit committee of Scottsville Baptist Church heard of Pink through a friend and recommended him as a pastoral candidate to the rest of the committee. The church set out to gauge Pink’s interest in a Scottsville ministry. One Scottsville Baptist Church historian noted that Pink’s letters to the pulpit committee had “all the qualities of a good sermon.”8)From a loose-leaf paper found in the Scottsville Baptist Church archive. The page seems to have once been part of an anniversary book for the church. This page also mentions that at the time of writing “[Pink’s] original correspondence with the church is still on file.” Regrettably, the correspondence has since been lost.

Finally, “after some communication by letter and telephone,” Pink informed the pulpit committee that he would accept a call to be pastor “if the church felt lead of God” (emphasis his). The rest of the minutes indicate that the church readily accepted their new pastor. After they nominated him as the pastoral candidate, the congregation elected Pink unanimously.9)The minutes also note that Pink was to have a trial period of thirty days, “in case of dissatisfaction upon the part of either church or pastor… Bro J.B. Dodson was appointed by committee to notify Bro. Pink of call” (Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, January 25, 1916. This initial call to the Scottsville pastorate was for part-time ministry. The church minutes, however, record that a few days after he arrived “[Pink] gave the Church his reason and desire why they should go to full time preaching.” With full support from the deacons, the motion passed unanimously and Pink was once again a full-time pastor.10)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, March 7, 1916.

Scottsville’s new pastor arrived on March 4, 1916 and preached his first sermon in Sunday worship the next day. The local paper announced his arrival with the following notice:

NEW PREACHER AT BAPTIST CHURCH

Rev. A.W. Pink arrived Saturday and took up the pastorate of the First Baptist Church and preached his first sermon Sunday morning. He is a young man who is filled with the spirit of God and comes to this church with an undaunted energy and force that bids well to be a wonderful power with this congregation. He is one of the most polished divines that has ever come among us.

With this high-spirited young man as leader coupled with the strong and earnest workers of the Baptist congregation great possibilities are evident in their future.11)“New Preacher at Baptist Church,” The Citizen, March 9, 1916.

During this time Scottsville was a rural but growing community with roughly 1,500 residents. Scottsville Baptist was the largest church in the Allen Association with 248 members and an annual budget of $6,563.25. The new pastor received a salary of $1,000 a year.12)Sixty-Eighth Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916.

From his first week as pastor, Pink served as moderator in all church business meetings. Also in his first week he introduced the congregation to a new Bible study on the four Gospels and how to “intelligently read and understand the purpose of each writer.”13)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, March 7, 1916. Pink’s 1921 publication Why Four Gospels? was likely birthed out of this series. Also, Pink (in accord with his theological convictions)14)See Arthur Pink, Gleanings in Exodus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 359. petitioned that the observance of the Lord’s Supper be changed from morning to evening. The motion passed unanimously.15)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, April 4, 1916.

In Scottsville Pink enjoyed a robust teaching ministry. Pink taught Sunday School, preached on Sunday morning, and also gave a devotional (typically from John) at the beginning of each business meeting.16)There is one instance recorded of a devotional from Romans 5. See Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, December 5, 1916.  He also engaged in a substantial writing ministry. He regularly contributed an article called “S.S. Lesson” to the Allen County Times. These articles focused on devotional and practical matters and closely resemble Pink’s later work, An Exposition of John. Most entries were expositions of portions of John or Acts, usually reproductions of Pink’s own Sunday School lessons at the church. Pink hoped that these articles would equip other Allen County Sunday School teachers with substantive Biblical reflection and instructions on teaching. Fortunately the Scottsville church preserved sixteen of these articles.17)The following articles have been preserved by Scottsville Baptist Church:
– John 1:35-39
– John 2:13-25 Cleansing the Temple
– John 4:1-29 The Savior and the Sinner
– John 4:43-54 The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son
– Acts 10:1-23 Peter and Cornelius
– Acts 10:25-48 “The Gospel to the Gentiles”
– Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3 “Missionary Work at Antioch”
– Acts 12:1-9 Peter in Prison
– Acts 13:13-52 Turning to the Gentiles
– Acts 14 The Cripple of Lystra
– Acts 15:36-16:15 The Call of the West
– Acts 16:16-40 The Philippian Jailor
– Acts 17:1-15 Paul at Thessalonica and Berea
– Review (12 Lessons)
– II Cor. 11:21-12:10 Paul’s Sorrows and Comforts
– Gal. 6:1-10 Sowing and Reaping

One sermon that must have been particularly noteworthy either to the congregation or to Pink himself was entitled “Threefold Salvation.” A printed copy of Pink’s sermon notes are in the Scottsville archive and appear to have been produced as a handout for the congregation. In 1916, the Bible Truth Depot of Swengel, Pennsylvania published a booklet by Pink with the same title, based on the same outline.18)Pink later referred to the publication as “defective,” “inadequate,” and a product of his “spiritual infancy,” (“A Fourfold Salvation,” Studies in the Scriptures, July 1938). In his 1938 article Pink added the notion that believers are saved from the “pleasure of sin.”

Threefold Salvation: 2 Cor. 1:10

Intro:  1 the imme. Ref. is to Paul’s experiences as a Missy–his deliverance from danger by the hand of God. Note the three tenses. God had delivered, was delivering, would deliver him.
2 Paul’s physical deliverances typical of our spiritual divs. Believers also, have been, are being, will be, delivered from sin.
3 Sub. Word saved for deliv. And have a threefold salvation.

I. Our Salvation a Thing of the Past

1 Ye have been saved from the PENALTY of sin. Luke 7:50, Eph. 2:5, 2 Tim. 1:9
2 This was accomplished by Christ on the Cross. 1 Pet. 2:24
3 It becomes ours uncond. Moment we believe. John 3:16, 5:24.
4 This is our Justification. Rom. 5:1, 8:1
5 Illustration: John 8:11

II. Salvation a Thing of the Present

1 Now being saved from the POWER of sin. Rom. 6:14, Phil. 1:6, Phil. 2:12,13
2 This is a gradual process:  2 Pet. 3:18.
3 Accomplished by Christ in us: Gal. 2:20—Divine side.
4 And by using means of grace, 1 Pet. 2:2—Human side.
5 This is our Sanctification: 2 Cor. 7:1
6 Illustration: John 11:44—“Loose him.”

III. Our Salvation a Thing of the Future

1 We shall be saved from the PRESENCE of sin. Rom. 13:11, 1 Pet. 1
1 We shall be saved from the PRESENCE of sin  Rom. 13:11, 1 Pet. 1:5
2 This is accomplished at Christ’s Return Phil. 3:20, Heb. 9:28, 1 John 3:2
3 This is our glorification. 1 Cor. 15:51-54
4 Illustration: 2 Kings 2:11-13

–A.W.P

In May 1916 Pink attended the Southern Baptist Convention in Asheville, North Carolina. The minutes indicate he was present at the convention but said nothing more about him other than that he was the delegate from Scottsville. The minutes from the Sixty-Eighth Annual Session of the Allen Association on September 6–7, 1916, however, indicate that Pink was heavily involved in his association. He served on the Committee of Sunday Schools and Colportage. Along with his other committee members, he encouraged the churches of the association to employ only “competent teachers” for Sunday school who were “efficient and godly.” They also instructed the association that while Sunday School should never become a substitute for public worship, it is important to maintain Sunday School since neighborhood children would be more likely to attend Sunday School than a church service.

Pink’s Committee also urged the churches to engage more seriously in the “distribution of bibles and sound Baptist literature” in order to reach those who “could not be reached at all.” Their committee also lamented the fact that “very little work is being done along this line except by one or two of our pastors.”19)Sixty-Eight Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916, 6-7. The final sentence was probably a reference to Pink himself and his Sunday School publications in the local paper.

            The association also determined that Pink would preach the introductory sermon at their next annual meeting. The sermon, however, was never preached, since Pink resigned from Scottsville and moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina that July.

            On the recommendation of the deacons, the congregation approved a one month vacation for Pink from July 15 to August 15 of 1916.20)Loose-leaf notes from Deacon’s meeting May 8, 1916,“Motion carried to grant broth Pink a leave of absence including the third Sunday in May Motion carried to grant Bro. Pink a vacation from July 15 to August 15.”Also Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, May 19, 1916. Certainly some of Pink’s vacation time involved planning his marriage to Vera Ethel Russell—a woman whom he had met either in Burkesville or in Scottsville. Little is known about Vera’s childhood. Even less is known about her courtship and marriage to Pink. Murray and Belcher both guess that the Pinks were married on November 16, 1916. Yet their marriage license witnesses that the thirty-year-old Arthur and twenty-two-year-old Vera married on November 1 in Scottsville under the ministry of G. M. Shultz.21)Marriage License, Scottsville County Clerk.

Two significant pastoral issues occupied much of Pink’s time while ministering at Scottsville: a church building project and cases of church discipline. The building expansion project was the fourth in the church’s history and is one of the most prominent themes in the minutes during Pink’s tenure.22)From Loose-leaf paper in the Scottsville Baptist Church archives labeled “Pastorgraph.” Date unknown. It included adding a basement under the auditorium, more classrooms on the south and west sides of the original building, and stain glass windows.23)“History of Scottsville Baptist Church: 1841-1991” in Scottsville Baptist Church 150th Anniversary Booklet. In October 1916 the congregation gave a special offering of $500 for the building task and also commissioned Pink with securing additional donations from the meeting’s absentees.24)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, October 24, 1916. The church records suggest the expansion project succeeded with very few problems.

Another issue Pink addressed was church discipline. Happily, for Pink, the church and the deacons took matters of membership and discipline seriously before his arrival.25)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, January 25, 1916 indicate the church was practicing discipline before Pink arrived. In one instance during Pink’s pastorate, the congregation commissioned the deacons to “call on” or “ring” any absentee members to encourage them to attend Sunday School and public worship.26)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, May 9, 1916. On another occasion Pink and the deacons discussed “the advisability of disciplining…delinquent church members.” The deacons affirmed the necessity to carry out the discipline process and commissioned Pink, along with the church clerk, to “go over the membership record and ascertain who should be called upon.”27)Loose-leaf notes from Deacon’s meeting, December 3, 1916 In yet another instance Pink and the deacons met “to investigate rumors of some of the members gambling on the national election.”28)The 1916 presidential election between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes. The church leadership eventually resolved to call upon the accused for further questioning.29)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, December 3, 1916.

As a result, in the course of Pink’s ministry six members were disciplined from the church.30)Sixty-Eight Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916. The congregation did however restore one congregant after he “made acknowledgements to the church for misconduct and asked [for] forgiveness and the prayer of the church which was freely granted.”31)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, March 16, 1917.

            Scottsville Baptist thrived under Pink’s leadership. Not only was the building project a success, but the church grew significantly as well. In 1916 the church received thirty-six people into membership by baptism and eleven more by letter. Yet on June 5, 1917, Pink resigned from his fourth pastorate. The resignation became official June 24, 1917.32)Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, June 5, 1917. His stated reason for leaving was financial. Perhaps the fiscal responsibilities of marriage forced Pink to seek pastoral employment outside of rural Kentucky. In any case The Citizen heralded Pink’s exit just at it had done his arrival sixteen months prior:

REV. PINK LEAVES FOR NEW CHARGE: PASTOR OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH OF THIS CITY FOR SIXTEEN MONTHS

Rev. A.W. Pink, pastor of the Baptist church of this city for the past sixteen months, will leave next Wednesday to take up a new charge as pastor of the Northside Baptist church of Spartanburg, S.C.

Since Rev. Pink’s pastorate of the Baptist church here they have added sixteen Sunday School rooms and greatly improved the building otherwise.

Rev. Pink is one of the most gifted divines in the state and it is very probable that it will be moons ‘ere that church secures his equal as an expounder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We hasten to join his many friends and members of his congregation in wishing for him God’s speed in his new field of work, and, at the same time, may his charge prove to be of greener fields to his financial necessities.33)“Rev. Pink Leaves for New Charge,” The Citizen (date unknown).

Pink’s pastorate at Northside Baptist lasted from 1917 to 1920. Many of the details of Pink’s life during this time are known due to Belcher’s publication of 129 letters from Pink during this time. Murray has also faithfully chronicled the events of Pink’s life during this time, including the first printing of his most famous work, The Sovereignty of God. After his tenure at Spartanburg, Pink upheld his tradition of not remaining in one place very long. He became an itinerant preacher in California, pastored in Australia, and relocated several other times (to Kentucky, to England, and to Scotland) in search of a public ministry that suited his personality and theological convictions.


Appendix A

Catalog of Primary Source Documents

Colorado:

  • Articles from the Silverton Standard Newspaper (1910-1912).

California:

  • Articles from Riverside Enterprise (1912), Hemet News (1912), and Riverside Daily Press (1912), and the Oakland Tribune (1920-21)

Kentucky:

  • Articles from The Citizen (1916-1917)
  • Publications of Pink’s S.S. Lesson in Allen County Times (1916)
  • Scottsville Church Minutes (1916-1917), Scottsville Baptist Church
  • Loose-leaf notes from Deacons Meetings in Scottsville Baptist Church (1916)
  • Printed notes for one of Pink’s sermons in Scottsville
  • Pink’s Marriage Certificate
  • A few relevant pictures of Pink, his wife, and their church during their time in Scottsville.
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References   [ + ]

1. “Noted Bible Teacher Will Speak in City All of Next Week,” Riverside Enterprise, September 24, 1926, 7. A similar advertisement appears in “Well-Known Teacher and Author to Speak,” Riverside Daily Press (September 23, 1920), 6.
2. Arthur Pink, “The Great Change: Part 1,” Studies in the Scriptures, January 1947.
3. “Baptist Open Annual Session,” Riverside Enterprise (November 12, 1912), 6; “Baptist Association Will Meet in Hemet,” Riverside Daily Press (November 11, 1912).
4. “Baptists will Hold Convention in Hemet,” The Hemet News (November 8, 1912), 5.
5. “Baptist Convention is Most Successful,” The Hemet News (November 22, 1912), 8. See similar statements in “Present Meeting Best in History,” Riverside Enterprise (November 14, 1912), 6 and “Baptist Meetings Brought to Close,” Riverside Enterprise (November 15, 1912), 2.
6. Murray, Life of Arthur W. Pink, 28–29.
7. Pink’s own description of his ministry (ibid., 28).
8. From a loose-leaf paper found in the Scottsville Baptist Church archive. The page seems to have once been part of an anniversary book for the church. This page also mentions that at the time of writing “[Pink’s] original correspondence with the church is still on file.” Regrettably, the correspondence has since been lost.
9. The minutes also note that Pink was to have a trial period of thirty days, “in case of dissatisfaction upon the part of either church or pastor… Bro J.B. Dodson was appointed by committee to notify Bro. Pink of call” (Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, January 25, 1916.
10, 13. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, March 7, 1916.
11. “New Preacher at Baptist Church,” The Citizen, March 9, 1916.
12. Sixty-Eighth Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916.
14. See Arthur Pink, Gleanings in Exodus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 359.
15. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, April 4, 1916.
16. There is one instance recorded of a devotional from Romans 5. See Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, December 5, 1916.
17. The following articles have been preserved by Scottsville Baptist Church:
– John 1:35-39
– John 2:13-25 Cleansing the Temple
– John 4:1-29 The Savior and the Sinner
– John 4:43-54 The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son
– Acts 10:1-23 Peter and Cornelius
– Acts 10:25-48 “The Gospel to the Gentiles”
– Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3 “Missionary Work at Antioch”
– Acts 12:1-9 Peter in Prison
– Acts 13:13-52 Turning to the Gentiles
– Acts 14 The Cripple of Lystra
– Acts 15:36-16:15 The Call of the West
– Acts 16:16-40 The Philippian Jailor
– Acts 17:1-15 Paul at Thessalonica and Berea
– Review (12 Lessons)
– II Cor. 11:21-12:10 Paul’s Sorrows and Comforts
– Gal. 6:1-10 Sowing and Reaping

18. Pink later referred to the publication as “defective,” “inadequate,” and a product of his “spiritual infancy,” (“A Fourfold Salvation,” Studies in the Scriptures, July 1938). In his 1938 article Pink added the notion that believers are saved from the “pleasure of sin.”
19. Sixty-Eight Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916, 6-7.
20. Loose-leaf notes from Deacon’s meeting May 8, 1916,“Motion carried to grant broth Pink a leave of absence including the third Sunday in May Motion carried to grant Bro. Pink a vacation from July 15 to August 15.”Also Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, May 19, 1916.
21. Marriage License, Scottsville County Clerk.
22. From Loose-leaf paper in the Scottsville Baptist Church archives labeled “Pastorgraph.” Date unknown.
23. “History of Scottsville Baptist Church: 1841-1991” in Scottsville Baptist Church 150th Anniversary Booklet.
24. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, October 24, 1916.
25. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, January 25, 1916 indicate the church was practicing discipline before Pink arrived.
26. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, May 9, 1916.
27. Loose-leaf notes from Deacon’s meeting, December 3, 1916
28. The 1916 presidential election between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes.
29. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, December 3, 1916.
30. Sixty-Eight Annual Session Minutes of the Allen Association Held with Bethlehem Church September 6 and 7, 1916.
31. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, March 16, 1917.
32. Scottsville Baptist Church Minutes, June 5, 1917.
33. “Rev. Pink Leaves for New Charge,” The Citizen (date unknown).

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