Dr. Charles Sydney Price
May 7, 1887 - March 8, 1947
“Why have our prayers gone unanswered? Why are there so many sick, in spite of the fact that for them the so-called prayer of faith has been offered? Why are our churches filled with the lame and the halt, the deaf and the blind, who sit listening to sermons on divine healing that are true to the Word, and true to the promises of our Lord, and yet are not healed? For it is only the truth can make us free from the bondage of fears and doubts, and the discouragement that ultimately comes at the end of the road of disappointments.”
“Standing before a silent crowd of thousands, the evangelist with a mild British accent dipped his index finger into the glass bowl of anointing oil. Touching the oil-covered fingertip to the forehead of the sick he prayed, “May the mercy of God and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit — which are here now — enter your soul, your mind, and your body for healing. Amen.” The person receiving ministry then typically collapsed into the waiting arms of an altar attendant — apparently lost in another reality — as he or she was laid upon the floor”
This scene was commonplace in the ministry of Charles S. Price — one of the most noteworthy Pentecostal evangelists of the twentieth century. Dr. Price, as his enthusiasts affectionately called him, had made a long personal journey from another continent, another belief system, and truly another way of life before he was catapulted in front of some of the largest evangelistic crowds of the era. His sacrifice, singular mindedness and his devotion to the true spirit of the Lord would enable him to carry the anointing of God for over 26 years, seeing thousands saved, and to many to count healed. Due to his passion for the lord and softened heart, we are honored to call him one of Gods Generals.
History: Charles Sydney Price was born to Mary Hannah Bee and Charles Henry Price in Sheffield England in 1887. In 1891 his mother died at the age of four, but his father later remarried a woman that Charles loved and respected. Being raised by his father and step mother, Charles grew up in a very religious home. Charles parents discovered a gifting at an early age which was his photographic memory. Being aided by his stepmother’s encouragement toward education, it allowed young Charles to enter high school by age twelve. With youthful religious ambition it was revealed that Charles had early promise as a gifted public speaker. All of that would be put on hold however because, after high school Charles served in the British Navy for two years as an assistant warehouseman. With a bad knee and his distaste for the Navy, Charles parents made immense sacrifices to send young Price to Wesley College, then to Oxford University for a total of two years studying law.
After college, he was articled to a prominent Sheffield law firm and began to admire living the high life. While Charles loved his parents deeply, he foolishly began to believe that their outlook on life was old-fashioned and rather narrow. Young Price had been caught in a social whirlwind and had become the friend of the sons of men, some of them titled [British nobility], who lived in a very different sphere from his simple beautiful home surroundings. Due to a series of rebellious decisions, Charles would eventually be lead to another continent to escape the past and try to find himself.
In September of 1906, nineteen-year-old Charles left England for a fresh start in Canada. He searched diligently for work from Quebec to Winnipeg, going from one law firm to the next, but no one seemed to need a relatively inexperienced immigrant. After much struggle, he ended up in Medicine Hat, Alberta at the home of long-standing friends of his parents; they helped young Charles get a job on the Canadian railroad. A few months later, Price felt a strange leading to go to Spokane, Washington and found himself leaving yet another country to find purpose and direction.
With the leading of the spirit in him, it was said that the Immigration records show that he crossed the border on March 20, 1907 bound for Spokane with $42 in his pocket. Some months after arriving in Spokane, he encountered an evangelistic service at the Free Methodist “Life Line Mission” that would restore his childhood faith and bring new direction to his life. That first night he encountered the ministry he went to one of their meetings. Charles recalls the moment the alter call had been made, he “sprung to his feet”, and marched himself down as quickly as he could. It was that night with a sincere heart he gave his life over to God. By the very next night Price was participating in Life Line’s services, giving his conversion testimony. A short while later, the mission workers elected him to lead the service when the scheduled speaker did not arrive. With much fear, he preached his first gospel message and two men responded for salvation. Afterward, another attendee of the meeting introduced himself to Price as Dr. Henry I. Rasmus, the pastor of First Methodist of Spokane. Putting his arm around Price, he said, “My boy, God wants you. I believe he led me into this mission to speak to you.... You are going to become a Methodist preacher.” This was the beginning of Price’s career as a clergyman.
Ministry and Impact: Price’s journey as a minister of the gospel did not start out so well. At first it appeared to be exactly what he wanted, however it became short lived. Several of Price’s coworkers had made pilgrimages to the Azusa street revival and received the power of the Holy Spirit. Price noticing dramatic changes in their lives, felt convinced he wanted to receive the same anointing and power they had. Upon his travel, Price was intercepted by another minister who warned him about the Pentecostal movement taking place. After listening to the minister slander the events taking place all afternoon long, Price talked himself from going, which was a decision he would regret most of his life. Price was quoted as saying:
“That was the turning point in my life. With all my heart I believe that God had led me to Spokane so that I might step through the open door into the glorious experience that I am enjoying today, but I listened to the voice of a modernist and by my own act closed the door. Two roads were opened before me and I took the wrong one. I foolishly turned my back on the cross and started along the trail that led to the labyrinths of modernism.... The conflict within my own breast was the age-old battle of reason against faith. How grieved and sorry I am today to have to record that reason won.”
This decision plunged Price into Modernism, the liberal movement affecting Christianity in the early 1900s. He quickly began to reason away his previous salvation experience, and his ministry from that point would be marked by the absence of altar calls and salvations for several years. For 16 years a downward spiral would occur and eventually Price would become more known as a psychological Lecturer then a preacher of the gospel.
1921 is when life changed for Dr. Price. That year he accepted a pastoral position in Lodi California. August of that same year, there was a revival being led by Aimee Semple McPherson in San Jose, California. One of the members of his church told him about how he had gone to the revival and had the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Soon this began to spread through other members of his church as well. Price went to the meetings with intentions to gather evidence to teach against this doctrine. Instead, something greater happened, he came under great conviction about his own emptiness. On the third night he was seated on the platform with other pastors. When the alter call came for sinners to be saved, Price publicly responded. He was filled with joy. He attended some "tarrying meetings" in a Baptist church and received the "filling of the Spirit". A few nights later, Price began to speak "with other tongues" and began praying in the power of the Holy Ghost.
Price immediately returned to his church and gave his testimony. A movement of God began to take place, a 1000 members began to hold seekers meetings crying out to God for His presence. A revival had begun. One of the outcomes was that a 1000 members of the church started evangelistic outreaches. Price began to see people healed in his meetings. Denominational leaders criticized what was happening in his church, but they could not dispute the power of God taking place. Price eventually left the Congregationalists to begin Lodi Bethel Temple. In 1922 he began to hold itinerant evangelistic meetings in Oregon and British Columbia. There were some very miraculous healings that took place in Victoria, British Columbia, which motivated Dr. Price even harder. In 1923 Price preached to over 250,000 people in a three-week period and many were healed. By 1923 Charles held a healing meeting where Lorne Fox and his entire family were healed. Lorne and his sister began their own evangelistic and healing ministry shortly afterwards.
Price held meetings in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Minneapolis, Duluth, St Louis and Belleville, Illinois. In 1926 Price started publishing the "Golden Grain" periodical, which included many testimonies of healings and miracles. In 1928 Price suffered a blow when his lawyer absconded with all his funds. His supporters helped to raise some of the money, but he decided to purchase a tent to hold meetings, so that he no longer had to pay large auditorium expenses. He called it the Kanvas Katherdral. It's reported there were a 1000 conversions a day the last 10 days of the Belleville meetings. He continued to travel through the northwest over the next several years. Everywhere he went he saw miraculous healings in his meetings and thousands came to Christ. He counted 35,000 conversions in 1928 alone.
While many ministries shut down or were severely curtailed during the 1930's, due to the depression, Charles S. Price continued to draw thousands to his meetings. In the late 1930s he ministered in Norway, England, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Italy, as well as continuing to speak throughout the US. He started to refer to himself as Dr. Price, which appears to have been an honorary title rather than an educational one. In 1939 Price estimated that he had traveled over a million miles on evangelistic campaigns since he began in 1922. His schedule was extremely demanding however. At meetings where he was the main speaker he would speak two or three times a day and often pray for healing well into the night. During the war years it was increasingly difficult to draw large crowds and Price often spoke in churches and camp meetings. In 1940 between mid-March and mid-August he preached 218 times besides holding 35 healing services, stayed late hours praying for the sick, gave several community speeches to groups like the Rotary Club, did radio addresses, all this while traveling 2700 miles by train and 8500 miles by car. In one day alone he spoke 5 times in Springfield, Missouri.
Though Price was not affiliated with a particular denomination, his meetings were often supported by multiple churches within the area of where he was. He had a special relationship with the Assembly of God denominational leadership and regularly spoke at their camp meetings and was often invited to speak in their churches. His kindness, wit, generosity and renewed passion for the Lord allowed him to become one of the most influential people in the world for his time. He is still held today in extremely high regard of several denominations, and his books are still studied in theological seminaries worldwide. Dr. Charles Sydney Price truly was on of God’s great generals.
Family Life: Charles Price married Bessie Osborn in 1907. Bessie was a coworker at Life Line Mission with Charles in Spokane Washington. Charles and Bessie had four children Ethel, Marjorie, Vernon and Lucille. As years went by however the constant traveling put a strain on his marriage. By 1930 he and his wife separated. They eventually divorced in the 1930s but a friendship was still maintained.