This Week in AG History —March 11, 1973
By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 09 March 2023
Charles Morse Ward (1909-1996) is best remembered as the speaker for the Revivaltime radio broadcast from 1953-1978. He also pastored local churches, was a camp meeting speaker, and served as a Bible school professor and president.
Born in Ontario, Canada, C.M. Ward was the son of A.G. Ward, a circuit rider Methodist preacher in Western Canada, who was influenced by Pentecostal meetings in Winnipeg, Canada. When A.H. Argue returned to Winnipeg with the message from the Azusa Street revival, A.G. Ward was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1907. A.G. Ward became one of the founding members of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC). As a young college student, C.M. moved to Springfield, Missouri, with his family when his father assumed the pastorate of Central Assembly of God.
C.M. Ward graduated from Central Bible Institute (later Central Bible College) in 1929. While ministering in Kansas, he met and married Dorothy Hymes — a union that lasted 67 years. Soon after their marriage, Ward became pastor of a struggling church in Woodstock, Ontario. Following a campaign held by Charles S. Price in Victoria, British Columbia, the PAOC recommended Ward to become the pastor of Metropolitan Church, where those services had been held. It was a small church in an upstairs hall in a rough part of town. Ward started holding street meetings and soon began drawing large crowds. Many of the people from the street meetings began attending the church. After brief stints working in Toronto as editor of the PAOC’s Pentecostal Testimony and in Minneapolis on the faculty of North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University), Ward devoted himself to full-time evangelism, and moved to the United States.
In 1943, he went to the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Bakersfield, California, where he served as pastor for nine years. He used radio extensively while in the pastorate in Bakersfield, which later made him a unanimous choice to be appointed as radio speaker for the Assemblies of God.
In December 1953, Revivaltime went on the ABC Network with Ward as its speaker. Within a year, Ward’s dynamic ministry caused the broadcast to be given major ratings by ABC officials, who listed it as the top religious program in many parts of the country. Audiences were captivated by his biblically based sermons, his invitation to the “long, long altar,” and the Revivaltime choir singing Ira Stanphill’s “There’s Room at the Cross for You.”
Thousands came to Christ, attracted to the message of the gospel by Ward’s crisp and clear sermons. Sprinkled with skillfully told stories from the Bible, biographies, literature, and history, he captured the attention of the sophisticated as well as the common person. Ward’s radio audience crossed denominational lines, and his voice became familiar to English-speaking people overseas. Over the next 25 years, Ward preached more than 1,300 weekly radio broadcasts on over 650 stations. No one took Pentecostal evangelism more successfully to the airwaves than C.M. Ward.
Ward also published the broadcast radio sermons in 23 annual volumes called Revivaltime Pulpit, as well as numerous other books and over 250 booklets. More than two million copies of his popular Revivaltime Miniature series were distributed with testimonies from men such as the late Colonel Sanders, Dr. Wernher von Braun, Colonel Frank Borman, Governor Richard Askew, and J.C. Penney.
In 1967 he joined the faculty of Central Bible Institute as assistant professor of homiletics and became a frequent speaker at camp meetings and other events.
In 1973, Ward moved to the West Coast to take the appointment of president of Bethany Bible College (later Bethany University), continuing to be Revivaltime speaker (and commuting to Springfield) until 1978, when he retired from the radio broadcast.
His main autobiography, The C.M. Ward Story, was published in 1976. Two other autobiographical sketches are Things I Didn’t Learn in Bible School (1982) and “In Perils of … Brethren … ” (1991). Ward received more than 50 awards, including being Central Bible College alumnus of the year in 1961. In 1969, he received an honorary doctorate from Northwest College (now University) in Kirkland, Washington. He also was named to the national Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1993.
C.M. Ward passed away on July 12, 1996, in Modesto, California. His wife, Dorothy, passed away on April 17, 2007. Both are buried in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Missouri.
A report about C.M. Ward accepting the presidency of Bethany Bible College is featured on page 28 of the March 11, 1973, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Born to Be …,” by William E. Pickthorn
• “How to Be a Happy Christian,” by Fred Smolchuck
• “When Grandmas Talk to Jesus,” by E. S. Caldwell
And many more!
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200