Rev. William Henry Offiler (1875-1957)
(Note: The following gives very detailed information about Bethel Temple’s founder, W. H. Offiler. It is a rather lengthy article, but very informative.)
This report is compiled from an account given by W. W. Patterson, who was Pastor Offiler’s successor, in an interview with Jerry Wilkinson on June 2, 1981, at his home at Mirror Lake, Washington, and from The Emergence And Development Of A New Breed Of Classical Pentecostal by Paul R. Berube, several editions of Pentecostal Power, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Let Light Shine Out, The Story Of The Assemblies Of God in the Pacific Northwest by Ward M. Tanneberg, the recollections of Dick Benjamin, and other sources. By Jim Richardson.
William Henry Offiler was born in Nottingham, England, on December 20, 1875. His father was a lace maker, carrying on the art which was given to him by his father and grandfather. His mother, Helen Offiler, gave birth to three boys and three girls. William was the third child. He was brought up an Anglican and was confirmed by the Bishop of Southwell in 1890 at the age of Fifteen. He became a member of the church choir and taught himself to play the organ. Young Offiler was addicted to tobacco even after his confirmation. His testimony, he later confessed, gave the impression that he really hadn’t come to know the Lord. However, his heart was moved with the gospel. Shortly he dedicated himself to be a missionary. In his notes written for a sermon dated February 11, 1936, he described the events that led him to such a commitment:
“When I was a boy of sixteen,” he said, “I was in a vast meeting in Nottingham, Eng- land, and in that meeting was John G. Paton. John Paton went down to those South Seas and transformed those tribes into beautiful Christians and now you can’t find a cannibal on those islands, but you can find lots of churches there, and while the modern missionaries are kind of spoiling those works by Modernism, nevertheless Paton and his missionaries triumphed.”
“In that meeting in England, the Lord Bishop said, ‘Is there anyone that wants to con- secrate his life as a missionary?’ and I stood up. He sent a man to take my name and address and in a few days I was placed in the Soudanese Missionary Society for a course of study. But before that four years was over I got an itching in my feet and so I left over there and came to America and found myself in Spokane and there God opened my eyes to a new thing. After fif- teen years he sent me to Seattle and I have been doing missionary work ever since in my way.”
It was in this missionary society, training for work in Africa, that Offiler learned much of the missionary technique. Before leaving England, Offiler became a servant in a home of nobility, which had a great influence on his character. He was dressed in Lord Pomeroy clothes and learned to carry himself with great dignity. He stood about five foot eight, had a square jaw and was of husky build. He studied the boiler-maker trade, following that craft and work- ing also as an iron shipbuilder. In 1898 he left England for Canada, where he found employ- ment with the Canadian Pacific Railroad in Medicine Hat.
Having been struck on the chin in the course of his work as a shipbuilder, and later kicked in the same place in a football match, Offiler had a serious problem with his jawbone, which had begun to decay. At work one morning after a sleepless night, he fainted next to the railroad track. The engineer of a passenger train, seeing him there, stopped and picked him up. He spent the next four months in a hospital, where his teeth were removed and his jaw was operated on.
Spokane, Washington USA
By 1899 he had left Canada and settled in Spokane, Washington, where he experi- enced what he believed to be his first real conversion to the Lord. As it happened, Offiler one day passed by a street meeting being conducted by Captain McClellan and the Volunteers of America. His interest aroused, he followed the Christians to their mission, where subsequently he went forward to the altar. He both committed his life to Jesus and experienced a marvelous, instantaneous deliverance from the tobacco habit.
After that experience, he received a wonderful visitation from the Lord, during which his jaw was finally healed. He described this encounter later in his magazine: “The spirit of prayer came upon me and I could neither eat nor drink, so intense did my desire become to know Jesus. My friends came and tried to get me to eat, but my appetite was completely gone, and almost before I knew it three full weeks had gone by, and there alone in my own room I came face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. On the twenty-second day of my prayer my jaw- bone blew up, my face swelled all out of shape, my mouth wide open, blood and corruption streamed out of my mouth and this continued for three days and nights.” As he wrestled with Satan in the power of the Lord, “suddenly something struck me in the heart, like an explosive bullet. It burst within me and out of my mouth came the crashing sound of a name, JESUS!” This was repeated three times, with the third bringing him total healing.
Brother Offiler had also been attracted to a young lady who played the pump organ at the street meeting. Soon a romance developed which culminated in his marriage on November 16, 1900, to Gertrude Riley, the daughter of Kelly Riley, who was the plumbing and heating inspector for the City of Spokane.
When he first had seen her, Brother Offiler had said, “That frail girl shouldn’t be out there playing the organ.” She had contracted tuberculosis and become an invalid, being so frail that the doctor told him not to marry her because she wouldn’t live more than a few months. As it was, she spent the first sixteen years of their marriage in a sickbed, which necessitated Brother Offiler doing all of the housework as well as caring for her physical needs almost con- stantly. But she lived another forty years, bearing three children to her husband: Harriet, Wil- liam Edward and Edith.
Brother Offiler was working as a plumbing and heating engineer. He put in the plumb- ing and heating in Davenport Hotel and some of the high schools as he continued to seek after the Lord.
After a period of time, the Offilers were attracted to a series of cottage prayer meet- ings in Spokane. The meetings were composed largely of Christian and Missionary Alliance ad- herents who were fasting and praying in various homes. Once after ten days of prayer and fasting, God poured out his Holy Spirit upon these people. Many of them spoke in tongues as they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This was Offiler’s first introduction to the Pentecostal re- vival that was spreading throughout the land at the turn of the century, although he did not receive the baptism at that time.
One day, Brother Offiler was walking along the banks of the Spokane River when he felt God speak to him about Jesse and the anointing of his son, David, by the Prophet Samuel. Later, as he entered a local tent meeting, an old elder of the congregation jumped up, took a bottle of anointing oil, and poured it upon Brother Offiler’s head, saying, “You are anointed to be our pastor.” So, in 1908, still without being himself filled with the Spirit, he became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation known as the Apostolic Assembly.
A man and two women came to hold a meeting in the earlier days at the Pentecostal mission at the House of Joseph in Spokane. Knowing something was wrong, Brother Offiler wouldn’t sit with them on the platform. On the way to the meeting, God had given him a vision of what was going to happen, and it happened just as he had seen it. One of the women who were ministering stood and said some crazy things about the mouse and the cat. Then she said, “If God tells me to take off my clothes, I’ll do it.”
Brother Offiler jumped to his feet and said, “Woman, you lay your hand on a button, and I’ll toss you out.” That broke up the meeting, and that took care of the House of Joseph. It turned out that the man was living with the two women. Brother Offiler said Spokane never fully recovered from the spiritual impact of that.
After much misfortune in his plumbing and heating business such as a strike and sup- plies that didn’t come through. Brother Offiler lost everything. Finally he said to the men who worked for him, “Here’s my home: take it from me,” and they did.
Pine Street Mission, Seattle, Washington
They cleaned the house and moved to Glacier National Park, where Brother Offiler went to work with his brother-in-law, Brother Shedman, for the Great Northern. He said he wanted to support the ministry in any way that he could, but he didn’t want to become a preacher again.
As superintendent of plumbing and heating there, he supervised a field crew assigned by the government to construct the park’s new public accommodation buildings. It was thought to have been a two-year contract. During the week he wrestled with plumbing and heating problems, but on Sundays he held church in a big tent on the site of the park’s new buildings.
In the spring of 1914 he received another vision, which was also experienced by his wife, who, he said, “prayed me into the ministry.” In the vision he saw that World War I was coming, and he knew it was coming through the kaiser. The Lord said to him, “Lay down your tools and go, preach the gospel.” They interpreted this as constituting a call into full-time min- isterial service. So he went to the men in charge of Glacier National Park and asked if he could be freed from the contract to do this work. He said, “I know that my brother-in-law can carry on” And they released him. So he laid down his tools, and they returned to Spokane seeking God’s direction for their lives. During this time he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Shortly they moved to Seattle, where he kept praying and waiting on the Lord. But nothing seemed to happen, and they were running out of money. After many weeks went by, he told the Lord, “If something doesn’t transpire, I’m going to polish up my tools and go back to work.” Then one hundred dollars came in the mail. It met the need.
He had been attending the Pine Street Mission above a furniture store in the Proctor Building at the corner of Second and Pine in the inner city. The Pentecostal message had come to this church and the pastor had a real ability to present the gospel. Brother Offiler, however,
had a vision through which he realized that there was something wrong in the mission. He saw beautiful, rippling waters, but as he went closer he saw the carcass of a creature lying in the waters. Shortly after that, he was called to be the new pastor. He accepted the call and went to work in 1914.
Despite the fact that Pastor Offiler had no formal theological training, he was very suc- cessful in attracting a large following. The ministry rapidly developed into a revival center. For eight years the mission had continuous revival. There was a continuous move of the Spirit of God at the Pine Street Mission as he ministered the word of the Lord.
Then the Lord began to give him much insight into the end times, the bride of Christ and the Godhead, some of which he did not immediately interpret correctly. He had come to the conviction that Scripture of necessity must be interpreted both literally and figuratively. This belief, in turn, led him to the extreme of endeavoring to find a symbolic meaning in every- thing, and in attempting to interpret symbolic meaning literally. However, in spite of this, Pas- tor Offiler continued to receive, through Bible study and revelation, rich truth for the last-days church which has provided sound biblical direction.
One revelation reportedly came in an unusual way after Pastor Offiler had finished the ministry of a meeting at the Pine Street Mission and was sitting around with some of the saints. It is said that the Spirit of God came down and acted the end times in pantomime. Evi- dently, in other ways in the meeting just concluded Pastor Offiler had seen this taking place. Then later, the report came from a missionary from China that when this was happening in Se- attle, a counterpart was happening in China. It was even said that Chinese children were re- ceiving the revelation of end times, Revelation chapter twelve and the great red dragon, which were things they had never even read about. It indicated to them that the body may be ten thousand miles apart, yet there is a unity in the body that is beyond anything that man might do.
The Pine Street Mission grew until it became necessary to move to a new location, which was procured at the corner of Seventh and Olive streets in Seattle. The new church was called the Pentecostal Mission and Apostolic Assembly.
A Unique Baptism Formula
In 1915, Pastor Offiler attended the second General Council meeting of the Assemblies of God in St. Louis, Missouri, headed by E. N. Bell. A divisive teaching called “new issue” or “new revelation” had broken out. This series of meetings was to settle this issue and set direc- tion for the Assemblies. The “new issue” teaching later came to be known as the Jesus Only movement. It centered in the teaching that God is not three persons, but one; that Jesus is God the Father, he is God the Son and he is God the Holy Ghost; and that the name of God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) is Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the “new issue” teaching brought the orthodox concept of the trinity into question. The so-called “new revelation” was that the trin- ity was a heresy made up by the early church fathers.
The issue created a schism in the ranks, leaving two major bodies of Pentecostal be- lievers. The one unfolded into what now is known as the United Pentecostal Church, which is Jesus Only in its concept of the Godhead. They asserted that the book of Acts proves there is no trinitarian formula for baptism, for it is recorded that the early church baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” or “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The other group evolved into many various Pentecostal denominations, including the Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Holiness Churches. This group emphasized baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” according to Matthew 28:19. E. N. Bell, who had been baptized Jesus Only, had been persuaded to leave that group and was rebaptized in the trinitarian way.
As the conference went on, there was a distinct great division between the preachers. Finally Pastor Offiler was asked to speak. Before he presented his subject, he went to the trini- tarians and asked them, “If I can show you where the three persons of the Godhead have been manifested in one body, would you accept it?” They seemed to be open. Then he went to the Oneness people and said, “If I can show you where the one God is manifested in three bodies, would you be open?” They were not so open.
Then, playing a notable role in the meetings, he addressed the group for two or three hours. In his slight English accent, but with clarity and authority, he presented a third alterna- tive to these talks. He contended that both groups were partially correct. Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as explained in the gospels is, indeed, the right biblical pat- tern, he said. This was the argument offered by the trinitarian group. However he went on to state that the formula used by the early church, which is recorded in the book of Acts, is also correct, as the Jesus Only faction had argued. He offered as his main point for consideration that the three titles written in the gospel instruction for baptism. Father, Son, Holy Spirit are not the names used in baptism in the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. He said the name of the triune God was revealed in the name of the Father, which is the Lord, and the name of the Son, which is Jesus, and the name of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ. He con- cluded thus that the early church formula of baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of the gospel directive to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The inspiration, harmony and infallibility of the Scriptures were paramount to Pastor Offiler. He could not accept the notion that God presented conflicting views in his word. So he absolutely believed that God is triune. But he also insisted that the Lord showed him that Lord Jesus Christ is the triune name of the triune God.
There was openness in the hearts of many who received. But many objected to his reasoning. Sadly, sharp words were exchanged over the matter between Pastor Offiler and E. N. Bell. Pastor Bell had stood to speak out against him, quoting, “The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father,” from Second John 3. Apparently he wanted to show that the name Lord Je- sus Christ is the name of the Son, and that it was wrong of Pastor Offiler to use that name as embodying the trinity.
Pastor Offiler then stood and rebuked Pastor Bell in tongues. This, Pastor Offiler later admitted, was a great mistake. The next day, when one of the brethren said to him, “The truth you showed me last night was wonderful,” Pastor Offiler is said to have replied, “I know what I did. I presented the truth, but ended in the wrong spirit. Last night, God showed me that every minister of the gospel stands before the Lord. I did the wrong thing in rebuking E. N. Bell.” (After that Pastor Offiler would never allow in the assembly anybody to use tongues or interpretation or prophecy to rebuke. Some who were doing that left the church when he told them, “That’s not allowed. We can’t have that.”).
The second General Council ended with most of the trinitarians mistaking Pastor Offiler to be Jesus Only, while the Oneness people refused to entertain any more notions of a triune theory. Pastor Offiler was disappointed in his failure to effect a compromise that would be ac- ceptable to both factions and that would have averted the cleavage which ultimately came be- cause of the “new issue”, and which led to much misunderstanding of his doctrine.
He was most generally labeled a Jesus Only enthusiast, which could not have been fur- ther from the truth. He preached and taught the doctrine of the trinity as one of the basics in Scripture. He taught the three stories in the ark of Noah as symbolic of the trinity. He taught that the three angels who appeared to Abraham were none other than Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He taught that the two angels who went down into Sodom were the Son and the Holy Spirit. He taught that the Son called upon the Father to pour out the judgments upon Sodom. Following through the types and the shadows in his book, God And His Name one sees clearly portrayed the doctrine of the triune God.
Nevertheless he held and taught his unique baptism formula through his lifetime, baptizing converts “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the method of baptism employed in the outreach and mission churches which sprung from Pastor Offiler’s work.
Assemblies Of God
So Pastor Offiler withdrew his association with the Assemblies of God following this meeting. As a result, fellowship with Assemblies of God churches in the Seattle area became extremely difficult. After returning home, Pastor Offiler received Pastor Welsh (known as “Daddy Welsh”) of the Assemblies of God into his home as the denomination was forming in the Northwest. He told Pastor Offiler that “you made a mistake in not joining it. I doubt you could have a meeting from here to New York.” Pastor Offiler’s answer to him reportedly was, “When I left the plumbing and heating business, I left the union.”
But he showed fellowship towards the Assembly of God people, opening doors wide to many missionaries who passed through his church. He had ministers from various groups from the Assembly of God as well as others, including W. V. Grant and Morris Plotts. He said he con- versed with one of the early leaders in the Assemblies and told him of what the Lord had showed him. Pastor Offiler asked him, “And what do you think I should do?” This man is re- ported to have said, “I think you should just follow the course that you’re taking.”
W. W. Patterson, who later succeeded Pastor Offiler as pastor, and who had come into the church in 1926 as one of the young people and also one of the young people’s leaders, said, “I remember one fellowship meeting at which Pastor Offiler was present. He was playing his trombone with the others in the orchestra down below. Samuel Swanson, the district su- perintendent of the Assemblies then, got up and said, ‘We would better preach Jesus and not sun, moon and stars and Daniel’s seventy weeks,’ or something to that effect. Every eye looked at Pastor Offiler. Of course he rather colored, but he held his peace. After that I think he mentioned to me, ‘It would appear that our opportunity to fellowship is rather limited with the brethren.’
Some felt that Pastor Offiler was offish and didn’t want to manifest fellowship. Some people held the idea that he isolated himself and withdrew. But those close to him say, con- trariwise, he tried to extend and maintain fellowship. Pastor Offiler said, “The day is going to come when God will bring down the barriers. No longer will it be Methodist, Nazarene, Baptist, Pentecostal. It will be the body of Christ. We’ll be brought together. The barriers must collapse, and God’s people will be brought together in the end of the age.” And, though he could not compromise on the direction he knew God was giving him, he tried to work to that end.
The Offilers’ older daughter, Harriett, died from influenza during the great flu epidemic, on June 15, 1918.
In 1922 the church began sending missionary teams to the Dutch East Indies, first to Bali and then to Java. The teams were the first to carry the Pentecostal testimony to the is- lands, being blessed with great healings of many lepers. They set up Bible schools throughout Indonesia, raising up locals to do the work of the ministry in their homeland.
Los Angeles, California
After the Pine Street Mission had gone on in revival and power for eight years, an invitation came in 1922 for Pastor Offiler to minister the word of the Lord in Victoria Home in Los Angeles, where Warren Fisher was the pastor. Pastor Offiler was to follow a meeting being held by Sister Amy McPherson at Angelues Temple. When he arrived there, however, he found that Sister McPherson was not going to leave. So instead he went to Pasadena, where he was asked to minister.
There, it is reported, some of the Oneness people who were present wanted to take over. Pastor Offiler often recounted later how he presented the trinity to them. He said he told the pianist at the meeting, “Strike Middle C,” and then he said to her, “Keep that up.” He told the Oneness brethren, “That is what you’re doing.” Then he said to the pianist, “Now strike the chord: three notes at once.” And he said, “That is what you need.”
While he was in Los Angeles, he fasted and prayed for three days and three nights, neither eating nor drinking. After he returned from the meeting one night, he went into his room and knelt. Suddenly he saw a vision of a woman laying on an operating table. He thought, “Oh, my wife!” She was not strong in body, and he supposed the Lord was showing him that she was in the hospital. So he went to a telephone and tried to call Seattle. When he couldn’t get through, he went back and knelt down again, and the vision returned.
He saw in this vision that the woman was swathed in bandages from head to foot, only her eyes, nose and mouth showing. Then he saw doctors he said they were learned men standing around discussing what they could do. They said, “The only thing we can do is put on more bandages.” As this was taking place, suddenly the Lord Jesus stood before him and un- rolled a scroll. On it were the names and addresses of twelve men, written in a foreign lan- guage. The Lord said, “Soon I will take her out of the hands of these marauders and put her into the hands of those whom I have chosen.”
At the same moment a group was in prayer in Seattle. During the prayer meeting, a sister cried out, “At this time God is showing Pastor Offiler the last-day apostles, the names of them, twelve hundred miles away.”
Pastor Offiler continued in prayer and fasting, reflecting that those were years of the moving of the Spirit of God in such a wonderful way. So he prayed, “Lord, if I have gone be- yond that which I should have; if, in the blessing and inspiration of the meeting, I have taught and preached that which is beyond what you have, and what is in the word, show me my error. Show me my mistake, and I will return back to Seattle and acknowledge it before the congregation. Lord, this is my heart cry.” But his testimony was that, during those three days of waiting on the Lord in Los Angeles, the Lord came to him and unfolded the word with truths that he had never seen or known. An anointing came upon him during that period of time.
At the end of the three days and nights, he took the Lord’s Supper. Then the Lord said, “Yet again three days,” and so he fasted again for three days and three nights. He said that on one occasion during this time he heard a poem from the lips of the Lord Jesus, the likes of which the ears of man have never heard. It described his love, his devotion and his honor for his bride. Pastor Offiler said, “What words those were in relation to the love of Christ in the church.” He said his thought was that the church was something like it is in the Song of Solo- mon. She was wandering and trying to find her way, even in the streets, and needed help. He also said the Lord came to him and certified to his heart the subject of the great mystery of Christ and the church and the perfection of the church in the end of the age.
As a result of these things, he met further opposition. Now it was not only in relation to the name of the Godhead, but also in the presentation of the bride and of the perfection of the bride. He had declared, for instance, that the Lord Jesus couldn’t return immediately. For this he was accused of postponing the coming of the Lord. But he knew that God’s word showed that there were definitely things to be fulfilled. Though he never negated the return of Jesus he said “the age draws to its close, the ‘time of the end’ is upon us he stressed that God had much more for his church to do and experience before that day. So he stood out for it in spite of the opposition, declaring, “If ever we needed to know and understand the word of God it is The consummation is at hand, the book must be opened, as its seals are broken. The church must know the eternal truth that has been written, as its fulfillments burst upon us. The time is at hand. Study the word of God.”
Bethel Temple, Seattle, Washington
From Seventh and Olive the church moved to Virginia Street, and then, after a few months there, it moved in about 1922 to Third Avenue between Blanchard and Bell streets. Its name also was changed at that time to Bethel Temple. The building was remodeled for the church, having been erected in 1920.
“I began attending in 1926,” said Brother Patterson. “I always thought it was interesting that the church’s address was 2221 Third Avenue. Those numbers fit right in to Pastor Offiler’s Bible chart. Pastor Offiler never pointed it out; I just happened to see it: two thousand years, two thousand years, two thousand years and then the millennium and the number three.”
They hadn’t been there long when Pastor Offiler had a vision one Sunday of three rats at his feet. He had been asked to go that day to Bellingham to hold a meeting, and had started out, but had a problem with his car. So he went back to the church. When he stepped inside, one of the deacons was on the platform before the congregation and another down below. Both were berating him. Pastor Offiler, discerning what was going on, stood in the back and hollered out, “Sit down.” The deacon at the platform, it is reported, dropped like he was shot. Then Pastor Offiler took over. It turned out that three deacons had undermined him.
He went through some real tests like that. Another story is that once a character came in with a big bag of money, which he laid at Pastor Offiler’s feet. He said, “You’re one of the two witnesses.” Pastor Offiler looked at him and said, “Who’s the other?” He pointed his finger at himself. Pastor Offiler said, “I thought so.” He kicked the money and said, “Get going! Depart!”
The Offilers, having lost their older daughter, lost the younger one, Edith, when she died of a kidney infection as a result of a scarlet fever attack on December 1, 1926.
Having a burden to raise up his people to know God and his word, Pastor Offiler established a Bible school within the church. The classes were held on Thursday evenings, with enough homework given to keep the students busy until the next week. This served as the primary training center for most of the outreach leaders and members. Christian workers and missionaries went forth from this school to preach and teach in branch churches in the Seattle area and throughout the world. It is reported that the presence of God would be so real as Pastor Offiler spoke that he would have to stop teaching. He and the students would just sit there and praise God for twenty minutes or more before they could continue the lessons. The power of God is said to have swept over the place in waves. But Pastor Offiler instilled a sense of expectancy, teaching his students that the greatest visitation was yet to come.
Pastor Offiler also became one of the first radio preachers, beginning in 1925 a program called “God And His Bible,” a ministry that continued almost without interruption for thirty-seven years “with astonishing results.” Daily programs were broadcast to large audiences throughout the Seattle area. Pastor Offiler said, “We have done our best, not to sing only, and to answer song requests, but that which is of far greater import, the winning of the souls of men that are precious in the sight of God, and those for whom Christ died.” He preached salvation, healing, the infilling of the Spirit and the “glorious gospel of the second coming of our Lord JesusChrist.”
Once Pastor Offiler was praying about raising five hundred dollars to send more people overseas on mission work. He related his need on a radio program in Seattle. A listener named Emily Malaquist approached him later and said that she was scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor. She told Pastor Offiler that she had decided to let him pray for the Lord to heal her. If healed, she would direct the finances to him instead of using them on the planned medical procedure. The pastor prayed, and the sixteen pound tumor fell to the kitchen floor so she gave him the five hundred dollars for mission work in Indonesia.
In those days at Bethel Temple Sunday school was at twelve-thirty p.m., with two services, at three and seven-thirty, followed by more prayer. Weekdays, Pastor Offiler had his radio broadcast at seven a.m., with Bible school from six-thirty to ten p.m. on Thursdays. Eve- ning services were held on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday was evangelistic night. Satur- days were for fasting and prayer, with a young people’s service prior to a street meeting.
Mirror Lake Camp, Federal Way, Washington
Pastor Offiler got the vision for a camp at Mirror Lake in 1933. He had been holding different camp meetings, or tent meetings, almost since he had been in Seattle. These annual get-togethers were in various places around the Seattle area: Green Lake, Lake Washington, River Mission, Fort Lawton. The camp meetings had persecution and opposition. Once at Green Lake hecklers reportedly tried to cut down the tent ropes. Eventually it got so that the authorities objected, due to the large crowds which attended, and something outside of the city limits had to be found.
Mirror Lake was in the woods then. After Pastor Offiler and another brother had inspected Green Lake, they went to look at Mirror Lake. It was a hundred-acre tract in Federal Way, twenty-two miles south of Seattle, a mile west of Highway 99 down a dirt road. There he said, “This is it. This is the place.”
When the property was purchased in 1935, some preachers made fun of Pastor Offiler. They said, “Have you heard? Offiler’s gone out among the stumps.” But he had a vision of what would take place, undaunted even by the great depression that the country had plunged into. Apparently even the deacons of his church weren’t too much behind Pastor Offiler, so he personally went out to start clearing the land. Hugh Rounds was out there helping him blow out stumps with dynamite. He had just been saved when a gospel team went ministering in the King County Jail, where he was in a drunk tank. He practically lived and worked at the church, and was very involved in the work at the camp.
The first camp meeting was held at Mirror Lake in 1936, with the speaker being Booth Cliburn, a grandson of General William Booth of the Salvation Army, who had received the bap- tism of the Holy Spirit. After the camp was over, about three families stayed on and built per- manent houses to live in through the winter, having bought tracts of land offered for that pur- pose. A few more families built houses at the end of the camp meeting in 1937.
Hugh Rounds and others built a cavernous meeting hall at Mirror Lake in 1937. The work party included Eric Benton, Arland Wassel, Floyd Brown and Ray Busby. It was called the tabernacle: a rustic ship lap building, seventy-five by two hundred feet, supported by big poles and exposed rafters. Dim light fixtures hung from the high, dark ceiling, and it had only a saw- dust floor. But it would hold great crowds a thousand and more. In the fall of 1937 Sunday school was held in one of the homes until a wood stove was made from an oil drum for the prayer room of the tabernacle. Electricity was brought to the camp in December. For the following years church was held in that room, with Brother Ray Jackson going out from Sumner to hold services. Music was supplied by an old reed organ. That winter there were eight or nine families in the community, with Hugh Rounds as caretaker.
Camp meetings were held every year after that, generally starting around the Fourth of July and going to Labor Day, which would be fifty days camping. Sometimes there would be two evangelists in the number.
W. W. & Gladys Patterson were sent to Indonesia in late 1934, together with their two children and Iris Bowe, another member of the missionary party. Pastor Offiler called their sailing from the Seattle pier “the greatest missionary event” the city had ever seen as “another contingent of consecrated workers” was sent to Java and Borneo.
In a pamphlet called Uttermost Parts, Pastor Offiler wrote at length concerning his mis- sionary zeal. “These missionaries,” he said, “go from the ministerial staff of the Bethel Temple Inc. of Seattle. With the sailing of this company, the number of missionaries from this one church was raised to twenty.”
“The missionary spirit,” he continued, “is the life of the church. Missionary effort can- not be carried on but by the greatest self-denial and consecration of congregations, and this must not be a spasmodic thing, but every day, week, month and year this attitude must be the order of the day. It is this wonderful spirit upon the people that has made our effort possible at all and which has given to this church the enviable reputation for foreign missionary work that it now enjoys throughout the world.”
“We think that the record of Bethel Temple of Seattle, in this regard, stands unequaled by any church on the earth. The honor roll of this church has many names upon it of those who have left all and followed HIM. Today, the Pastor, Rev. W. H. Offiler, now in his twentieth year of continuous ministry, lifts his heart and his hands toward God and this great congrega- tion and rejoices with them upon the astounding showing that has been made in evangelistic and missionary effort throughout these long and successful years. To God be all the glory!”
“Of all the celebrations in which this church has taken part in recent years, it is safe to say that this was the most enthusiastic and deeply spiritual of all that have gone before. Thou- sands of hearts and homes in this great Northwest and British Columbia, Canada, were moved to the very depths as they hastened to have a part in this present out-going. People from all churches and denominations came to our help, and of their bounty the missionaries were well supplied. It did not, at first, seem possible to overcome the financial barriers that confronted us, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon the people, as he came upon the early church, and they put the program over with a Jericho shout. There was enough and to spare! What a Pen- tecost! What a glory! In the midst of unheard of depression and gloom the glory of God came down, and today men and women everywhere, yea, hearts and homes, have been brightened and beautified by the incoming of the sweet spirit of Christ. It has made them a partner in this great missionary enterprise, which, from its beginnings has been supernaturally blessed of God in a fruitfulness that is almost unbelievable. Scores of thousands have been saved, healed and filled with the Holy Spirit, and that among a people who had never heard of his love.”
Pictured in the pamphlet, with Pastor Offiler’s discourse on the event, were several views of the throng gathered on the pier, one of them taken from the deck of the Pattersons’ ship, the Japanese Heian Maru. It was an astounding crowd, with hundreds of streamers reaching up from them to the ship. “One glance at the picture is sufficient to show the spiritual enthusiasm that moved the entire crowd to the border of ecstasy,” wrote Pastor Offiler, “as we sang the songs of Zion, and acclaimed those who had consecrated their all to God in a service of soul winning among the tribes of Java and Borneo.”
Sammy Jackson led the singing, backed up by Pastor Offiler himself playing the accor- dion and the Bethel Temple Radio Singers and a part of the Bethel Temple Radio Orchestra. Pastor Offiler wrote, “It seemed at times that the singing was inspired as it rent the skies and ascended into the very presence of God.” He noted, “Our radio friends were there in many hundreds” from British Columbia, Oregon, Montana and Idaho as well as throughout Washing- ton. “Look at the picture again,” he said, “and thank God that the Spirit of the Christ is not dead, and that men and women are willing to leave all and follow him even unto the ends of
the earth. Such a sight had never before been seen in the City of Seattle.” And so the ship took off, with “volley after volley of hallelujah’s sent splitting through the air.”
Pastor Offiler’s wife, Gertrude, died of heart trouble on June 12, 1941, and he soon married her sister, Sister Shamun, who was a widow and had been living in the home with them. She had severe arthritis.
Second Ave & Lenora (downtown Seattle)
By 1942, after being at Third and Bell for nearly twenty years, the church was becoming very crowded. Pastor Offiler’s heart cry was, “Lord, we need something different.” He felt as if the walls were falling down on him. So they had a New Year’s time of three days and nights of waiting on the Lord in their home at the beginning of 1943. In the middle of that time, the Lord said to him, “Crystal Pool.”
Brother Patterson said, “He called Arland Wasell, Harold Amundsen and myself to ask us to come down to what is now Bethel Temple at Second and Lenora. It was Crystal Pool then, an auditorium that had been quite wrecked. It had been empty for some time, so there stood a need for a lot of work to be done.”
Stepping into the building, Brother Patterson said to Pastor Offiler, “I believe the auditorium should be on this level.” There was a balcony in place, but no floor in the lower part, where such events as Jack Dempsey fights took place. Pastor Offiler said, “That’s it. That’s the thing.” They went into a room that later was made into the church office, and right then and there they dedicated the building to the Lord.
As they pursued purchasing the building, all they could say was that the Lord seemed to have caused the men who would have wanted it to be blind to its possibilities. Pastor Offiler approached the man who had a hold on the building, named Greenwood, and the contract was made to buy it.
BETHEL TEMPLE BUYS BUILDING (Seattle Times, March 14, 1943)
Then Pastor Offiler started to do the renovating, which was a momentous thing. Some men in the city are remembered to have said, “We’ve seen him do some things, but this one, this is too much.” The war was on, and it was not a good time to build. But God did provide, and many lent assistance. Sister Offiler’s father came over to work with them. He worked many months, giving his time in carpentry. Others also donated their time at night to do the work, which went on for seventeen months. One time, as they were laying the cement bricks on the back wall, Pastor Offiler said to Brother Patterson, “When will we ever learn not to remodel churches?” Brother Patterson reflected later, “About that time, one of those bricks must have felt pretty heavy.” Pastor Offiler toiled heavily on the project, being expert in plumbing and heating.
After much work had been done, it was found that Union Trust and Savings Bank in Seattle was going to foreclose on the building. It turned out that Greenwood had no right to sell it. Pastor Offiler let several of the men know, but he felt he couldn’t tell the people. “I remember him sitting on one of the big beams doing some praying,” said Brother Patterson. “The lawyer had told us that everything was lost: eleven or twelve thousand dollars we already had in it. He said, ‘Everything is done. The bank forecloses, takes it, it’s gone.’ And Pastor Offiler was in prayer. Then he went to the bank, and the bank released the mortgage. Well, that is God. Banks don’t do that on a building of that value. But they released it, and we went ahead and finished.”
After that, more evidence of divine provision was seen. Things that weren’t available at all in war time mahogany wood, large planks for the seats, plaster board all were supplied as the Lord opened the door. See old black & white photo below of saints making and covering pews.
When the building was dedicated in 1944 it was a magnificent gospel tabernacle that would seat nearly two thousand, beautifully decorated with symbolic triple-colored neon inside and outside: golden yellow, crimson red and heavenly blue. To the left of the expansive hall was a great illuminated cross. The front of the interior, behind the pulpit, was adorned with a brilliant representation of the sun, the moon and the stars in Pastor Offiler’s “basic colors of the universe.” With its great organ and all in happy song, it was a moving experience to worship there. The building also included business offices, pastor’s study, Sunday school rooms, radio studio, reception rooms and a literature room.
During all this time, Pastor Offiler continued his life of intense prayer and waiting on the Lord, and was marvelously used in spiritual gifts. Brother Patterson recalls this incident.
“I remember on one occasion, after we had come back from Indonesia and the war was on, Pastor Offiler asked us to speak about the work in Indonesia then the Dutch East Indies. In that meeting we happened to mention that we hadn’t heard from Indonesia for several years. The Spirit of God came down and, I think it was Sam Jackson who spoke in tongues for quite awhile. After a break, Pastor Offiler gave the interpretation, and the interpretation described what was going on in Indonesia: the people were living in caves, and they were without food, and various things, and yet the hand of the Lord was resting upon them. I remember after that meeting was over, Sister Donnelly, the deaconness, said, ‘Brother Patterson, you said you hadn’t heard from the islands, but tonight you did.’ Some months later we received a letter from one of our workers in Indonesia, and almost word-for-word he described the inter- pretation the very thing that the Lord had told us through Pastor Offiler.
Hugh E. Rounds and his family were sent to Alaska from Bethel Temple in 1946. He had backslidden for several years after getting saved and helping to build the Mirror Lake campground. But he returned to the Lord with his entire family in 1944. The presbytery gathered in the front of the auditorium at Bethel Temple and laid hands on him to send him to An- chorage to take over an independent church. Pastor Offiler prophesied to Hugh, saying, “The place you think you’re going to go, you will not go. But there will be a place adjacent to that, and you will minister there, and God wants you there.” That was before the Latter Rain movement and before any significant ministry of laying on of hands with prophecy. Pastor Offiler had not become a firm believer in it yet. The message was repeated to the Roundses by a lady named Sister Allen, whom they were visiting in a hospital prior to their departure. And it proved true. It turned out that there had been a breakdown in communications and that when Hugh got to Alaska, this independent church had voted itself into the Assemblies of God. He arrived with his wife, Zelma, and his children and, unbelievably, no church to pastor. So he went out to Mountain View and started a church there.
Pastor Offiler was highly regarded by his followers. He practiced a life of prayer and fasting. During the early years of his ministry, he fasted each week from Thursday evening through Sunday evening. Many miracles and conversions occurred under his leadership. As a teacher, he was respected; as a preacher, he had a broad ministry.
Then in 1948, at age seventy-three, Pastor Offiler felt it was time for a younger man to take the first-place position in the church, and he turned Bethel Temple over to Brother Patterson. He retained the position of president of the corporation and sat on the platform during services. He wrote for Pentecostal Power and was still active in the camp meetings. But he gave Brother Patterson a free hand. In fact, some years earlier, in Bethel Temple one Sunday afternoon, Pastor Offiler had called Brother Patterson’s name and said, quite abruptly and with no forewarning, “Come forward.” Then he said to the congregation, “If anything happens to me, this young man takes over.” Then he had him kneel down and had hands laid on him.
The Pattersons had been sent as missionaries to the Dutch East Indies in 1934 and stayed until World War II forced their leaving. They had returned to Indonesia in 1947 and were still there when Pastor Offiler asked them to come back to take over the church. Brother Patterson recalls that money was scarce then, that the paint was peeling off the walls and the Christmas offering was used to pay the light bill.
After the Pattersons came back, Pastor Offiler lived at the Mirror Lake campground, which had become known as Bethel Gospel Park. Behind the big tabernacle building there was a church, Bethel Chapel, where Dewey Burkett was the pastor. There was row upon row of neat houses and a restaurant. For a while, Pastor Offiler was the chief pastor of Bethel Chapel after leaving Bethel Temple, filling in for a while when a need arose.
At the same time the Latter Rain movement was beginning. Pastor Offiler saw extremes in Latter Rain, and rejected the movement because of it. He reportedly said on one occasion, “Well, I’m sorry to say this is more like latter mud.” He was particularly bothered by some who were prophesying over people, conferring gifts upon them promiscuously. The ex- pression was, “They laid empty hands on empty heads.” Some labeled it “kitchen prophecy.” Anybody and everybody was doing it, and not just the presbytery.
However, Pastor Offiler also saw that some good came out of the Latter Rain movement, and so he didn’t condemn it totally. He held the attitude that God would bless and move. Once, Brother Patterson remembers, when he was helping him at a water baptismal service, he said, “If the Lord has used us thus far, and then the Lord desires to use someone else, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Ray Jackson, who had been a missionary from Bethel Temple to Java, also was at- tracted to the Latter Rain movement. He had gone up to Canada to check it out. Ray Jackson embraced Latter Rain teachings without rejecting the foundational teachings of Bethel Temple. He became a missionary to Japan and then to Indonesia. He and his brother, Dale, and sister, Naomi, were the children of Sammy Jackson, Bethel Temple’s song leader.
Pastor Offiler fathered Indonesia Pentecost Church’s eschatological emphasis. It is his interpretation of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy that set the parameters for church’s focus on the end of the age. While this interpretation differs greatly from the more common interpreta- tions, it is rooted in the Scriptures.
Pastor Offiler taught that the location of the two time blocks of three and one-half years each in Daniel chapter nine belong to the time of Christ, signifying his three-and-one- half-year ministry on earth before ascending to the father and his three-and-one-half-year ministry to the bride of Christ during the time of tribulation articulated in Revelation 12:6.
Reference is made in Daniel to the “Messiah Prince” and later to “the prince to come.” Pastor Offiler agreed that “Messiah Prince” is Jesus, of course. He differed, however, with evangelical scholars who claimed that the second prince is antichrist who makes a covenant with many for one week, then breaks the covenant which brings on the great tribulation. Pastor Offiler taught that antichrist has no covenant either to make or break. Rather, he said, the covenant spoken of is the everlasting covenant made to Abraham in the book of Genesis. The second prince of Daniel’s prophecy, he said, was the Roman prince Titus, whose armies obliter- ated Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 70 A.D.
Another eschatological doctrine peculiar to W. H. Offiler was his teaching on the seven one-thousand-year days of history. He taught that God was and is a God of perfect harmony and order. He contended that the week, made up of seven increments of time, is God’s method of operation within the earthly time setting. Creation is known to have been made up of seven days, making one week. (Genesis 1:1 – 2:4) Pastor Offiler taught that the seven-day week also is the overall time scale for humanity on the earth, holding the conviction that the Bible points to each of these “days” as a one-thousand-year span, as in Second Peter 3:8. As God took a day of rest in the creative week, and as we are instructed to take a day of rest in a normal work week, so Offiler saw that we will take a time of rest in the millennial “day” that closes the historical week of seven one-thousand-year days.
The vision Pastor Offiler had in Los Angeles of a woman in bandages was the first of many visions he had concerning the bride of Christ. The doctrine he developed about this bride was one of those peculiar to Offiler.
Pastor Offiler published a Bible Chart Of The Ages in 1946 showing the creative week and most of his other doctrines, which he called “the most complete, comprehensive Bible study chart ever published” and it probably remains so today. It is available for downloading by clicking on the above blue-highlighted link.
“The outlines on the chart,” he wrote, “have been drawn to scale, and each seven- eighth of one inch represents two hundred and fifty years. The small semi-circles represent one day or one thousand years of time, as a day of the Lord is one thousand years. All Bible prophecy is written in these terms, and every prophecy of the Bible that relates to time, can be accurately measured out on the chart. The chart is absolutely without price, and presents chronological conclusions so positively, that debate, or doubt, is entirely out of the question.”
“The ‘Time of the End,’ the ‘Times of the Gentiles,’ the ‘Seventy Weeks’ of Daniel and all other measurements of time prophecy, can be worked out on the chart with God-like precision,” said Brother Patterson, “and are plainly marked out. The flood, the covenants with Abra- ham, the offering of Isaac, the Passover, the wilderness journeyings, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the crossing of the Jordan are all made plain. This line of teaching is crowned by the revelation of the one hundred and twenty jubilees, as the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Brother Patterson wrote, “Pastor Offiler’s love and devotion to the Lord, his long and fruitful ministry, and his deep and profound insight into the word of God, have peculiarly equipped him as the author of ‘The Harmonies Of Divine Revelation’ and ‘The Bible Chart Of The Ages‘.”
The Offiler Legacy
Pastor Offiler, in his own testimony, said, “For fifty-three years we have prayed for thousands of sick ones and have seen the same touch come upon them. Cancers have melted and passed away. Tumors have dissolved, tuberculosis and almost every disease known to sci- ence have been healed, and are still being healed as we dare to believe God and to obey his word.”
An article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s “Pictorial Review” on May 14, 1954, noted Pastor Offiler’s forty years of service, looking back to the spring of 1914 and Glacier National Park. “The forty years add up to thousands of marriages; thousands of the dying; hospitals and the heady aroma of drugs; jails, penitentiaries and the tears of those who clutched blindly for a succoring hand stronger than that of mortal men.” By this time, Bethel Temple had the distinction of being the oldest Pentecostal church in Seattle. It had grown to be the largest independent Pentecostal church in the Pacific Northwest.
In spite of continued tragedy and bereavement, God communicated with Pastor Offiler in amazing ways in his time. He was given to extended times of prayer and fasting, during which he would spend endless hours studying the Bible. He received many eschatological insights. His ministry at Bethel Temple was marked increasingly by many healings and visitations from God.
With the encouragement and assistance from Pastor Offiler himself, several branch works were established throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Bethel Evangelistic Association at one time constituted thirty-two churches. Self-governing and indigenous, the churches were established by team leaders and members who were trained and taught at Bethel Temple. Except for the Latter Rain churches, Pastor Offiler’s churches are unique among the classic Pentecostals for this independent character. Others are largely comprised of the many mainline Pentecostal denominations. A number of the Bethel Temple churches later affiliated with the General Council of the Assemblies of God: West Seattle, Bothell, Renton, White Center, Bellevue, Burien, Kirkland, Toppenish and Snohomish.
Bethel Temple outreaches which were established by missionary teams eventually claimed a membership of over one-half million converts in Indonesia. They also reached China, Japan, New Guinea, Celebes, Manado, Palestine, Mongolia, the British West Indies, Africa, Columbia, Italy, Formosa. From Indonesia, workers went to Holland, where they are credited with establishing twenty churches. The congregation supported as many as thirty missionaries at one time. More than seventy went into the foreign fields directly from the church.
His messages also were put into print for distribution to both the audiences of his pro- gram on KXA Radio and the Bible school students. He published the monthly magazine called Pentecostal Power, which he edited, set into type and printed himself on equipment in his house at 352 Halladay Street. He also published a profusion of notes and several pamphlets and books, including ‘The Majesty Of The Symbol’, ‘God And His Name’, ‘The Thousand Years’, ‘The Seventy Weeks’ and, probably most comprehensive and noteworthy of all, ‘God And His Bible or The Harmonies Of Divine Revelation’, which is available still from Bethel Temple.
The latter is an entire Bible study course, of which Pastor Offiler wrote in its preface, “This present course of study covers a list of one hundred and twenty intensely interesting Bi- ble subjects. Of necessity, they had to be condensed and abridged, or surely there would have been no end to them. Yet in these outlines will be found subject matter for many hundreds of sermons and Bible teachings, always fresh, and wet with the very Dew of Heaven! Many have been saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit even while the word was in our mouth. Thus it is, and thus it shall be more and more as the age draws to its close, ‘For the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword dividing asunder soul and spirit and has be- come a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’
When Pastor Offiler died at the age of eighty-one on September 29, 1957 (W H Offiler Obituary), his influence was spreading both within the United States and abroad, not only through Bethel Temple and its outreaches, but also through churches like Indonesia Pentecost’s Church and its outreaches. Pastor Offiler’s son, William Edward, died in 1959 in a fire which engulfed a hotel in Seattle. His second wife died after him, in the early 1970s.
Pastor Offiler was indeed one of the great pioneers of the modern Pentecostal movement in the Pacific Northwest. His life had a profound effect directly and indirectly on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including those who read this account of his life and ministry dedicated to God in unselfish service and spiritual leadership. (end)
Copy source: http://www.gpdiworld.us/isi/who/biographiwhoeng.html; photos uploaded from scanned BFI files and the Seattle Times Archives.