Girl  Evangelists
Garnett Gunther

Garnett Gunther reflects the tension that sometimes developed within revivalism regarding influences from Pentecostalism. This was particularly the case with girl evangelists, who were often inspired by the example and teaching of Aimee Semple McPherson, the hottest Pentecostal preacher in the 1920s.

Garnett had started preaching when she was fifteen, and, unlike most girl evangelists, she had advanced her education, having attended Friends College for two years in her hometown of Wichita, Kansas and then attending Phillips College, in Enid, Oklahoma, a Disciples of Christ college. It was with the Disciples that she held her preaching credentials, and later, in this denominations where she assumed the pastorate of a church in Piggott, Arkansas. When she was twenty, she joined the International Association of Women Preachers.

At some point, Garnett came under the influence of Pentecostalism and of Aimee Semple McPherson. The church board became concerned that she taught divine healing and the baptism of the Holy Ghost (clear markers of Pentecostalism at that time). They took issue with Garnett, too, when she went to St. Louis to attend a revival by Aimee Semple McPherson.

The story of Garnett’s conflict with the church board and her resulting resignation was carried by the NEA wire service.