Black pentecostalism, long associated with the illiterate and the poor is cultivating a scholastic impulse here.
At Howard University, the Rev. Stephen Short is chaplain of a campus ministry designed to reach students who are interested in more than pentecostal worship.
And last month, "Spirit," the first scholarly journal published by any pentecostal body, distributed 1,000 copies of its inaugural issue.
"We are here to serve notice that there is a growing body of scholars within black pentecostalism, a faith which has traditionally been typified as characteristics of the poor masses," said James S. Tinney, the journal's editor and publisher.
Short, who believes pentecostals are equal to or "a close second" to Baptists among blacks in Washington, became chaplain at Howard in 1970 at the request of a dozen students whose enthusiasm showed him that pentecostalism exerted a powerful force among some students, but lacked leadership and direction.
Pentecostals, he explained, are expected to keep up their local church affiliation while in college but usually have no resource for their spiritual development, counsel for pressing collegiate dilemmas such as sexual experiences, nor impetus for social and politiacal involvement.
"We are busy giving shape to the concept of pentecostal campus ministry," Short said referring to his work and that of his wife, Betty. "We want to develop a model of campus ministry in the pentecostal tradition that would look like campus chaplaincies for other denominations.
"We are ministering to a different constituency now prenecostalism at its beginning ministered to a transplanted rural constituency that was recogizably different in style than established mainline churches. With the upward social mobility of our people, their needs are changing, and typically, many of them leave to go to the established denominations which met their needs."
The pentecostal movement at Howard led to the formation of the Intercollegiate Pentecostal Conference International, a national campus ministry agency that Short heads. The fledgling conference is purchasing the $50,000 headquarters, that serves as the Howard chaplaincy site where the Shorts live at 1st and Bryant Streets NW, and is promoting pentecostal ministries on other campuses.
It is also inter-pentecostal in attempting to brige the diverse petecostal traditions, and ecumenical.
Pentecoastal groups are active at several colleges in the New York City area and others like Rutges, Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, all Washington area campuse, Hampton Institute, Norfolk State, Virginia Union University in Virginia, North Carolina A and T and North Carolina Central University, and colleges in Florida and Illinois.
Short who began preaching in a local Baptish church at the age of 13, is a high-school graduate who held two associate pastorats in pentacostal churches before opening The Lord's Church, a storefront congregation, at 413 H St. NE in 1968.
However, he said, "I never felt called to the congregational ministry, Pentecotalis is very narrow, triumptant and sectariann the constant business of watching people come to pull out members away to their churches got to me. I thought it was a waste of time."
When they learned about the opportunity at Howard, the Shorts closed their church.
At first Short said he had to dispel some stigmas about pentecostals - that they are only lower class and illiterate, "holy rollers" and strictly in the business of proselytizing.
"I don't really want to make pentecostals out of people," said Short, who has several Baptists as leaders of his student group among other faiths, and who works with the United Ministries at Howard.
It is made up of chaplains representing Episcopalian, United Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran and Tom Skinner Associates, an evangelical, inter-faith organization.
Short's ministry, named the William J. Seymour Pentecostal Fellowship, after the founder of black pentecostalism - many believe all 20th-century pentecostalism - exists on what he calls "panic financing." It is usually called a "faith ministry," meaning he has no salary nor dependable income for the chaplaincy, the bills and his wife and two sons.
Dean Evans Crtwford of the Howard University chapel described that shoestring existence as a "testimony" to Short. "He is a man of aggression," he added.
The "spirit" of Short's venture coincided with a black religious awakening at Howard, Dean Crawford noted.
Editor Tinney also is trying to cultivate that spirit. A faculty member of the Howard School of Communications and a former editor of the Washington Afro-American, he initiated "Spirit" magazine to make the pentecostal presence more apparent in academic circles and to prompt cricital analysis of the movement.
Essays in the inaugural issue discuss differences between black and white pentecostals, the social welfare role of Father Divine, the African components of gospel music and roles of black Pentecostal intellectuals.
Contributors include Dr. Pearl Williams Jones of the University of District of Columbia, Dr. Bennie Goodwin of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. of Union Theological Seminary in New York and a noted pentecostal preacher.