W. E. Penn
A Great Baptist Evangelist
William Evander Penn was born in Tennessee on August 11, 1832. He was saved at the age of 15 and joined a Baptist church near Milan. He opened a law office in Lexington, Tennessee in 1852. With the advent of the Civil War, he volunteered for the 16th Tennessee Calvary (C.S.A.) and rose to the rank of major, being henceforth known as "Major Penn" for the rest of his life. Seeking a fresh start after the war Penn moved to Texas and became a lawyer in the city of Jefferson. Rejoined the local Baptist church there and served as Sunday School superintendent and deacon.
In 1875 the pastor of the Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas asked Penn to speak to his congregation on Sunday morning. A revival broke out as Penn spoke to the crowds for five straight weeks. He soon surrendered to the ministry and became the first full-time evangelist in the state of Texas. He held revival meetings throughout the South, as well as England and Scotland. Penn realized the important of singing in relation to preaching, and therefore published his own hymnal "Harvest Bells."
During, his twenty years of public ministry, it was estimated that 50,000 individuals made public professions of faith under his preaching, the majority of which joined Baptist churches. One such convert was E. Y. Mullins, who became a noted leader among Southern Baptist. A contemporary said of Penn: "He strengthened the churches, held up the hands of pastors, denounced sin and warned the sinner." Penn died on April 29, 1895 and was buried in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. May God give His churches more Baptist evangelists like Major W. E. Penn.
[From Ben Stratton, Farmington, (KY) Baptist Church Bulletin, 4.28.13. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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