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Charismatic Leaders Fellowship 2021

Read the 2020 CLF report

 

The 2021 Charismatic Leaders Fellowship (CLF) met on Feb. 22nd and 23rd in Augusta Georgia, at the Alleluia Community School. This was the third consecutive year the CLF has met there, much to the satisfaction of the participants. The Alleluia Covenant Community is well known for the spirit of generous hospitality it offers to its visitors, and this makes attending the Augusta CLFs especially pleasant. If you are interested in how Christian covenant communities operate you could not do any better than visiting the Alleluia Community. Its members are predominantly Catholic, but the community is splendidly and enthusiastically ecumenical (Bob Garrett, its moderator, is a member of the Vineyard Church). They would welcome your visit.

This year’s meeting accommodated the COVID-19 pandemic by being a hybrid of virtual and physically-present meeting. The international speakers and attendees had to do so by Zoom [a virtual presence platform], of course, as visas were not forthcoming during the present pandemic. It was also a scaled-back conference, two days instead of four, but turned out to be spiritually and intellectually full.  In fact, there was a special anointing over the whole meeting sensed by many of us. There were 30 at the on-campus meetings but another 70 joined in as speakers and participants via Zoom sessions. The technology needs for the Zoom session was a bit daunting, or at least I found it so, and after a few bumps, all went well.

This year’s theme was church unity and how to achieve it – perhaps that is why there was a special anointing present. The speakers outlined how their organizations attempted to bring forth greater unity among the sundry Christian denominations.

2021 theme: unity and how to achieve it.

The first speaker was Joe Tosini, the leader of John-17 Ministries in California who described the work of his group, and shared how the Lord awoke him the night Pope Francis was elected Pope, and told him to help Francis work on church unity – serious stuff for a Pentecostal preacher. Tosini shared that Pope Francis is truly focused in doing all he can to bring forth reconciliation and unity in the Church.

The next two speakers were from Europe and shared how their organizations were striving for unity in the hostile, anti-Christian European environment. There the Christian denominations are more united and less competitive than in the U.S. as a necessity (and grace) for survival. In a private Zoom exchange with me, Martin Buehlmann, the Vineyard coordinator for central Europe shared that the greatest obstacle to effective evangelization in Europe was the “disastrous” present condition of American evangelicalism, including the Trump cult, which has brought shame to Evangelicalism.

Fr. Timothy Cremeens, a Greek Orthodox priest who has spoken various time at the CLF told of the woeful resistance of the Orthodox hierarchies to both ecumenism and to any form of charismatic or Pentecostal input in their churches. He suggested continued intercessory prayer for the Orthodox churches, and on the earthly level something very doable.  That pastors of Evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic churches make special efforts to befriend their local Orthodox priest and plan joint events, as is food distribution to the poor. Who knows which of these priests would be eventually elevated to be bishops, and with them carry the possibility of Spirit-filled revival among Orthodox churches.

The next day’s program began with a tribute to two giants of the Pentecostal/charismatic world who died the previous year: Dr. Vinson Synan, and the Rev. Dr. Francis MacNutt [Editor’s note: See “Introducing Francis and Judith MacNutt” by William De Arteaga].  Both were members of the original founding group of the CLF leaders and frequent attendees at CLF conferences.

Brazilian Cardinal Tempesta and his assistant we the next speakers via Zoom. They detailed how the Brazilian Catholic church was making special efforts to reconcile with its Protestant and Pentecostal brethren after decades of often violent persecution. The ecumenism in Brazil is driven from the top down. That is, the hierarchy and clergy make plans and programs that often include joint ministry. It should be noted that Brazil’s Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, are rapidly become Pentecostal/charismatic.

This was followed by Bob Garrett’s talk on the practical results of ecumenism, using Augusta as an example. He shared that the city has been rejuvenated by its many ecumenical outreaches, and that the formerly run-down neighborhood around Alleluia community has been brought back to life.  He ended with a touching description of how he experienced the real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion with various Christian traditions: Protestant, Pentecostal and Catholic.

James Munk gave a talk on how to retain the next generation in the church in the face of an increasingly anti-Christian environment. His talk generated the most comments and dialogue of the whole conference.

My favorite presentation was given as a joint zoom session by Pastor Randy Clark and Dr. Mary Healy. Most readers of Pneuma Review are aware of the important role Pastor Clark has played in the charismatic renewal and authoring many books on healing and the Holy Spirit. But many may not have heard of Dr. May Healy, a preeminent Catholic biblical scholar. She was the first woman appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission. She has also been a long time charismatic and has written books about healing and deliverance.

Pastor Clark and Dr. Healy co-wrote The Spiritual Gifts Handbook (Minneapolis: Chosen, 2018), an unsung masterpiece of ecumenical pastoral theology. They described how they had no theological differences pertaining to the gifts of the Spirit, but how they did have to talk about what vocabulary and phrases to use to avoid putting off one group or another.

After that Zoom presentation the conference broke up into sharing and discussion groups, and then a final prayer and benediction. At that time, we laid hand on and prayed over Fr. Cremeens to be an instrument to bring a Holy Spirit revival to the Orthodox churches in America.

Ya’ll come and join us next year in Augusta if you have a leadership role in any Pentecostal or charismatic church or organization. Contact Bob Garrett at the Alleluia Covenant Community (www.alleluiacommunity.org).

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2021

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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