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Demos Shakarian and His Ecumenical Businessmen

Founding of the FGBMFI

It was at these revivals where Demos noticed that, unlike his Armenian-American congregation, very few men attended the events. Dr. Price informed him that this was common to the American church. He explained: “Sure, we clergy can give comfort and counsel to a man who’s down and out, but what about the man who makes it?…ministers like me don’t even know the language.”[5] Without knowing it Dr. Price planted the seed that would bear the greatest fruit in Demos’ life.

Clifton’s in 1940.

After the end of World War II (1945), Demos committed to sponsor and manage a major revival in Fresno. But when the time came for the revival he found himself in a business crisis of the family’s feed enterprise which needed daily attention. He chose to stay in Fresno and attend to the revival and God’s interests first. Miraculously, in the midst of the revival, the Lord sold that business for a profit. Demos then used the money to expand his dairy herd. That business prospered to the point of becoming the largest privately owned dairy in America.

Demos continued to sponsor Pentecostal events in California and especially the Los Angeles area, and as a byproduct created network of Pentecostal businessmen and professionals who contributed their money and skills to various rallies and revivals. Demos’ activities also made him friends with the major healing revivalists of the post-War era. He was especially close to Oral Roberts who had stayed at the Shakarian home several times. In the fall of 1951 Demos chaired and organized a large crusade for Oral Roberts in LA. Demos shared with Roberts his dream of establishing a fellowship for lay persons. Demos explained:

“It’s a group – a group of men. Not exceptional men. Just average business people who know the Lord and love Him, but haven’t known how to show it.”

“And what does this group do?”

“They tell other men, Oral. No theories. They tell what they’ve actually experienced of God to other men like themselves – men who might not believe what a preacher said – even someone like you – but he will listen to a plumber or dentist or salesman because there’re plumbers and dentists and salesmen themselves.”[6]

Oral Roberts affirmed that his dream was from the Lord, and promised to be the first guest speaker. In October of 1951, the first meeting of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International was held at the upper room of Clifton’s cafeteria in LA. It was a place that could accommodate several hundred persons. The plan to become international seemed pretentious at the time, but Demos insisted the Lord had given him that precise name.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2014

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 (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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