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Demos Shakarian and His Ecumenical Businessmen

Demos had announced the meeting at the end of Oral Robert’s LA crusade. They both expected several hundred persons to attend the first breakfast meeting. Nineteen came. In spite of this, Oral Roberts prophesied it would be indeed an international organization to witness the power of God all around the world. But the weekly Saturday morning meetings continued to draw scant attendance – between 15 and 40. Some pastors began opposing the group fearing Shakarian would drain their best people and their money to “another church.” This was most unfair, as Demos continuously called the men to stay in their own congregations, and influence their churches with the power of the Spirit. But in 1950s the word “para-church” had not yet been coined, and the concept of an independent, non-denominational entity that supported other churches instead of competing against them was not well understood.

FGBMFI meeting inside Clifton’s.

After a year of meetings, Demos was deeply discouraged. When his evangelist friend Tommy Hicks visited his home, Demos went to prayer over the situation, to see what the Lord would have him do – thinking it may perhaps it was time to close it down. While Demos was praying Rose Shakarian slipped into the room and began softly playing their Hammond organ. She sang in tongues then prophesied: “My son, I knew you before you were born. I have guided you every step of the way. Now I am going to show you the purpose of your life.”[7]

At the same time Demos had a two part vision. He was taken up to the sky and from there could see the sad state of the world, with men lifeless and frozen in sadness. Then he saw the same men, all over the world, alive, happy and with their hands lifted praising the Lord. Rose understood her prophecy and his vision to mean that the FGBMFI would continue and grow. In fact, the next week Demos was given a $1,000 donation by one of his businessmen friends who had recently advised the Fellowship be closed down. It was used to start the Fellowships’ magazine, Voice.

The FGBMFI Explodes

The next year, 1952, the FGBMFI grew to eight chapters in the United States. At this early stage many who attended were also associated with the Camps Farthest Out.[8] By the late 1960s, there were three hundred chapters and over a hundred thousand members. The yearly conventions drew thousands, and attracted the best speakers of the Charismatic renewal. These were its glory years. In 1988, there were 3000 chapters in the United States and chapters in over 80 counties overseas. It had truly become international.

It is difficult to overestimate the role of the FGBMFI in the formation of the Renewalist churches. The FGBMFI was specifically a world-wide conduit for the Faith Idealism developed by E.W. Kenyon and spread by the “Word Faith” evangelists such as Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Hagan and Copeland were particularly popular speakers for the businessmen who resonated with the prosperity covenant taught them. The famous healing evangelists of the post-World War II era were also frequent speakers and ministered at their meetings.

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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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