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Touched by the Wind: The Charismatic Movement in the Episcopal Church

By D. William Faupel

As appearing the Summer 2000 issue of The Pneuma Review

My mother met me at the door, her face bursting with excitement. “You will never guess what has happened,” she exclaimed. Before I could respond, she continued, “Pentecost has come to the Episcopalians!” The year was 1961. I was a senior in high school. Mother had just returned from a “prayer luncheon” at the local Episcopal Church where David duPlessis had brought word of Dennis Bennett’s “Pentecostal” experience at St. Mark’s in Van Nuys, California, the previous year. Later as I looked through the several issues of Trinity magazine, edited by Jean Stone a member of St. Mark’s, which mother had brought home with her, I, too, experienced the sense of excitement that God was about to do something new in His Church.

Almost forty years have passed since that incident. I have followed the developments of the Charismatic renewal within the Episcopal Church with great interest since then: for ten years from the perspective of a member of a Pentecostal denomination, and for the past thirty years as an Anglican. It is out of this dual background that I have been asked me to write a critical evaluation of the Charismatic Movement within the Episcopal Church.

 

I Bennett was not the first Anglican to receive the Pentecostal experience. In his much-publicized letter to his parishioners, dated April 5, 1960, he wrote:

“St. Mark’s is not alone in this Pentecostal phenomenon. I am not alone in this. I know of dozens of Episcopal parishes throughout the country where the work of the Holy Spirit is known in just this same way. I know of dozens of Episcopal clergy who know about it all, and rejoice in their knowledge.”1

He claimed the movement was also in evidence in other established denominations but that “up to now it has been kept a secret.” His announcement brought the phenomenon into the open and gained national attention. Soon he was responding to numerous invitations to speak and teach in distant cities in the United States and beyond.2 Jean Stone, a parishioner at St. Mark’s also fostered the early growth of the movement. Articulate, charming and capable, she spread the charismatic word on television, radio, in the press, and at ecumenical gatherings and in Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship meetings. She launched Christian Advance, a nationwide preaching mission and established Trinity House, a temporary home for displaced clergy who had been relieved of their parishes because of their Pentecostal witness. Most significantly to the fledgling movement, she founded and edited Trinity magazine to promote the Pentecostal message among Episcopalians. By the end of 1961 she estimated that over 1,000 Episcopalians in Southern California alone were numbered within the movement.3

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Summer 2000

About the Author: D. William Faupel, Ph.D., serves as Professor of the History of Christianity and Director of the Library at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, library science and the history of Christian thought from Asbury Theological Seminary, and the University of Kentucky in Kentucky and the University of Birmingham in England. Dr. Faupel, ordained in the Episcopal Church, has served as pastor, education and editor and writer. He is the author of The Everlasting Gospel: The Significance of Eschatology in the Development of Pentecostal Thought (Deo Press, 2008).

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