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

Two books, published in 1963, further enhanced the initial spread of the movement among Anglicans. Episcopalian John L. Sherrill, editor of Guideposts set out to discredit the movement. In the course of his investigation he be became convinced of its divine authenticity. His book, They Speak with other Tongues,4 quickly became a best seller. The same year, David Wilkerson, Assemblies of God minister, published The Cross and the Switchblade,5 which told of his work with drug addicts in New York. He maintained that former addicts empowered through Spirit-baptism had a far greater success rate of staying drug free than persons going through other detox programs. Wilkerson’s book, like Sherrill’s, exercised an influence that penetrated deep within the Anglican Communion.

Wilkerson’s ministry to one cleric proved particularly significant. Graham Pulkingham had accepted a call to the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas in 1963. Faced with a dying congregation in a decadent neighborhood, he attempted all kinds of new programs to make the church relevant to its setting. Disillusionment from failure soon pressed upon him. In desperation, he sought and received the experience of “Spirit-Baptism” under the ministry of Wilkerson in 1964. Transformation was immediate. Within months the Church of the Redeemer became revitalized, become a witnessing, catalytic agency in the greater Houston area. Soon the church was sponsoring a medical clinic, a youth coffeehouse, a prison ministry and a neighborhood literacy program. Like Bennett, Pulkingham traveled the length and breath of the United States and overseas in a ministry of teaching, preaching and prayer. He sent forth teams of layman from his parish as “enablers” to assist other churches to experience spiritual renewal. Scores of young people went from his church sharing the Gospel through music and personal testimony.6

Soon other churches, like St. Luke’s in Seattle, Washington, St. Paul’s in Derrian, Connecticut, Trinity in Bridgewater, Massachusetts became centers of charismatic activity both receiving people from across the nation to come for teaching regarding the experience of “Spirit-Baptism” and sending forth workers to proclaim the new message.8

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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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