Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Gathering of Charismatic Saints

I just returned from the exciting meeting of the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship (CLF) in Jacksonville, Fla. That meeting, by invitation only, is the annual gathering of those original leaders whom God chose to introduce the move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches. Among the 60 attendees were the great pioneers who wrote the early books on the Holy Spirit for their denominations.

Although I can’t remember all of them, I will list those that I do. The person who is credited with the Holy Spirit move into the first major denomination, the Episcopal Church, was of course, Dennis Bennett, who has now passed on to glory. (I always thought it was God’s sense of humor when He picked the stuffiest and most uptight of the major churches to introduce tongues and other supernatural manifestations.) Present at the Jacksonville meeting, from those very early days in the Episcopal Church however, were David and Ginny Collins. Following are others who were at the beginning outpouring into major denominations: Francis and Judith MacNutt, and Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan at the outpouring on the Roman Catholic Church; Scott Kelso and Linda Kelso at the outpouring on the Methodists; Jim and Anne Bevis at the outpouring on the Disciples of Christ; Larry and Nordis Christenson at the outpouring on the Lutherans. A scheduling conflict prevented attendance by Gerald Derstine who was at the outpouring on the Mennonites. There were others there at the gathering that I did not meet.

I am sure these old saints, many of them now in their 70s and 80s, suffered many scars and disappointments. Over the years they watched as the Pentecostal and the Spirit-filled independent churches exploded, while their denominations froze up in theological battles.

Two observations were my main impressions: Through it all, they stayed the course, never wavering. Secondly, I know of no scandals among this group, even though most of them became quite prominent in their movements. There were lots of husband and wife teams who had been together since the beginning.

It was an inspiring group to be among and I am grateful that I was invited.