THE CHARISMATIC CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

Introduced by Revd. Charles Patterson, Rector of St John's, Lower Weston, on 17 October 1997

Charles Patterson spent three months studying the healing and charismatic ministry in 25 churches
from Toronto to New Orleans and Maine to California.
Fifty percent of American citizens attend a religious service regularly, compared to around 5% in
the UK.
The Pentecostal-Charismatic church movement is now the second largest denomination, after the
Catholics, in Christendom, having over 500 million members world-wide.
The Pentecostal Church was founded in 1906 in Los Angeles and developed through Aimee
Semple McPherson's Four Square Gospel Church in the 30s and the Calvary Church's Jesus Movement' in
the 60s to the Pensacola Revival recently (a more conservative version of the charismatic service, but which
claims 16 million American adherents and 100,000 converts at one church in Pensacola) of which a video of
an affirmation by a teenage girl was shown. The Baptists claim 20 million members in the USA; the
Episcopalians (Anglicans) 1.2 million.
The charismatic service is based on the Gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12: 8-12) which include
healing, speaking with tongues, miracles and prophecy. In Toronto in 1994 a small Pentecostal church
encountered this altered state of consciousness' and this type of service spread quickly over much of the
world as the Toronto Blessing'. In Korea every night 10,000 people in one church, the world's largest, pray
this way for much of the night. A video of a small part of this service in Toronto was shown in which people
were crying, laughing, dancing, clapping and falling down. The charismatic movement has penetrated other
denominations, including the Church of England at Holy Trinity, Brompton Road, London and St Andrew's,
Chorleywood in particular, and includes Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network & Christian
Charismatic University at Virginia Beach, USA.
In the discussion the speaker faced a critical audience who attributed many of the Gifts of the Spirit
phenomena to psychological disturbances of the human mind rather than God-given inspiration. The Subud
movement with its latahan state was mentioned as a similar altered state of consciousness without any
religious connotation, and a Muslim contributor reported a similar Charismatic Mosque' movement in Islam
at which he saw an apparent miracle, a man shooting himself through the stomach without blood appearing
or him dying.
The speaker admitted that charismatic churches in the USA seem very self-centred and do not
often concern themselves with the conditions of people outside their church. However, the Pentecostal-
Charismatic churches are the fastest growing of all.

Don Lovell