Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 1970's Charismatic Renewal

Here is an article I wrote for New Directions Magazine (UK) ten years ago. Last year in the context of speaking at an ecumenical meeting I revised and enlarged it, and offer it to you during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It deals with the charismatic renewal of the late 1960's and 1970's from a local perspective, and seeks to affirm that many of the realities experienced in the renewal (if not the exact method of experiencing them or language to describe them!) occur in different ways across the Christian traditions, and are one aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit among the people of God.


Any narrative of Australian ecclesiastical history must come to terms with the charismatic renewal movement that began to gather momentum in the late 1960’s, a few years later than in the USA. In the 1970’s it impacted the mainstream churches in this country with such a sense of refreshing and restoration that many Christians felt they had experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of the kind that was known by the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles.

Of course, this movement had its antecedents. They included the visits of well-known healing evangelists of various traditions, and the establishment of pentecostal churches in the first two thirds of the 20th century. Of note in Sydney, the city in which I grew up, there were the large healing services conducted by Canon Jim Glennon in St Andrew's Cathedral, and the remarkable ministry of Father John Hope, Rector of Christ Church St Laurence from 1926 to 1964, who combined a deep understanding of the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit with his leadership of the Anglo-Catholic way in New South Wales and beyond.

During the social upheavals of the 1960’s many baby boomers left the churches. A good proportion of those who remained were touched by the charismatic renewal. Continue reading ...


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