By Robert Lundy, AAC Communications Officer
On Friday, March 25, over 250 people gathered at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Akron, Ohio to rekindle an old flame. No, the occasion wasn’t a class reunion, it was the “Rekindling the Fire: Power in the Church” conference. The three-day teaching conference focused on the all too uncommon topic of the Holy Spirit and His ministry. “The conference sought to rekindle and re-energize Christians with the power of the Holy Spirit for ministry in the new Anglican Church in North America,” said Bishop Roger Ames, one of the conference organizers and presenters. “We want to bring the Holy Spirit more intentionally into the DNA of this new province and to capture again the excitement, energy and power that was a part of the renewal movement in the 60s, 70s and 80s.”
The renewal movement Bishop Ames referred to was a unique period where mainline denominations (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.) saw large numbers of priests and laity experience a first-time or renewed relationship with the Lord as well as being filled with the Holy Spirit. Many associate the beginnings of this “renewal movement” to Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett and his book “Nine O’clock in the Morning.” This was the story of what took place in Dennis Bennett’s church in Van Nuys, Calif., after he preached a Sunday morning sermon on April 3, 1960, about the underground Charismatic Renewal that was quietly racing through so many churches in America.
Bishop Ames, along with his fellow presenters, Bishops David Anderson and David Bena and their wives, were all part of the renewal movement and experienced the fruit of this revival within the Episcopal Church. Bishop and Mrs. Anderson both say that they came into the baptism of the Holy Spirit in February, 1978 at St. Andrew’s Church in Basin, Wyoming. As they moved through three pastorates from Wyoming to South Dakota to California, the church growth they witnessed paralleled the spiritual renewal in parishioners’ lives. As people came into a closer and fuller relationship with the Holy Spirit, Bishop Anderson observed that people seemed more devoted to Jesus, more interested in outreach ministry, read their Bible more, and found it much easier to pray.
Bishop Anderson recalled a time when a parishioner who was baptized in the Holy Spirit came to him and asked how he could help in ministry. This man was an oilfield trucker and was very strong. Anderson had wanted to have a ministry in the local county jail, but hadn’t gotten to it. So when the rugged parishioner asked for a ministry opportunity, Anderson called the Sheriff and arranged for him to visit, share the gospel and pray with prisoners. The image of a powerful muscular oilfield trucker wanting to talk to prisoners about Jesus apparently was compelling, as this ministry blossomed.
Read the full story on the American Anglican Council website.
Photo captions: Homepage – Bishop Roger Ames behind the podium, Above – Bishop David Bena and his wife, Mary Ellen, address attendees.