04 November 2015
The ongoing legacy of the Pentecostal Movement
The early part of the 20th century gave birth to the Pentecostal movement that touched the globe. Today, according to a 2011 Pew Forum study of global Christianity, there are an estimated 279 million Pentecostal Christians, making up 4 per cent of the world's population, and 12.8 per cent of the world's Christian population. This tremendous move of God traces its roots to the Holiness Movement of the 19th century, the Azusa Street Revival of 1906, the Welsh Revival of 1904-05 and the Sunderland Conventions of 1908-14.
The legacy of this movement can be seen in a number of Pentecostal member denominations of the Alliance, with a number of these being formed within months of each other around a hundred years ago. While the Assemblies of God, for example, celebrated their centenary last year, the Elim Pentecostal Church has been holding a number of centenary events this year. Elim General Superintendent John Glass summed the joyous mood by stressing the value of "honoring yesterday while dreaming great dreams for the days that lie ahead."
Next year is the turn of the Apostolic Church and we will look a bit more in depth at what their centenary means to them.
Baton passed on to second century
In 2016 the Apostolic Church will be celebrating 100 years of Christian ministry in the UK and abroad. With roots directly traceable to the Welsh Revival of 1904-05, and officially inaugurated on 15 January 1916, the Movement has grown to have a presence in nearly one hundred nations and a membership base of over 10 million people, drawn from almost every continent of the world.
The growth and influence of the Apostolic Church throughout the world is a lasting testament to the huge sacrifice of the many men and women, who, along with thousands of others from other Christian movements and denominations from the United Kingdom, gave their lives to the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ in foreign lands.
National Leader, Emmanuel Mbakwe, explained that the growth of the movement is testament to the obedience of countless men and women who responded to a prophetic word that came in 1917 in which the Movement was commissioned by God to "belt the globe with the Gospel". He goes on: "Our desire is not simply to give a fitting tribute to memory of those men and women, commemorating and celebrating their deeds; more importantly, it is to seek to inspire hearts and mobilise the present and next generation to give themselves in the same selfless way as our forefathers, in the cause of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. That for me would be the single biggest legacy - raising the next generation of missional leaders and people, who would continue the task of 'belting the globe with the gospel'."
While the anniversary next year will be marked by a number of events across the United Kingdom, the process of celebration and inspiration has already started. One such event is the global baton pass. This is a stainless steel baton being passed between every Apostolic church in the United Kingdom, as part of the centenary celebrations. The baton is engraved with the words '1916-2016 Our first century'. It recently came to the Churches in South Wales. At Tŷ Gwyn Community Church, Llanelli , cheering broke out at the singing of the world famed hymn, 'Amazing Grace', as the baton arrived in the car park on September 10th. The oldest and youngest church members stood proudly together holding the baton for the photographers.
"Before my son Jac took the baton to Kidwelly on his bike we took it to all seven churches in Llanelli. Each church wanted to receive the baton and pray for us. We're so overwhelmed by this support from all the churches," Tŷ Gwyn lead Pastor, Ivan Parker, explained.
As the baton makes its journey through the nation, a prayer from inside the baton is read in each church. The prayer ends with this phrase: "By His unstoppable grace we will run our race into our second century." By horse, by lifeboat and even by glider, the baton will pass across the breadth of the UK. The UK Apostolic Church is looking to God for the next stage in passing the Gospel baton at home and overseas.
The baton will complete its journey in August as it enters Cheltenham racecourse - the venue for their Centenary Conference ('AblazeUK'). The conference is expected to be the biggest single gathering in the UK of the many nations where the Apostolic Church has a presence. Guests of honour, friends and well-wishers from across other denominations and movements in the UK are also expected to be in attendance.