thirst for more of God and desire to learn more about the work of the Holy Spirit resulted in participation in Para church groups such as Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship, Camps Farthest Out, and meetings held by Pentecostal churches and charismatic organizations.
During the early 1970’s, at the height of the Lay Witness Movement, Dr. Ross Whetstone served as the Assistant General Secretary of the Section on Evangelism for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church and was responsible for managing the lay witness movement. He recognized the need to do something to utilize the power possessed by these renewed people. He wanted to mainstream the energy into the church as a whole. Unfortunately, many Methodist charismatics held a Pentecostal interpretation of the scriptures relating to the gifts of the Spirit because of their contacts with FGBMFI and Pentecostal churches. That is, they believed the doctrine of “initial evidence” to the baptism with the Holy Spirit as being the gift of tongues. This was not compatible with Wesleyan theology.
Many charismatics were leaving Methodist churches for Pentecostal and independent charismatic churches. To stem this exodus, an official statement on the role of the charismatic renewal was desirable. Such a statement could indicate to the church at large that they were not an aberration and should be nurtured. 4
In 1972, the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference made a request of the General Conference (GC) of the UMC for a position statement on the charismatic movement and The UMC. Rev. Dick Burns, then a pastor in Johnstown and later appointed as a General Evangelist from Western Pennsylvania was a prime mover in the request. The GC referred the request to the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) Section on Evangelism.
As the head of evangelism, Ross Whetstone chaired the committee assigned to formulate and write the position paper, called: which was adopted by the 1976 General Conference as the denominations official position relating to the charismatic renewal and the operation of spiritual gifts. Ross came out of a Salvation Army background and was personally acquainted with the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Robert Tuttle was instrumental in writing significant sections of the paper.
Simultaneously, the church needed enlightenment concerning this most recent movement of the Spirit. To accomplish this, the GBOD organized and executed a series of conferences across the country whose express purpose was to teach and demonstrate the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Wesleyan tradition. 5
The Conference on Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches (CCRCC)
brought together an estimated 50,000 persons from at least 13 major Christian denominations and up to 40 smaller groups and networks. The event was planned and organized by the Catholic Renewal Services. It was an amazing gathering with Catholics, mainline Protestants, Pentecostals, Independents and Messianic Jews sharing in leadership and worshipping together in one place. Contemporary historians claim that it was the largest ecumenical gathering in the history of the Church. The leadership and attendees were classified as coming from four main streams: Catholic, Pentecostal, mainline Protestant, and Non-Denominational. They came together to celebrate the Lordship of Jesus Christ and their common experience of
Aldersgate Renewal Ministries: History and Impact - Page 4
Copyright © 2005, Gary L. Moore and Aldersgate Renewal Ministries. All rights reserved.