KANSAS CITY CONFERENCE
The old Rogers and Hammerstein tune said "Everything's Up-to-date in Kansas City" and as far as the 1977 Conference on Charismatic Renewal and the Christian Churches was concerned, everything certainly was up-to-date in Kansas City. Drawing together some 35,000 registered delegates and attendances of up to 50,000 people at the evening rallies at Arrowhead Stadium, it was the largest gathering of charismatic Christians ever held.
The conference itself brought together people from all different denominations; indeed, there were some ten different denominational groupings meeting together for the conference, including Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostals and even Messianic Jews. The breakdown of registrations showed that almost half the conference (45% to be exact) were Catholic, 30% were non-denominational Pentecostals and the remaining 25% were denominational people from other historic churches. Therefore, it was obvious that two of the ten groups made up 75% of the delegates at the conference. This either reflects that those two groups are particularly thriving in America, or else the other groups did not support the conference as strongly as was anticipated. It could also reflect that those two particular groups perhaps are better organised than some. For example, the United Methodist Conference had very little organisational structure prior to the conference and many leaders in the United Methodist charismatic movement were wary of establishing structures, but rather letting it become leaven in the loaf. However, since the conference moves have been made to establish some kind of Secretariat that can promote renewal within that Church.
What can one say about such a large and magnificent conference? It would be impossible to try and cover everything that happened; indeed, it was impossible to be involved in all that happened in such a large gathering.
The mornings were denominational conference held in various centres in the Kansas City downtown area. In the afternoon, there was an almost bewildering list of electives for people to choose from led by the many outstanding speakers at the conference. The evening meetings were held in Arrowhead Stadium, a beautiful arena which can hold up to nearly 80,000 people. It was there that the conference delegates gathered together for a wonderful display of unity in the Spirit that for some of the Australians was a reminder to us of what had taken place in January this year during the conferences here in our own country, except that it was on a much larger scale.
The evening meetings lacked a little due to the fact that having such a wide diversity of groups involved in the conference, attempts were made to give as many people as possible an opprotunity to speak. This meant that, particularly on the first two nights, the main speaker was not able to begin his message until well after 10.00 p.m. Consequently, in some ways it was a case of keeping the best wine till last and it was probably not till the final two nights that a real spirit of praise and worship and freedom in rejoicing in the Lord broke forth and the crowd really gathered together to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A.L.
Scenes at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, location for combined evening rallies. 1. The electronic football Scoreboard proclaims "Jesus is Lord". 2. Portion of the huge crowd of 50,000 people as they listen intently to an address by one of the many speakers. 3. Camera catches time of praise.
Kevin Ranaghan, conference chairman, who gave the opening address on the theme of unity.
Bob Mumford - well known Bible Teacher speaking at the press conference.
Ruth Carter Stapleton - sister of the President of USA. The President sent a telegram of greeting to the conference requesting their prayers.
Rev. Larry Christenson, who addressed one of the main evening rallies.