04 The New Life Churches and the rise of the Charismatic movement • E-Theses

04 The New Life Churches and the rise of the Charismatic movement

Brett Knowles, , University of Otago, Dunedin

Knowles, History of the New Life Movement, Ch. 3 B. Knowles, History of the New Life Churches in New Zealand, Otago PhD.

Chapter 4. © 2003 - Brett Knowles,

An e-theses.webjournals.org article.


4. The New Life Churches and the rise of the Charismatic movement

      The year 1965 was a significant one for the New Life Churches. The various pastoral conferences and conventions held in preparation for "Operation Gideon" strengthened the corporate identity of the movement. This coincided with a transition from an era of evangelistic campaigns to one of church planting and consolidation, and also with the emergence of the Charismatic renewal within the denominational churches in New Zealand.[1] Although there were no direct organisational connections between the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, a number of Pentecostal leaders had some influence on the early development of the renewal. However, this influence was two-way, as the Charismatic movement also exercised a moderating effect on the sectarian ethos of many New Life Churches.

      Colin Brown observes that in the case of the Anglican Church, one of the earliest groups affected, the beginnings of the renewal are usually dated from 1965, when Charismatic activity began in Palmerston North at All Saints' parish and at Massey University, principally as a result of the ministry of Father Ray Muller.[2] Other, more disruptive, effects were also felt when, in the same year, the Awapuni Baptist church withdrew from the Baptist Union as a result of a division over the Charismatic issue.[3] The


increasing momentum of the movement was reinforced by the visit of Father Dennis Bennett in September and October 1966, and Lineham notes that "that tour marked the commencement of the Charismatic Movement in the main churches."[4]

      While there can be no doubt that the years 1965 and 1966 were significant for the emergence of the Charismatic movement in New Zealand, this was not an unified movement, springing up from a single source, and following a single course. Rather, as Ken Wright, an early participant in the movement, comments,

God broke through from quite a number of different angles and different `streams' almost simultaneously during the early mid-1960s....It's very difficult to attribute the overall development of the [Charismatic] movement...to any one particular thing or church.[5]

      Commentators have not always recognised the diversity of the Charismatic movement in New Zealand, and its "pre-history" has often been overlooked. Both Colin Brown in particular, and Allan Neil to a lesser extent, tend to gloss over the period prior to 1965. Peter Lineham, however, traces the progress of the movement from 1959 to 1965 in his survey of the impact of the Charismatic movement on the Brethren assemblies in New Zealand,[6] and Eric Hodgkinson emphasises the diversity of those groups which participated in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements from the 1960s onwards.[7]

      In this chapter, an attempt will be made to sketch some of the early developments which led to the emergence of the Charismatic movement in this country. The diversity of the renewal will be illustrated by focusing on two individual churches which each made a major contribution to it, namely, the Palmerston North Christian Fellowship and the Christchurch New Life Centre. However, two cautionary comments must be made. Firstly,

the reference to these two churches as specific examples is not intended to suggest that the Charismatic movement was confined to Palmerston North and Christchurch. Rather, the renewal was widespread and multi-faceted. In its earlier stages, it was particularly strong in Auckland, and this section of the movement has been well documented by Merritt[8] and by Myers.[9] However, since these churches are now both affiliated with the New Life Churches, they provide good examples of the ways in which the New Life Churches and the Charismatic movement have influenced and changed each other. Secondly, the emphasis on the New Life Churches does not necessarily imply that they had a greater influence on the renewal than the other Pentecostal churches such as the Apostolic Church or the Assemblies of God.[10] The New Life Churches are an example of, rather than the sine qua non of, Pentecostal influence on the emerging movement.

 4.1. The foundations of the New Zealand Charismatic movement

      The emergence of the Charismatic movement in the 1960s owed more to individual influence at a personal level than to any organizational or institutional efforts. There were a number of examples of this, chief among them two Brethren visitors from overseas, Campbell McAlpine and Arthur Wallis, who helped to lay the foundations of the movement in this country.[11] McAlpine had arrived in New Zealand in 1959, and was widely accepted as a preacher and convention speaker in Brethren and Baptist circles, as well as having an inter-denominational ministry in groups such as Youth for Christ. Although his dynamic sermons were memorable, it was his "winning personality and...aura of saintliness"[12]

which enabled him to make a deep impact on those with whom he came in contact. However, when the New Zealand Brethren discovered that he had experienced an "infilling of the Spirit" in South Africa in the late 1950s, his acceptability in the Brethren assemblies began to wane, and from then on his ministry was largely confined to "cottage meetings" in private homes, where he was able to share his Charismatic testimony in greater detail. After conducting the "Tell New Zealand Crusade" in 1963, in which he sought to place a copy of the Gospel of John in every home in the country, McAlpine left New Zealand in September that year, returning briefly to address the conference at Massey University in August 1964.

      Arthur Wallis built upon the foundation that McAlpine had laid. Like him, he also had great acceptability among the Brethren assemblies, as well as in wider Evangelical circles. He had been invited to New Zealand to speak at a Brethren camp in April 1963, and remained in this country until the end of the following year. His influence on the emerging Charismatic movement was crucial, for during his stay he "helped to bring Charismatics who were not in Pentecostal churches into contact with each other, and to assist them to retain their own identity separate from other Pentecostals."[13]

      Wallis was one of the organizers, together with Frank Carlisle of Wellington, a Charismatic member of the Brethren, of the Massey University Conference in August 1964. Wallis and McAlpine were the main speakers at this Conference, as well as Tom Marshall, a Charismatic Baptist, also from Wellington. A number of other speakers, including several Pentecostal ministers (Trevor Chandler, Frank Houston and Rob Wheeler) shared their testimonies of how they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. This Conference was a landmark for the Charismatic movement in New Zealand. A participant reported that

for the first time in the History of New Zealand, we saw Christians and ministers from the BAPTIST-ANGLICAN-PRESBYTERIAN-BRETHREN-S.A. [Salvation Army], of whom many had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, also many from the PENTICOSTAL [sic] churches all gathered together to worship the Lord under one roof.[14]


Over 300 people attended the conference, including a number of the "Full Gospel ministers,"[15] and the article commented on the

gracious spirit of love and fellowship one towards the other as each one dropped their denominational tags....Believe it or not - as these ministers were all thrown in together, a spirit of love flowed between them and between other denominational ministers....Truly God was knitting hearts in a bond and fellowship between all His ministers.[16]

This conference therefore helped to forge links between the participants in the Charismatic movement, as well as between them and the classical Pentecostal groups, and laid the foundations for the outbreak of the movement in Palmerston North and elsewhere in 1965. Annual "trans-denominational" Conferences, featuring overseas and local participants in the Charismatic renewal, became something of an established model for the movement in the following years. Ken Wright observes that

there was no doubt at all that the nature of the ministries that we brought into the country at that time, plus the ministries that Des Short was having...with his major Conventions [in Tauranga],[17] had a tremendous influence overall upon the whole move of the Spirit in the country, as well as, of course, the ongoing influence of the likes of Peter Morrow, Frank Houston, Rob Wheeler and co. had a great, great, impact in these areas, to name just a few.[18]

      Wright's latter comment shows that there was also considerable early influence on the movement from New Zealand Pentecostals.[19] In the case of the Assemblies of God, this can be traced back to Ray Bloomfield, who was a very effective evangelist, especially among the Maori people in Northland and elsewhere, in the late 1950s. Ian Clark comments that

"Ray [Bloomfield], although he held AOG [Assemblies of God] credentials, was always a very free spirit, and he...wasn't typical of many AOG people at the time."[20] Although Bloomfield moved to the United States and Canada in early 1960, and consequently had little direct influence on the course of events in New Zealand, his unsectarian attitudes were inherited by his assistant Frank Houston, who had worked with him for three years, and who became pastor of the Lower Hutt Assembly of God in December 1959.[21] Houston played a decisive role in the development of the Assemblies of God, spearheading its growth in the 1960s, and becoming its General Superintendent in 1966.[22]

      However, Houston's openness to the independent Pentecostal churches, including the New Life Churches,[23] and to the denominational churches was of even greater significance than were his activities in the Assemblies of God. Houston's ministry, as well as that of his assistant Trevor Chandler,[24] also helped to create links with mainstream church members which greatly assisted the growth of the Charismatic movement. Ken Wright observes that "the major effect...upon [the Charismatic movement in] our region at that time...really was the influence of Frank Houston's church in Lower Hutt, and Trevor Chandler, who came up here [to Palmerston North] on a number of occasions and took house meetings and other meetings."[25] The influence of Houston and Chandler, together with that of McAlpine and Wallis and the momentum generated by the 1964 Massey Conference, helped to lay the foundation for the Charismatic movement in Palmerston North, and led to its expansion there in 1965.

      However, Houston and Chandler were not the only examples of the personal, rather than organizational, influence of the Pentecostal movement on the Charismatic renewal. Others examples included the ministry of Peter Morrow and other Pentecostal pastors in

Christchurch; the effect of Rob Wheeler's and Ron Coady's campaigns,[26] as well as those of the White brothers from the Apostolic church, and of other Pentecostal evangelists; and the impact of the face to face grassroots "witnessing" of individual Pentecostal believers. A corporate influence on the Charismatic movement was that of the Apostolic Church, who throughout the country

had quietly...for a number of years felt led of God to belong to the local ministers' fraternals. That...gave them an open door to be able to...proclaim and share the truth of Pentecost, in a low key role, which had considerable impact because of their faithfulness and their obvious love and fellowship with...vastly different ministers from totally contradictory theological backgrounds.[27]

      Another important catalyst in the expansion of the Charismatic movement was that of publications from overseas. David Wilkerson's book The Cross and the Switchblade, published in 1963,[28] was by far the most influential of these, and was widely read in New Zealand.[29] Later examples include John Sherrill's They speak with other tongues,[30] Michael Harper's As at the Beginning,[31] and Dennis Bennett's Nine O'Clock in the Morning.[32] Magazines and periodicals were also influential. A New Zealand example is Logos magazine, published in Christchurch from August 1966 on, which was effectively the

"voice" of the New Zealand Charismatic movement until August 1970, when its base of publication shifted to Australia.

      There was therefore neither a single source for the Charismatic renewal, nor an unified manifestation of it. The combination of stimuli which helped to produce the movement varied from place to place, and different churches experienced it in different ways and gave different responses to it. Two churches which demonstrate the diversity of the Charismatic movement are the Palmerston North Christian Centre and the Christchurch New Life Centre.

 4.2. A tale of two churches

4.2.1. The Palmerston North Christian Centre

      One of the churches which was most strongly influenced by the Charismatic movement in its initial stages was the Awapuni Baptist church in Palmerston North. Ian Drinkwater, its pastor, had been baptised in the Spirit in the early 1960s, with the result that "people who were getting renewed in the Spirit...were drawn like magnets...[and] quite a move of God broke out" in that church.[33] Awapuni Baptist Church became one of the focal points for an early fellowship of Charismatics in Palmerston North, and Ken Wright (at that time a Charismatic Presbyterian elder) recalls that he used to "go down and help the [Baptist] pastor out with the evening services and [attend] my own church in the morning."[34] The Charismatic activity of this group in Palmerston North appears to precede that of Ray Muller, and in fact, to have been a factor in bringing Muller to his own experience of the Holy Spirit. Hodgkinson states that "in Palmerston North there was strong input, especially into Ray Muller's ministry" and observes that

it has been generally accepted (Brown and Neil[35] state this) that the Rev. Ray Muller the curate at Anglican All Saints Church received the Baptism in the Spirit through a prayer meeting at St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Kilburnie in August 1965.


Ken Wright...disputes this and said that he'd prayed for Muller prior to this and that Muller had received it with signs of glossolalia.[36]

      Although Awapuni Baptist Church formed a focal point for the early Charismatics in Palmerston North, membership of this group was not confined to that church. The group was quite influential on the emerging Charismatic movement, in that it laid the foundations for much of its later development. Hodgkinson notes that

Neil[37] implies that Ray Muller had set up the Christian Advance Tape Library in 1965-66. Actually it was set up by a group consisting of Ian Drinkwater (Baptist minister at Awapuni Baptist Church), Ray Muller [Anglican], Ian Hunt [Independent Pentecostal] and Ken Wright [Presbyterian]. Ian Hunt physically ran the library.[38]

      This tape library later evolved into the Christian Advance Ministries, which spearheaded the Charismatic movement in New Zealand from 1973 on. The group was also responsible for the invitation of overseas Charismatic speakers to this country. Hodgkinson says, again quoting Wright, that

one day while praying as a group in Ken Wright's home, Ray Muller suggested that they contact Rev. David Du Plessis and invite him to New Zealand. This group helped Ray Muller to organize his visit in February 1966. The same group also invited Dennis Bennett in September/October 1966 and Rev. Michael Harper in August/September 1967.[39]

The visits of these overseas speakers considerably advanced the Charismatic movement in New Zealand, and together with the Conventions organized by Teen Challenge and other groups in the late 1960s, provided the model for the later "trans-denominational Conferences" which formed a prominent feature of Charismatic activity from 1972 on.

      Despite the rapid expansion of the Charismatic movement, there were also some difficulties. The Awapuni Baptist Church seceded from the Baptist Union in 1965[40]

and became "an independent church with an eldership who were all formerly Baptist or Brethren."[41] Wright explains that

the church itself had come into quite a bit of disfavour, really, with the...Baptist movement generally, as it was the first...Charismatic Baptist church in the country....There was quite a sort of inner conflict within the assembly with people who did not want to change with the renewal, and also pressure coming from outside the assembly from the Baptist Union....Some people that remained in the church at that time...were actual [Baptist] members, although...quite a good number of [the] people attending...would not take on Baptist Union membership....So the remaining actual Baptist members voted themselves out of the Union, and decided to form a new Charismatic Fellowship.[42]

Wright was invited, along with the elders of the former Awapuni Baptist Church, to join the eldership of the new group, which was called the "Palmerston North Christian Fellowship." The new church grew steadily, taking over the rental of an old picture theatre in the city centre in 1974 in order to accommodate the growing congregation, and at that time changing its name to "Palmerston North Christian Centre." The church was sub-divided into two in the early 1980s, with the "Palmerston North New Life Centre" being established in the northern part of the city. According to Wright, the combined congregations of the two churches at the end of the 1980s totalled about eleven hundred to twelve hundred people.[43]

      The new group was strongly evangelistic, as its predecessor, the Awapuni Baptist church had also been, and was heavily involved with groups such as Teen Challenge New Zealand, Youth for Christ, Christian Advance Ministries and other para-church organizations. It was not, however, initially affiliated to any group of churches, although there were strong personal ties with others in the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Wright comments that

in the mid-60s,...through the...respect for...the likes of Peter Morrow and Rob Wheeler,...when we became an open Christian fellowship ourselves, we felt the need to associate or identify with a particular group of churches, and basically...not on doctrine or theology but on the basis of friendship and relationship with these dear folk. We brought our church into an affiliation with them, and have remained in that state since, and continue to enjoy that relationship with the wider


representation of the New Life Churches of New Zealand. In actual fact, our local fellowship has always been very much open and involved with the total Body of Christ, and we have gained favour and acceptance with a large range of different church fellowships and groups, but, nevertheless, still felt it necessary to have that broader identification and fellowship and relationship with these dear brethren.[44]

Not all Charismatic groups made this "broader identification," since

at the same time there was also a developing group of people who were caught up in a `twilight zone,' where they couldn't really go all the way with Pentecost and they couldn't go all the way with their `mainstreams,' and so lots of independent indefinite little fellowships sprang up out of that. And I suppose initially that would also [have] been something [of] the nature of our fellowship in its early origins, but we recognise the wider Body of Christ so much that we didn't isolate; [in] fact we became more involved with it.[45]

      The Palmerston North Christian Centre is therefore representative of a particular sub-set of the Charismatic movement. While there was some classical Pentecostal input into this group in the initial stages,[46] it had a largely Charismatic identity, rather than a Pentecostal one.[47] Once the momentum of the renewal had begun to accelerate, particularly after the start of Ray Muller's activity, the Charismatic movement in general began to distance itself from classical Pentecostalism and to develop an independent, more mainstream, identity. Despite this process of detachment, however, some Charismatic groups found themselves in something of a "limbo" between the mainstream and the Pentecostal churches, and these groups tended to add another stratum to the variety of "independent" Pentecostal churches already in existence.[48] As Hodgkinson puts it,


from the mid-1960s to the 1970s there arose another grouping of churches whose leaders had their roots in fundamental evangelical churches like the Baptist and Open Brethren....Arising out of the charismatic influence in the [Brethren] assemblies a new grouping of independent Pentecostal churches got established. In many respects they were similar to the Brethren Assemblies (emphasis on Eldership, Priesthood of All Believers, on open meeting where anybody could participate) yet with the charismatic emphasis on Baptism in the Spirit....The influence of men with Brethren and Baptist backgrounds were [sic] considerable - McAlpine, Wallis, Milton Smith, Tom Marshall, Trevor Chandler, Frank Garrett, and Wyn Fountain.

      Over a period of 10-15 years from 1964 churches such as Awapuni Christian Fellowship (now Palmerston North Christian Fellowship), Kapiti Christian Fellowship, Upper Hutt Christian Fellowship, Fairlie New Life Centre [and] Western Suburbs Christian Fellowship [were founded]. Today there are over 50 churches that have plural leadership that are Pentecostal in nature.[49]

      Some of these churches formed a distinct nucleus around the person of Hudson Salisbury, and are sometimes known as "the plurality group" (a reference to their style of "plural leadership" by a college of elders).[50] The Palmerston North Christian Centre, however, linked itself with those churches represented by Peter Morrow and Rob Wheeler, i.e. the "Indigenous Full Gospel Churches of New Zealand" or "New Life Churches." In so doing, they, and other churches which had their origins in this sub-stratum of the Charismatic movement, brought several differences of emphasis into the New Life Churches.

      Firstly, these churches stressed the Baptist and Brethren polity of "plural leadership," i.e. the corporate leadership of the autonomous local assembly by an "eldership" comprising several "elders" of equal rank and authority. This stood in marked contrast to the polity of strongly individualistic leadership by the local pastor, inherited by the New Life Churches from their Bethel Temple antecedents and patterned, to some extent, on the rather autocratic pastoral style of Ray Jackson. Secondly, these churches brought with them a more open attitude to the wider church than had been the case in the New Life Churches to

this point, although this "anti-denominational" stance itself was also changing. And thirdly, these churches had considerably less antipathy towards the building up of "organizational" links with other local assemblies.

      The influence of these churches, reinforced by that of individual Charismatics who had transferred their allegiance from denominational churches to Pentecostal groups during the late 1960s and early 1970s, did much to broaden the sectarian outlook of the New Life Churches. Contact with other Charismatic groups also contributed to an erosion of the movement's traditional "anti-denominationalism." This broadening of outlook helped to lay a foundation for Pentecostal involvement in the beginnings of the moralist movement in the 1970s, and was a factor in the structural evolution of the New Life Churches in the 1980s.[51]

 4.2.2. Peter Morrow and the Christchurch New Life Centre

      Pentecostal links with the Charismatic movement appear to have been more pronounced in Christchurch than was the case in Palmerston North.[52] In particular, Peter Morrow and the Christchurch Revival Fellowship played a key role in the early stages of the movement,[53] which was augmented by an influx of young people from the "Jesus Movement" from August 1971 on.[54] The initial vehicle for much of this Pentecostal input was "Adullam's Cave," a coffee bar set up by the Christchurch Revival Fellowship about

1964-1965 in an upstairs room on the corner of Tuam and Durham Streets.[55] Morrow recalls that "Adullam's Cave" was

a dilapidated room...[that] became a coffee lounge just for kids off the street[56]....We didn't know that was the place God was going to use to baptise multiplied hundreds with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit...in the next three years....We thought it was going to be used for...[reaching] some of the kids in the street, and we did [that] on Friday and Saturday [evenings]. But it was mainly...used for people on Thursday [evenings] to get the Baptism.[57]

Teaching meetings were held at "Adullam's Cave" every second Thursday evening, and here

some 50 to 60 non-Pentecostals, including Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and a few Baptists and Brethren came for teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit....There was a new turnover every two weeks....They came for teaching and then went back to their own churches.[58]

      The steady turnover of denominational people attending these teaching meetings continued for some three years, with the result that during this time hundreds of people from all denominations experienced the Baptism of the Spirit there.[59] However, "Adullam's Cave" represented only the initial stage of the Charismatic movement in Christchurch. Gaynor Loryman, writing in 1973, reported that "the Charismatic movement in Christchurch started about eight years ago [i.e. 1965] among Protestants and five years ago [i.e. 1968] among Roman Catholics - but the movement has really gained momentum only in the last 18 months."[60]


      There therefore appears to be at least three distinct phases in the development of the movement in Christchurch. The first of these, commencing about 1965 and focused to some extent on "Adullam's Cave," had its greatest influence among Protestants. A second phase, beginning in 1968, saw the start of the movement in the Catholic church. That year Peter Morrow had spent some time talking to the Catholic priests at the Redemptorist monastery, and had prayed for three priests (Fathers John McGill, Cecil Dennehy and Bruce McGill) who were later to be very influential in the Charismatic movement in the Catholic church.[61] However, there had already been some input from the Christchurch Revival Fellowship into the Catholic community prior to this, since Rasik Ranchord recalls that the Fellowship had

managed to get a tape of the `move' among the Catholic people in Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana [in 1967], and we began to circulate that among the Catholic community....We were quite keen to see them being ministered to in this area [i.e. the Baptism of the Spirit], without necessarily trying to get them to come and `join' us.[62]


As a result of this, some Catholic people began to become involved with the Revival Fellowship's Bible studies, then conducted in "Adullam's Cave," and later in the "New Life Centre" in Lichfield Street. There were no "strings" attached to these teaching meetings, and people were free to come without pressure being placed on them to "join" the Fellowship.[63] Ranchord sees this as being a unique factor in the early stages of the Charismatic movement in Christchurch, observing that

we did get some `flak' from people from the Pentecostal movement thinking that we were `compromising.' At that stage, the main feel[ing] among these churches was `come out,' and so, seeing we were teaching these people without making them necessarily come out to us, [it] was quite, quite, quite different....We found [that]...we did have quite an influence among them, and what it was, probably, that God blessed was...an openness of spirit, to minister without getting them to `join' us. That was quite different; they didn't feel `trapped' or feel `threatened.'[64]

      The particular contributions of Peter Morrow and the Christchurch Revival Fellowship to the Charismatic movement were two-fold. Firstly, they did much to foster the "openness of spirit" to other denominations and church groups which characterised the Charismatic movement in Christchurch.[65] The bonds of fellowship were warm and genuine. Morrow, for example, spent some time at the Redemptorist monastery, talking to the priests there until midnight. He recalled


leaving Cecil [Dennehy] at twelve o'clock (and he certainly had a very, very, wonderful love for God), and I remember him asking me `what do you think of ecumenicalism, Peter?'...I remember him lifting up his hand and saying `when the Protestants lift up Jesus, and they see only Jesus, and the Catholics lift up Jesus, and they see only Jesus, we're going to come together in Jesus.' And I said, `Cecil, that's my language; I think we're going to get on well together!'[66]

The "openness" of this fellowship had the effect of producing an informal ecumenism among those who shared the experience of the Baptism of the Spirit. Indeed, to many of the participants in the Charismatic movement, this was the real ecumenical movement.

      A second significant contribution of the Christchurch Revival Fellowship to the Charismatic movement was an emphasis on Bible teaching. This itself was a legacy of its "Bethel Temple" antecedents. Ranchord comments that

we found that there were a lot of hungry people that didn't have anywhere to go for teaching, because Bible teaching was so little emphasised, or appeared to be, in their own churches. And, like one man said,...[when] a Catholic became a Charismatic, the first thing he...[did was to buy] a Bible. So there was a great need for teaching, and we found people just flocked in to receive teaching this way.[67]

      This emphasis on Bible teaching appears to have had a strong appeal for many in the Charismatic movement. The uncritical, although clear and authoritative, emphasis on "the Bible says" seems to have been as attractive to the new Charismatics in the late 1960s as it had been to their Neo-Pentecostal counterparts in the earlier part of the decade. The result was an influx into the teaching meetings, both at "Adullam's Cave" and later at the New Life Centre in Lichfield Street. There was little direct pressure placed on Charismatics to "join" Pentecostal churches,[68] although there was steady growth throughout the later 1960s in the Christchurch Revival Fellowship's own meetings at the Horticultural Hall in

Cambridge Terrace. As Neil comments, "the years 1967 to 1971 were the `hey-day' for independent Pentecostals and the Assemblies of God especially in Christchurch and Auckland. Both the Assemblies of God, Queen Street, Auckland, and the New Life Centre, Christchurch...had a marked upsurge of growth in this period."[69] While Morrow believes that the Charismatic movement contributed to the numerical growth of the Christchurch New Life Centre only "indirectly...[since] most of the people went back to their own churches,"[70] the hunger of the new Charismatics for Bible teaching appears to be a major factor in this expansion.

      To summarise: the influence exerted by the Christchurch New Life Centre on the Charismatic movement was quite different from that of the Palmerston North Christian Centre. This reflected the dissimilar origins of the two churches. The bloodlines of the Christchurch New Life Centre ran through the Bethel Temple and Latter Rain movements, and, as an "indigenous" Pentecostal assembly, this church was typical of the first generation of the movement that later evolved into the New Life Churches of New Zealand. By contrast, the Palmerston North Christian Centre had its origins in the Baptist and Brethren movements, and became affiliated with the New Life Churches following its secession from the Baptist Union.

      This diversity of origin was reflected in the polity and ethos of the two churches. Whereas the Christchurch New Life Centre emphasised the role of the individual pastor,[71] the Palmerston North Christian Centre was governed by a "plural eldership." Furthermore, the Christchurch New Life Centre was primarily a teaching church, although individual personal contacts were also an important component of its input into the Charismatic movement. By contrast, the Palmerston North Christian Centre directed its energies towards evangelism and the holding of trans-denominational Conventions. Each of these churches influenced, and was influenced by, the emerging Charismatic movement in different ways.


4.3. Towards Maturity: The growth of the Charismatic movement

      Following the commencement of the Charismatic renewal in the Protestant churches in 1965 and in the Catholic church in 1968, a third phase of the movement's development began in 1971. A major expansion of the renewal was then starting in many mainstream churches, and this gained momentum over the next two years.[72] Consequently, this period has been described as a boundary line between "the period of the pioneers" and "the time of ingathering" for the movement.[73] To some extent, however, it also marked the start of an era of polarisation between the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements and the beginnings of an increasing sense of Charismatic identity.

      Until this time, "the early charismatics [had] leaned heavily on pentecostal mentors and [had] experienced much suspicion as a result."[74] With the expansion of the renewal in the historic churches, however, and especially with the introduction of programmes such as the "Life in the Spirit Seminars"[75] (which, as Battley observes, "gave [it] tools that the Pentecostals had never developed"[76]), the movement began to establish its own independent identity. This process was reinforced by the launching of Christian Advance Ministries in 1972, and led to a degree of polarisation between the Charismatic movement and the classical Pentecostals, and a rejection of Pentecostal "cultural baggage" (e.g. an insistence on glossolalia as the only evidence for the "infilling of the Spirit," a tendency towards unrestrained and exuberant manifestations of Charismatic gifts, and an uncritical

Fundamentalist emphasis on "the Bible says").[77] In particular, the 1973 Summer School, organised by the newly-formed Christian Advance Ministries in January 1973, reinforced a move away from the "predominant [i.e. classical Pentecostal] theological interpretation of charismatic experience."[78] According to Neil, 1973 therefore marked a "coming of age" of the Charismatic movement in New Zealand.[79]

      Despite the growing divergence in ethos and emphasis between the two movements, the Charismatic renewal nevertheless owed much to classical Pentecostalism. Pentecostal individuals and groups had provided the stimulus by which many Christians from the historic churches came into the experience of the Baptism of the Spirit, and "initially there was considerable influence at the personal and the organizational level by the Pentecostals."[80] However, Pentecostal patronage of the Charismatic movement was not limited to this initial process of catalysis. Charismatics often faced considerable opposition from their own churches during the early stages of the renewal. As a result of this,

many left the institutional church either because they were forced out, or because they could express their faith in a new setting without restraint or embarrassment....Thus amid theological confusion and misunderstanding on both sides, people were forced to leave and join Pentecostal groups.[81]

      Although Pentecostal churches often provided a haven for Charismatics disowned by their own churches, the influence of Pentecostal teaching on the theological framework of the renewal was of greater significance. In part, this was a response to the perceived need in

the movement for spiritual leadership and for clear Bible teaching.[82] Up until 1971, this was largely, although not exclusively, provided by Pentecostal churches, particularly in the case of Christchurch. This emphasis on "Bible teaching" was the most important overall contribution of classical Pentecostalism to the Charismatic movement in the years from 1967 to 1971, and helped to provide the initial categories and conceptual frameworks within which the Baptism of the Spirit was understood. In this respect, the contribution of the New Life Churches, with their strong Bible teaching ethos inherited from their Bethel Temple antecedents, was particularly significant.[83] It was not until the Charismatic movement began to develop its own independent identity after 1971 that this Biblically-oriented Pentecostal conceptual framework began to be replaced by a more theologically-nuanced Charismatic interpretation and ethos.

4.4. The effects of the Charismatic movement on the New Life Churches

      The Charismatic movement had some reciprocal effects on the Pentecostal churches. In the case of the New Life Churches, the most important of these was that it served as a catalyst for the beginnings of a "break-out" from their sectarian mentality. However, this did not take place immediately. The Charismatic renewal at first appeared to catch the classical Pentecostal movement by surprise, since "for many independent Pentecostals, especially those who had `come out' from the historic denominations, a charismatic renewal within the traditional Church [was] anathema and an impossibility."[84]


      Consequently, attitudes within many of the New Life Churches to the Charismatic renewal were initially ambivalent. These were a product of the movement's traditional emphasis on "non-denominationalism," and were epitomised in an article by Rob Wheeler in Bible Deliverance, entitled "Will God revive the Historic Churches?"[85] While the article rejoiced in the "outpouring" of the Holy Spirit upon denominational people, which was "thought impossible ten years ago," it also warned that

you cannot place new wine in old bottles. That is, you cannot keep the outpouring of the Holy Spirit within the confines of Historic religion. It may last for a time, but eventually there comes a break. You may be able to stay there, and even be accepted for a time, but in the end you face a decision to either compromise on your experience and convictions and begin to `water down' your testimony (or else keep quiet altogether) or else graciously step out, and fellowship where freedom of worship and operation of the Gifts is allowed. You cannot successfully do both.[86]

      Wheeler's article also adduces practical reasons why "coming out" from the mainstream churches should be necessary, arguing that "it is impossible to maintain the `glow' of the Spirit and development of the Gifts by staying in the orthodox churches."[87] Even Pentecostal churches came under its blanket condemnation of "denominationalism":

Does this mean then, that orthodox christians receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit should join `Pentecostal' denominations who claim to have the liberty of worship and operations of the Gifts of the Spirit? Facts show that this is NOT happening, for thousands of Christians are receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit all over the land, but do not join up with recognised Pentecostal Churches. Is this because most Pentecostal groups in their turn, have become `old wineskins' set hard by their councils and boards? I am convinced that this is so, for hundreds of Full Gospel christians are leaving their Assemblies also, and stepping out of their `historic' church into house meetings, cottage groups and so-called `Independent' groups, where Denominationalism is not recognised or desired, and where the Spirit of the Lord can continue to restore His Truths and Gifts to His People....God is reviving PEOPLE...but not denominations. God is pouring out His Spirit on all MEN [sic] everywhere...but not upon movements. God is restoring

New Testament Christianity to individuals for one reason...to bring them out of tradition and formality into a true Holy Spirit inspired unity that is God's answer to the Satanic inspired `World unity of Churches.'[88]

      Wheeler's views reflected the characteristic "come-outism" of the early New Life Churches, inherited from their "Latter Rain" antecedents. It is significant that his article should have appeared in Bible Deliverance just six months after a report in the same magazine on the Massey Conference held in August 1964. That report described the Conference, in somewhat rhapsodical terms, as pervaded by a "gracious spirit of love and fellowship one towards the other as each one dropped their denominational tags...[and] a spirit of love...between them and other denominational ministers."[89] Wheeler's article demonstrates that although there was an acceptance, at least in theory, of Charismatic Christians in other denominations, there was still a strong antipathy towards denominationalism and particularly towards the World Council of Churches. The reported change of attitude at the Massey Conference does not appear, at this stage, to have penetrated very deeply into the thinking of the New Life Churches. Their "come-outism" remained largely intact, since they expected that Charismatics in the historic churches would eventually have to "come out" of the "old wine-skins" of the denominational systems, including those of the "organised" Pentecostal churches.

      Two factors helped to bring about a gradual change in the antipathy of the New Life Churches towards the denominational churches. The first of these was the example of Peter Morrow and Rasik Ranchord in Christchurch and of their more conciliatory attitude towards other churches. Wheeler acknowledges that

Peter Morrow has been the `giant' of relationship with the Charismatic stream. I remember Peter rebuking the lot of us - we were becoming a cult of our own - and we always said `Peter, you're too "wide"!' But a couple of years later, we appraised the situation, and he did the right thing. But he's the one who has championed the cross-relationship with churches.[90]


    Morrow's influence helped to stimulate the beginnings of the Charismatic renewal in Christchurch, and to moderate the vigorous anti-denominationalism of the New Life Churches. The expansion of the Christchurch New Life Centre in the late 1960s and the 1970s,[91] in part due to an influx of Charismatic Christians, provided him with a strong base from which to recruit and to train pastors and missionaries. Morrow established two Bible Schools in Christchurch[92] in order to provide this training. Several Charismatic ministers from other churches[93] also shared in the teaching at these schools, and this inter-church cooperation did much to stimulate open attitudes in Morrow's students. The placing of many of these students into pastorates and other positions of leadership in the New Life Churches and elsewhere helped to spread these attitudes.

      Another moderating influence on the sectarianism of the New Life Churches was the influx of Charismatics into the Pentecostal churches. This influx was both individual and corporate. On an individual level, it comprised those people who "were from the historic churches and were baptised in the Spirit....[and who] remained in the Pentecostal setting in order to continue to receive teaching and fellowship, while generally maintaining a fairly minimal allegiance within their own parishes."[94] Many of these Charismatics eventually transferred their allegiance to Pentecostal churches. This influx was also corporate, in that Charismatic churches, such as the Awapuni Baptist Church, sometimes became linked, either formally or informally, with Pentecostal groups. The effect of this individual and corporate influx was a dilution of the anti-denominational ethos of the New Life Churches.

      To summarise: in their early stages, the New Life Churches, like most Pentecostal groups, were strongly sectarian, demonstrating a marked antipathy towards other churches and towards the World Council of Churches in particular. While this antipathy reflected a

traditional Pentecostal distrust of denominationalism and organisation, it was to some extent also a response to the opposition of other churches towards Pentecostalism. Nevertheless, the Pentecostal movement did much to foster and to nurture the emerging Charismatic renewal. For example, the emphasis of the New Life Churches on Bible teaching, and the conciliatory attitude of a number of people in the movement (in particular, Peter Morrow) enabled them to have some input into the beginnings of the Charismatic movement in the historic churches.

      Charismatic individuals and churches often linked, usually on an informal basis, with Pentecostal groups for fellowship and teaching; but in so doing, they helped to change the attitude and ethos of those Pentecostal groups with which they "fellowshipped." A particularly influential example of this was the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International,[95] which created a broadly-based independent forum for the sharing of Charismatic testimonies, and which did much to break down barriers, both between the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, and also between these two groups and mainstream Christianity.

      Thus, as the renewal expanded, the sectarian suspicions of the New Life Churches were gradually eroded, and they benefitted greatly from an influx of Charismatic Christians and groups in the 1970s. The New Life Churches and the Charismatic movement therefore influenced and changed each other. While, on the one hand, the teaching ethos of the New Life Churches contributed to the thinking of the early Charismatic movement, on the other hand, the renewal (and the attitudes of people such as Peter Morrow to it) helped to bring about a gradual erosion of the isolationist ethos of the New Life Churches, and helped to broaden the movement's sectarian horizons.


[1]       The best overall coverage of the Charismatic renewal in New Zealand up to 1974 is that of Allan G. Neil, "Institutional Churches and the Charismatic Renewal: A Study of the Charismatic Renewal in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church in New Zealand" (Diploma S.Th. Thesis in Church History, Joint Board of Theological Studies, 1974). Other useful overviews are those of Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic Movement?" [1985]; Ker, "Religion and Society in Interaction"; and Lineham, "Tongues must cease." Analyses of specific aspects of the movement are offered by Michael David Myers, "Organizational Change in the Auckland Catholic Charismatic Movement" (M.A. Thesis in Anthropology, Auckland University, 1978), and M.T. Vincent Reidy and James T. Richardson, "Roman Catholic Neo‑Pentecostalism: The New Zealand Experience," Australia and New Zealand Journal of Sociology 14 (1978): 222‑230, both of which focus on the Catholic Charismatic movement. Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," examines the beginnings of the Charismatic movement in the Manawatu area, and corrects Neil's thesis at several key points.

[2]       Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic movement?" [1985], p.105. Neil emphasises the centrality of Muller's role even more strongly than does Brown, saying that "over half of the [Massey University] students baptised in the Spirit at this time [1966] were Anglicans, more than the total number of classical Pentecostals in Palmerston North, and this situation reflects the considerable personal influence of Father Muller in shaping the charismatic movement" (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.88).

[3]       Brown, "How significant is the Charismatic movement?" [1985], p.108. This church later became the Palmerston North Christian Fellowship, and is now affiliated with the New Life Churches.

[4]       Lineham, "Tongues must cease": 41. This statement is not altogether correct, since Lineham had earlier referred to the conflicts which resulted from the impact of the Charismatic movement among the Brethren in the early 1960s. David du Plessis had also visited New Zealand earlier in 1966. Perhaps it is more accurate to describe Harper's visit as the commencement of public awareness of the Charismatic movement in the main churches.

[5]       Ken Wright, Taped interview in response to Questionnaire, Palmerston North, April 1990. Wright was originally a Presbyterian elder, and later an elder in the Awapuni Baptist Church following its secession from the Baptist Union. He eventually became a pastor in the Palmerston North Christian Fellowship.

[6]       Lineham, "Tongues must cease."

[7]       Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement."

[8]       N.F.H. Merritt, To God be the glory: the first 10½ years of the Charismatic Renewal in St. Pauls (Auckland: St. Paul's Outreach Trust, 1981).

[9]       Myers, "Organizational Change."

[10]     Lineham, however, stresses the role of the New Life Churches, saying that the Bethel Temple missionaries, chief among them Ray Jackson, "were to break the barriers which prevented the Pentecostal sects from making an impact in the mainstream churches" (Lineham, "Tongues must cease": 15). The influence of Frank Houston and Trevor Chandler of the Assemblies of God should be set off against Lineham's claim.

[11]     For the development of the Charismatic movement up to the 1964 Massey Conference, see Ibid., passim.

[12]     Ibid., p.23.

[13]     Ibid., p,.40.

[14]     "Most Unique Convention in History of New Zealand," Gospel Truth, August 1964, p.6 (capitalization, spelling and punctuation as per article). The author is not named, but may have been David Jackson, the publisher of the Gospel Truth. Most of this article was reprinted in Bible Deliverance, October 1964, p.15.

[15]     Ibid. The article names these as "Rob Wheeler, of Tauranga; Ralf [sic] Reid, of Christchurch [Assemblies of God]; Norman and Gilbert White, of Feilding [Apostolic]; Alister Lowe of Tuataperi [sic]; Ian Hunt, of Palmerston N[orth]; David Jackson, of Timaru; Allen Thrieft [sic], of Whakatane; Frank Houston, of Lower Hutt [Assemblies of God]; Duncan Ferguson, of India; Chas. Bilby, of Wellington [Elim]; Milton Greenslade, of Timaru; Dr. Greenway, of Hamilton [Apostolic], and others." It is evident from the number of Pentecostal groups included under this rubric that the term "Full Gospel" was equivalent to "Pentecostal," so far as the writer of the article was concerned.

[16]     Ibid.

[17]     See Worsfold, History, p.219, for examples of these.

[18]     Wright, Interview.

[19]     Neil states that almost all those experiencing Charismatic renewal up to 1965 had done so through the Pentecostal churches (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.88).

[20]     Clark, Interview.

[21]     Houston, Being Frank, p.113.

[22]     Worsfold, History, p.217.

[23]     See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," p.29, for an example of this.

[24]     Chandler was originally a Baptist lay-missioner who had himself been baptised in the Spirit in Houston's meetings in the late 1950s (Lineham, "Tongues must cease": 22).

[25]     Wright, Interview.

[26]     Ibid. Wright states that Ron Coady's campaign with the White brothers in Fielding in late 1964 was particularly influential on the emergence of the Charismatic movement in the region.

[27]     Ibid. Wright contrasts this openness with the attitude of "a lot of other Pentecostal churches...[who] were closed and suspicious" of other churches. This suspicion was also evident in the Pentecostal movement in the United States: Edith Blumhofer refers to "initial Assemblies of God hesitations about the charismatic movement" (Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, 2:53). She links these "hesitations" with the inherent anti-ecumenicalism and anti-Catholicism of the Assemblies of God in the 1960s (Ibid., pp.103-105), and argues that the Latter Rain movement and the healing evangelists of the 1950s laid the foundation for the emergence of the Charismatic movement in the 1960s (Ibid., p.86).

[28]     A later edition is David Wilkerson, John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Cross and the Switchblade, movie ed. (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1975).

[29]     Lineham, "Tongues must cease": 20. An example of its influence is given in David Balfour's testimony in Logos, August 1966, p.7. Balfour's story is quite typical; an examination of the various testimonies published in Logos shows that the role of literature was very important indeed in the spread of the Charismatic movement.

[30]     John L. Sherrill, They speak with other tongues (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1967).

[31]     Michael Harper, As at the Beginning (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1965).

[32]     Dennis J. Bennett, Nine O'Clock in the Morning (Watchung, New Jersey: Charisma Books, 1972).

[33]     Wright, Interview.

[34]     Ibid.

[35]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.85.

[36]     Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," pp.12-13.

[37]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.95.

[38]     Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," p.13.

[39]     Ibid.

[40]     Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic movement?" [1985], p.108.

[41]     Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," p.9.

[42]     Wright, Interview.

[43]     Ibid.

[44]     Ibid.

[45]     Ibid.

[46]     Neil comments that, in the context of the Charismatic movement in Palmerston North in 1966, "there was little direct classical Pentecostal influence....This is in sharp contrast to events before 1965. Until then the charismatic experience was mediated almost exclusively through classical Pentecostals" (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.88).

[47]     One of the main differences between the Charismatic movement and the classical Pentecostals is that Charismatics, in general, do not subscribe to the Pentecostal insistence on glossolalia as the only evidence for the "infilling of the Spirit."

[48]     Nicol comments that there were fifty-four Pentecostal churches in New Zealand at the beginning of the 1960s, seventeen of which were "unaffiliated with any national or international Pentecostal organisation" (Nichol, The Pentecostals, p.179). Worsfold briefly refers to these in a chapter headed "The Independent Churches and Groups" (Worsfold, History, pp.297-303). Included in these were a small number of churches which later evolved into the New Life Churches.

[49]     Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," pp.8-9. Of the five churches cited, two (the Palmerston North Christian Fellowship [Centre], and the Fairlie New Life Centre) are listed in the New Life Churches of New Zealand, "1990 Directory of Pastors and Churches," Christchurch, 1990. (Mimeographed.)

[50]     Hodgkinson quotes Hudson Salisbury's estimate that this group comprises about fifty such assemblies, with approximately 2,500 adult adherents (Salisbury, cited in Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," p.1, note 1, and pp.8-9).

[51]     John Walton, who became one of the leaders of the New Life Churches following Rob Wheeler's retirement due to ill-health in 1989, exemplifies this change of outlook. Walton came originally from the Exclusive Brethren, and later was a member of Awapuni Baptist Church (John Walton, Interview, Pleasant Valley, Palmerston, Otago, 4 February 1989). He became prominent in the New Life Churches in the 1980s, and his elevation to joint leadership of the movement (alongside Peter Morrow, who had been associated with the movement since the "Bethel Temple" era of Ray Jackson in the early 1950s) demonstrates the changing character of the New Life Churches.

[52]     Neil comments that in Christchurch, most participants in the Charismatic movement had come into the renewal through the Pentecostal churches (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.93).

[53]     Rasik Ranchord, then Peter Morrow's co-pastor in the Christchurch Revival Fellowship, recalls that "at that stage [1967]...we were probably the first Pentecostal church that was involved in the Charismatic move [in Christchurch]" (Rasik Ranchord, Interview, Christchurch, 21 November 1989). The Christchurch Revival Fellowship was later renamed Christchurch New Life Centre; in the late 1960s, however, the name "New Life Centre" referred to a non-denominational teaching centre run by the Christchurch Revival Fellowship in premises in Lichfield Street. This teaching centre was a continuation of the earlier teaching meetings at "Adullam's Cave."

[54]     However, the main beneficiary of this later influx from the "Jesus Movement" was the Sydenham Assembly of God, pastored by Dennis Barton.

[55]     See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.51-52, for a brief account of this, and also P. Morrow, "Coffee Bar," Church Bells, June 1966, pp.5 and 18, which includes a photograph of "Adullam's Cave."

[56]     This coffee bar was patterned along the lines of David Wilkerson's "Teen Challenge" outreach described in The Cross and the Switchblade. Christian coffee bars such as these became a feature of many church outreaches in the later 1960s. They provided a Christian counterpart to the secular coffee bar which formed a prominent part of the youth culture of the 1960s. For an example, see "Christian Keen-Teen Canteen," Revival News, June 1965, p.9, which features the Nelson/Richmond church's coffee bar.

[57]     Peter Morrow, Interview, Christchurch, 13 May 1988. The success of the Thursday evening meetings at "Adullam's Cave" appears to have taken Morrow by surprise. He comments that although one of his intercessors had related to him in 1963 that a revival was coming, "the `move' happened in a totally different way than I thought" (Ibid. Emphasis as cited.)

[58]     Peter Morrow, cited in Loryman, "Growth of the Pentecostal Movement," p.7.

[59]     Morrow, Interview [1988].

[60]     Loryman, "Growth of the Pentecostal Movement." The figures given by Loryman's informants indicate that although the movement was strategically placed for future growth, it was still comparatively small at that stage in Christchurch. According to these informants, Charismatic participants were as follows: Roman Catholic - 500 Charismatics (including thirty priests) meeting

weekly in eighteen groups of ten to fifty people each; Anglican - thirty to forty Charismatics, meeting in ten groups; Baptist - the pastor of Spreydon Baptist estimated more than a quarter of his congregation to be Charismatic. However, Loryman does not mention the Presbyterian wing of the movement, which, as Colin Brown points out, was particularly strong in Christchurch and in nearby Leeston (Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic Movement?" [1985], p.106).

[61]     Copeland, Faith that works, p.36. Copeland emphasises the role of these three men in initiating Catholic prayer groups in Wainuiomata and elsewhere in 1969. These groups, in which Copeland himself was a participant, helped to foster an expansion of the Catholic Charismatic movement from 1973 on. Copeland's account corrects that of Reidy and Richardson, who state that the New Zealand Catholic Neo-Pentecostal movement began in Auckland in early 1970 as a result of the influence of David Wilkerson's book The Cross and the Switchblade and Kevin Ranaghan's book Catholic Pentecostals, and that "later in the same year, a second group of Roman Catholics initiated Pentecostalism in their Church in Christchurch as a result of their contact with an independent Pentecostal Church - the New Life Revival Centre. Growth since 1970 has tended to be either outwards from these two cities or `spontaneous'" (Reidy and Richardson, "Roman Catholic Neo-Pentecostalism," p.222). However, as Copeland records, and Loryman confirms, Catholic Charismatic activity in Christchurch had begun in 1968, i.e. two years before the beginnings in Auckland. The difference in the two dates is explained by the reluctance of the early Catholic participants to identify themselves publicly with the movement. Loryman comments that Father Dennehy had kept quiet for two years about his Charismatic experience, waiting for a Roman Catholic bishop to be baptised in the Spirit (which he saw as providing the necessary legitimation for his own experience). This happened in the United States in 1970, and Dennehy then felt free to acknowledge his involvement with the movement. The effect of this was that in the early stages, Catholic participants in the movement were instructed by Protestants in most cases (Loryman, "Growth of the Pentecostal Movement"). The Catholic Charismatic movement did not therefore develop its own separate identity until 1970, although it had functioned as something of an underground movement up to this time.

[62]     Ranchord, Interview.

[63]     Ibid. This lack of pressure was reinforced by the fact that the Christchurch fellowship, at this stage known as the "Christchurch Revival Centre," was a separate entity from the "New Life Centre." This latter title related to a teaching centre in Lichfield Street, run by Peter Morrow and Rasik Ranchord, together with other Charismatic teachers. As with "Adullam's Cave," the "New Life Centre" represented "neutral territory," and people from non-Pentecostal churches therefore felt free to attend the teaching meetings held there.

[64]     Ibid.

[65]     Ranchord comments that his own education had been in Catholic schools, and that Morrow had come from an Anglican background. He believes that this "exposure...had given us...a good...attitude...towards these people from the denominational churches" (Ranchord, Interview). However, in so far as the Catholic wing of the movement was concerned, this "good attitude" was due as much to the openness of Bishop Ashby to the Catholic Charismatics (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.152), as to the non-sectarian attitude of Morrow and Ranchord. Consequently the Christchurch Catholic Charismatic movement appears to have been the most successful of the Catholic Charismatic movements in New Zealand, and was much more ecumenical than its counterpart in Auckland (Ibid., p.177).

[66]     Morrow, Interview [1988]. Emphasis as cited. Dennehy's open-heartedness may also have been a product of the influence of the Second Vatican Council.

[67]     Ranchord, Interview. By contrast, Myers refers to the lack of "good teaching" in the Auckland Catholic Charismatic movement: "they were spiritually hungry but they weren't getting anything." This led to the diminution of the movement there from 1973-1974 on (Myers, "Organizational Change," pp.109-110).

[68]     "After some of those early stages, [people] seemed to be...mainly coming to the New Life Centre....We did get quite a few people...from among the churches. But, at no stage, was it because we forced them to join us: we left that decision to them....It was a point of how the Lord led them" (Ranchord, Interview. Emphasis as cited). However, the New Life Centre was not the only Pentecostal group which benefitted from this influx, since many of the younger charismatics, known as "the Jesus People," gravitated to the Sydenham Assembly of God in the early 1970s.

[69]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," pp.109-110.

[70]     Morrow, Interview [1988].

[71]     Or, in this particular case, pastors (i.e. Peter Morrow and Rasik Ranchord).

[72]     Loryman, "Growth of the Pentecostal Movement."

[73]     Battley, "Charismatic Renewal": 49.

[74]     Ibid. Neil also makes reference to "the great influence exerted by classical Pentecostals on those charismatic Christians in the historic churches between 1967 to 1971" (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.97).

[75]     These seminars were produced by the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. The "Life in the Spirit Seminars" therefore had their roots in the Notre Dame Charismatic movement, since this community had a Catholic majority (Neil, "Institutional Churches," pp.139-140). In fact, the "bible" of the Charismatic movement from the 1970s on (the Team Manual for the Life in the Spirit Seminars) was published at Notre Dame by a group called Charismatic Renewal Services.

[76]     Battley, "Charismatic Renewal": 49.

[77]     Neil comments that the Charismatic movement "borrowed from the classical Pentecostals in the areas of their greatest weakness: exegesis and systematic theology" (Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.106). It also uncritically accepted the "cultural baggage" of classical Pentecostalism, i.e. its "speech patterns, prayer postures, mental processes and expectations" (Ibid., p.107).

[78]     Ibid., p.134. Neil discusses this classical Pentecostal theological interpretation in Ibid., pp.11ff.

[79]     Ibid., p.131.

[80]     Hodgkinson, "Independent Pentecostal Movement," p.12.

[81]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.84. Neil gives the example of several Anglican Evangelical theological students from Christchurch, who were baptised in the Spirit through Rob Wheeler's ministry in 1961, and who he claims were "forced out and reluctantly left the Anglican church to join the Assemblies of God. Two of them are now Anglican priests - a situation which is now [i.e. in 1974] possible because of a more tolerant and accepting attitude towards charismatic expression in the Church" (Ibid., p.84, note 2).

[82]     This need was identified by Michael Harper, following a visit to New Zealand in August and September 1967. He commented that "there is a great need for wise and strong spiritual leadership in the present situation [i.e. the status of the Charismatic movement in the face of some heavy opposition]. There is a hunger for clear and authoritive [sic] Bible teaching" (Michael Harper, "Report from New Zealand," Renewal, October/November 1967, p.21, cited in Ibid., p.108).

[83]     Rob Wheeler believes that the New Life Churches had a particularly important effect on the Charismatic movement. However, this was not "as a stream, [but]...individually" (Wheeler, Interview). He makes this comment in the context of Peter Morrow's involvement with the renewal in Christchurch; and, as already been observed, the role of teaching was a crucial factor in Morrow's and Ranchord's influence on the Charismatic movement there.

[84]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.59. Emphasis as cited.

[85]     Rob Wheeler, "Will God Revive the Historic Churches?" Bible Deliverance, April 1965, pp.13-15. It must be emphasised, however, that although Wheeler's views as expressed in the article were a fairly accurate articulation of the movement's Bethel Temple/Latter Rain heritage of "come-outism," and were widely shared in many of the New Life Churches at the time, this was not an universal conviction. These views would not have been held, for example, by Peter Morrow and Rasik Ranchord in Christchurch, nor by the Palmerston North group of which Ken Wright was a part.

[86]     Ibid., p.14.

[87]     Ibid.

[88]     Ibid., pp.14-15. Emphasis as cited. Despite the considerable hyperbole (i.e. "thousands of Christians are receiving the Baptism," et cetera), Wheeler's article is valuable as an explication of a commonly-held perception in the New Life Churches at the time. See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," p.52, for a further example of this perception.

[89]     "Most Unique Convention in History of New Zealand," Gospel Truth, August 1964, p.6, reprinted in Bible Deliverance, October 1964, p.15.

[90]     Wheeler, Interview.

[91]     This had grown from an estimated 115-120 people in 1964-1965, to a "comfortably full" large auditorium (seating 800-1000 people) at the Horticultural Hall in Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch by 1980 (Morrow, Interview [1988]). In the late 1970s, the Christchurch New Life Centre purchased and renovated the old Majestic Theatre in Manchester Street, renaming it "Majestic House." Since 1980, this has been the central focus of many of the church's activities.

[92]     These were the International School of Ministry in Thorrington Road, Cashmere and the Living Springs Bible School at Governor's Bay.

[93]     For example, Rev. Owen Woodfield of the Opawa Methodist Church and Rev. David Balfour of the Anglican Church.

[94]     Neil, "Institutional Churches," p.93.

[95]     The story of this group is told in Shakarian and Sherrill, The Happiest People on Earth. The first FGBMFI chapter in New Zealand was established in the mid-1960s, and by 1975, there were sixteen chapters (Ibid., p.161).

© Brett Knowles, 2004


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