07 The changing contours of New Zealand Pentecostalism in the 1970s • E-Theses

07 The changing contours of New Zealand Pentecostalism in the 1970s

Brett Knowles, , University of Otago, Dunedin

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

Chapter 6. © 2003 - Brett Knowles,

An e-theses.webjournals.org article.


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7. The changing contours of New Zealand Pentecostalism in the 1970s

7.1. Links in the chain: old alliances, new relationships

      The 1970s were "boom" years for New Zealand Pentecostalism and almost all groups associated with the movement experienced sustained growth during the decade.[1] Ray Galvin has estimated that by 1982
the total membership of Pentecostal churches [stood] at about 36,000 and their weekly adult attendance [at] above 40,000: hence, the Pentecostal worshipping community is now approaching the size of the Presbyterian and is certainly bigger than the Baptist or Methodist [churches]....It is clear that over the last fifteen years the centre of gravity of New Zealand Christianity has shifted somewhat in the direction of the Pentecostalist/Fundamentalist tradition.[2]
      This expansion appears to have continued, although not with the same rapidity, in the 1980s. As will be seen in chapter 8, estimated Pentecostal adherence had reached almost 54,000 by 1990.[3] This ongoing growth helped to shape the contours of the movement from the mid-1970s on. The emergence of the moralist movement in the early 1970s, together with the visits of a number of American Pentecostal conference speakers (for example, Ern Baxter and Jack Hayford) to New Zealand in 1974 and 1975, also did much to stimulate the formation of new Pentecostal alliances in the mid-1970s.
      These changes were not always initially positive. For example, the increasing self-identity of the Charismatic movement from 1973 on was accompanied by a certain degree of "distancing" from its Pentecostal counterpart. However, this was not so much a severing
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of fellowship as a following of separate, although parallel, paths and personal links between participants in the two movements generally remained warm and friendly. Nevertheless, the sense of "unity in the Spirit" between Pentecostal and Charismatic groups became more difficult to maintain.
      In the case of the New Life Churches, a second example of this "distancing" process came in June 1973, with an "Asian-Pacific Ministers' Conference," convened in Melbourne by Ray Jackson Snr. This Conference was attended by Australian pastors in fellowship with Jackson's "Associated Mission Churches of Australia,"[4] as well as by several pastors from Singapore and Indonesia, and by more than sixty pastors from the New Life Churches in New Zealand. The ostensible purpose of the Conference was the setting up of a joint Australia-New Zealand missionary venture to the Riau Islands in Indonesia, where Jackson was attempting to establish a mission programme. In actuality, the Conference was an attempt to repair the breach which had existed since the mid-1950s between the "Bethel Temple" movement in Australia and its sister movement, the New Life Churches of New Zealand. The real, but unstated, agenda was the recreation of links between the two groups.
      The Conference was, however, unsuccessful in achieving this aim. The major obstacle to unity appears to have been the doctrinal emphasis of the Australian churches on "the Name" (i.e. the practice of baptism "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," rather than "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"). Rob Wheeler comments that "the issue at the Conference was `the Name as the local joining factor'" and that as a result "unfortunately [the Conference] blew up, and made [the division] worse than at first."[5] Rasik Ranchord recalls that although "there was...goodwill from both sides....The pushing of a certain line of teaching ...still created a certain measure of apprehension."[6] This sense of
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"apprehension" (and to some extent, distrust) among the New Zealand contingent was reflected in their unenthusiastic response to the idea of a joint mission, and, when a vote was eventually taken by the Conference on whether to seek closer links between the Australian and New Zealand churches, Rob Wheeler was the only New Zealand delegate to raise his hand in favour of the motion.
      It was, however, somewhat unrealistic to expect that any major changes should have resulted from the Conference, since, as Shaun Kearney (then pastor of the North Shore Christian Fellowship, and one of the New Zealand delegates) put it from the Conference platform, "you Australians have all one `father'; the churches in New Zealand have many `fathers.'"[7] Kearney meant by this that the Australian churches owed their existence to the ministry and teaching of Ray Jackson Snr. (i.e. their "father"). However, the New Zealand churches had arisen through the ministry of a number of "fathers," not all of whom had been associated with Jackson. Although there were some areas of affinity, the two wings of the movement had developed in different ways, and there was, in fact, no basis for a "merger." The Conference therefore only served to widen the gap between the New Life Churches and their Australian counterparts.
      The reluctance to renew links with their Australian brethren reflected, to some extent, the "independent" polity of the New Life Churches. The "autonomy of the local church" remained the cardinal principle upon which relationships between local assemblies in the movement were modelled. There were, however, some indications that this polity of independence was beginning to change, and in this regard, the teaching of Pastor David Ellis on "The Coverings"[8] proved to be influential in the mid-1970s. Ellis believed that although charismatic ministry was of itself authoritative, since it was a "manifestation" of the Holy Spirit, it must also be legitimated by submission to a "covering" (i.e. an authority in the church). The ministry of members of the congregation, for example, was to be exercised "under the covering" of their local pastors and leaders. This principle also applied to the pastors themselves, who were to be under a "covering," usually of a more senior
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pastor in the movement. Although this "covering" functioned by means of personal relationship rather than through organizational structures, the effects of Ellis's teaching was to create a network of pastoral relationships both within and beyond the boundaries of the local assembly, and so to provide a framework for the developing structure of the New Life Churches. Since these links were personal, rather than organizational, they were not seen as compromising the traditional emphasis of the movement on the "independence" and autonomy of the local church. Nevertheless, by facilitating this network of inter-relationships, Ellis' teaching laid the foundation for later developments in the New Life Churches.
      In part the "covering" teachings were an attempt to deal with the problems brought about by the growth of the New Life Churches. These problems were two-fold. Firstly, there was some concern over the quality of conversions to the movement, since not all of these appeared to be lasting.[9] Secondly, there also was considerable uncertainty as to how to deal with the growing number of independent charismatics who were not subject to any system of spiritual accountability. These issues challenged the neo-Pentecostal movement in many different parts of the world, and Ellis's ideas were typical of teachings which were emerging among charismatic groups elsewhere. However, not all such teachings were universally accepted. Two, in particular, created widespread controversy and division in the charismatic movement, and especially, although not exclusively, in the United States. These were the "Discipleship" teaching of Juan Carlos Ortiz, and the "Shepherding" movement of Bob Mumford and others, which incorporated and extended Ortiz's teachings into a system of discipleship.
 

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7.2. The Discipleship Controversy

7.2.1. Ortiz, Mumford and the "disciple-makers"

      Juan Carlos Ortiz of Argentina had a strong concern for the practical implications of the lordship of Christ and for authentic Christian discipleship. He was a powerful writer and speaker, with a characteristic Latin flair for the dramatic, and his book Disciple,[10] which sets out the essence of his teaching, was widely read in New Zealand and elsewhere. His aim as a pastor was to bring each member of his congregation to a genuine love for one another which then "must work itself out in a radical, no-nonsensical [sic] understanding of Christian discipleship....The equipping and training of individual men and women for service is what the Church is all about."[11] Ortiz believed that the pastor of the church had to move "beyond Sunday morning."[12] By this, he meant that the pastor's task was not just to preach to a congregation on Sunday morning, but to make disciples of his people in real-life situations throughout the week. This was achieved by the formation of a "cell-group" in the church, whereby the pastor would be able to relate in depth to a small hand-picked group of people, and personally to train them as disciples themselves, and also as trainers and disciple-makers of others. The members of this "mother" cell-group would then form and lead other individual cells in the church, and "disciple" the participants of these groups in the same way in which they themselves had been "discipled." However, this involved a radical commitment on the part of the disciple, both to the Lord and to the person leading the cell-group,[13] as well as to meeting the needs of others in the cell group. Not all members of the congregation could meet such a costly level of discipleship, and Ortiz's teaching was often divisive when applied outside its original Argentinean context.
      In the early 1970s, concern over "the increasing numbers of nomadic charismatics who were free from any system of accountability"[14] led to the emergence of the "Discipleship Movement"
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in the United States.[15] This movement sought to deal with the problem of inadequate charismatic accountability by teaching "a covenant love that evidenced devotion to God by submission to some man."[16] A number of men with national and international ministries (Don Basham, Ern Baxter, Bob Mumford, John Poole, Derek Prince and Charles Simpson) were involved in this movement.[17] Mumford, however, was the leading figure and his views were widely circulated in the charismatic magazine New Wine and in other publications such as his book The Problem of Doing Your Own Thing.[18] Mumford equated "doing your own thing" with "lawlessness" and emphasised the need to provide an "antidote to rebellion" by an understanding both of "spiritual authority" (especially that of the father in the home, the pastor in the church, and the God-ordained "powers that be" in the wider society) and also of the "nature of obedience." The fruit of this understanding was the "spirit of obedience or learning to obey."[19] In Mumford's theology, obedience to God-ordained authority was central to authentic Christian living. Only in this attitude of submission, both individual and corporate, could the "lordship" of Jesus be fully realised in the church and the community.
      Mumford's views were not entirely original, being based to some extent on the earlier ideas of the Chinese Christian leader, Watchman Nee,[20] and modified by the "discipleship"
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theology of Juan Carlos Ortiz.[21] The combination of Ortiz's emphasis on radical, costly, discipleship commitment to a leader, and Mumford's concept of a network of "shepherd-sheep" submission relationships, formed the doctrinal basis of the shepherding/discipleship movement, and enabled it to create
a national network of followers who formed a pyramid of sheep and shepherds - every shepherd was a sheep to someone else....The sheep were under the spiritual authority of the shepherd; they were discipled by the shepherd in such a way that through submission to his authority in an ongoing relationship the person might be brought to Christian maturity.[22]
      The focus of the discipleship movement was behavioural, since for Mumford and his followers,
discipleship is uppermost [and] the goal...is to effect a change in behaviour. It is achieved through being trained by a man (not a woman) [sic] with high spiritual motivation and who has been commissioned for the task by the Lord - a shepherd or elder. Discipleship involves submission to the shepherd as he points the way - and points out flaws in behaviour. The shepherd constantly chips away at the raw material, attempting to create a disciple patterned after the biblical model....Those being discipled must consult with their shepherds about many personal decisions. In some cases, shepherds forbid marriages, reject school and vocational plans, demand confession of secret sins.[23]
      Needless to say, there were dangers in "discipleship." The process could be applied in draconian ways, and the authority of the shepherd over the disciple abused. The over-enthusiastic application of discipleship principles sometimes resulted in division, although in
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this respect the legacy of the movement was less devastating in the United States than in other countries. In the Philippines, for example, the discipleship teaching was introduced to the churches of the "Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association," a Pentecostal group of about sixty churches which had been established in the Philippines through the pioneer work of American missionaries Emmanuel and Wave Bristle, and strongly supported by a number of the New Zealand New Life churches. The results were calamitous. The "Anchor Bay" churches were "split down the middle," with congregations being strongly divided between members who were willing to "pay the price" and commit themselves to be discipled by their shepherd (i.e. their pastor), and those members who were more cautious in their acceptance of the new doctrine, and who were therefore labelled as "luke-warm," "half-hearted," or "compromising" Christians. The strife generated by this controversy, combined with the inroads of the Communist New People's Army into the areas in which these churches were located, resulted in the decimation of the "Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association" in the Philippines, and the almost total devastation of more than twenty years of sacrificial pioneer work carried out by the Bristles and other missionaries.
      "Horror stories" such as these[24] were common to both sides in the controversy which erupted in the United States and elsewhere in 1975 over the discipleship teachings and which threatened to split the entire Charismatic movement. Although these teachings were an attempt to provide an answer to the issue of "nomadic" Charismatics, they were seen as threatening the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements in several ways. In particular, the promotion of "extra-local submission,"[25] whereby disciples submitted to various national and international leaders in the discipleship movement, was perceived to be the first step in the formation of a new denomination. This practice had the effect of dividing the loyalty of denominational Charismatics to their own churches, and of vitiating the independence and autonomy of local Pentecostal groups. A series of meetings between prominent Charismatic leaders were held in 1975 in an attempt to defuse the issue,[26] and although these were only
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partially successful, a reconciliation between the major sectors of the Charismatic movement in the United States and the leaders of the discipleship movement was eventually achieved at a Conference in Oklahoma City in March 1976.[27]
      The application of the discipleship teaching, rather than the teaching itself, appears to have fuelled much of this controversy. Mumford himself clearly recognised the inconsistency between the principles of the movement and the way in which they were sometimes put into practice:
There is in me a sense of responsibility and deep pastoral concern to adjust and correct abuses or misuses of the precepts which I and many other men have been teaching. Admittedly, there have been instances of wrong application or implementation of the principles. It is my desire, as well, to apologize personally for any lack of wisdom or any manifestation of immaturity on my part. However, the errors or problems, so far, are limited to the area of practice and application, and are not in the basic Biblical concepts that the Lord is bringing to our understanding.[28]
      Mumford's assertion that the problem lay in the application, rather than the content, of the discipleship teaching appears to have been accepted by most of his opponents. This indicates that his perception of the need for some means of disciplinary control was shared by many participants in the Charismatic movement. By the mid-1970s, the first flush of charismatic enthusiasm was beginning to wane, and the need for some form of "structure" in order to preserve the integrity of the movement was becoming more evident world-wide. The various but similar teachings of Mumford, Ortiz and others (including New Zealand's David Ellis) all represented different approaches to the same issues, and the discipleship movement, despite its failings, was beneficial in that it focused Pentecostal attention on seeking a solution to these problems.
 

7.2.2. Discipleship and the New Life Churches

      Surprisingly, the discipleship controversy had comparatively little adverse effect on New Zealand Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. Although several pastors in the New Life Churches had close personal links with the leading discipleship teachers, a number of
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whom visited New Zealand during the 1970s, the movement did not take root in this country. However, this did not necessarily imply a rejection of the discipleship concepts. Juan Carlos Ortiz, for example, toured New Zealand in November 1974, and while not all of his ideas were uncritically received, some discipleship teachings did find a certain degree of acceptance in the New Life Churches. Rasik Ranchord comments that "the emphasis that people particularly took to heart was [Ortiz's] comment that we were raising up a generation of `hearers' of the Word, and therefore he put a lot of emphasis on making the people `doers' of the Word."[29] This imbalance between "hearing" and "doing" produced what Ortiz termed the "eternal childhood of the believer," by which he meant that
people `heard' a lot, but had never come to a place of maturity....[Ortiz] was looking for ways and means whereby people could [be] brought to a place of maturity....[and] how he could make them `doers' of the Word....He often preached along the same theme for months on end until people began to do it.[30]
      However, although Ortiz's teachings "seemed to strike a chord with people,"[31] there remained a certain degree of caution. John Steele, formerly pastor of the North Shore Faith Centre, recalled that although "we were tremendously excited about his zeal and fervour, and bluntness and directness, and the whole concept of the discipleship thing,...none of us embraced it at all...at the time."[32] Consequently, although Ortiz's emphasis on discipleship was widely accepted, the movement as such did not take root in New Zealand. The reasons for this appear to be social and cultural, rather than doctrinal. Rasik Ranchord, for example, refers to the typical independence and egalitarianism of the average New Zealander, observing that
I don't think a New Zealander is likely to give that degree of control to another person. Generally speaking, I think we tend to be quite independent, and `thinkers' in many ways. We don't accept `hierarchy' too well; we're much more of an egalitarian society, and I think that might have...militated against [the discipleship teaching here]....We like to be our own boss, and I don't think...people would have taken too kindly to [that degree of authority].[33]

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These cultural characteristics meant that while the teachings of Ortiz and the other discipleship teachers were seen to have some applicability, they could not simply be "transplanted" into the New Zealand context. As Ranchord put it,
Juan Ortiz...had some good principles in church structure. I cannot say that I accept all that he had to say, but I feel the Church in Argentina has got a hold of some principles which we in New Zealand could well incorporate in our assemblies.[34]
      This cautious approach paid off. Although there was considerable dissension over the discipleship teachings, especially in the United States and in Australia, little controversy developed in New Zealand.[35] The strength and stability of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements in this country, as well as the traditional "independence" of the average New Zealander to which Ranchord alludes, provide possible explanations for the lack of adverse effects from the discipleship movement. Consequently, leaders in that movement continued to maintain good relations with the New Life Churches and other Pentecostal groups in New Zealand, encountering only minimal opposition on their visits here,[36] although their views were not received uncritically. The outcome was that the effects of the discipleship movement were largely beneficial in so far as New Zealand Pentecostal churches were concerned and the teaching itself applied in much more moderate ways.
      In the case of the New Life Churches, David Ellis's "covering" teachings preempted many of the concerns of the discipleship movement, which therefore simply reinforced ideas that were already beginning to emerge. However, the application of these ideas appears to
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have been somewhat selective. At one level, the "discipleship" and "covering" teachings both reinforced, and provided further legitimation for, the strong leadership roles held by pastors in the New Life Churches. Less readily accepted, however, was the idea of "submission" at pastoral as well as at congregational level. Given the movement's emphasis on the "autonomy of the local church" and its propensity for strong pastoral leadership, this autonomy tended to be effectively that of the local pastor, rather than of the local church. Nevertheless, the "covering" and "discipleship" teachings had the effect of sparking the beginnings of a move towards greater pastoral accountability, and hence towards some form of corporate structure, within the New Life Churches. However, the questions of how this accountability should operate and of what form this structure should take remained unclear.
 

7.3. Moves towards Pentecostal unity

7.3.1. Ern Baxter and the beginnings of rapprochement

      Leaders of the discipleship movement were not the only overseas speakers to visit New Zealand in the early 1970s. As also had been the case in the 1960s, a number of Pentecostal and Charismatic speakers ministered in New Zealand, and two in particular had a major impact on the future shape of Pentecostalism in this country. These were Ern Baxter, who stimulated a rapprochement within the movement, and Jack Hayford, whose ministry at the Snell's Beach Conference in 1975 laid the foundations for a new openness between the various Pentecostal churches and led to the formation of the Associated Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand.
      Ern Baxter had a long experience in the Pentecostal movement, having worked together with William Branham in the beginnings of the healing revival in the United States in the late 1940s, as well as having had some involvement with the "Latter Rain" movement in 1948.[37] He was a gifted Bible teacher, with the reputation of being a "prince of preachers," and visited New Zealand several times in the early 1970s. Baxter's visits played
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a major part in laying the foundation for later developments in the Pentecostal movement in New Zealand. Ian Clark recalls that
one of the major factors in Pentecostals flowing together was Ern Baxter. No question about Ern Baxter in my mind. He talked about things which no-one else was willing to talk about,[38] and he opened the hearts and minds and understanding of people of their sinfulness in division in a way that hadn't been seen before. I was profoundly personally affected by Ern Baxter, and I still cherish to this day a vision of the united Pentecostal movement in this country.[39]
      Given the individualistic nature of Pentecostalism, it is perhaps not surprising that the movement tends to be somewhat fissiparous in character, and that it has had a long history of division in New Zealand and elsewhere. In this country, this began as early as 1927 with the "split off" of the Assemblies of God from the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand,[40] and the arrival of the Apostolic Church in the early 1930s further divided the movement. Ian Clark comments that
despite what would be said by Apostolics, they did tear the Assemblies of God to pieces, and many of the old leaders of the Assemblies of God ended up in the Apostolic Church as Apostles and Prophets and what not. Whole congregations had problems over it....There was that...`heritage' of splits and divisions [which] took a long time to heal; there was a lot of mistrust. When I became...General Secretary [of the Assemblies of God] in 1971, I was warned never to trust the Apostolic Church....It was still very real at that time.[41]
The New Life Churches themselves were the result of a split in the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand in 1946 over the issue of "the Name." The generation by fission of groups such as these, as well as the spread of other "independent" Pentecostal groups tended to reinforce the atomistic nature of the movement. Consequently, it is not surprising that Baxter's ministry should have been so "to the point," and that it produced a consciousness of the need to heal these divisions.

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      There had previously been some attempts to bring unity to the movement in New Zealand.[42] Moves towards a Pentecostal unity conference had been initiated by the Apostolic Church in 1964, and this led to the formation of the New Zealand Pentecostal Fellowship[43] in 1966. However, this was a somewhat circumscribed unity, since not all Pentecostal groups were represented. Although the Apostolic Church, the Assemblies of God and the Elim Church were members of the NZPF, with the National Revival Crusade also being invited to join, the "Indigenous Churches" (as the New Life Churches were then known) were excluded. While the absence of these churches was, in part, due to their traditional attitudes of independence and of antipathy towards other churches, it would also appear that the other Pentecostal churches had refused to allow them to join. Ian Clark, for example, commented that his understanding of the situation was that the NZPF "was really formed to keep the New Life Churches out; that's the bottom line....In those days [i.e. the early 1960s] your greatest enemies were other Pentecostals. It was really quite tragic."[44] The reason for this ostracism was that the New Life Churches were still identified as "Jesus Only"[45] by the other Pentecostal churches, and consequently were unwelcome.
      Doctrinal factors therefore lay behind this exclusion, as is evidenced by the Doctrinal Statement which forms part of the Constitution adopted by the NZPF. This inserts a qualifying word "only" into the clause on Baptism: "[we believe]...in the ordinance for Believers of Baptism by immersion in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
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(only)."[46] The clause therefore specifically excluded the formula of baptism "in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ" used by the New Life Churches, and so barred these churches from participation in the NZPF. Further evidence of this antipathy towards the New Life Churches is provided by the fact that one of the first publications put out by the NZPF was a booklet by Ralph Read, then General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, in which he strongly attacked "the formula of `oneness' teachers"[47] (i.e. the imputed teaching of the New Life Churches).
      This policy of exclusion appears to have been more organizational than personal. Rob Wheeler recalls a seminar organised by the NZPF during the visit of Oral Roberts to New Zealand in 1965,[48] and that he had written to James Worsfold, then secretary of the NZPF, to inquire whether "the Indigenous Churches[49] [were] allowed to come in on this [seminar]?" According to Wheeler, the response was "No! But you're very welcome as individuals and your people."[50] Thus, although individuals in the New Life Churches were welcome, the movement itself was unacceptable to the other Pentecostal churches. By the late 1960s, however, the NZPF had voluntarily disbanded.[51] In part, this was the product of a perception that the structure of the NZPF was too inflexible to accommodate the rise of other neo-pentecostal and charismatic groups.[52] Its disbanding was also, according to Ian Clark, due to the recognition that the exclusion of groups such as the New Life Churches was "unjust and wrong." The NZPF was therefore allowed to die a natural death.[53]

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      Ern Baxter visited New Zealand several times as a Convention speaker in the early 1970s and his ministry was the catalyst which sparked a renewed search for Pentecostal unity. John Tiplady comments:
I think the vision of [Pentecostal unity] was laid by people like Ern Baxter, who'd been through the country in the early '70s and had very powerfully got across the message that the Body of Christ was one, and it needed to be outworked in a practical way. So that seed was sown there [by Ern Baxter] and...was perhaps the major initial thrust towards proposed unity that came later.[54]
      The Conventions at which he ministered provided Baxter with "access" to many sections of the New Zealand Pentecostal movement, although not all of these were receptive to his exhortations to unity. In particular, Baxter "was treated by some persons within [the] Assemblies of God with extreme scepticism."[55] However, the views of this "anti-unity" camp, led by Neville Johnson, pastor of the Auckland Queen Street Assemblies of God, were not held by the majority of pastors within the Assemblies of God, nor by Frank Houston, who was at that time its superintendent, and who was much more ecumenical in his attitude to other Pentecostal churches. Consequently, as a result of the "seed" sown by Ern Baxter, links between the various Pentecostal groups began to develop. Although this rapprochement was most marked in Auckland, where an informal Pentecostal Ministers' Fraternal was set up, it was also taking place in other parts of New Zealand. Rasik Ranchord recalls that by 1975
there was a growing desire among the Pentecostal churches...to build bridges throughout the Pentecostal community in New Zealand....There were senior leaders who were quite open, and...some of them had ministered in churches other than their own stream. So there was some...rapport and confidence already built up.[56]
Nevertheless, the Auckland Fraternal provided the platform for the Pastors' Convention with Jack Hayford[57] held at Snell's Beach, north of Auckland in March 1975. This Convention proved to be a "milestone" for the Pentecostal movement in New Zealand.

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7.3.2. Jack Hayford and the Snell's Beach Convention

      Pastors of the New Life Churches (and in particular, Shaun Kearney) were heavily involved in the 1975 Convention at Snell's Beach,[58] which is universally recognised by the Pentecostal churches as being "a major turning-point" in the history of the movement in New Zealand.[59] While this was not the first combined Pentecostal Convention, it was among the most widely representative of its kind. It brought together more than 160 pastors from all Pentecostal groups and from all parts of New Zealand, and was uniquely successful in bringing about Pentecostal unity.
      There were several reasons for this success. The first of these was the "rapport and confidence" which had developed out of the links established between the different Pentecostal groups as a result of Baxter's ministry, and upon which the Convention was able to build. A second factor was the growing Pentecostal unity in the Auckland region, as demonstrated by the Auckland Pentecostal Ministers' Fraternal. The Convention expanded this into a nation-wide sense of unity, and "spread the seeds of what had been sown in Auckland and throughout the country and got it going."[60] The third, and most decisive factor, however, was the role of Jack Hayford as the key-note speaker of the Convention. Rasik Ranchord believes that
[Hayford] was the right person to bring because of his ability to relate, particularly with the human aspect of things, and the way he shared his own heart, his struggles and his failures,...his type of ministry seemed to open people up. And it certainly engendered a much more honest and open attitude towards people of other Pentecostal churches....He showed the human face in ministry, not just his success side....His openness before the brethren was an example to us, that we needed to be a bit more open towards one another. And so, slowly out of that, came the conviction to form the Associated Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand.[61]

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A later press report released by the APCNZ describes Hayford as bringing
a ministry that shared his successes and his problems and strengthened our resolve to work together, fellowship together, and speak with one voice on issues that were of vital importance to the nation....His ministry was particularly relevant at this time in the history of the churches in New Zealand.[62]
      Hayford's willingness to be honest and open was therefore a major catalyst in bringing about a "healing" of relationships among the various Pentecostal churches represented at the Convention. The result was that long-standing barriers were broken down, and a new sense of Pentecostal unity generated, the most visible product of which was the formation of the APCNZ. This new association, which had no real organic connection with its somewhat exclusive predecessor, marked the beginning of a new era in Pentecostal relationships in New Zealand.
      Ian Clark recalls the way in which Pentecostal unity was achieved at the Convention:
There were those who were all for pell-mell uniting all the Pentecostals into one body. And there were others who shrank back from that, if not in horror, [then] in trepidation, and in the finish, a compromise was reached. There were plenary sessions to begin with..., but it became evident to the leadership of the various Pentecostal groupings that the plenary sessions wouldn't achieve [unity]....The key to the breakthrough was at a meeting down in the old farmhouse on the Snell's Beach property, when the leaders of all the groups... sat together,[63] and...said `Yes, we want to flow together. Yes, we want to forget the past. Yes, we want to be brethren together. Yes, we do want to love one another. But we want to take it in stages, like a "courtship" rather than [to] "get married" straight away.' We decided that I [as secretary of the APCNZ] would act as a `clearing house,' that we would open our pulpits more to one another, and that we would make representations on social and moral issues, and I was appointed spokesman to do that. And we did it.[64]
      Clark's reference to "representations on social and moral issues" is significant. The formation of the APCNZ was followed several months later by two delegations, one to the Prime Minister, Wallace "Bill" Rowling, and the other to the Leader of the Opposition, Robert Muldoon, to "discuss moral and social issues causing concern to the Pentecostal churches."[65]
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Although these delegations were arranged by the Convention Steering Committee, rather than by the Convention itself, almost of all those people who were interviewed during the course of the author's research linked the formation of the APCNZ with the two delegations, as did all references in the documentary materials sighted by the author. It is therefore evident that, to a large extent, moralist concern provided the motivation for the formation of the APCNZ. Indeed, a letter in the Majestic House Correspondence Files specifically states this to be the case: Rasik Ranchord writes that
in a previous discussion, the Prime Minister had told me it was a pity that the Christian church was divided on certain moral issues. This led (inter alia) to the formation of [APCNZ]...so that on...moral issues, we could tell the Government that we were backed by at least 15,000 people.[66]
      Pentecostal consciousness of the need to have a effective political voice on moral issues was therefore a major factor in the formation of the APCNZ. John Tiplady affirms that this
was one of the major reasons for proposing a closer unity....The [Pentecostal] churches were trying to do everything in an un-united [sic], uncoordinated, way, and the various `streams' really didn't have the strength of impact on Government that they could have if they united, so that was the reason for the delegations. It said `Hey, we're united, and a significant force within New Zealand society.'[67]
      Response to the delegations was mixed. A report in the Evening Post commented briefly on the "strong views on social [and] moral issues" expressed by the delegation to the Prime Minister,[68] and the national radio network also conducted three interviews with members of the delegations. A somewhat self-congratulatory APCNZ press release later reported that the discussions with Mr. Rowling and Mr. Muldoon were
frank, cordial and positive, and covered education in schools, and the outcomes of relaxed laws on homosexuality, censorship, law and order, and liquor.[69] We spoke


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at length of the power of Jesus Christ to change lives and made a plea for the protection of the public interest against vociferous minority groups. We also made reference to the movement into schools during liberal arts periods of astrology and witchcraft, and the consistent attacks in these classes on authority and the family foundation. Although the Prime Minister and Mr. Muldoon were reserved at the outset, their reception became warm and the sittings were extended. The Prime Minister gave us more than an hour of his time and Mr. Muldoon, three quarters of an hour. We concluded with prayer and assured both men that we upheld them before God continually.[70]
An article in Challenge Weekly, citing a report from the APCNZ representatives, noted that
while not everything that the Pentecostal churches shared may have been received, a great deal of it was, and it is clear that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are concerned that a high moral and spiritual standard should be obtained in our country....While Mr. Rowling gave no particular commitment after the meeting, Mr. Muldoon did say that he would represent our views to the National Party caucus the following day.[71]
      Both Mr. Rowling and Mr. Muldoon urged Christian involvement in the political arena. Challenge Weekly had previously reported the Prime Minister as making "a strong public statement approving and urging the involvement of Christians in politics,"[72] and the Leader of the Opposition was quoted by Rasik Ranchord as saying that "we parliamentarians receive deputations from all kinds of people except Christians." According to Ranchord, Muldoon "strongly suggested that we [Christians] should go out in the public and speak to our local M.P.s, approach the Prime Minister, and also make submissions to the appropriate committees."[73] There was evidently an awareness, particularly on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, of the depth of feeling throughout the country over "moral issues," and, it would seem, an attempt to utilise that concern to political advantage in the 1975 Election. Both conservative and liberal Christian groups were courted by the politicians in the run-up to the election. The "Clergy for Rowling" campaign was an example of liberal Christian involvement in politics,[74] while conservative Christians were assiduously cultivated by the
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National Party. Mr. Muldoon took part in a "Jesus 75" rally in Auckland in June,[75] and, together with other National Party M.P.s, addressed a "pre-morning service" [sic] at the Christchurch New Life Centre in late September.[76]
      The effects of the delegations were indirect, rather than direct. Ian Clark comments that although there was little achieved by way of concrete results, "the very fact that we had expressed these things gave them pause. That's all we can say; that we could talk to Bill Rowling in his office..., I think, was the significant thing."[77] There was therefore a sense in the Pentecostal movement of "having arrived" and Clark refers to the "amazement of...other Christians" who had been "trying to do this [i.e. send delegations to the Prime Minister] for years, and the Pentecostals come along and just do it!"[78] However, Clark's claim is not entirely accurate, since Colin Brown refers to several inter-denominational deputations to the Prime Minister in the mid-1960s on the subject of the Vietnam war.[79] Nevertheless, the fact that Pentecostal groups believed that they had succeeded where other churches had failed is a good indicator of the sense of self-identity and political "clout" that was developing in the movement in the mid-1970s. This somewhat triumphalist self-understanding was demonstrated in events such as the Save Our Homes campaign, and helped to reinforce the emerging moralist movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
      This engagement with the political process represented a major change in attitude on the part of the Pentecostal churches.[80] However, not all of the member churches of the
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APCNZ shared this change of attitude to the same extent. Ian Clark comments that despite the involvement of Frank Houston and himself (Superintendent and General Secretary, respectively, of the Assemblies of God) in both delegations, "in the AOG there is a real reserve, especially at the highest levels, towards being linked with any political party. We feel that would be quite fatal for us."[81] In the case of the New Life Churches, John Tiplady affirms that the delegations marked the beginning of political awareness and involvement, and commented that from the perspective of the Auckland churches, these
really sparked off the thought that it wasn't `ungodly' to get involved in the political arena. Up to that point, I think there was an influence that we were to be `in the world but not of it' to the extent that we didn't have any input or...any concern for the political process. That [attitude] was changed.[82]
      This change in attitude did not imply that the Pentecostal churches' conservative views on the problems of society had altered. Nor did their new-found involvement in politics lead necessarily to a liaison with the National Party, despite, for example, the reported "mutual admiration" between Muldoon and the Pentecostal organisers of the Jesus 75 Rally.[83] Rasik Ranchord observes that there was no "deliberate working to align with a party,"[84] while Ian Clark comments that such political involvement as did exist was because
conservative Christians have recognised in the National Party a higher dedication to those things which we believe are good for society, and the fact that we see the Labour Party as having a lot of liberals, radicals and hostile elements in it as far as the churches are concerned. There's nothing formal in this; it's just an association of aims and views. There's things in the National [Party] we don't like either![85]
      This "association of aims and views" was therefore an informal one, and Rasik Ranchord cautions that while

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it did happen that it seemed as if some of the ones that were more conservative appeared to be...from the National Party....I think it would be a wrong association to say that [the New Life Churches] were simply with the National Party, because some may have later taken that view....[It was] not so much supporting the Party, as individuals in the Party.[86]
      Nevertheless, this informal "association of aims and views" had hardened in some sections of the Pentecostal movement into overt support for the National Party by the mid-1980s, and the involvement of members of these churches in the political process became more direct. Both the main political parties recognised the potential benefits of this growing constituency and sought to encourage contacts with Pentecostal churches. Several examples may be cited of this. The Majestic House Correspondence Files contain a number of references to both National and Labour Members of Parliament, including some correspondence from National M.P.s thanking the Christchurch New Life Centre for its support on particular issues.[87] In the case of the Labour Party, the Otago Daily Times reported in 1985 that "five years ago [i.e. in 1980], Mr. Lange had urged Labour candidates, particularly rural ones, to make contact with Pentecostal churches. Diligent provincial members maintained a close awareness [of] and contact with these churches."[88] However, members of Pentecostal churches tended to support the National Party rather than Labour. The most high-profile example of the new Pentecostal political involvement was Rob Wheeler's candidacy for the Mount Albert seat for National in the 1987 General Election.[89]
      Another product of this new-found Pentecostal unity was what an APCNZ press release called "the vision...for a very well-researched, but arresting, and even slightly shocking [sic] national tabloid newspaper aimed at the top decision-making bodies and the man in the
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street."[90] This newspaper, produced by the APCNZ and entitled the New Zealand Times, appeared at approximately quarterly intervals throughout 1976. It was distributed by Pentecostal churches around the country, and had achieved a circulation of 44,000 copies by the third issue. The newspaper had a two-fold aim: it was intended to be "evangelistic, [and]... to raise an awareness that there were people who believed in certain moral standards."[91] Consequently, its content was "geared to reach the unchurched New Zealander with the message of the gospel and the Christian viewpoint on issues affecting our nation. It [was] not written for church people."[92] The newspaper placed a strong emphasis on what it considered to be topical issues. The first issue in February 1976, for example, covered the "School battle for child minds" (i.e. sex education in schools), the women's liberation movement and the drug problem,[93] while the second issue made reference to "abortion, pornography, sports tours to South Africa, and New Zealand political life and economic conditions."[94] The third issue, two months later, attacked Alcoholism and Transcendental Meditation, and reported on the APCNZ's submissions to the Royal Commission on Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion.
      A change of focus was evident in the fourth issue, published in October 1976, with the approach being positive rather than combative. This issue dealt with "family life" and "God in politics," and featured Jimmy Carter, then running for the Presidency in America, as well as several "testimonies" and a summary of Pentecostal history in New Zealand. There was, however, some criticism directed at "soap operas" on television. The newspaper by this stage appeared to be "running out of steam," since the Distribution Report for the third issue had complained that, despite an increasing circulation, there was "a problem of distribution" and urged "all churches to give attention to mass distribution of the New Zealand Timestoo influential to those in their area."[95] The apparent lack of interest of some Pentecostal
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groups may have reflected the feeling that the newspaper concept was somewhat "grandiose,"[96] and publication ceased with the October 1976 issue.
      The APCNZ continued to issue statements and to make submissions to Government on behalf of its member churches, as well as to work towards Pentecostal unity. Conventions were held on an annual basis until the early 1980s, when the format changed to a biennial one. Nevertheless, Ian Clark believes that the APCNZ had begun to drift by 1977:
With the departure of Frank [Houston] and me...in 1977, [APCNZ] lost a lot of its impetus. We'd had annual Conferences, and I think they were a vital thing....The decision was made by the committee...to go to two-yearly meetings; that effectively took all the steam out of what God wanted to do. And, I think, we blew it....[Since then] it's drifted.[97]
In part, according to Clark, this "drift" has been due to lack of leadership by the APCNZ, which, as a "loose association of churches," exists at the will of, and has no real jurisdiction over, its member groups. This has meant that, despite the theoretical goal of "unity" in the movement, there has been no real convergence of perspective among the Pentecostal churches. He laments that the APCNZ has
never had a governing or a leadership role. It's been an ancillary to leadership. It's been alongside it; it's been a para-church thing. But, it has to be more. It has to be given teeth somehow or other. I think the whole thing needs looking at again....If people get the right identity of views, [unity] will happen. The whole key to unity in New Zealand is recognition of ministries.... When ministries are freely recognised within the various streams, unity will come.[98]

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As will be seen, Clark was responsible for an extraordinary proposal in 1979 which aimed at achieving this desired unity.
      The formation of the APCNZ in 1975 raised several significant points insofar as the New Life Churches were concerned. Firstly, the issues of moral concern, and of organizational consolidation in order to articulate that concern, were inter-related and laid the foundation for much of the development of the New Life Churches in the late 1970s and beyond. Secondly, it is noteworthy that even at this stage in their development, the New Life Churches still had considerable difficulty in coming to grips with their "independent," "non-denominational," identity. For example, all issues of the New Zealand Times carry the statement that "the New Zealand Times comes to you from the Associated Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand, comprising the Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God, Christian Revival Crusade, Elim Church, and other local Pentecostal churches."[99] The New Life Churches were not specifically identified, coming under the rubric of "other local Pentecostal churches." Nevertheless, they were heavily involved with both the magazine and the other activities of the APCNZ. Peter Morrow of the Christchurch New Life Centre was one of a group of three Pentecostal leaders (the others being Frank Houston of the Assemblies of God, and James Worsfold of the Apostolic Church) who were interviewed in the first issue.[100] It is evident that, despite the close bonds of fellowship which were developing between the various groupings in the Pentecostal movement as a result of the Snell's Beach Convention, there was still some reluctance among the New Life Churches to adopt any collective title which would signify a move towards "denominationalism." Nevertheless, perceptions in the New Life Churches, as within the wider Pentecostal movement, were beginning to change. This change will be discussed in the next chapter.
 

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7.4. Ian Clark's proposal for Pentecostal Church Union

      In 1979, Ian Clark issued a discussion paper on "Pentecostal Church Union" which sparked extensive debate among Pentecostal pastors and leaders.[101] This paper, which was the product of Clark's own personal initiative[102] rather than of the APCNZ committee, proposed the amalgamation of all New Zealand Pentecostal groups into a single church. Despite some references to specific issues, such as the ways in which church properties could be held by a united Pentecostal church,[103] Clark's paper was a provisional document in that it was intended to stimulate discussion, rather than to set out a blueprint for Pentecostal union. Clark foresaw that the continuing expansion of the Pentecostal movement would lead to increasing division and pluralism, and warned that "unless we get together now...with the major five Pentecostal churches,[104] we're going to find we'll have six, seven, eight and nine [churches], and the task of unity...will be that much harder."[105] However, Clark now concedes that the idea of amalgamation "was probably before its time....Any overall Pentecostal union would never appear in the form which I suggested."[106]
      There were varying reactions to Clark's proposals, the most hostile of which came from his own church, the Assemblies of God, and Clark comments that he had "received a great deal of personal `flak' from [the Assemblies of God] Executive Council over that."[107] In the
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case of the New Life Churches, John Tiplady recalls that the reactions of churches in the Auckland region to the proposals were quite
varied....I personally thought it was tremendous, [and] really something [that] we get together. I think a lot of different motivations came out [in the responses] from different ministry. I think Ian [Clark] was very disheartened by the reactions that emerged; perhaps it was idealistic....It died, really, because of people looking at the practicalities of the thing, and saying it would never work, rather than embracing the vision.[108]
Rasik Ranchord comments that, around the country,
there wasn't much enthusiasm generally among the leadership [of the New Life Churches]....I don't think anybody was that keen about it. Ian's argument was that if we were to look at...the [various] Pentecostal Churches, there were very few things they could say were distinctively their own....I think the New Life Churches led as far as `singing in the Spirit' was concerned. That...has spilled over to other churches, as well as [some elements of] an end-time theology; some [churches] might have seen certain things differently. [Conversely,] government-wise,...our `stream' [i.e. the New Life Churches] was seeing...the beginnings of a bit more structure. With all those issues it was felt that there weren't too many distinctives [among the Pentecostal churches]....But there was very much divided opinion. People felt first of all [that Clark's concept]...was premature....Overall, people just felt that [it] was not necessary to have a "super" organisation like that. It was rather that we ought to continue building those bridges of fellowship; that the APC would be the forum to build that kind of fellowship, plus the cross-pollination of ministry rather than organizationally to become one. So there was quite a bit of (I would say) coolness towards the idea.[109]
      Much discussion over the idea of "Pentecostal church union" took place at pastoral level,[110] both within and between the various Pentecostal groups. The issue was considered at the New Life Churches' Annual Conference in Christchurch in September 1979, and the "official" responses of the New Life Churches and the other Pentecostal groups debated at a gathering of APCNZ leaders in Wellington in November 1979. Given the general
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"coolness towards the idea" throughout the Pentecostal movement, it is perhaps not surprising that no steps towards implementation of Clark's proposals appear to have been taken.
      There were a variety of responses among the New Life Churches to Clark's paper, and correspondence relating to the issue in the Majestic House Correspondence Files provides an illuminating focus on the character of the movement at the time. The relevant documents comprise two letters, dated 18 and 24 July 1979, from Rob Wheeler to Max Palmer and Peter Morrow, setting out the views of the New Life Churches in the North Island; a letter from Max Palmer to Rob Wheeler dated 23 July 1979, summarising the South Island perspective; and, finally, an undated letter (probably written in the last week of September, or early October 1979) from Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow on behalf of the "National Conference of Indigenous Churches" to Jim Williams, the Chairman of the APCNZ Steering Committee, containing the Indigenous Churches' "official" response to Clark's proposals.
      Rob Wheeler was strongly in favour of some form of structural unity, both within the New Life Churches, as well as between the various Pentecostal groups.[111] He began by commenting that "many of our young pastors are very figity [sic: fidgety] about the unrelatedness of our fellowships, and have been pushing here in the North for a closer structural organising of our Indigenous Churches."[112] In his follow-up letter, he stated that he had sent a copy of Ian Clark's paper to each of the "Indigenous" pastors in the North Island in "an attempt to `scratch the itch' that many of the North Island ministers are plaguing me with regarding our closer co‑operation." The issue appeared to be a contentious one, at least in the North Island, and Wheeler's action was therefore an attempt to inform the pastors, so that each would "speak, not in the heat of the emotion of the moment, but rather after weighing things up in the privacy of their own study."[113] This, he hoped, would "clear the air" and not let the issue "brood underground."[114] Wheeler insisted
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that he was not pushing the issue of structural unity as a "must," but rather "letting our men know of the two subjects that need to be discussed while in Christchurch."[115]
      Wheeler listed some specific questions which Clark's paper had raised for the New Life Churches:
We would need to spend some time [at the Annual Convention]...to look at this as it involves such things as: (a) Do we want to go beyond a National Presbytery[116] and move closer to the Assemblies of God pattern of a Chairman, Vice‑Chairman and Secretary? (b) What is our conviction on credentials and recognition of our ministers? (c) What criteria is [sic] required should we go this far?[117]
There appeared to be a certain degree of urgency in coming to a consensus on the issue, since the "subject of Pentecostal Unity [is one on] which we have to give an answer as from the Indigenous Churches to the [APCNZ] leaders in Wellington in November [1979]."[118] Wheeler was convinced, however, that the issue was not only urgent but critical. He argued that "if we by‑pass this at this Convention [in September] our fellowship will disintergrate [sic] and become totally isolated with each Assembly `rowing his own boat' and `doing his own thing' [sic]."[119] Nevertheless, he warned that the consensus must be complete. If even ten per cent of the New Life Churches were not for "total Pentecostal unity" or for "Indigenous co‑operation," then it would be foolish to proceed with Clark's proposals for union. This would defeat the whole purpose of the idea and simply be divisive.[120]
      Max Palmer's letter five days later (apparently written on behalf of Peter Morrow) responded to Wheeler's comments, and set out the position as the South Island New Life Churches saw it. The outlook of these churches appeared to have been rather different from that of their counterparts in the North Island.[121] Palmer saw no point in having a "structure
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for structure's sake," pointing out that "fellowship" and "structure" were not synonymous terms and raising the curious argument that "in times of crisis or persecution, a nationally‑structured church is vulnerable."[122] The need for "fellowship" was recognised, however. Palmer admitted that the South Island churches "do need and desire...fellowship on a deeper level and relationship, and do recognise Ian Clark as secretary of APCNZ; [but feel] that [the] purpose of our freedom as individual autonomous fellowships could be lost."[123] This latter statement encapsulated the core of Palmer's objections, namely that organizational "structure" represented a danger to the freedom and life of the autonomous local assemblies. This was, in effect, simply a reiteration of the classic "Latter Rain" emphasis on autonomy which formed the basis of the New Life Churches' polity.
      Palmer's responses to Wheeler's specific questions also reflected this emphasis on the freedom and autonomy of the local church. His major objection to the idea of having a chairman, vice‑chairman, and secretary (after the pattern of the Assemblies of God) was that the chairman could become "too influential." As an example of this, he instanced Ralph Read, whose tenure as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God had "tightened up [the] system" of that church.[124] Secondly, in so far as ministerial credentials were concerned, Palmer pointed to the belief of the New Life Churches that recognition of ministry could only be given on the basis of proven ministry and character; that is, that the life of the minister, together with his "gifting," was the crucial determinant in the acceptability of his ministry. He argued that this process of "recognition" could not be carried out at a national level, since the size of the movement had produced an "anonymity" which prevented an accurate personal assessment of the minister and his character.[125] The
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recognition of ministry therefore could be effective only at a local level, where the minister was known and appreciated, rather than at a national level.
      Palmer's most important objection, however, was that Wheeler's proposals could possibly create more division than unity, and that there was real danger of "little schisms" developing all over the country, if a "structure" was set up.[126] Palmer argued that there was real love and fellowship already in the Pentecostal movement and that this must be guarded. Consequently, the South Island New Life Churches were not favourable to the idea of any Pentecostal organisational structure, and the proposal to list all Pentecostal marriage celebrants under the category of the APCNZ, previously suggested by Ian Clark, was, as Palmer put it, "as far as we could go at present."[127]
      The issue was debated at the New Life Churches' Annual Conference in Christchurch in September 1979. The "official" response of these churches was contained in an undated letter from Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow, writing on behalf of the "National Conference of Indigenous Churches," to Jim Williams, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the APCNZ. The letter sets out the points of agreement which had emerged from the New Life Churches' Conference, namely:
1. We agree on the general principle of unity among the five Pentecostal churches in N.Z.
2. This unity needs to be formed by the Spirit rather than by structural organization.
3. To develop this unity, there needs to be an inter-flow of various ministries from the five streams,[128] so that we get to know the various ministries and their expressions [sic].
4. This unity needs to begin at a local level, by inter-church relationship in any given city or town, as well as at the national level.
5. The annual Waikanae [APCNZ] National Conference ought to be continued as an essential element in fostering fellowship and unity, regardless of who the speaker may be. This annual conference should be a top priority for all ministers from the five streams.
6. Due regard must be given to have ministry from senior brethren[129] among the various streams at the annual APCNZ National Conference as a complement to any overseas ministries.[130]

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It will be noted from this letter that Rob Wheeler's views had not prevailed at the Conference, and that the movement's "official" response to Ian Clark's proposals parallels those set out in Max Palmer's letter.
      However, several observations should be made concerning the conduct of the debate among the New Life Churches. Firstly, it would seem that discussion was initially conducted at a senior leadership level, and only later involved the rest of the pastors in the movement. Correspondence between Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow (as the senior pastors in the North and South islands) preceded discussion at the National Conference. This appears to be typical of the leadership style of the movement, in that decisions were often taken in camera with only minimal involvement of people outside the immediate circle of those with the "need to know."
      Secondly, Peter Morrow, as representative of the South Island churches was somewhat "anti-structure," stressing the personal aspects of "fellowship" and "flowing together" as the foundation of the movement's polity. By contrast, Rob Wheeler was more "organization-oriented," emphasising the need to bring about a more "structured" relationship both within and between the various New Life Churches, as well as with other Pentecostal bodies. In this, Wheeler's views reflected those of "many of our young pastors," particularly in the North Island, who were critical of the "unrelatedness" of the movement, and who sought "closer co-operation." By now an increasing diversity was becoming apparent among the New Life Churches. The South Island churches for whom Peter Morrow spoke represented an older stratum of the movement, which still held to the traditional "independence" and "autonomy" inherited from its "Latter Rain" antecedents. Conversely, the "young pastors" in the North Island (particularly in Auckland) to whom Rob Wheeler refers represented a newer wing of the movement, and included some who had transferred into the movement
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from other churches such as the Baptist churches, bringing their ecclesial understanding with them. The difference of opinion on this issue therefore reflected the changing composition of the movement. It was now considerably larger than was the case in the 1960s, and consequently, much less homogeneous. The debate over Ian Clark's proposals raised issues which became much more prominent in the 1980s, and which laid the foundations for changes in the polity of the New Life Churches throughout that decade.
      To summarise: the 1970s were the golden years for the Pentecostal movement. The decade was marked by steady growth and, by the end of the 1970s, many of the Pentecostal groups, including the New Life Churches, were becoming prominent on the religious scene. As Ray Galvin remarked, the shift of the centre of gravity of New Zealand Christianity in a conservative direction had significant benefits for the Pentecostal churches. These churches were conscious of their new-found influence, and the moves towards Pentecostal unity were as much a laying of a foundation for the furthering of Pentecostal influence in the future, as a mending of the broken relationships of the past. This growing influence provided much of the "muscle" for the moral activist movement in the 1980s, and ultimately led to Pentecostal engagement in the political process. In seeking to change the world, however, the New Life Churches themselves were changing. These changes will be explored in the next chapter.


Notes:

  1. Some indication of the extent of this growth may be obtained from the Census statistics, which show that total Pentecostal adherence was 6,264 in 1966; 9,432 in 1971; 15,474 in 1976; and 31,005 in 1981 (cited in Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic Movement?" [1985], p.101). However, these figures do not tell the whole story, since many Pentecostals preferred to identify themselves as "Christian," rather than as "Pentecostal." The indeterminate institutional boundaries within the movement, together with the reluctance of groups such as the New Life Churches to adopt an official "denominational" name, render the Census figures less than conclusive. It should be noted that these statistics do not include charismatic members of mainstream churches (Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.5-10).
  2. Galvin, "Learning from the Sects," in Towards an Authentic New Zealand Theology, p.99. (Emphasis as cited.) Galvin extrapolates from the estimated weekly attendance of the Assemblies of God to produce a "membership" figure for all Pentecostal churches.
  3. This figure, if accurate, would make the Pentecostal churches the largest Protestant grouping in the country, on an attendance basis (DAWN Strategy New Zealand, 1990 Church Survey Report (n.p.: DAWN Strategy New Zealand Committee, 1990), p.12. Hereafter cited as DAWN Strategy 1990 Report.) Vide infra, chapter 8, footnote 20.
  4. This was the name by which the "Bethel Temple" movement in Australia was known. See Chant, Heart of Fire, pp.175-179, for an account of these churches. In New Zealand, the "Bethel Temple" movement formed the first stage in the evolution of the New Life Churches. See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," for an account of this evolution up to 1965.
  5. Wheeler, Interview. This issue had been the cause of the original schism of Ray Jackson's group from the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand in 1946. While "the Name" continued to feature largely in the teaching of Jackson's Australian churches, the New Zealand wing of the movement had moved away from this emphasis by the mid-1960s. See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," for some of the factors which underlay this doctrinal shift.
  6. Ranchord, Interview. This "line of teaching" was the Australian emphasis on "the Name."
  7. Shaun Kearney, Comment at Asian-Pacific Ministers' Conference, Melbourne, June 1973.
  8. David Ellis was pastor of the Ashburton New Life Centre until his death from leukaemia in late 1977. His views are set out in David J. Ellis, The Coverings (Christchurch: Estate of David J. Ellis, 1977); this book is a posthumous compilation by his widow, Norma Ellis, of his teaching on the subject. I am indebted to Janet Marsh-Webster for directing my attention to this book.
  9. This was the issue later addressed by Ray Comfort in his book "Evangelical Frustration." Comfort lamented the fact that "there is an estimated 80 per cent `fallaway' [sic] from evangelical altarcalls" (Ibid., p.7), and argued that the failure to retain these converts was due to the lack of genuine, life-changing repentance. As he saw it, the conversion process had been made "human-centred," and people were converted because of their acceptance of the "benefits" of the Gospel, rather than because of a genuine conviction of their need as guilty sinners before God.
  10. Juan Carlos Ortiz, Disciple (Carol Stream, Illinois: Creation House, 1975).
  11. W. Stanley Mooneyham, Foreword to Ibid., p.6.
  12. Ibid., chapter 17, pp.131-138.
  13. The basis for this commitment was found in Paul's injunction to "be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor.11:1, KJV).
  14. H.D. Hunter, "Shepherding Movement," in Burgess et al., Dictionary, p.784. This article gives a brief account of the "Shepherding Movement" (or, as it was sometimes known, the "Discipleship Movement").
  15. For an excellent account (including key documents) of the way in which the "Discipleship controversy" developed in 1975-1976, see "Seven Documents on the Discipleship Question," in Presence, Power, Praise: Documents of the Charismatic Renewal, 3 vols., ed. Kilian McDonnell (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1980), 2:116-147.
  16. Hunter, "Shepherding Movement," in Burgess et al., Dictionary, p.784.
  17. McDonnell, Presence, Power, Praise, 2:116.
  18. Bob Mumford, The Problem of Doing Your Own Thing (Fort Lauderdale, Florida: By the Author, 1973).
  19. Ibid., p.7. These categories are, in fact, the chapter headings in Mumford's book.
  20. Mumford included Watchman Nee's book Spiritual Authority (New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1972) in his recommendation of "material which would clarify and instruct along the lines I have shared" ("Circular Letter of Bob Mumford, November 1975," cited in McDonnell, Presence, Power, Praise, 2:141). Pat Robertson described Mumford's teachings as "the Watchman Nee - Juan Carlos Ortiz `submission' teachings as expanded and put into practice by [Mumford] and [his] fellow teachers" ("Open Letter of Pat Robertson to Bob Mumford, 27 June 1975," cited in Ibid., 2:124). Nee's book was compiled from "edited notes" taken during his teaching sessions during a training period for workers held in Kuling, Foochow, China, in 1948 (Nee, Spiritual Authority, p.6). His ideas were largely unknown in the West until the 1960s; but, once translated from the Chinese and published, they came to have wide acceptability. Since Nee had been imprisoned in China from 1952 until his death in 1972 (Angus I. Kinnear, Against the Tide: The Story of Watchman Nee, rev. ed. (Eastbourne, Sussex: Victory Press, 1976), it is unlikely that he was ever aware that his teaching notes had been translated and published, or of the wide influence that these had in the West.
  21. "The shepherd-submission concept as practiced [sic] in the movement is not totally Mumford's brainchild, but he had a lot to do with refining and promoting it. Some of his recent thoughts were gleaned from Argentine renewal leader Juan Carlos Ortiz" (Edward E. Plowman, "The Deepening Rift in the Charismatic Movement," Christianity Today, 10 October 1975, p.53). It is possible that Mumford took Ortiz's concepts further than Ortiz himself was prepared to go, since Plowman includes Ortiz among those who opposed Mumford's teachings (Ibid., p.52). Vinson Synan, however, omits Ortiz from his list of critics of the shepherding movement (Vinson Synan, "Reconciling the Charismatics," Christianity Today, 9 April 1976, p.46). In any case, Ortiz was never affiliated to the Christian Growth Ministries (i.e. the Fort Lauderdale headquarters of the discipleship movement).
  22. McDonnell, Presence, Power, Praise, 2:116-117.
  23. Plowman, "The Deepening Rift," Christianity Today, pp.53-54.
  24. For other examples, see Hunter, "Shepherding Movement," in Burgess et al., Dictionary, p.784.
  25. This was later described as "a move to build a chain of command linking many sympathetic local groups around the country to [the Discipleship teachers]" (Peter Brock, "The Secret Summit Reconstructed," Christianity Today, 4 April 1980, p.45).
  26. For an account of one such meeting (known as the "Secret Summit") see Ibid.
  27. For details of the settlement achieved at this conference, see McDonnell, Presence, Power, Praise, 2:143-147.
  28. Mumford, "Circular Letter," cited in Ibid., 2:132.
  29. Ranchord, Interview.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. John Steele, Interview, Dunedin, 14 February 1989.
  33. Ranchord, Interview.
  34. Rasik Ranchord to Graham and Pam Truscott, 25 February 1975, MHCF. Ranchord goes on to emphasise that this incorporation could not be simply a "transplant" of Ortiz' teachings. There must be a vital relationship with the Lord first, otherwise the discipleship teachings could produce a very legalistic, dictatorial type of church order.
  35. Ranchord refers to "real controversy going on re [the] Fort Lauderdale [discipleship] situation....There has come such a polarising, both in the USA and Australia. Fortunately, the same situation hasn't developed in New Zealand" (Rasik Ranchord to David Ellis, 24 October 1975, MHCF). The contention in Australia may be partly due to the fact that Howard Carter, who had taken over the editorship of Logos magazine in Australia, became involved in the discipleship movement, with the result that Logos became a vehicle for the discipleship teachings, and Carter a strong proponent of the movement in Australia and elsewhere.
  36. In a letter to Ern Baxter, written with reference to Charles Simpson's visit to Palmerston North at Easter 1976, Rasik Ranchord alludes to "a group in Wellington who tried to stir up opposition regarding the discipleship question. On the whole, it seems to be all settling down" (Rasik Ranchord to Ern Baxter, 29 June 1976, MHCF).
  37. For a brief biographical note on Baxter, see S. Strang, "Baxter, William John Ernest (`Ern')," in Burgess et al., Dictionary, p.52. It should be noted that at the time of his visits to New Zealand Baxter was not yet involved with the discipleship movement. He did not affiliate with this group until late 1974.
  38. Although Clark did not explain what specific issues Baxter was addressing, it would appear from the context that he was referring to division and disunity within the Pentecostal movement.
  39. Clark, Interview. As will be seen, Clark presented a proposal in 1979 that all New Zealand Pentecostal groups amalgamate to form a single United Pentecostal Movement in New Zealand.
  40. Ibid. James Worsfold plays down the role of division in the establishment of the various Pentecostal groups. Nevertheless, a comparison of Worsfold's references to the founding members of the various Pentecostal groups will demonstrate the frequency with which allegiances could, and did, change in the movement (Worsfold, History, passim).
  41. Clark, Interview. Emphasis as cited.
  42. For an account of previous attempts to form an united Pentecostal body in New Zealand, see Worsfold, History, pp.310-322.
  43. Hereafter cited as NZPF.
  44. Clark, Interview. Clark cautions, however, that his information concerning this is second-hand, since he was employed in the diplomatic service overseas from 1963 to 1970. He is also careful to point out that the barriers between the New Life Churches and the other Pentecostal churches were by no means unique, citing the "cleavage" and "breakdown of relationship" which characterised the New Zealand Pentecostal movement in the late 1920s and 1930s. "And it was only later that God began to say to us `Hey, we really need to heal these divisions' [sic], and it was in the '70s that this took place" (Ibid.)
  45. See Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.15-17 and 28-29, for a discussion of this issue. The "Jesus Only" Pentecostals understood the Godhead in unitarian terms. Since the New Life Churches used the same baptismal formula as this group (although holding strongly to a trinitarian theology), they were perceived to be unitarian also.
  46. Cited in Worsfold, History, p.314.
  47. Ralph R. Read, Water Baptism: The Formula and its meaning. A Study of the Trinitarian Formula of Matthew 28 v.19 and the Formula of "Oneness" Teachers: A Guide and a Refutation (Christchurch: New Zealand Pentecostal Fellowship, 1966). I am grateful to Rev. James Worsfold for a copy of this booklet.
  48. See Worsfold, History, pp.315-316.
  49. I.e. the name by which the New Life Churches were then known.
  50. Wheeler, Interview. Emphasis as cited.
  51. Worsfold, History, p.320.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Clark, Interview.
  54. Tiplady, Interview.
  55. Clark, Interview.
  56. Ranchord, Interview.
  57. Jack Hayford was pastor of the thriving Four Square Church of Van Nuys, California. His congregation included people such as Pat Boone and other Hollywood luminaries. See S. Strang, "Hayford, Jack William Jr." in Burgess et al., Dictionary, p.349.
  58. John Tiplady describes Shaun Kearney as being the "prime mover" both in the Auckland Pentecostal Ministers' Fraternal and in the Convention that resulted from it (Tiplady, Interview).
  59. Ranchord, Interview. Emphasis as cited.
  60. Tiplady, Interview.
  61. Ranchord, Interview. This Association (hereafter cited as APCNZ) was set up as an umbrella group to represent and to speak on behalf of its member Pentecostal churches. It comprised the Apostolic Church, the Assemblies of God, the Christian Revival Crusade, the Elim Pentecostal Church, and the Indigenous Churches of New Zealand.
  62. APCNZ, Press Release, 31 October 1975, MHCF.
  63. The only major Pentecostal group not represented at this meeting was the "Elim Churches of New Zealand," since Gilbert Dunk, their General Secretary, did not attend the Convention. However, Dunk did take part in the later delegation to the Prime Minister, and the Elim churches were affiliated to the APCNZ.
  64. Clark, Interview.
  65. "Rowling and Muldoon meet Pentecostals," Challenge Weekly, 16 August 1975, pp.1-2.
  66. Rasik Ranchord to Howard Carter, 8 August 1975, MHCF. Ranchord knew "Bill" Rowling personally since they had studied Economics together at Canterbury University (Ranchord, Interview), and it would appear that this enabled him to initiate the delegation to the Prime Minister.
  67. Tiplady, Interview. The reference to the Pentecostal churches as a "significant force within New Zealand society" may indicate that their new-found unity and spirit of co-operation owed as much to their sense of success in the 1970s as to their desire to influence the mores of society.
  68. "Strong views on social, moral issues," Evening Post, 5 August 1975, p.13.
  69. Surprisingly, the issue of abortion is not mentioned in the press release.
  70. APCNZ, Press Release, 31 October 1975, MHCF.
  71. "Rowling and Muldoon meet Pentecostals," Challenge Weekly, 16 August 1975, p.2.
  72. "P.M. urges Christian involvement," Challenge Weekly, 3 May 1975, p.1.
  73. Rasik Ranchord to Don Capill, 6 October 1975, MHCF.
  74. See Arrowsmith, "Christian Attitudes," and Keith Rowe, "Clergy for Rowling - the Almost Politicians," in Dialogue on Religion: New Zealand Viewpoints 1977, ed. Peter Davis and John Hinchcliff (Auckland: University of Auckland, 1977), pp.31-35.
  75. Reported in Bluck, "Jesus 75 - a mixed blessing," p.5.
  76. Circular letter to Kath Shaw, 24 November 1975, MHCF.
  77. Clark, Interview.
  78. Ibid.
  79. For example, see Brown, Forty Years On, p.145. John Evans comments that although deputations such as these occurred frequently in the 1940s and 1950s, they were less common in the 1960s and 1970s (John Evans, Comment to author, Dunedin, 1991).
  80. This change of attitude may also reflect the way in which the concerns of main-stream churches were "filtering through" to the Pentecostal movement. This process appears to have applied as much to the new Pentecostal ecumenism as to the concomitant political involvement over issues in the wider society.
  81. Clark, Interview. Clark also comments that the Assemblies of God was the least responsive of the Pentecostal groups to the formation of the APCNZ, the rationale being that "the AOG was booming, really; [so] why did they need the APC?" (Ibid.)
  82. Tiplady, Interview.
  83. Bluck, "Jesus 75 - a mixed blessing," p.5. The article reports Muldoon as saying that he "enjoyed the [Jesus 75 Rally]. This is what the country needs more of." Bob Horton, the organiser of the Jesus 75 campaign, replied that he valued Mr. Muldoon's support, saying that "we have a very open ear there" and informing Muldoon that "we're going to influence people to vote for men with good moral principles who know right from wrong" (Ibid.)
  84. Ranchord, Interview.
  85. Clark, Interview.
  86. Ranchord, Interview. Emphasis as cited.
  87. Telegram from Hon. H.J. Walker, Minister for Social Welfare, 10 October 1977; Doug Kidd, M.P. to Christchurch New Life Centre, 30 November 1983; MHCF.
  88. "Moral Coalition seen as political threat," Otago Daily Times, 14 September 1985, p.4.
  89. For articles on Wheeler's candidacy, see Rudman, "For God and National," and Stratford, "Christians, Awake!" Wheeler's political stance was his own individual one, and did not necessarily reflect the views of others in the New Life Churches. Nevertheless, several other Pentecostal Christians also stood as National Party candidates. These included Donald Crosbie, who contested the Miramar seat in the 1984 Election, and Andrew Stanley in Onehunga and Andrew Cowie in the St. Albans electorate three years later.
  90. APCNZ, Press Release, 31 October 1975, MHCF.
  91. Ranchord, Interview.
  92. Donald B. Crosbie, Publisher, New Zealand Times, to Pastors, 5 August 1976, MHCF.
  93. Associated Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand, New Zealand Times, n.d. [February 1976].
  94. Cited in Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic Movement?" [1985], p.104.
  95. New Zealand Times Distribution Report, 5 August 1976, MHCF. Emphasis as cited.
  96. Ranchord, Interview.
  97. Clark, Interview. Emphasis as cited. Clark dates the changeover of the secretaryship of the APCNZ from himself to Rasik Ranchord in 1977, and appears to place the decision to change to biennial Conventions in 1977 or 1978, thus making 1978 the last of the annual Conventions. However, Clark's dates may be not be entirely accurate, since the Majestic House Correspondence Files contain letters signed by him (as secretary of the APCNZ) as late as 1979, and several references in the Files indicate that these Conventions were still being held on an annual basis in the early 1980s.
  98. Ibid. By "recognition of ministries," Clark was referring to mutual acceptance of ministries by the various Pentecostal groups. The "sticking point" appears to have been the insistence of the Apostolic Church on the role of "apostles," i.e. senior ministers who "have a ministry of superintendent leadership within the Apostolic Church as a whole, the leadership being evidenced by the gifts and the spiritual attributes of the person concerned" (Darroch, Everything you ever wanted to know about Protestants, p.142). This gave the Apostolic Church a more formalised and centralised polity than was palatable to most of the other Pentecostal groups. The New Life Churches, especially, found this polity difficult to accept because of their insistence on the autonomy of the local church.
  99. This declaration appears on page 7 of the February, July and October 1976 issues of the New Zealand Times.
  100. "Want best for New Zealand," New Zealand Times, February 1976, p.7.
  101. Although most of the pastors who were interviewed were familiar with this paper, the author was unable, despite several attempts, to locate or to obtain access to a copy. Nevertheless, the main thrust of the paper could be reconstructed from analysis of the reactions to it.
  102. Although Clark does not say so, his concept of a united Pentecostal church may also have been generated by pragmatic considerations. The Registrar-General of Marriage Celebrants had written to him (as secretary of the APCNZ) the previous year, enquiring as to the possibility of obtaining a "list of ministers belonging to the [APCNZ] rather than for unaffiliated churches to submit their own separate submissions" (Ian Clark, Secretary APCNZ, to pastors, 23 February 1979, MHCF). The possibilities of having a simpler, more efficient structure through an united church group, rather than the manifold problems involved with a "loose association" of "unaffiliated churches," would not have been lost on Clark.
  103. Ranchord, Interview.
  104. These were the five Pentecostal churches affiliated to the APCNZ, namely, the Apostolic Church, the Assemblies of God, the Christian Revival Crusade, the Elim Church and the Indigenous Churches (later known as the New Life Churches).
  105. Clark, Interview. Several new Pentecostal groups did start up in New Zealand in the 1980s.
  106. Ibid.
  107. Ibid.
  108. Tiplady, Interview.
  109. Ranchord, Interview. Ranchord's argument was that there were few essential differences of doctrine or practice between the various Pentecostal groups. The New Life Churches' practice of "singing in the Spirit" and their distinctive eschatology were being adopted by some of the other Pentecostal churches. Conversely, the polity of other Pentecostal groups was beginning to be reflected in the New Life Churches' own structural development. Despite these similarities, however, there were strongly divided opinions concerning Clark's proposals, which were generally felt to be premature and unnecessary.
  110. Nothing of this debate appeared to have reached congregational level. The discussion was conducted solely between pastors and leaders of the various Pentecostal groups.
  111. Wheeler later described the structure of the New Life Churches in the late 1970s as "very informal; too much so" (Wheeler, Interview).
  112. Rob Wheeler to Max Palmer and Peter Morrow, 18 July 1979, MHCF.
  113. Rob Wheeler to Peter Morrow and Max Palmer, 24 July 1979, MHCF.
  114. Ibid.
  115. I.e. at the New Life Churches' Annual Conference in September 1979 (Ibid.)
  116. By this phrase, Wheeler meant a council of senior ministries, who would have oversight of the movement as a whole. He also used the term "National Eldership" to denote the same form of polity.
  117. Rob Wheeler to Max Palmer and Peter Morrow, 18 July 1979, MHCF.
  118. Rob Wheeler to Peter Morrow and Max Palmer, 24 July 1979, MHCF.
  119. Rob Wheeler to Max Palmer and Peter Morrow, 18 July 1979, MHCF.
  120. Rob Wheeler to Peter Morrow and Max Palmer, 24 July 1979, MHCF.
  121. Rasik Ranchord, however, cautions that the difference in the approaches of the churches in the North and South Islands to the issue was not a clear-cut one (Ranchord, Interview).
  122. Max Palmer to Rob Wheeler, 23 July 1979, MHCF. There appears to have been no connection whatever between the New Life Churches and the "Full Gospel Mission" of Dr. Douglas Metcalf, which had came under public scrutiny in June 1977 when guns were found at the sect's Waipara headquarters. Nevertheless, the media furore surrounding the incident may have been in Palmer's mind when making this comment. See Hill, "To define true heresy," in Hill et al., Shades of Deviance, pp.147ff., for an analysis of the Waipara incident.
  123. Max Palmer to Rob Wheeler, 23 July 1979, MHCF.
  124. Ibid. Emphasis as cited. Conversely, Frank Houston, Read's successor had the opposite effect. His open-hearted and effective leadership was primarily responsible for the expansion of the Assemblies of God from 1966 on.
  125. Ibid. Emphasis as cited.
  126. Ibid. Palmer appears to have failed to recognise that an emphasis on local recognition of ministry could, in fact, be even more "divisive" than Wheeler's proposals.
  127. Ibid.
  128. The use of this word to describe the five main Pentecostal groups reflects the emphasis of the New Life Churches on the "flowing [i.e. activity] of the Spirit." The nature and shape of the organisational channels through which the Spirit flowed were only of secondary, although growing, importance.
  129. "Senior brethren" were seen as "senior" by virtue of the "leadership mantle" of the Holy Spirit, rather than by length of service in the movement. In the case of the New Life Churches, these "senior brethren" were Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow. John Walton has recently been recognised (despite his comparatively late arrival in the movement) as "second (or deputy) leader" in the movement, replacing Rob Wheeler, who had retired due to ill-health in 1989.
  130. Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow to Jim Williams, n.d. [circa September-October 1979], MHCF.

 © Southern Cross College and the author, 2004

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