West Coast Rumble: Pentecostal Revivals Sweep Parts of U. S. With Digitized Spin

Charlie Shamp prays over a woman March 3 at the Seattle Revival Center. The man in back of her is known as a “catcher” in case she falls to the ground. (Photo courtesy of Julia Duin)
Charlie Shamp prays over a woman March 3 at the Seattle Revival Center. The man in back of her is known as a “catcher” in case she falls to the ground. (Photo courtesy of Julia Duin)

They call it the West Coast Rumble: a set of multiweek revivals in Seattle and San Diego, plus a large Christian rally in Los Angeles two weekends ago.

The main players are 30-something Pentecostals who are just as apt to broadcast their messages via Periscope, Skype and Twitter, as well as on their ministry’s Facebook pages.

Can’t make it to their meetings? They’ll pray for you over their cellphones.

They belong to a loose network of roving preachers who have adopted some techniques from past Pentecostal revivals but with a digitized spin. They hope to bring faith to a region that has some of the country’s lowest church attendance.

“I feel like in the Northwest we are giving birth to a baby and it needs to be nurtured,” said Darren Stott, 34, pastor of the Seattle Revival Center, a 170-member nondenominational church where the revival is now in its eighth week. “For me, to be a pastor in Seattle is easy. To be a revivalist and contend for miracles is difficult.”

The center has hired several part-time workers to oversee the revival, stream online video and schedule and pay for a succession of visiting worship bands and speakers. The church has posted a list of hotels on its site for visitors who have flown in from around the Pacific Northwest and Australia. While an average of 210 people attend nightly services, an additional 225 people will watch the entire four-hour service online, with up to 1,000 people logging in and out on any given night.

Meanwhile, in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Bernardo, a series of meetings that was supposed to end Jan. 25 has morphed into what is now a 12-week revival. The meetings were sponsored by an Albany, Ore., group called The Elijah List and headed up by two evangelistic couples: Jerame and Miranda Nelson and Joshua and Janet Mills.

“We began to notice an unusual manifest presence of God invading the meetings,” Jerame Nelson, 35, wrote on elijahlist.com. “Miracles were happening quite easily and people were really getting touched by God during the worship times.”

Just the week before, Nelson continued, a Franklin, Tenn., evangelist named James Goll, 63, had prophesied that a “West Coast rumble” would break open in port cities along the West Coast from Tijuana, Mexico, to Vancouver, B.C.

San Diego, Goll had told Nelson, would be the first spark in this spiritual line of fire. So when Joshua Mills asked Nelson if they should continue the meetings, “I immediately said, ‘Yes, let’s do it!’” Nelson wrote on the site.

The San Diego meetings are part of a tapestry of events connected to Azusa Now, a large evangelistic meeting held April 9 at the Los Angeles Coliseum that attracted 56,586 worshippers.

Perhaps the most unusual occurrence during the rally was when Catholic charismatic leader Matteo Calisi knelt and kissed the feet of Azusa Now organizer Lou Engle in the name of Catholic-Protestant reconciliation. (Engle then returned the favor.)

The event marked the 110th anniversary of the legendary Azusa Street Revival, which birthed the Pentecostal movement in the U.S. Led by William Seymour, a pastor whose prayer meetings lasted for some four years, the 1906 revival sparked a massive spiritual awakening that today numbers some 279 million adherents worldwide. Known for having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pentecostals often speak in tongues and dance during worship services and report healings and other miracles.

Seymour is said to have prophesied that an even greater revival would happen a century later.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service

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