National Pentecostal Symposium 2016
The first National Pentecostal Symposium took place at Kensington Temple on Saturday November 26th. Several hundred Pentecostals gathered to hear papers on the history of Pentecostalism in the UK by Dr Andrew Davies of the University of Birmingham, on Pentecostal diversity by Dr Daniel Akhazemea of Christ Redeemer College, Pentecostals and ecumenism by Dr Anne Dyer of Mattersley Hall College and Pentecostalism and socio-economic and political engagement by Dr David Muir of Roehampton University.
The symposium papers illustrated the breadth and depth of Pentecostal experience and scholarship. The significance of the gathering was way in which it brought together the histories of both indigenous English Pentecostalism which reaches back to holiness roots in the nineteenth centuries and revivals in Wales and England in the early 1900s, and the history of Afro-Caribbean Pentecostalism which is largely a product of the post-Windrush era. It was also important because it allowed the Pentecostal traditions to introduce themselves to an ecumenical audience. It would not have been a Pentecostal symposium without roof-lifting praise, led ably by Emily Bolton and Noel Robinson and his band.
The symposium was followed by a celebration led by the London Community Gospel Choir and CTE’s Pentecostal President, Bishop Dr Eric Brown. The preachers included another CTE President, the Revd Canon Billy Kennedy and Pastor Penny Francis from Ruach City Church. During the celebration, awards for outstanding contributions to Pentecostalism in Britain were awarded to the Pentecostal historian Professor William Kay, to founder of the Ichthus Fellowship, Roger Foster, to the Revd Nezlin Sterling, a distinguished leader of the New Testament Assembly and Fr Olu Abiola, one of the pioneering leaders of African Pentecostalism in England.
The Revd Dr David Cornick, CTE General Secretary noted, ‘One of the remarkable features of twentieth century Christianity was the growth of the Pentecostal churches and the emergence of the charismatic movement. We are delighted that the churches of these traditions are coming together to celebrate the gifts God has given them and to share their insights with their Christians friends from other traditions’
In recent years, a quiet revolution has been taking place involving Pentecostals and their newer Charismatic religious cousins as they transcend cultural, ethnic and denominational boundaries to engage with each other, and in Christian mission together in local communities and national life. Spearheading this development has been the National Pentecostal Leaders Forum operating under the aegis of Churches Together in England through a Pentecostal Presidency. The current CTE Pentecostal President, Bishop Eric Brown, said, ‘we live in a world and a country where human difference is difficult to manage and so it has been heart-warming to be a part of a project that shows that with the right spirit our God-given diversity can be a strength, not a weakness’
(7 December 2016)
Click here to read Bishop Dr Joe Aldred's report following the Symposium.