National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: NCCCUSA News, 212-870-2227
PENTECOSTAL ADDRESSES NCC GENERAL ASSEMLY, MARKING A FIRST
CHICAGO, Nov. 11, 1998 ---- In a "first" for the National
Churches, a speaker from a Pentecostal tradition addressed the National
Council of Churches annual General Assembly and encouraged delegates from
the NCC's 35 Protestant and Orthodox member communions to think beyond the
stereotypes of Pentecostal pastors and practices.
"It is important to distinguish between the popular forms and the
theological forms of Pentecostalism," said Dr. David D. Daniels III, of the
Church of God in Christ. Dr. Daniels is associate professor of Church
History in the Modern Period at Chicago's McCormick Theological Seminary
and is a well-known teacher, researcher, author and lecturer.
"This was a first for the NCC," commented the Rev. Dr. Joan
Campbell, NCC General Secretary. "We were pleased and honored to have such
a first rate Pentecostal scholar and pastor give us insights from his
tradition. This is in keeping with the NCC's commitment opening up new
Dr. Daniels is no stranger to the ecumenical movement. He served as NCC
Faith and Order commissioner from 1988-91 and is an active member of the
World Alliance of Reformed Churches and Pentecostal International Dialogue.
Dr. Daniels spoke of his involvement in an international dialogue at the
Vatican between Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. "It was challenging on
both sides, particularly between the years 1976 to 1982 when we took on the
topic of Mary."
He said one of the issues for Pentecostals in all parts of the world is
that they are often accused by other faith groups of proselytism.
Dr. Daniels provided the NCC delegates with a history of 20th century
Pentecostalism starting with the famous holiness revivals held during the
late 19th and early 20th centuries. He noted the racial and ethnic
diversity in the early revivals and churches. "This multi-racial revival
provided a vision which shaped Pentecostalism for the 20th century," he
explained, but many churches did not continue to model this vision and
became more segregated. "However, a few places continued to cross the race
barrier," he said.
He said that Pentecostals are known for "exuberant, expressive
that is "doxological," or about praising. "We are taught that in
people are transformed by the Holy Spirit. This healing power and presence
of God and the Holy Spirit in worship is extraordinary. It means that
worship must remain open."
"We are at an interesting moment for Pentecostals in the U.S. and
throughout the world," Dr. Daniels said. "We are starting to have some
sense of unity while recognizing the variety of our differences,
particularly around race." He explained that different racial groups
within Pentecostalism tend to have radically different political beliefs
and affiliations, with many Latino believers being supporters of the Puerto
Rican Republican Party, white Pentecostals belonging to the Christian
Coalition and Black Pentecostals tending to identify with the liberal wing
of the Democratic party.
"At the same time we are struggling within ourselves, we have made links
with the charismatic renewal among other churches, including Roman
Catholic, Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal churches. Both within
and without, Dr. Daniels said, "there have been new levels of cooperation,
including new theological seminaries, conversation and dialogue."
"We are finding places for conversation, for confrontation and places we
can be together in praise of our one God," Dr. Daniels concluded.
Dr. Daniels comments provided an opportunity for conversation among NCC
delegates, who spent time in "table talk" around the issues he raised.
Delegates were asked to discuss the following questions:
1) Thinking about your own congregation, what activities, dialogue, worship
services do you share with Pentecostal congregations nearby? (Assemblies
of God, Church of God in Christ, and Church of God) If none, what
obstacles prevent your congregation from these relationships?
2) In your communion has there been a charismatic/renewal movement? If so,
how is it viewed? What questions or problems does it raise for your
communion? What promise does it offer within your communion?
3) As you heard the presentation today and from your own experience, what
gifts do you believe Pentecostalism may offer to the wider church? What
gifts might Pentecostalism receive from your tradition?