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Pentecostals Consider Joining Ecumenical Movement

Pentecostal communities can offer a “power beyond ourselves” to the 21st century ecumenical movement, according to a Pentecostal scholar at the World Council of Church’s weeklong mission and evangelis
( [email protected] ) May 21, 2005 11:48 AM EDT

Pentecostal communities can offer a ¡§power beyond ourselves¡¨ to the 21st century ecumenical movement, according to a Pentecostal scholar at the World Council of Church¡¦s weeklong mission and evangelism conference.

Pentecostal communities can offer a ¡§power beyond ourselves¡¨ to the 21st century ecumenical movement, according to a Pentecostal scholar at the World Council of Church¡¦s weeklong mission and evangelism conference.

¡§Pentecostalism has one great strength that helps it to avoid posing a threat to others,¡¨ said Dr Kirsteen Kim, who lectures at the University of Birmingham in the UK. ¡§Most of the evangelism is spontaneous, it is not part of a plan, it is not achieved through a human strategy. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit."

Kim, who describes herself as an ¡§evangelical who has been touched by the charismatic movement,¡¨ was one of several panelists discussing the future outlook of Pentecostal and ecumenical unity on May 14 ¡V one day before Pentecost Sunday.

According to the WCC press, the dialogue between Pentecostals and active members of the ecumenical movement is still ¡§in an early stage of development.¡¨

Of the 650 participants at the mission conference, only 15 were Pentecostals; some speakers have had to defend Pentecostal churches and missionaries against charges of aggression, proselytism, irrationalism, charlatanism and posing "a threat to a reconciled world,¡¨ according to WCC.

The Rev. Dr Opoku Odinyah, rector of the Pentecostal University College in Ghana and an advisor to the conference, said "there would have to be change" before his Church of Pentecost could seriously consider full WCC membership.

Dr Yong-Gi Hong, a Pentecostal scholar and senior mission executive of the Yoido Full Gospel Church in the Republic of Korea, also held reservations about joining the ecumenical movement because he said such a move would institutionalize the church.

"In our tradition, charisms - the gifts of the Holy Spirit - are to be found at the local level," he said. "If we are to work in ecumenical organizations beyond the local community, we must find the proper way to balance the Spirit and the system."

Nonetheless, Hong was optimistic about future dialogue.

"I think there will be a time when my church may join the World Council of Churches,¡¨ said Hong. "There are already Pentecostal member churches, and my church is a full member of the national council in Korea."