Since the launch of the modern Pentecostal movement from Azusa Street 110 years ago in Los Angeles, man's attempts to harness the global expansion of the Acts 2 experience have taken multiple routes. From Azusa was birthed several contemporary denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ. Other movements came to embrace the charismatic outpouring, all with seemingly sincere intentions to unite the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Groping for this unity through the decades, much of the Pentecostal and charismatic movement has ultimately come with divisions, with groups splintering off, many times over the slightest of differences of interpretation or experience.
Gathering in London this week is the Empowered21 Global Council, a group with a significant grasp on bringing unity to the evangelical and Pentecostal influence. Leaders of churches, organizations, ministries and institutions are gathering for two days to reflect and visualize the future of the half-billion adherents of the Pentecostal movement.
Not the first time this group has gathered, the E21 Global Council was formed as an outgrowth of the celebration of the Azusa Street Revival, which took place in Los Angeles in 1906 and was commemorated during a centennial event in 2006 with over 50,000 charismatic believers from around the globe. From that gathering came 17 "conversations" taking place in strategic locations across six continents. From these meetings came the first Empowered21 conference in 2010 on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, campus of Oral Roberts University.
"What we found is there is a hunger for these kinds of unifying meetings to take place around the world," according to Dr. Billy Wilson, who serves as co-chair of the Empowered21 Global Council along with Dr. George Wood, superintendent of the Assembly of God. "It was vital that we establish a mission, vision and a five-part purpose statement to guide us as we navigate the drastically different global streams of this movement."
"Trying to import a North American Christianity around the world is not the answer," Wilson told Tuesday's E21 Global Council session.
Wilson, who also serves as president of Oral Roberts University, outlined the established structure and foundation of E21, which includes 14 regional teams or cabinets, the most recent of which is Eastern Europe established earlier this year. According to Wilson, leaders of these teams are prayerfully chosen for their authenticity, integrity and spiritual experience and charged with upholding five "descriptors" of E21: Holy Spirit, Future, Next Generation, Unity and World Evangelization.
Wilson said, "We are different in a lot of ways, but there are some aspects of this movement (E21) which we must all agree upon and they are 1) Jesus is the only way to salvation, 2) the Holy Spirit is alive and at work today, 3) the world is to be evangelized, and 4) the next generation needs to understand and be connected with this movement." Wilson stated the purpose of the Global Council is to give spiritual oversight to this worldwide network of leaders.
The Global Council concludes on Wednesday, May 11 prior to the opening service of London 2016, a three-day celebration to be held in the historic Gaumont Theatre in downtown London.
More information on Empowered21 can be found at empowered21.com.
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