Beyond Signs and Wonders

unlike less welcome church burnings of the 1990s, this torching is celebrated and the congregation revels in the fact that the fire is spreading. The "fire" that fell January 20, 1994, upon what is now known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship was what adherents call "The Father’s Blessing"—an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that has sparked a renewal in pentecostalism reminiscent of the original Azusa Street outpouring in 1906.

This pentecostal revival has been felt around the world, with hot spots in Argentina, Great Britain, South Africa, and South Korea. In the United States, powerful renewals are taking place in Baltimore, Pasadena, Pittsburgh, and Pensacola, Florida.

Yet at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) where it all began, there are signs that the renewal is waning. While Sunday morning services still draw about a thousand people, many of them look more rehearsed than revived. TACF is known for its relaxed worshiping style inherited from its roots in the Southern California-based Vineyard church—yet some may find it almost lackadaisical. From its flowing pop hymns to the tender, friendly style of pastor John Arnott, a lot of attention has been placed on softening the edges of this revival. TACF is sweet, pleasant, and comfortable. That is, until the "sounds" start.

Proverbs notes that "where no oxen are, the crib is clean." It’s safe to assume that the same goes for dogs, lions, and roosters. Of all the incredible manifestations of the Spirit at TACF—speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, tearful conversions—the cleanliness of its crib has been most disturbed by the controversial animal sounds made by some of its worshipers. The revival has also been characterized by wild bouts of "holy laughter," "slayings in the Spirit," and the shaking, quaking, and prophetic words that are experienced at other pentecostal and charismatic services.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine May-June 1999
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe