Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International

   The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) is an organization of laymen that promotes Pentecostal beliefs and practices among members and has helped spread Pente-costalism among members of other denominations. Since its founding in 1951, it has spread to countries all over the world.
   The fellowship was conceived by Demos Shakarian (1913-93), a successful businessman and lay supporter of evangelistic programs. Shakarian grew up in an Armenian Pentecostal congregation in Southern California. He received the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a youth of 13, after which a hearing problem was healed. In 1951, during an Oral Roberts revival in Los Angeles that he helped arrange, he won Roberts's support for his idea of an interdenominational group where businessmen could gather to share their faith in Christ. Roberts spoke at the first gathering of what would become the FGBMFI.
   Some 3,000 people attended the first conference, representing a handful of chapters. The group began issuing a periodical, Voice, to spread the message, and by 1965 there were 300 groups meeting weekly around the United States.
   The FGBMFI was very successful in spreading the Pentecostal message into mainline Protestant churches. People attending a meeting for the first time were often unaware of the Pentecostal orientation, but many experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and others were healed. Some invited their pastors, who also had similar experiences. The FGBMFI and the Voice became major sources for the Charismatic movement that emerged in the 1960s. Between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s, the organization grew tenfold and spread to more than 80 countries. A television program that ran in the late 1970s and early 1980s, based around the extraordinary experiences of its members, was a factor in this growth. FGBMFI also had a role in the emergence of the Word Faith movement, whose early exponents, Kenneth Hagin Sr. and Kenneth Copeland, were popular speakers at Fellowship gatherings.
   After Demos Shakarian had a stroke in 1984, his son Richard Shakarian emerged as the new international president. As of 2004, the fellowship is active in 132 countries.
   Further reading:
   ■ David E. Harrell Jr., All Things Are Possible (Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1975)
   ■ Demos Shakarian, as told to John and Elizabeth Sher-rill, The Happiest People on Earth (Old Tappan, N.J.: Chosen Books, 1975)
   ■ Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2001).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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