Pentecostal World Fellowship

   The Pentecostal World Fellowship emerged at the end of the 20th century. It was the latest step in a long process of unifying believers who shared the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the resulting manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12).
   The initial outpouring of Pentecostalism that began with the Azusa Street revival in 1906 brought hopes that all Christians would soon be united. instead, new divisions emerged not just between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostal Christians, but among Pentecostals themselves. The movement soon split into Holiness,Finished Work, and Jesus Only factions, and denominations began to spring up across the United States. All attempts to find some means of expressing unity had only limited success until after World War II.
   Shortly after World War II, European leaders called for a World Pentecostal Conference to be held in Zurich, Switzerland, in May 1947. The gathering gave birth to a periodical, Pentecost, and named Donald Gee (1891-1966) as its editor. Gee, together with David J. du Plessis (1905-87), had been largely responsible for planning the conference.
   Similar conferences have been held at approximately three-year intervals at locations on every continent, symbolizing the movement's rapid global growth. In 1961, the conference was first identified as the Pentecostal World Conference. In 2001, at Los Angeles, the name Pentecostal World Fellowship was adopted.
   Many of those attending the conferences have resisted any proposal that might appear to give the conference itself any undue powers. Generally, each conference chooses a secretary and advisory committee to plan the next conference, and a presidium to preside at the various sessions. Leadership of the conference has been shared by some of the most famous names in the movement, including Petrus Lewi Pethrus (1884-1974, Sweden), W. E. McAleister (1880-1953, Canada), and Thomas F Zimmerman (1912-91) of the Assemblies of God, who chaired the conferences for over two decades.
   Donald Gee edited Pentecost until his death in 1966. A new editor, Percy Brewster (1908-80), was appointed in 1970, and the periodical renamed World Pentecost, but it was discontinued in 1999.
   The Pentecostal World Fellowship defines itself as a cooperative association of Pentecostal churches and groups committed to furthering the Gospel. It is designed to promote fellowship, cooperation, and mutual support among its member bodies and organizations. It has adopted a brief statement of faith that affirms the authority of the Bible, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the human need for regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
   With the change of name in 2001, the fellowship has also taken on some specific tasks within the larger Pentecostal world, including the encouragement of cooperation on the mission field, speaking for the Pentecostal community to governments on behalf of persecuted believers, generating humanitarian assistance in selected places, and helping to build worldwide prayer networks.
   The fellowship has headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, where the Assemblies of God is also headquartered. Its 2004 president was Thomas Trask (b. 1936), who is also general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. It has been a catalyst for the formation of regional structures such as the Pentecostal Fellowship in North America (1948) and the Pentecostal European Fellowship, founded in 1987 by the merger of two older fellowships.
   See also Ecumenical movement.
   Further reading:
   ■ Cecil M. Roebeck, Jr., "Pentecostal World Conference," in Stanley M. Burgess, and Eduard M. Van der Maas, eds., International Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements (rev. ed., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002)
   ■ Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal 1901-2001 (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2001).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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