September 1, 2010
By Rev Ed Hird
-a thanksgiving for the life and work of the Rev Canon Dennis Bennett and a tribute to his contributions to 50 years of renewal in Canada
My wife and I were privileged to hear Rita Bennett this July at the fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, which began in 1960 at St Luke’s Seattle. Rita and her late husband Canon Dennis Bennett were an amazing tag team sharing about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Many felt shock and disbelief in November lst, 1991 when told of Dennis Bennett’s death from a heart attack. He was known world-wide as a pioneer and seed-planter in what Archbishop Michael Peers called in 1978 “…a revival of a witness to a neglected aspect of Christian truth – the power of the Spirit.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica 1973 Yearbook records that “when in 1960, Father Dennis Bennett announced to his congregation, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at Van Nuys, California that he had experienced a new outpouring of God’s Spirit, the recent movement can be said to have begun.”
The Rev Kevin Martin, formerly with Episcopal Renewal Ministries/Acts 29, said that Dennis Bennett “…was directly responsible for the charismatic movement in the Roman (Catholic) Church that now reaches into the millions.’ As of 2010, there are an estimated 110 million Roman Catholics involved in charismatic renewal, which perhaps accounts for the wide acceptance of the Alpha Course among many Roman Catholics.
Canon Bennett wrote six best-selling books, two of which sold over half a million copies each (Nine O’Clock in the Morning and The Holy Spirit and You). During his 33 years in the Renewal, Dennis had the privilege of leading over 25,000 people into the Release or Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Dennis, The Seed-planter
In 1979, the Rev Al Reimers, an Anglican priest, published the results of a comprehensive survey of charismatic renewal in Canada. In his book, God’s Country, he wrote: “As far as I can determine, charismatic renewal came to Canada first through visits by Dennis Bennett in the early 1960′s…”
Dennis planted many seeds of renewal over the years across Canada: many have borne fruit and are still bearing fruit; others are just starting to sprout.
Shortly after moving to Seattle, Dennis began a lasting and most meaningful relationship with the Anglicans on Vancouver Island. He first spoke at St John’s Quadra Anglican Church (Victoria) in 1962. In 1974 Dennis and Rita led a very popular seminar on the Holy Spirit at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. From then on, Dennis and Rita were invited back many times by the ARC/Anglican Renewal Centre to lead seminars all over Vancouver Island.
Charles Alexander on Pioneering
The Rev Charles Alexander, the founding National Coordinator of Anglican Renewal Ministries (Canada) and author of Power to Serve, remembers Dennis well. Charles recalls going down to Dennis’ parish in Seattle, (St Luke’s) and receiving much wisdom and encouragement from him.
Charles sees Dennis as “a very self-giving man” who certainly had a foundational role in the growth of renewal in Canada. Charles, who has spent many years sharing the message of renewal across Canada, commented that Canadian Anglicans in renewal “owe Dennis a lot.’
Archdeacon Jack Major’s Reflections
Nine O’Clock in the Morning, by itself, has had life-changing effects on many Canadian Anglicans. For example, the Venerable Jack Major from the Fraser Valley, BC, was given this book by a stranger at a funeral. He reluctantly began to read the book, and before he could finish it, he experienced a life-changing Release of God’s Spirit in his life. Later Jack brought Dennis and Rita to lead seminars in 1984 and 1986 at St Matthew’s Abbotsford; over 350 people registered for the latter.
I was Jack’s Assistant Priest at the time, so I can witness to its powerful effect on St Matthew’s in terms of spiritual and rapid numerical growth. Archdeacon Jack “found Dennis to be a person of great intellectual ability but also able to convey the faith in such a beautifully simple way that one can’t miss it.’
Dennis, The Pastor
Archdeacon Jack Major said that he had never met a more humble person and both he and Charles Alexander commented that Dennis would always remember who you were. The Rev Fr Ron Barnes, former Chair of an Anglican Evangelism Unit, described Dennis as a “conservative, rational, sensible person who saw the gifts of the Spirit, not as something emotional but as genuine, rational, and normal.” Though Dennis Bennett’s teaching about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a challenging message, it was always spoken in love. As Archdeacon Patrick Tomter (from Dennis’ Diocese of Olympia) put it, Dennis “was always and forever a man of grace and, truth…He responded to criticism with warmth and humour . The Diocese has always been particularly blessed by his presence.”
I first met Dennis through his books, and began a 7-year pilgrimage which culminated in 1979, when the Rev David Watson and my wife Janice helped me open up to new life in the Spirit. But it wasn’t until I met Dennis in 1984 that he showed me by teaching and example how easy it is to lead another person to receive the Release or Baptism in the Spirit. Until then, I had believed that ‘tongues’ were just for the few, and were difficult to receive. Dennis showed me that Life in the Spirit is a free gift, and all that one had to do was ask.
Dennis Bennett’s best book
Next to Nine O’Clock in the Morning, I found
How to Pray for the Release of the Spirit his most helpful book. I recommend this book to any Anglican priest or lay person struggling with the challenge of renewing the renewal.
Lord, we thank you for the life and witness of Canon Dennis Bennett, and pray for your strength and encouragement upon his widow Rita Bennett and their family.
The Rev Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada
-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada Magazine
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide
August 17, 2010
One of the most fascinating and tortured movies I have watched is ‘The Aviator’, a look at the life of Howard Hughes.
Howard Hughes’ father invented a revolutionary drill bit that, within ten years, was used in 75 percent of the world’s oil wells, allowing them to drill deeper to previously unreachable oil fields. Standard Oil used fifteen thousand of these Hughes drill bits, leased out from Hughes at $30,000 per well.
At age eleven, Howard built the first wireless broadcasting set in Houston so that he could communicate with ships in the Gulf of Mexico.
With the ‘Hells Angels’ talking movie, Hughes created the first ‘talking movie’ blockbuster, astounding his critics who were convinced that this Texan upstart would lose his shirt.
Hughes once said to his top assistant Noah Dietrich: “I intend to be the greatest golfer in the world, the finest film producer in Hollywood, the greatest pilot in the world, and the richest man in the world.” On his death bed, Hughes commented: “I want to be remembered for only one thing – my contribution to aviation.”
As I watched ‘The Aviator’ movie and read several biographies on Howard Hughes, I kept being reminded of Jesus’ comment: ‘What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul?’ What can a person give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37) Brown & Broeske noted in their HH biography, “Hughes acted as if he owned the whole world.”
Hughes ordered RKO Film Executive, William Fadiman, to cut his staff by 25 percent. When Fadiman started to protest, Hughes quickly cut him off. “I know what you’re going to tell me. You’re going to tell me, probably, that you know someone who has cancer or someone who just got married or just had a baby, and that you can’t do that to those people…A corporation has no soul. I can’t know about those things and be a corporation.”
“We brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out”, intoned Reverend Robert T. Gibson during Howard Hughes funeral at Houston’s Christ Church Cathedral. Howard Hughes was baptized in an Anglican/Episcopal Church, married in an Anglican/Episcopal Church, and buried in an Anglican/Episcopal Church. He was truly part of the hatched/matched/&/dispatched crowd. But nowhere is there any clear indication that a living faith in Jesus Christ ever impacted Hughes’ soul.
Howard Hughes, as North America’s first billionaire, had everything, and yet was deeply lacking. Brilliantly gifted technologically, he was profoundly crippled in his abilities to sustain the very relationships that make life worth living. Tragically enmeshed in his mother’s apron strings well after her death, Hughes was never able to leave and cleave, never able to commit to a lifelong relationship. It was a dark, troubling relationship that a counselor would later describe as ‘emotionally incestuous’.
Much like Howard Hughes’ womanizing father, Howard found it difficult to connect with women as real human beings. Brown & Broeske wrote that Hughes ‘saw women as possessions. He had to have total control. They were under his command like prisoners’. Faith Domergue, one of his younger conquests, said of herself: “I felt like a butterfly on a pin – beautiful, vibrant, and utterly trapped.” Noah Dietrich his right-hand man said of Hughes that “When it came to women he really cared for (like Kate Hepburn or Ginger Rogers), he sabotaged every time. He simply could not be faithful.” In the divorce petition by his first wife Ella Hughes, she called Hughes ‘irritable, cross, cruelly critical, and inconsiderate, rendering living together inappropriate.’ Brown & Broeske commented that “Hughes always believed that the problems (with women) could all be solved by externals: fur coats, new houses, expensive cars, and showers of jewelry.” For all of Hughes’ money and all of his lovers, Howard Hughes became lonelier and lonelier. Kathryn Grayson one of his Hollywood paramours said that Hughes seemed to be ‘the loneliest man in the world.’
Howard Hughes’ life is living proof that possessions and things are not where it is at. It has been said that life’s temptations can be summarized in three categories: sex, money, and power. None of these are wrong in themselves, but all of them can be destructive if we forget their purposes and parameters, such as family, marriage and service to our community. Jesus in Luke 14:33 memorably said that ‘anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.’ Howard Hughes’ tortured life reminds us that anything that we cling to will ultimately destroy us. Everything needs to be surrendered back to our Maker. As we choose, no matter how painfully, to ‘let go and let God’, we rediscover our soul. And as the Great Physician puts it, what can a person give in exchange for his soul?