September 2, 2010
By Rev Ed Hird
Who can forget the classic 1993 comedy ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ where Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) find healing and romance through the delightful impetuosity of Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger ), Sam’s media-savy son? Seattle is a beautiful coastal city to visit that has much in common with Vancouver BC.
Fifty years later…
A few years ago, my family and a Christian Ashram team had the privilege of ministering at John and Holly Roddam’s Seattle congregation, the original epicentre of Anglican renewal which began fifty years ago in 1960 and continues to impact the world. I believe that the renewal birthed in Seattle is God’s wake-up call to a sleepy, self-absorbed Church. As Paul put it in Romans 13:11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep…”
You may remember St. Eutychus, the patron saint of teenagers, who was literally bored to death during the Apostle Paul’s all-night sermon (Acts 20:9). You may also remember how Jesus’ closest disciples couldn’t stay awake on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32) and the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus even had to say to them: “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46).
Blowing the shofar….
I believe that God is blowing the Shofar of renewal across the Anglican Church saying “Wake up, wake up, before it is too late”. Why has so much confusion crept into much of the Anglican Church regarding sexual immorality, new-age syncretism, and mother/father god/dess worship? Clearly we, as clergy and laity, have been asleep at the switch, instead of being watchmen for our nation. “Let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
What is the calling of faithful Anglicans in these perilous times? It is the same calling that many christians parents have on Sunday mornings while attempting to get their teenagers ready for church: “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14) Wake up, O Canada; Wake up O Anglicans; rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!
Awake o Israel, put off thy slumber…
It is little wonder that previous times of renewal (which means new-again) and revival (which means life-again) have been called ‘awakenings’. We think especially of the 18th century First Great Awakening with the Anglican priest George Whitfield and Congregational pastor Jonathan Edwards, and the 19th Century Second Great Awakening with Presbyterian clergyman Charles Finney and Yale President Timothy Dwight.
How deeply we Canadians need to wake up to righteousness (1 Corinthians 15:34). How deeply we Anglicans need to recover the discipline of morning prayer, exemplified in the heritage of our Book of Common Prayer. Then we can cry out like the Psalmist: “Awake my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” (Psalm 57:8) Perhaps we can hear Proverbs 6:9-11 as a prophetic calling: “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?…”God is saying to us: “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourselves with strength. Put on your garments of splendor…Shake off your dust, rise up…Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O Captive Daughter of Zion.”
Room for the old and the new…
Being in Seattle for the Christian Ashram weekend was a wake-up call to me. Like many churches in renewal, the Roddam’s congregation had both a traditional and then a contemporary service on Sunday mornings. Their congregation proves that the traditional Prayer Book service doesn’t inhibit freedom in the Spirit. It was wonderful to see the gift of prophecy graciously exercised in both services. There is such an anointing on their people who have been soaking in the Spirit for fifty years. Being around such godly people helped me shake off my dust and free myself from the chains on my neck.
What a joy to know that a Canadian Anglican couple, the Rev. John and Holly Roddam, were serving the people of Seattle. Canada, through the ministry of the Rev. Dennis & Rita Bennett, has received so much through the Bennett’s extensive travels across Canada. Many Canadians Anglicans can date their awakening to the reading of the Bennett’s bestsellers like ‘Nine O’clock in the Morning and ‘The Holy Spirit and You’.
Fire from Canada…
I believe that God sent Canadians servant-leaders to Seattle as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Seattle for all that they have given to so many in Canada and around the world. I thank God that the Rev John and Holly Roddam were powerfully used in helping many to be ‘sleepless in Seattle’. While the Roddams have since move back to the Maritimes, they have left a significant imprint in the hearts and minds of many in Seattle. I pray that for the sake of the Anglican Church and our lost world, we sleepy believers will awaken and ‘not rest until righteousness shines out like the dawn and salvation like a blazing torch’ (Isaiah 62:1). Do it again Lord, wake us up for your glory and honour!
Note: The majority of the people at the Roddam’s congregation have now left the old St Luke’s building, re-aligned with the Global South Anglicans and formed a new congregation Emmanuel Anglican Church . You are encouraged to check out this vibrant congregation led by Rev Dan Rice.
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 email@example.com . 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
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.