Why the Charismatic Episcopal Church?
+Douglas Kessler, Bishop of the Diocese of the West
The early Church had a powerful effect on the world. Their worship combined a liturgical form experienced in their Judaic roots, the Pentecostal power of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the celebration of Holy Eucharist, and the continuation in the apostles teaching.
Through the Holy Spirit they boldly proclaimed the meaning of the old covenant scriptures as revealing Christ Jesus. However, the work of the Holy Spirit was not limited to illuminating the word. He gave them gifts to accomplish their work. The result of these signs and wonders was a powerful demonstration that the Kingdom of God had come.
It was obvious that the Holy Spirit was as much God, as the Father and His Son. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before heresy began to challenge this truth. The response was to try and control the flow and expression of the gifts of the Spirit. This brought a measure of success against the heresy, but it also restricted the move of the Holy Spirit in many ways. The Church still had the form of religion, but the power had been quenched. The problem was not a dead liturgy. The problem was a people who would not allow the power of the Holy Spirit to be demonstrated in their lives.
At the turn of the 20th century God dealt with this in a fresh outpouring. First in Topeka, Kansas, then on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, the power of the Holy Spirit was being experienced in the lives of willing Christians. However, in their exuberance the form of worship (liturgy) had been set aside.
This became one of the struggles of the 20th century. Some declared the need for order and form, but denied that the power of the Holy Spirit is for us today. Others, whom had received that power, were like unsupervised kids playing with dynamite and strange things happened. Still others, seeing the power operate without order, decided to lock the Holy Spirit in the back prayer room and not allow Him into their service. This brings us to a distinctive of The Charismatic Episcopal Church.
As the 20th century drew to a close, God brought the people of Saint Michael’s Church in San Clemente to an understanding that the Church must not set aside the heritage of the sacraments, the gifts of the Spirit, nor the ancient shape of the liturgy. She must also recognize that the Holy Spirit is the director of worship. Therefore, He is not only invited into our worship services, we believe it is a necessity for Him to be present. What is the result? Not a void of power or a void of form, but the richness of a powerful form.
If you’ve come to this website because your experience is that most churches seem to choose between being liturgical, evangelical or charismatic, and you hunger for it all, I understand. I’ve been there. So I invite you to visit a Charismatic Episcopal Church in the Diocese of the West and experience all three streams flowing into one mighty river.