Pentecostal World Conference
Pentecostals Proliferate and Bridge Barriers

The Twelfth Pentecostal World Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, last month, stayed close to its agenda of fellowship and spiritual nurture. As might be expected, however, in any gathering involving several thousand people from 80 countries, the political and social action implications never were far from the surface.

The question of whether to display the flag of the Republic of China at the opening parade resulted in a boycott of the first night’s events by the visitors from Taiwan. The Canadian government, in a security measure, ruled against displaying flags from either the Republic of China or the People’s Republic of China. The ruling apparently was the result of an agreement between Canada and the People’s Republic to permit visitors from that country into Canada for the conference. While the ROC flag did not fly, verbal recognition was given the islanders and that was enough to help heal the rift before it became public knowledge.

Attempts to bridge barriers were seen on several levels, including:

• The inclusion for the first time of a neocharismatic, Episcopalian Dennis Bennett from Seattle, on the speaker’s roster.

• The presence of visitors from Eastern bloc countries and Cuba, who appeared capable of mingling with those from such ideologically opposite countries as Chile and South Korea.

• The carefully stated references, by conference advisory committee chairman Thomas Zimmerman of the United States, to the Pentecostal role in social action.

Zimmerman’s remarks came during his opening night address, when he stressed that Pentecostals, as a natural consequence of their message, have traditionally been on the cutting edge of social improvement. ...

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