December 15, 1974, was a day to be remembered in the history of Latin American Pentecostalism. A crowd estimated at 20,000 persons jammed into the new Jotabeche Pentecostal Methodist Church in Santiago, Chile, for the dedication of their new “Temple-Cathedral.” In attendance was the President of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet, and other high government officials. The highlight of the service came when President Pinochet, a Catholic, cut the ribbon which officially opened the cathedral for worship (see photo).

Many thousands who could not enter the church filled the streets for several blocks surrounding the building, located on Santiago’s main street. With 80,000 members, it is the largest evangelical church in the world. The fervor and size of the congregation gave testimony to the dynamic growth of Pentecostalism in Chile in recent years. In less than a decade, this congregation has quadrupled in size as has most of the Pentecostal movement in Latin America.

Presiding over the dedication ceremonies was the church’s pastor, Javier Vasquez. The dedication sermon was delivered by Bishop Mamerto Mancilla Tapia, head of the Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile. Diplomats from several Protestant nations were present in addition to representatives of many Pentecostal denominations from several Latin American countries. A large delegation from the United States represented the Pentecostal Holiness Church, which has been affiliated with the Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile since 1967. Several PHC leaders spoke.

The Jotabeche church will seat 15,000 for regular services, including a chorus and orchestra of 1,000. Because the congregation is so large, members will be permitted to attend “general services” in the mother church only once per month on a rotating basis. Otherwise, the faithful attend one of the more than 100 “annexes” or “classes” which are located throughout the city. These are shepherded by obreros (workers) who serve as assistants to Vasquez.

The middle-aged, well-liked Vasquez, only the second pastor in the sixty-five year history of the church, is quiet and unassuming but is a spellbinder in the pulpit, and his influence extends to the highest levels of government. For many years a leading official of the government-owned Chilean railroad system, Vasquez resigned his job in 1964 to become pastor of the church after the death of its founding pastor, Bishop Manuel Umaña.

Along with most other evangelicals in Chile, Vasquez strongly supports the military junta headed by Pinochet. Two days before the dedication, about 2,500 evangelicals gathered in Santiago to hear Pinochet speak and to declare their support of the government (see following story). The relationship of the Chilean Pentecostals to the government was underscored by Pinochet’s appearance at the dedication, the first time a Chilean head of state had ever attended a Protestant service. Other Christian speakers at the dedication ceremonies declared the international press had exaggerated the violence of the 1973 revolution that toppled Allende, and they said the recent condemnation of Chile by the United Nations was unjust.

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The Pentecostal movement in Chile began in 1909 when the Chilean Methodist Church experienced a charismatic renewal under the leadership of Pastor Willis C. Hoover of the Valparaiso Methodist Church, who was superintendent of Methodist work in Chile. A medical doctor from Chicago before becoming a Methodist missionary, Hoover became interested in a Pentecostal renewal in Chile in 1902 when a holiness revival swept the Chilean Methodist church. After reading of the worldwide spread of Pentecostalism in 1908, especially of the revival in India under Pandita Ramabai, Hoover led special prayer vigils for his church. Several months later, Methodists in Valparaiso and in the denomination’s two churches in Santiago began speaking in tongues, shouting, and dancing “in the Spirit.” As a result, Hoover was tried and convicted by his superiors on the Methodist mission board on charges of being “irrational” and “anti-Methodist.” On September 12, 1909, Hoover and thirty-seven Chilean followers formed a separate church in Santiago with a revised name—“the Methodist Pentecostal Church.” The Jotabeche church (so-named for its street location) was formed at that time—the first Pentecostal congregation in Latin America.

In 1932 a division occurred between the followers of Hoover and Umaña, then pastor of the Jotabeche congregation. Umaña’s group retained the Methodist Pentecostal name, and Hoover’s group became the Evangelical Pentecostal Church. Since 1932, several more divisions have occurred, principally under such Chilean leaders as Enrique Chavez (the Pentecostal Church of Chile) and Francisco Anabalón (The Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Chile). These divisions apparently have not impeded growth of the Pentecostal movement; indeed, some observers believe the divisions may have stimulated growth.

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In recent years such North American Pentecostal denominations as the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, and the Church of the Foursquare Gospel have begun missions in Chile but their growth has not matched that of the indigenous Pentecostal groups. In all there are more than 100 Pentecostal denominations in the country. According to recent statistics, more than one million of Chile’s 12 million population are Pentecostals. The Methodist Pentecostal Church claims 650,000 members in Chile. It also carries on extensive mission work in Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.

Leaders point out that the Chilean Pentecostals have achieved their phenomenal growth without any financial support from the outside. The Jotabeche Cathedral worth in excess of $2 million, was completely paid for by dedication day—from members’ contributions. Most of the labor was also donated by members of the church.

Also, say the leaders, the dedication service shows that Chile still enjoys full religious freedom under the military junta. Pentecostals continue to preach on the streets and highways as before. In recent months, moreover, charismatic Baptists and Catholics have joined their Pentecostal brethren in street witnessing.

Chile: Church And Caesar

A cold war that developed between church leaders in Chile during Salvador Allende’s election campaign in 1970 has been warming up ever since the military coup that ousted him in September, 1973, took place. The latest salvo was fired last month in Santiago at a meeting of 2,500 evangelicals who pledged support of the military government of President Augusto Pinochet. They also denounced Chile’s international critics.

Leaders of more than thirty denominations, representing the vast majority of Chile’s Protestants (who make up more than 10 per cent of the land’s ten million population), signed a declaration and handed it to Pinochet. The declaration expressed shock at the “infamous” and “unjust” censure of Chile by the United Nations, attributing it to a “political majority controlled by the Marxist powers.” It acknowledged the possibility that “some lamentable injustices and abuses of power” had taken place after the coup, but it insisted these violations of rights were “isolated instances” beyond the government’s control.

The statement, addressed by the Chilean evangelicals to their “fellow citizens and to the world,” suggested that Allende and his Marxist colleagues had won the presidency by deception. “Once in power,” it asserted, “they brought about chaos and the breakdown of the institutional structures,” leaving the country “divested of our most cherished spiritual values” and making the government an illegitimate one. The military intervention, it declared, “was God’s answer to the prayers of all the believers who recognized that Marxism was the expression of Satanic power of darkness in its highest degree.”

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In conclusion, the paper expressed a conviction that “a pure evangelical witness, based on our Lord Jesus Christ, the Source of life, can change the human nature even of those who have been poisoned by Marxist hatred.”

Reaction to the declaration in some church circles was expected to be vocal and bitter. Much criticism has been heaped upon Chile’s military junta by church leaders all over the world. Most of it centers on the alleged mistreatment of some 6,000 political prisoners. Also mentioned: the CIA’s supposed involvement in Allende’s overthrow, the suspension of democratic processes, the dissolution of Congress, control of the press, usurpation of court powers, and the like.

Many missionaries and Chilean churchmen, however, insist the situation is not as bad as outsiders describe it, and they say some of the tough measures are needed in order to root out Communist influence. One of the things that alarmed Chilean churchgoers most, says veteran Southern Baptist missionary Robert C. Moore, was Allende’s introduction of millions of Marxist-oriented textbooks into the schools, from kindergartens to universities. Other missionaries and nationals concur; they say Communists controlled many classrooms.

The Chilean clergy opposed to the junta seem to be in the minority, but they include top leaders, resulting in some notable clashes. During the Allende campaign, leftist newspapers in Santiago quoted Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez as saying that it would be entirely permissible for a Catholic to vote for a Marxist. More recently, Henriquez issued a statement critical of the junta, and Santiago auxiliary bishop Fernando Ariztia Ruiz has been active in the defense of Allende’s jailed compatriots. But opposition to Allende was led by priest Raul Hasbun, director of a Catholic television station, and the bishop over Chile’s armed forces said the coup was “the best thing that ever happened to my country.”

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A showdown in the 24,500-member Evangelical Lutheran Church occurred in November when Bishop Helmut Frenz, 41, by a split vote won a statement of confidence from the church’s fifty-two-member Synod. Frenz, head of the Chile church since 1970, was under pressure to resign by many members for supporting Allende and for heading an ecumenical committee set up after the coup to assist foreign “refugees” (many of them were leftists) to leave the country. In a special assembly last spring he apologized for neglecting to minister to Lutherans whose property was confiscated by the Allende government. Last month Redeemer Parish, Santiago’s largest Lutheran church, was rocked by schism as differences over Frenz simmered on.

Christian and Missionary Alliance worker John C. Bucher says several evangelical pastors were jailed after the coup—for dabbling in Marxist politics, not for preaching the Gospel. A number of Catholic priests worked for the election of Allende, an atheist. (Allende won about 36 per cent of the vote in a three-way race; both his opponents were Catholics.) Some priests even led armed resistance groups in battles with troops after Allende’s fall.

Methodist youth leader Rogelio Aracena of Valparaiso, who also heads up Campus Crusade for Christ work, says prayer chains united Christians across the country as conditions deteriorated under Allende’s regime. “They have a living example now in seeing God answer their prayers for freedom,” he asserts. He also states that the government has asked Crusade workers to provide spiritual input and counsel in secondary schools and universities.

Pneuma ’74

Light attendance but heavy issues marked Pneuma ’74, the fourth annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) last month at Southern California College, an Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, California. The seventy-five registrants included noticeably few charismatic Catholics.

“The Third Force and the Third World” was the theme for the three-day conference program, arranged by the SPS’s new president, Pastor Leonard Lovett of the Pentecostal Memorial Church of God in Christ in Atlanta. (At the time of his election as 1974 vice-president of SPS, Lovett was director of the Charles H. Mason Seminary, which—as part of Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center—is the only fully accredited Pentecostal seminary in the world.)

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“The Third Force,” a term popularized by theologian Henry P. Van Dusen, designates an alternative to Roman Catholic and classical Protestant approaches to Christianity. Although Van Dusen included other sect and even cult groups in his original Life article of June 9, 1958, the designation in recent years has been increasingly of the Pentecostal movement.

Most of the main speakers were black Pentecostals. They included Bishop Samuel M. Crouch of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC); Ithiel Clemmons, COGIC mission secretary and a doctoral candidate at New York’s Union Seminary; James A. Forbes, associate director for education for the Interfaith Metropolitan Theological Education agency in Washington, D. C.; and faculty member Dr. Bennie Goodwin of the Atlanta interdenominational school. They expounded on themes of liberation.

Guest speaker Walter J. Hollenweger presented the viewpoint of one outside the classical Pentecostal tradition (an assignment filled last year by Martin Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School and the year before by Krister Stendahl of Harvard Divinity School). Hollenweger, a former Swiss classical Pentecostal now aligned with the Swiss Reformed Church, is professor of mission at the University of Birmingham (England) and a foremost authority on international Pentecostalism. According to Hollenweger’s research, the majority of Christians in the coming decades will come from the third world, will not be white, and will espouse a type of Christianity where the Pentecostal experience will be routine.

Discussion at the conference turned up questions such as whether “third-world-ism” cannot be felt, in part, even by white American Pentecostals who grew up in societies where they were despised minorities. Some wondered if there is even apparent in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements a post-evangelical thrust—visible, for example, in the Pentecostal preferences for testimony, song, and story which convey truth without the demands for consistency implied in traditional Western Christian theology.

Serendipity surfaced at the conference with the appearance of registrant Lawrence J. Catley, retired 79-year-old mailman now serving as pastor of a southern California COGIC congregation. One of two known surviving participants of the Azusa Street revival, Catley pointed to his being healed of tuberculosis as an eleven-year-old boy as the most memorable event among his experiences at Azusa Street. By resolution, the SPS promptly voted Catley an honorary lifetime member of the Society.

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A closing service under black Pentecostal auspices brought vigorous but decorous worship (no glossolalia was heard) to the mixed body—a scene which recalled Azusa Street Pentecostal origins in 1906, when blacks and whites worshiped together without racial consciousness.

Donald Argue, dean of North Central Bible College, Minneapolis, was elected vice-president and program chairman for 1975. Next year’s meeting will be hosted by the largely Catholic charismatic Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Our Church, the weekly journal of the Church of Sweden, got headlines when it distributed among Stockholm’s many porno clubs several thousand copies of a special issue on love. The issue delved into aspects of divine and human love, sexuality, permissiveness, pornography, and prostitution. One club manager reportedly offered to purchase the copies of the issue (“it’s what my customers need”), and another offered to place a $2,500 ad in the church paper (he was turned down).

Meanwhile, Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s leading dailies, said it will no longer publish advertisements with pornographic illustrations. The change affects mostly movie ads and represents not so much a moral decision as the rejection of the presentation of women in a pornographic context.

The Perils Of Publishing

Soaring costs and lagging support are causing difficulties for many religious magazines.

Last month The Link, a 25,000-circulation monthly published in Washington, D. C., by the General Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel and known to hundreds of thousands of servicemen over its thirty-year history ceased publication. Mounting deficits were blamed. Link subscribers were transferred to the 35,000-circulation Alive Now, a two-year-old bi-monthly published by the Upper Room publishers in Nashville.

Christianity Applied, a new evangelical monthly that made its debut in October, closed down last month when anticipated funding for the project failed to materialize for the publisher, Christian Freedom Foundation of Buena Park, California. A well-publicized CFF newsletter also was cancelled before its first issue came off the press. CFF head H. Edward Rowe says a revised version of the newsletter will be produced later on, and CFF will continue other phases of its work, especially the “motivation and training of Christians for more active participation in public leadership.”

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With a press run of 30,000, the slick, issue-oriented Christianity Applied was markedly different from past CFF publications, which tended to emphasize patriotism and conservative views of politics, economics, and social affairs. CFF published Christian Economics, a tabloid begun in 1950 by former CFF chairman Howard E. Kershner and replaced in 1972 by Applied Christianity and For Real, a tabloid aimed at college students. The latter two were dropped in favor of Christianity Applied.

Kershner, an 83-year-old Quaker with liberal theological views, will move to a Michigan location and edit a new four-page publication along the lines of Christian Economics.

In Philadelphia, The Episcopalian, the national periodical of the Episcopal Church, is facing an uncertain future. Circulation is up (150,000, in contrast to 90,000 in late 1972), but denominational subsidization apparently ended with a 1974 grant of $150,000. The bishops say they will try to find ways to increase parishioner support of the monthly, which recently switched from magazine to tabloid format.

Deficits by three denominational publications contributed to losses of $526,000 suffered by the United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville in its last fiscal year—despite boosts in overall sales (including books and church-school literature) to $38.3 million. Because of such deficits a lot of reshuffling has taken place among periodicals of a number of denominations over the past few years.

Several other publications, including CHRISTIANITY TODAY, have been making adjustments to accommodate budget cutbacks and inflationary pressures. The moves range from streamlining production to reducing personnel from already hard-pressed staffs.

Subscription prices rarely reflect the true costs of production. A monthly that charges, say, $9.50 for a year’s subscription may find it difficult to deliver it for less than twice that amount. Advertising and gift income must make up the difference.

Not all news from the evangelical publishing front is gloomy. Moody Monthly, published by Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, reports a three-year circulation gain of 127 per cent, and staffers say they hope to increase the 250,000 current subscribers by 50,000 this year.

Banned In Tanzania

After two meetings, San Diego evangelist Morris Cerullo and a team of faith healers were banned by the socialist government of Tanzania. Officials allege people were encouraged to skip work to attend a rally instead. No religious persecution, say observers. Several ordained ministers serve in parliament and in the highest levels of the government and ruling party.

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