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Pentecostalism at 100: a major religious force

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As the 1906 earthquake shook San Francisco, another quake of sorts was occurring in southern California - tremors that reconfigured the Christian world.

This week, tens of thousands from around the globe are gathering in Los Angeles to celebrate the centennial of the Azusa Street Revival, an "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" that begat the modern Pentecostal movement.

Over the past century, that movement has sparked a fresh focus on New Testament "gifts of the Spirit" in many denominations. Its influence now embraces one-quarter of all Christians - more than 500 million of them.

"To everyone's surprise, Pentecostalism has grown at a rate no one predicted 50 years ago," says David Daniels, professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Today, a reverse missionary movement has begun - to bring revival to the West. The largest thriving churches in secular Europe, for instance, are pastored by Africans.

"We've not given up on Europe and North America," says the Rev. Roberto Miranda, senior pastor at Lion of Judah Congregation in Boston. "The legacy of Azusa is very much alive, and many believe that a huge revival is imminent."

Looking to the future at the Los Angeles meeting, Pentecostals will hear from US pastors like T.D. Jakes and leaders from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, home to the world's largest church. South Korea's Yoido Full Gospel Church, begun in a tent in a Seoul slum in 1958, boasts more than 700,000 members.

Each of the five evenings, a revival will be hosted by pastors from a different continent. During the day, celebrants will visit sessions on such topics as "The Holy Spirit and Healing," "Prayer Movements and Pentecostal Power," and "Spiritual Renewal in Marriage and Family." The last day will involve a community outreach in the city.


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