By Gary Mitchell
For the first time in recent memory, several Clovis churches will join together to celebrate what many Christians call the birth of the Church — Pentecost Sunday.
“Since this is the first time we’ve done it, we want to get it right,” said the Rev. Lemuel Perry, pastor of Bethel Assembly of God, who was helping to coordinate the event. “I’ve been part of one in a couple of other cities — in Colorado Springs and in Phoenix. We get so caught up in our local thing without looking outside and seeing what’s going on. We discover, ‘Hey, there are other Christians not worshiping in this building.’ ”
At least eight Pentecostal/Charismatic-type congregations will gather for a Pentecost Sunday Celebration at 6 p.m. June 8 at Faith Christian Family Church, 3401 N. Norris St., the corner of Llano Estacado and Norris.
“Lemuel Perry suggested it, and we thought it was a great idea,” said the Rev. David Swann, senior pastor at Faith Christian Family Church. “We want to start doing it annually. It’s an opportunity for churches to get together and celebrate the birthday of the Church and the Holy Spirit’s entrance into all believers starting with the day of Pentecost.”
The celebration of Pentecost, which is a Jewish feast occurring 50 days after Passover, is based on the New Testament passage described in Acts 2.
“To me, it’s the third most important event in Christianity (after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the birth of Christ),” Swann said.
“Pentecost is the birth of the Church,” Perry said. “Those first disciples needed some impetus to get them going. There on Pentecost Sunday, it really got them going. It gave them the impetus to evangelize the world.”
The Rev. Jonathan Brock, pastor of True Victory Church, said his congregation was looking forward to participating in the joint service.
“We’re coming together to celebrate Pentecost Sunday,” he said. “It’s just like the prophet Joel prophesied and was quoted by Peter on Pentecost Day: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy’ (Acts 2:17-18).
“I’m looking for some miracles to take place, for people to get saved and to get filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Perry said he hoped the event would bring about harmony and unity, not division.
“In the New Testament, it was a bringing together,” he said. “Our church world is so divided, so many denominations. In Ireland, the Pentecostal experience can bring Catholics and Protestants together — and in South Africa as well. The Azusa Street Revival of 1906-1909 was interdenominational, inter-racial and international. People came from all over the world just to experience it. It was exciting.”
All faiths are welcome to attend the June 8 event, Perry said.
“Our purpose is not to divide, but to bring together,” he said. “We don’t want the extremes, but we do want the reality.”