'Empowered 21' Congress Draws 10,000 Pentecostals, Charismatics

Nearly 10,000 people from more than 90 countries recently attended a conference focused on the future of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement.

For three days, leaders from around the world gathered at the Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla., to address key issues related to the movement's future, in particular how to pass "spirit-empowerment" to the next generation. The conference, titled "Empowered21: Global Congress on Holy Spirit Empowerment in the 21st Century," was held Apr. 8-10.

"This is a historic event that will make a tangible difference in the future of Christianity," said Billy Wilson, chair of Empowered21 and executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, in his opening remarks. "We are not here to celebrate the past [of the movement], but to lift our eyes to the horizon. We are here to unite for the future."

Empowered21 brought together a wide range of denominations within the Pentecostal movement, including the Assemblies of God, Foursquare Church, Church of God in Christ, Church of God of Prophecy, Pentecostal Holiness, among others, according to J. Lee Grady, attendee and contributing editor to the charismatic and Pentecostal-focused magazine Charisma.

Issues discussed during the conference included biblical literacy, use of contemporary methods and vocabulary to engage new generations in "Spirit-empowering" living, integrity in leadership, and challenges facing the movement's churches in the 21st century.

"The generations connected, the fire of God fell, one of the broadest learning opportunities in the movement's history was experienced and the face of Spirit-filled Christianity was turned toward the future," said Wilson after the three-day event.

Featured speakers at Empowered21 included Tommy Barnett, senior pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God and founder of the L.A. Dream Center; Timothy Ross, young adult pastor at The Potter's House in Dallas; and former Foursquare Church president Jack Hayford.

Charismatics and Pentecostals are the world's second largest Christian group – estimated at 500 million people – after the Catholic Church. The modern charismatic movement marked what many considered its 50th anniversary earlier this month.

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