Liturgy 33.3: Pentecostal Worship

Narelle Urquart Image cropped_preview.jpg

Issue 33.3 of Liturgy dealing with “Pentecostal Worship” was guest-edited by Tanya Riches and L. Edward Phillips. This issue looks at many aspects of the topic, including the use of music to create what Pentecostals value as “worship music.” The following as an excerpt from their introduction to the issue:


Over the previous century, the various streams of liturgical reform in the Western churches may be characterized as quests for a more profoundly real encounter with God in worship. Reformers of the Catholic stream of reform found this reality in Christian participation in the transcendent Body of Christ. Mainline Protestants in North America sought this reality through the transcendent power of aesthetic form and art. The theme of this issue of Liturgy is Pentecostal worship, which has looked to direct experience of God's divine power as the core reality of worship. This experience is not mere awareness of the presence of God as in some other patterns of liturgical reform. For Pentecostals, worship is a full-body, participatory engagement with God. The common hallmarks of Pentecostalism, such as speaking in tongues, spiritual healing, and miraculous signs, manifest God's presence as an embodied, participatory, ecstatic encounter with the Holy Spirit.

The Pentecostal–charismatic movement is highly diverse, representing over 500 million global adherents. The history of many Pentecostals traces back to the 1901 prayer experiments of Charles Parham and the 1906 Azusa Street Revival led by William Seymour in Los Angeles. Yet, as early as 1909, a report in The American Journal of Theology documented similar, virtually simultaneous movements in Australia, India, Korea, and various locations in Europe. By the 1960s, Pentecostal forms of worship and prayer had spilled into mainline Protestant congregations through the charismatic renewal movement and into Catholic congregations through the Catholic Pentecostal movement. The University of Notre Dame began hosting yearly meetings for Catholic Pentecostals in 1967, and by 1974 over 25,000 attended the gathering. Today many congregations around the globe and across the denominational spectrum employ worship music from the Vineyard churches and Churches of God in Christ that originate in the United States, and from Hillsong, which has spread from its home in Australia. This issue of Liturgy examines the Pentecostal/Charismatic worship and music as a global phenomenon. Many Christian recording artists and new hymn writers show influences of the movement.

David Turnbloom