Monday, May 31, 2010

Abuses are possible in charismatic communities, author contends

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As a young religion journalist 25 years ago in Houston, Julia Duin joined an Episcopal charismatic community that was repairing ruined buildings and ruined lives.

But, after following the Community of Celebration to Beaver County, where she attended Trinity School for Ministry, she became disenchanted. Her 1992 master's thesis documented abuse of authority within the community, and the role of its founder, the Rev. Graham Pulkingham, in spreading a highly authoritarian theology to other charismatic communities nationwide. Months later she amended it to include evidence of sexual misconduct by Father Pulkingham, who was under suspension from ministry when he died suddenly in 1993.

Now Ms. Duin has written a book, "Days of Fire and Glory" (Crossland Press $24.95) which weaves a tale both soaring and sordid of the community's rise and fall. She will speak Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in St. Thomas-in-the-Field Church (Anglican), in Richland.

"I'm not trashing [the idea of] community," said Ms. Duin, who covers religion for The Washington Times. "But I would like the book to be a template so that if people do try to live out the New Testament vision of community again, they don't repeat the same mistakes."

Father Pulkingham achieved national prominence after reviving a dying Houston parish in 1963. An early leader of the charismatic movement, which brought Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues into liturgical worship, he began taking in street people who became the nucleus of the Community of Celebration. At its height it had 400 resident members, who lived together and shared resources. They founded a medical clinic and other neighborhood programs. Its traveling music ministry, Fisherfolk, achieved international acclaim.

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