Rev. Sheila Wilson-Freelon, Esq., describes amazing renewal in the African-American Church in A Quiet Pentecost.
Today, in my role as a district director of evangelism, I lead a thriving transformative ministry in the Sizzling South District of the Chicago Conference of the Fourth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Four times a year, hundreds of people participate in a mini Fire-Filled Revival and Evangelistic Crusade under the ministry’s theme: Love, Unity, One Accord=Holy Ghost Power. Our theme for the worship services is Come Feel the Fire: Fueling Flames of Holy Ghost Power.
This ministry brings nineteen churches together each Fifth Sunday at a designated church in the South District. The contemporary services are upbeat with a charismatic move of the Holy Spirit. For each service, we wear unity colors, which have either spiritual or cultural significance (i.e., white for purity of the Holy Spirit or Afrocentric attire for Black History Month). The ministry serves to strengthen four areas of our spiritual lives in Christ Jesus: (1) love of Christ, love of neighbor, unity and one accord; (2) kingdom building; (3) Christian fellowship; (4) deeper prayer life. The most important of these emphases is promoting the Love of Christ, Love of Neighbor, Unity and One Accord among the nineteen churches, as found in Acts 2:42-47
During worship, each host pastor delivers a sermon on our theme. This service is a catalyst for the ongoing nurture of the four attributes described above long after the Fifth Sunday worship service has ended. Additionally, the presiding elder and I (as worship leader) promote and encourage Acts 2—Love of Christ, Love of Neighbor, Unity and One Accord—as we address the congregation. The Saturday before the Sunday worship, the district evangelism team provides Friendship and Street Evangelism training to the host church members. Through these kingdom-building efforts, the ministry trains churches to win souls for Christ as they canvas the neighborhoods by distributing flyers and invit¬ing residents to the Fifth Sunday worship and fellowship.
To support a deeper prayer life among district members, our presiding elder had previously established a district prayer team and required each local church to establish a prayer team for evangelistic purposes. The district prayer and evangelism teams pray in and anoint the host church with blessed oil the Saturday before the worship service. On the day of the worship service, we pray for love, unity, one accord, blessings, salvation, and protection for an entire hour before the service begins. Prayers for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and for the anointing of all in attendance also go forth. This Holy Spirit anointing equips us with spiritual power to effectively minister in preaching, teaching, giving, and evangelism for the glory of God.
Participants have expressed their enjoyment of the worship and the fellowship. Many have informed me that they feel the fire of the Holy Spirit in these meetings. Those who have canvassed and invited the neighborhood initially expressed apprehension about participating in street evangelism; however, they return from these activities reporting stories of praying with and leading people to Christ on the streets in the Chicagoland area. They return from their street evangelism activities floating on a spiritual cloud as the Holy Spirit anointed them with the joy of witnessing. As a result, more and more churches are engaging in street evangelism. More significantly, more souls are being saved and given access to fundamental gospel truths. The spiritual life force in the district is very positive as the Holy Spirit honors our efforts to model the dedication of the church in Acts 2. As a direct result of this ministry, a new church has been started in the district. Another has changed its name to Unity Temple.
I am humbled by my God-given vision, God’s vision in action, and the impact the Holy Spirit is making in the life of the AME Church. We give God all the glory, honor, and praise for Fueling the Flames of His Holy Ghost Power in evangelistic revival throughout our unifying district and the community. To God we are forever grateful.