Starting two years ago at the 18,000 member St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans, a new Black Pentecostal movement is now spreading across the nation.
Headed by the dynamic leadership of Bishop Paul S. Morton, the loosely aligned Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship now claims membership of over l,000 churches coast to coast. Each congregation pays $120 a month to be “covenant partners”; 4,000 individual participants contribute $120 annually, according to the Washington Post (May 16). Morton states he is not creating another denomination, and remains within the 5 million member National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
However, his popular weekly program on the Black Entertainment Television network has given him a visibility that church goers find attractive. He also speaks frequently at regional gatherings and is often heard on call in radio talk shows. To reporters he points out his mission is to bring like minded believers together for ministry which meets their needs on a local level.
He welcomes non-Black participation. Observers suggest this form of Full Gospel ministry is a clear indication that the older denominational structures are disappearing, being replaced by more informal alliances which respect local autonomy and hands on local ministry.
— By RW contributing editor Erling Jorstad