Despite recent attempts at interracial unity, divisions based on race are still stirring in American Pentecostal churches, according to Charisma magazine (October).
Pentecostals made headlines in 1994 when the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, which represented mainly white denominations (such as the Assemblies of God), voted to dissolve itself and form a new multi-racial entity called the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA). It was called the “Memphis Miracle,” (as the founding of the PCCNA was in Memphis, Tenn.) but today blacks and whites view the effects of this development differently. White Pentecostal leaders tend to “view the event with glowing optimism, and they report that their denominations are adding minority clergy and lay members.”
Black Pentecostal leaders interviewed in the magazine say they still feel isolated from their white colleagues and shut out from positions of leadership. For instance, while the Church of God has a large contingent of black congregations, in such a state as Florida, whites and blacks still maintain separate structures. White denominations are slowly becoming more multi-racial. The Assemblies of God has 169 black churches, all headed by black clergy, as compared with 141 in 1994.
However, it is still rare to find a white congregation led by a black minister. Prominent black charismatic televangelist Fred Price has stirred the flames of controversy further on this issue, recently preaching a series of sermons contending that white Christians still bring racist baggage to church with them on Sundays and that little is being done to confront such attitudes.
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