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The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press
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July 11

The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press

Over the past few weeks the People of Praise has received a great deal of attention in the press. Here, we aim to correct the record and provide clarity on a few important points.

In Buffalo, A Moment for Ecumenism

The Buffalo branch music ministry

by Chris Meehan

The Buffalo branch hosted a gathering in which Catholics, Mennonites and nondenominational charismatics joined together for prayer and a Lord’s Day meal on February 5th.

Eighty-one people braved the snow to share in the potluck supper and prayer meeting held at Harris Hill Mennonite Church, the place where the Buffalo branch has held its meetings for more than 20 years.

The event emerged out of a scheduling conflict, says Tom Shriver, Buffalo’s principal branch coordinator. “Mennonite leaders from across New York wanted to use the church for the Saturday evening session of their annual conference, but we had already scheduled a Lord’s Day meal there. When they heard that, they asked if they could join us. We were happy to agree.”

The event expanded again when one of the Mennonite leaders, Pastor Gene Miller, asked if he could invite leaders from Northgate, a local charismatic congregation.

“It was a movement of the Spirit that the three groups could get together,” Pastor Miller said. “The worship was wonderful and the fellowship excellent. I believe that God was honored and pleased that his children could come together in this way.”

Tom added, “What would have been a typical event became a historic event for our branch. The three groups gave witness to our common desire to give glory and praise to our Father and to work to build his kingdom.”

As host and emcee, Tom began the evening by explaining the Lord’s Day opening ceremony, which he and his wife Theresa led. Later he also led the prayer meeting, with the support of the branch’s music ministry. The Mennonite conference, which had been going on since the previous day, then resumed with a talk by Pastor Jeff Wright, an urban mission strategist from California. His talk, “What do we do when the Holy Spirit shows up?,” was open to members of all three groups. “Obviously, there’s a presence of the Holy Spirit in this building because the People of Praise has been meeting here for more than 20 years,” Pastor Wright said.

Branch members spoke about their enthusiasm for the event. Jim Hippert said he experienced “an incredible outpouring of the Spirit during the worship time. The energy level was high—up to the level you’d find in the crowd at a professional football game!”

“Certainly all the conversations throughout the Lord’s Day meal were so positive,” said Arlene Meyerhofer. “We had lots of opportunities to explain who we are and what we do as a community.” She said members of all three groups worked side by side to clean up after the event.

Bud Northway can’t remember such a close interaction between Mennonites and members of the community since some community members in South Bend prayed over Nelson Litwiller, a retired Mennonite bishop, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in the early 1970s. Bishop Litwiller went on to spread the baptism in the Holy Spirit and charismatic gifts to many Mennonites in South America and elsewhere around the world.

“This celebration in Buffalo reminds us of the good relationships the community has had with Mennonites,” says Kevin Ranaghan, chair of the community's branch relations council and a veteran of many ecumenical gatherings. “The Mennonite renewal was the first Protestant group to sign up for the Kansas City Conference (1977), and we have continued to relate from time to time over the years. This was a great opportunity to deepen our fellowship.”

Responses

  1. Maria Elliott says:

    "The energy level was high—up to the level you’d find in the crowd at a professional football game!” GLORY!
    What an exciting sighting of the Holy Spirit. since the origin of this communal event was a "scheduling conflict", it is one more proof that there are no accidents in the Kingdom of God, but rather "all things work together for good to those that love God"!

  2. Mary Duddy says:

    Wow, what a great story....good to hear from you Arlene. Mary Duddy

  3. Olive says:

    It is wonderful when sisters and brothers can dwell together and the Lord says "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be also" The Lord works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform! Praise God for the seed that our Buffalo Branch planted on February 5th and the fruits will come later.

  4. Locksley Robinson says:

    I was really moved reading this episode of what clearly was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Certainly a "kodack" moment in the Spirit; a true testimony of our spirit of ecumenism. Glory to God!

  5. Margaret Sak says:

    What a wonderful event! Very encouraging to read about the spirit being so revealed. I work with a lot of Mennonites and other Christians now. Perhaps I will see doors open!
    God bless our Buffalo branch!

  6. Ruth Schmelzer says:

    Isn't it delightful when the Lord works out "scheduling conflicts" rather than having us get all uptight and upset about them?! God's Spirit works in such amazing ways! May we all be open to the "roadblocks" and "conflicts" that the Lord is using to build new roadways!!

  7. Kim Doffing says:

    Lord continue to prepare your people! Please Lord continue to move us by the power of your Holy Spirit! Show us the way as you did on this snowy February Day. My heart gives Glory to our God for this event, for these people all gathered together!

    Thank You for sharing these stories with all of us!

  8. Tom Duddy, Sr. says:

    Lord, give us more opportunities like this!

  9. Linda Coney says:

    Wow! What a moving account of the work of the Holy Spirit! Even when we don't plan for it ourselves, he is there working in us!

    God bless you!

  10. Chris Ubanski says:

    Glory to God! With family ties in both Buffalo and South Bend I can only pray, come Lord Jesus, fill us with your Spirit.
    Chris Urbanski South Bend

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