Stanley J. White, the Assemblies of God minister and then a postulant for the priesthood, had pushed the envelope any number of times since succeeding his father as pastor of Evangel Assembly of God. His devotional readings had led him to the Book of Common Prayer, among other sources of spirituality, and he had already grown weary of evangelicalism’s endless quest for innovation. Some time after he initiated a liturgical procession ”” perhaps still the only instance in the century-long history of the Assemblies of God ”” some complaints alerted denominational authorities in Springfield, Mo. White was quickly sacked, but, much to his surprise, a significant number of his congregants indicated their willingness to accompany him on his spiritual journey, wherever it might lead.
It led, finally, to the Episcopal Church and to that memorable Sunday evening in 1990. The evangelicals sought the structure and connectedness of historic Christianity, but they also had no intention of leaving their pentecostal enthusiasm behind. Harry Shipps, the bishop of Georgia, said that they didn’t have to, that in fact he welcomed their enthusiasm, though I don’t know that he was quite prepared for that event. After the confirmands queued up before five bishops and all the confirmations were completed, the congregation erupted in orgiastic celebration.
I was more than a tad hesitant about returning to Valdosta. I was afraid, frankly, that the journey from Assemblies of God to Episcopal Church might have been a bridge too far, that pressures from within and without might have triggered a conservative backlash….
Read it all and also look at the parish chart there.