Pentecostal or Charismatic Churches

Pentecostal or Charismatic Churches stress Scripture teaching, the importance of baptism, and autonomous congregations, and are usually charismatic. They arrived in Tasmania from the 1930s, when the Apostolic Church, formed in Wales in 1916, established a congregation in the north-west. The Church spread to Hobart and Launceston in the 1950s, and became known as the Family Church. In 1995 there were eleven churches in Tasmania, with the Hobart congregation one of Australia's largest.

Several other churches came to Tasmania in the 1950s. The Assemblies of God arrived in 1959. In 1944 in Adelaide, the Christian Revival Crusade broke away from the Assemblies of God on a theological issue. It became established in Tasmania in the late 1950s. Churches are often called Crusade Centres or Christian Centres, and in 1995 there were nine in Tasmania. Christian Outreach Centres, similar to both the above churches, began in Brisbane in 1974, and in 1995 Tasmanian centres numbered six.

The New Apostolic Church, which has no connection with the Apostolic Church, arrived in 1951. This is not a charismatic church, but believes that God speaks directly to members in a simple service of prayer. Also in the 1960s, International Four Square, a Protestant Pentecostal Church, appeared, and in the hippy 1970s some churches took on the name of the Potter's House. There are five in Tasmania.

Other churches appeared from the 1980s. Christian City Churches, exuberant Pentecostal churches founded in Sydney in 1980, have three congregations in Tasmania. The Bethesda Movement broke away from the Christian Revival Crusade in 1967, and in 1995 there were seven churches. Bethesda is interpreted as meaning house of grace, mercy and love. Full Gospel Churches were formed in 1963 in Brisbane, by a former Assemblies of God pastor. A fundamentalist church stressing autonomous congregations, with American influence, it has a church in Hobart.

There are other Pentecostal churches, some entirely independent, such as the Mercy Community Church at Kingston, which runs its own school, and the Hobart Salvation Centre. The Pentecostal churches have influenced some older-established churches; there is a Catholic Charismatic Renewal church in Hobart. In 2004 there were many Pentecostal churches throughout Tasmania, often with growing numbers of members.

Further reading: A Alexander, Glenorchy 19641988, Glenorchy, 1998; R Ward & R Humphries, Religious bodies in Australia, Melbourne, 1995.

Alison Alexander