Leaders hope crusade repeats Florida revival

Cincinnati Post, July 31, 1999
By Stephen Huba

The leadership team from the longest-running Pentecostal revival this century will be in Cincinnati in September for a two-day crusade they hope will fill the Firstar Center.

Known as the Awake America Crusade, it will feature speakers affiliated with the four-year revival at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Fla.

Organizers hope that revival, which has captured national media attention and attracted nearly 4 million visitors since 1995, spreads to Cincinnati.

''We just believe that here is a fire that God has lit, and we'd like to watch it burn in Cincinnati for a couple nights,'' said the Rev. Clyde Miller, pastor of First Christian Assembly of God in Clifton.

Rev. Miller is on the local crusade committee, along with the Rev. Rodney Dukes, pastor of Montgomery Assembly of God, and the Rev. Johnny Wade Sloan, pastor of Hamilton Christian Center.

''It certainly has been a long time that we've seen anything quite as spectacular as the Brownsville revival,'' Rev. Dukes said.

Some Pentecostal historians have compared the Brownsville revival to the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, which sparked the modern Pentecostal movement in the United States.

Pentecostalism, with its belief in Holy Spirit baptism and supernatural gifts, is one of the fastest-growing branches of Christianity in the world.

The Brownsville revival has been marked by nearly nonstop, emotion-packed worship services since Father's Day 1995.

At its peak two years ago, 5,500 people were attending the nightly meetings.

Since then, the revival has expanded its focus through the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and crusades in other cities.

The Awake America Crusade visited four cities in 1997 and six in 1998.

A dozen U.S. cities will host the crusade this year, including Cincinnati on Sept. 13 and 14. Featured speakers will be Brownsville evangelist Steve Hill, Brownsville pastor John Kilpatrick and worship leader Lindell Cooley.

Heritage Fellowship Assembly of God in Florence, Ky., has connections to the Brownsville revival, with its pastor, the Rev. Cleddie Keith, speaking at the Florida church and Rev. Kilpatrick preaching at the Northern Kentucky church.

Some revival proponents believe the Brownsville phenomenon is just the beginning of something bigger, and that a large-scale nationwide revival is just around the corner.

''There is a movement throughout the country,'' said Rev. Dukes, crusade chairman. ''What we're seeing in our own denomination (the Assemblies of God) is what I call brushfires.''

However, Rev. Dukes said the Awake America Crusade ''will not be a duplication of what you see in Brownsville. Here, it's more of an evangelism effort.''

The hallmark of revival is repentance, Rev. Miller said. That will be the thrust of the Cincinnati crusade. ''It's actually an effort to focus America's attention on the need for collective repentance,'' he said. ''Our nation's psyche needs to come back to God.''

While the Brownsville revival has its critics, revivalism is a regular feature of American religious life. It was a revival at a Presbyterian church in Cane Ridge, Ky., that helped touch off the Second Great Awakening early in the 19th century.

Revivalist preachers such as Charles Finney, Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham have popularized the Christian message in both rural and urban America.

''There has been a significant revival in virtually every generation of American history,'' said James North, professor of church history at Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary.

''The word revival suggests something that is burning, goes out and gets relit,'' North said.

''Many people see it as a cleansing time, a time of spiritual searching and uplift. It just comes around again when the church becomes a bit lethargic.''

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