While many British churches have lost some of the early impact they received from the so-called Toronto Blessing, Christians in the ancient English city of Bath are still burning with renewal and pressing for revival--worldwide and citywide. In this town known for its healing springs, believers say God is creating a new well of the Holy Spirit.
At Bath City Church (BCC), a congregation of 550, the manifestations commonly associated with the Toronto renewal of the mid-1990s are present--shaking, shouting and falling under the power of the Holy Spirit. Amid the spiritually charged atmosphere, however, there still are excited reports about missions trips to France and the Philippines and elsewhere.
Prolonged exposure to the work of the Holy Spirit has catapulted BCC members to other corners of the globe--into nations such as Siberia, India, Sri Lanka and Uganda. One of the church's leaders, David Dalley, is now spearheading overseas missions work.
BCC's congregation not only has been able to maintain the energy of the renewal, but they also have learned to see it as "a definite progression to something," rather than just a case of "let's hang out and get refreshed," said Paul Wakely, an elder at BCC.
Yet, how has the church maintained its spiritual power and focus on evangelism when so many other churches appear to have slipped into what some describe as a post-Toronto vacuum in which an expectancy of God wanes?
"I think the beginning of [our] church--written in the DNA, if you like--was a deep dependence on the Holy Spirit," Wakely said. "It was particularly strong here. There was a prophetic edge at the start of the church."
For members of the church, experiencing a Toronto-style move of the Holy Spirit was like returning to their roots. "It was an outstanding outbreak in 1994--it felt like it was plugging us back into where we really belong," Wakely said.
BCC first emerged from the early days of England's charismatic movement in the 1960s, birthed from a group of Christians in Chard. Later it became part of Bryn Jones' Covenant Ministries network, where the church remained for 20 years before becoming independent in 1996.
Bath today is the "Bible Belt" of England--with 70 churches serving a population of 90,000--and home to the European offices of major Christian organizations such as Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Jesse Duplantis Ministries.
Some 2,500 years ago, however, the Celts worshiped here, dedicating the local springs to a pagan god. Bath has the only hot springs in Great Britain, and about 250,000 gallons of water gush from the spring every day at a constant temperature of 115.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The Romans built baths and a temple here, and during the Middle Ages, sick people came to the springs in search of a cure.
Cures of a different sort, however, occurred here recently. John and Carol Arnott, pastors of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, where the Toronto Blessing began, have visited the church a few times, and their latest trip was a two-week mission that resulted in dramatic healing testimonies.
"It infected my faith with a new level of expectancy," Wakely said.
While receiving prayer, a mother of two who had received multiple injuries in a car accident, says she felt her ribs being reset into their proper place and her jaw being realigned.
A man suffering from osteoarthritis was able to move the joints in his hands without pain.
Although some have been healed and others have been motivated to reach the nations, BCC hasn't yet seen the fruit they'd really like.
"We're seeing too many church transfers and not enough new birth," Wakely added.
"People have come here for the waters," he said. "I believe it's a prophetic thing that's come from God again and again, that He would bring a new spring out of the church--and raise up a new stream."
--Clive Price in Bath, England
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