INDIGENIZATION AND CULTURAL PARTICIPATION
OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT
by Hans Rollmann
Even a cursory look at the religious statistics for
Newfoundland and Labrador will provide a picture of the stupendous
growth and great vitality of the Pentecostals in this Canadian
province. In each of the censuses since 1935, the Pentecostals
increased their share of the total population by more than one
percent and showed in 1981 a respectable 6.64 %. This corresponded
to a denominational growth rate of 30 % over a 10-year period,
while the total population increased only by roughly 8 %. And it
contrasts significantly with the decline of the Anglican, Roman
Catholic, and, especially, United Churches on the island. Even the
closest and traditionally most persistent sectarian competitor, the
Salvation Army, seems merely to be holding on to its current
strength of 8% of the population, without any appreciable increase
since World War II.
If one adds to this numerical strength the growing social
respectability of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland, with
their separate but publicly-funded school system, one quickly gains
the picture of a modern religious success story. But -- and here
comes the perplexing aspect -- the enormous growth of the
Pentecostals during the past 70 years stands in a glaring contrast
to an equally striking lack of growth during their first decade.
The historical questions I wish to pose in this paper are as
HOW CAN WE EXPLAIN THE INITIAL RETARDATION AND SUBSEQUENT
Answers to these questions will perhaps enable us to shed some
light also on the developmental capacities of the conversionist
sect and enable us to see more clearly not only the indigenous but
also the the global dimensions of the Pentecostal movement.
VITALITY OF THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT IN NEWFOUNDLAND, AND
HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT DID NEWFOUNDLAND'S PENTECOSTALS
SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING AN ACCOMMODATION WITH THE EXISTING
CULTURE LEAD TO SUCH AN ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATION?
I wish to divide my paper into four parts, which follow
roughly a historical sequence, and conclude with a summary of the
factors responsible for the eventual success of the Pentecostals in
1. Alice Belle Garrigus and the
Bethesda Pentecostal Mission in St. John's;
2. From Holiness to Pentecost: The Indigenization of the
3. A Social Purpose is Found: The Regional Growth of the
Pentecostals in Western and Central Newfoundland.
4. From Missionary Proclamation to Publicly-Funded Education: The
Case of the Pentecostal School System.
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