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 follows:

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.

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 Newfoundland.

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