While at the recent Exousia event in Washington state, PRMI staff were excited to hear about all the ways that the Holy Spirit has been moving in the Pacific Northwest as churches and individuals apply the teaching and equipping they receive from Dunamis events. We asked several people from this region to share their experiences so that the larger fellowship of PRMI can share the excitement, gratitude, and work of prayer for these expressions of the Spirit’s power in the Northwest. Here is the first of a series of articles – look for more in future editions of Moving with the Spirit Online.
Dunamis in the Northwest
On Easter Sunday 2006, I helped start Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church (CHPC). The Capitol Hill neighborhood, right next to downtown Seattle, has many wonderful qualities. Art, independent coffee houses, several colleges, and beautiful mansions. It is also the most unchurched neighborhood of the most unchurched city in the US. As a visitor commented to me last week, “Where are the churches?” We do have an active pagan presence. We’ve had cursed objects placed around the church building as well as in and around the homes of our leaders. On the other side of the faith spectrum, we have the indifference or hostility of secularists. One Christmas, the Freedom from Religion Foundation rented a billboard close to our church proclaiming snarkily, “Yes Virginia, There is No God.” Add to this the drug use, the chronic homelessness, and being the center of gay society in the Northwest, and it becomes clear that Capitol Hill Presbyterian needed the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Thank God for the ministry of PRMI. As we have lived into our mission in Capitol Hill, God has revealed to the Session that we are to be a center of restoration. PRMI has given us the tools necessary for that restoration. We have prophets who help us hear from the Lord. We have prayer teams who are trained in PRMI’s healing prayer. Our session exercises its authority in Christ engaging in spiritual warfare. More and more, the new members who stay are ones who have received healing prayer and deliverance. By simple necessity, we have become “Presby-costal”. PRMI has guided us in ways that are consistent with our Reformed Theology. Indeed, PRMI has added the missing pieces from my Reformed training, pieces necessary for our ministry to survive and thrive. While our context may be extreme, we are not unique. The entire Northwest is becoming post-Christian.
PRMI in the NW: A Little History
Over the past 25 years, the Holy Spirit has been moving mightily in the Pacific Northwest through the teaching and equipping of Dunamis. Though this is not a comprehensive history, we’d like to share with you some of the highlights of this ministry. The first Dunamis track in Washington State started at Yakima First Presbyterian Church with Gateways in February of 1993. A year later they offered the In the Spirit’s Power Dunamis. In 1996, God answered prayers for a teaching on prayer by moving the track to Foster-Tukwila Presbyterian Church (FTPC) in Tukwila, south of Seattle. FTPC offered Prayer, Healing, Spiritual Warfare, and Evangelism on an annual basis through 1999. Church at the Center in Seattle launched Track 2 with Gateways in 2000, but did not continue. Jeanne Kraak led her first Gateways there, on her way to becoming the key leader in Ignite scheduling and teaching. FTPC completed the track over the next five springs.
In 2005, Pastor Rich DeRuiter phoned Tom Ross and said his pastors’ study group wanted to know how a Dunamis could happen in Mt. Vernon, 90 minutes north of Seattle. PRMI responded with a Taste of Dunamis on a Saturday. Gateways followed, as Track 3 got underway with intercessors from FTPC, who grew the team by inviting members of the course to join them. Six months later during the In the Spirit’s Power Dunamis at First CRC, the pastor of Faith Community Fellowship stood up during evening worship and testified to his experiences with the Lord following his brain aneurysm. Healing broke out around the room. At this Dunamis, God also did a powerful deliverance which raised our expectations of what God would do and which still impacts recent Dunamis courses. Our first friends from British Columbia found this course on the PRMI website and joined us.
During 2009-2011, Track 4 nested at FTPC. By then Tamera Brockman, Sandy Doss, Bea Eaton, and Sally Patterson had finely crafted the Walk of Encounter with Jesus Christ, taking it to Dunamis courses as well as to the January annual meeting of Dunamis Fellowship International. The Walk team also came to the Community of the Crossto help launch the PRMI healing week and returned several times to offer healing prayer through the Walk.
With an eye toward British Columbia, 100 miles north of Seattle, the team offered Track 5 at First Presbyterian Church Bellingham (Gateways) and Birchwood Presbyterian Church during 2012-2014. The courses reached their high water mark with over 100 attendees. Rich DeRuiter, Mike Neelley, and Steve Scheibe emerged as anointed worship leaders. Charles Bivens, Rich DeRuiter, Mike Neelley, and Tom Ross were recognized as apprentice teachers along with Nick Krantz, who is also our FTPC mentor and longtime teacher.
A group of leaders from the region collaborated to present a Growing the Church conference at Tukwila in April 2014. I invited the Vietnamese pastor from the Vietnamese Presbyterian Church in Seattle. Pastor Thinh was overwhelmed. He invited his entire church leadership. He said to me, “I never thought Presbyterians knew about this. When I was planting churches in Vietnam, we had only two things, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. You are teaching what we learned in Vietnam before the Western missionaries came and stopped us.”
The completion of Track 5 raised the question of what to do next. Rather than rolling into Track 6, the Holy Spirit seemed to be guiding us into a time of training potential leaders. Tom and Sher Ross organized local Dunamis leaders from churches from Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR to go through Exousia last summer. In August, Cindy Strickler, Brad Long, Chris Walker, and Judy Cook from Dunamis Fellowship Alaska flew in to teach a group of 31 Northwest leaders at Warm Beach Camp. Cindy designated our first two female apprentice teachers, Annette Gearns and Sher Ross. Out of Exousia came a Discernment Team charged with exploring God’s call for us to establish a Dunamis Fellowship NW. We have been meeting monthly to discuss and discern God’s shape for this endeavor.
In keeping with the gift of innovation, PRMI leaders in the NW have explored new formats for presenting the PRMI teaching. In the Olympia area, Steve Scheibe has been gathering a group of men to go through the Dunamis materials on series of Saturdays. This format works for young adults with jobs and families.
I have used the Ignite material to lead two retreats in Christian camps. One for my church, CHPC, the other using the Ignite booklet found on the PRMI website and Brad’s new video series where he condenses the Gateway classes into 5 minute summaries. For an annual men’s retreat for Bethany PC at Camp Casey conference center, I employed the PRMI elements of off- and on-site intercession, pre-session debriefs with small group leaders, and worship. I trained the two leaders as track directors. We paid attention to and responded to Kairos moments. We even filled up Saturday afternoon with appointments for healing prayer using two teams. One participant declared it was the best three days of teaching he had received in 40 years of church going.
Tamera Brockman has developed the Healing Art Hour—painting out pain from unresolved problems and painting in God’s love activity. This Hour gives the younger generation a contemplative art experience with God and his healing love. It is something that is short and can fit into their schedules. Tamera has also been considering how to use the arts to reach children in our region. The Healing Art Hour can bless children as well as adults, because God uses paint to express creativity and touch their hearts emotionally for healing. So God may be leading our regional expression to pray for a children’s Ignite with some ways for kids to experience God through activities based on the Dunamis truths of cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
Tamera also wonders about the Asian-American churches and young people in the Presbytery. Charles Bivens, a pastor in Vancouver WA and missionary to Taiwan, thinks that the Healing Art Hour would be very important to Asian churches due to the opportunities it provides for connection with the Holy Spirit through worship art, evangelism art, and healing art.
In 2015, Dunamis Fellowship Korea sent Joseph Kwon as a missionary from Korea to catalyze Dunamis tracks among Korean congregations in Washington and British Columbia. The purpose of this mission is to find a central location in the NW for Korean pastors and church members to start a Dunamis track in Korean.
We now have a few Dunamis formats with which to work: a full Wed-Saturday Dunamis Retreat, Ignite during a condensed Friday-Saturday time period, a weekly Wednesday Dunamis video course, and a One Day Dunamis Gathering among young adults. Recently (May 30, 2015, and Oct 3, 2015) PRMI NW has come to Grace Community Covenant Church, in Olympia, WA, to offer condensed teachings of the Dunamis material. Just as we have offered the Gateways teaching in a one-day overview (on Wednesday) before full tracks, in Olympia, we offered that teaching in a one-day conference with worship and prayer. More recently, we offered an overview of “In the Spirit’s Power” also in a one-day format. The attendance was 84 and 100 for these events, better than we could get for a longer week-day event. A full Dunamis may eventually follow.
In addition to each of these, we are asking the Holy Spirit how to add a creative workshop in the Wednesday Gateways time slot, chosen from topics such as Art in Worship, Writing for Worship, Worship Leader Encouragement/Growth Workshop, Healing Art with the Holy Spirit, Soaking in the Father’s Love, Contemplative Prayer (like the Walk), or other workshops as the Holy Spirit leads.
In recent years Dunamis has been growing and we have identified more leadership to distribute around this region. How do we continue to grow? The NW leadership meets monthly and is considering the Ephesians 4 model of leadership:
Apostle: team leader
Evangelist: recruitment and registration
Pastor: intercessors and prayer leaders
Teacher: new apprentice teachers from Exousia
We are also wondering where Prayer leadership fits into this model. Since we are spread out, we are considering small teams of each leadership gifting, rather than individuals.
In short, there is a lot of activity in the NW. We believe this is just the beginning. Black Mountain is a long way from folks on the West Coast. We believe that the time has come for us to create our own huddle, a regional body of the DFI. At present, those of us praying, dreaming, and exploring God’s shape for a NW Dunamis Fellowship are very encouraged by the sense of love and unity surrounding our collaboration about the possible structure of leadership. We hope to multiply throughout the NW all of the blessings we have received through our involvement in PRMI.