The convergence movement refers to a move among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States to blend charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical sources. This is to be distinguished from "Convergence Christianity" popularized in more recent years by progressive Christian leaders such as Eric Elnes and Brian McLaren, which envisions a new configuration of "post-evangelical" and "post-liberal" Christians. The Convergence Movement was inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelical writers like Thomas Howard, Robert E. Webber, Peter E. Gillquist and the ancient Christian writers and their communities. These men, along with theologians, scripture scholars, and pastors in a number of traditions, were calling Christians back to their roots in the primitive church.
Evangelicals Look Eastward
In 1973 Campus Crusade for Christ missionary Peter E. Gillquist (1938-2012) of Chicago established a network of house churches throughout the United States, aiming to restore a primitive form of Christianity, which was called the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO). Researching the historical basis of the Christian faith, Gillquist and his colleagues found sources for this restoration in the writings of the early Church Fathers. This led the group to practice a more liturgical form of worship than in their previous evangelical background. In 1979, the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) was organized. The belief of needing Apostolic Succession led most members of the EOC to join the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987.
The Chicago Call
In 1977 “The Chicago Call” was issued by the National Conference of Evangelicals for Historic Christianity, meeting in Warrenville, Illinois. Led by Dr. Robert Webber (Assoc. Professor of Theology at Wheaton University), along with Peter Gillquist, Thomas Howard, Richard Holt, Donald Bloesch, Jan Dennis, Lane Dennis, and Victor Oliver, the Conference discussed the need for evangelical Christians to rediscover and re-attach to the Church’s historic roots. The Conference issued several documents which together are known as The Chicago Call. Components of the Call include: A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity; A Call to Biblical Fidelity; A Call to Creedal Identity; A Call to Holistic Salvation; A Call to Sacramental Integrity; A Call to Spirituality; A Call to Church Authority; and A Call to Church Unity.
Evangelicals Look to Anglicanism
Robert Webber's 1985 book Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church documents the stories of six evangelical Christians who, for various reasons, had converted to the Episcopal Church. Publication of this book stirred up a great deal of interest in the evangelical press, generating numerous reviews in Christianity Today and other widely read evangelical publications. In the following years Webber wrote several additional books that had great influence on evangelical churches seeking to incorporate liturgy and traditional practices into their worship, and numbers of evangelical Christians continued to migrate to the historic liturgical denominations.
In 1984 Charisma magazine, one of the most influential magazines of the charismatic movement, published an article by Dr. Richard Lovelace entitled “The Three Streams, One River?” (Sept. 1984). Lovelace approvingly noted the trend of Catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics/Pentecostals moving closer together.
In 1992 A. Randolph Adler and a group of like-minded charismatic church pastors from the western U.S. formed the Charismatic Episcopal Church. They obtained ordination in apostolic succession and began worshiping liturgically using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Charismatic Episcopal Church grew to become an international body known for its blending of sacramental, charismatic, and evangelical worship traditions.
Other worldwide Convergence Communions include the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), led by its primate, the Most Reverend Dr. Charles Travis and the Christian Communion International (CCI), led by its Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Quintin Moore. These communions are interrelated, the Christian Communion International being a constituent member of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. They are Evangelical, Sacramental and Pentecostal in piety and practice and use different authorized liturgies in worship. While women are ordained to both the diaconate and the priesthood, they do not admit women to the episcopate.
The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) and the Anglican Church in North America (AC-NA) are churches that are connected to various provinces of the Anglican Communion but are also explicitly committed to Convergence theology. Both of them have women priests but no women bishops.
The Lutheran Catholic Communion (LCC) formed in the year 2008 ordains women up to deaconess, and males only to the offices of priest and bishop.
The Communion of the Convergence Anglican Church (CCAC) was formed in 2013 and is a convergence church (sacramental, evangelical, and Spirit-filled). They do not ordain women to any of the Offices of Deacon, Priest or Bishop. They are using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as their Provisional Prayerbook. Other liturgies may be used with the permission of the Bishop.
The Holy Christian Orthodox Church (HCOC) originally the Western Rite Orthodox Catholic Church is a predominately African-American Communion of Charismatic Orthodox Churches. Led by Archbishop Timothy Paul
The Christian Orthodox Church of America (COCOA) led by its Metropolitan Archbishop, Mar Gregory Schell (Archbishop Paul Gregory Schell) headquartered in Denver, CO.
- Eric Elnes, Characteristics of Convergence Christianity. http://www.onfaithonline.tv/darkwoodbrew/characteristics-of-convergence-christianity/
- J. Gordon Melton Encyclopedia of American religions - 2003 "In the years after World War I, negotiations began to create a broad union that would include the Anglican and ... the "convergence movement," the term referring to the "convergence" of various streams of renewal that shared an understanding of the church as one Body with a variety of diverse but contributing parts. Following the lead of Swedish Bishop Leslie Newbigin, the convergence movement affirmed the threefold essence of the church as Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox/Pentecostal. The church is Catholic as it relates to the emphases of "incarnation and creation," Protestant with an emphasis on "biblical proclamation and conversion, " and Orthodox/Pentecostal in relation to "the mystical and the Holy Spirit."
- Vinson Synan The Holiness-Pentecostal tradition: Charismatic movements in the ... - 1997 p294 "By 1990, like minded pastors were banding together in what they called a "convergence movement" designed to bring the three streams together in a new and powerful spiritual configuration. Even more striking were the cases of charismatic ..."
- The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature 1 p93 e.d George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith, III - 2010 "It foreshadows the convergence movement of the late twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century churches that are liturgical/sacramental and evangelical/ reformed . "
- Documents from The Chicago Call
- The Convergence Movement Written in 1992 by Wayne Boosahda and Randy Sly for the Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert Webber, ed.
- Gillquist, Rev. Peter E. Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1989. (ISBN 0-9622713-3-0)
- "Sound of Rushing Waters", by Daniel W. Williams, ACW Press/DQuest Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-932124-66-7
- "Forgotten Power", William L. DeArteaga, 2002 Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49530, ISBN 0-310-24567-2
- Website of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
- Website for the Independent Celtic Church.
- Christian Communion International.
- Website of the Anglican Mission in the Americas.
- Website of the Anglican Church in North America.
- Website of the Communion of the Convergence Anglican Church.
- Website of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church
- Website of the Christian Orthodox Church of America