People of Praise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
People of Praise
Abbreviation POP
Formation 1971
Type Ecumenical Christian organization
Headquarters South Bend, Indiana
about 3,000[1]

People of Praise is an independent Christian interdenomenational[2] charismatic "covenant community" with no ecclesial affiliation.[1] It presently consists of 21 branches in the United States of America, Canada, and the Caribbean, with a total of approximately 3,000 [3] men, women, and children.[1]

The People of Praise was formed in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, by Dr. Paul DeCelles, Kevin Ranaghan [4] and 27 others who wanted to build an "ecumenical",[5] charismatic community of men and women.

The impetus for this new way of community living came from several sources. These include in particular the Ecumenical Movement, the Charismatic Movement, the Shepherding Movement and the growing interest in basic ecclesial communities. Openness to members of many different expressions of Christianity is essential to its vision of its role in promoting ecumenism. The enthusiasm which inspired its members at its inception can be largely attributed to the Charismatic Renewal. The Shepherding Movement provided a way of giving structure and cohesion to a common life together and contributed to the development of an implicit theology of common Christian living. Thinkers such as Stephen B. Clark contributed greatly to its way of conceiving Christian community, particularly through his books Building Christian Communities: Strategy for Renewing the Church and Unordained Elders and Renewal Communities.[6] The basic idea of the form of Christian society found in the People of Praise is consistent with restorationist impulses.[7] The idea, common to many covenant communities, was to establish a community of believers which would resemble as closely as possible Saint Luke's description of common life found in Acts 2:42-47.

The immediate locus for the inspiration was in the experience of the Charismatic Renewal or Pentecostal movement, particularly the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church. This renewal centers on conversion to Christ and a “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” which, in the predominant Catholic view, involves prayer to release all the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit given in Baptism and Confirmation, but which needs to be actualized in the life of the believer.[8] These gifts include prophecy, Glossolalia or speaking in tongues, and healing at first exercised primarily in weekly prayer meetings.

The charismatic renewal is rooted in the Pentecostal Movement and the Azusa Street Revival.[9] Its development among Catholics seems to have been a response to the Second Vatican Council which encouraged the active participation and gifts of the laity in the work and mission of the church in the world.[10][11][12][13] The Council was the major event which predisposed the founders of the community to the possibility of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and to life in community. In this sense, the Council itself and the Liturgical and Biblical Movements which preceded it, had a huge impact in the formation of those who founded the community. Similarly, the Cursillo movement, which fostered conversion to Jesus, and in which most of the early leaders of the community were involved, quite possibly influenced the development of the People of Praise, as well.[14]

The Shepherding Movement contributed greatly to the new way of structuring shared community life found in the People of Praise.[15] Many of the elements of the Shepherding Movement remain in place under different names.[16] The concept of "shepherding" or "covering" is lived out under the teaching of "headship and submission".



The People of Praise understands itself to be ecumenical. Its ecumenical identity is understood by its members as a response to the desire for unity among believers which Jesus Christ prayed for during the Last Supper, "that they may be one" (John 17:21). From the earliest days of the charismatic renewal,[when?] those who would become the founding members of the People of Praise had regular fellowship with classical Pentecostals and charismatics in mainline Protestant denominations, as well as Catholics. While Catholics, in the aftermath of Vatican II, were becoming more ecumenically open, many mainline Protestants were as well. They were experiencing movements like Faith at Work and they were meeting with Catholics through the charismatic renewal. Practically speaking, it is because of these relationships that the People of Praise had an ecumenical character from the beginning. Relationships sprang up with many different classical Pentecostals, the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship, denominational and non-denominational charismatics. The prayer group from which the community grew was an ecumenical group. These Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostals, while belonging to their own churches, were exploring together the possibility of forming one community. The self-understanding of the People of Praise was that its call to be community included a call to be an ecumenical group. The “Spirit and Purpose of the People of Praise” states that “we will live our lives together as fully as our churches permit, with hope that we may soon attain a unity of faith in the fullness of Christ our Lord.” [17] Currently, more than 90% of its members are Roman Catholic.[18] Among Protestant members, Lutherans, Episcopalians and Methodists predominate. The members of People of Praise are expected to be committed members of their churches and participate in their parishes and congregations. Some members serve their churches as ordained clergy.[19] As part of its mission, some members of the community are assigned to build relationships with other religious groups and organizations. The community considers ecumenical associations and alliances to have a prime importance in community growth.


The People of Praise community had a significant role in fostering the charismatic renewal. The offices of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal were housed in the community center for many years. Several members of the community also served on the National Service Committee. Charismatic Renewal Services, an outreach of the People of Praise community, was a national distribution center for spiritual books and tapes. Most of the early, large, national conferences of the burgeoning Catholic Charismatic Renewal were organized and staffed by members of the People of Praise. David Manuel's book Like a Mighty River [20] documents the leadership and service of the People of Praise in the inspiration and organization of the 1977 ecumenical conference in Kansas City attended by approximately 50,000 people.

Members of the community have also participated in the worldwide charismatic renewal within the Catholic Church in International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, located first in Brussels and later in Rome.[21] They have also worked ecumenically through participation in the International Charismatic Consultation,[22] the Charismatic Concerns Committee, the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship [23] and, more recently, in the Rome-based Gathering in the Holy Spirit.[24] Members also served with Cardinal Josef Suenens in drafting of Malines Documents I and II,[25] and with Fr. Kilian McDonnell. O.S.B., in the writing of Fanning the Flame.[26] These documents have contributed to the articulation and understanding of charismatic renewal and its place in the Catholic Church. They have also contributed to an understanding of how this movement can be understood by members of Protestant denominations of Christianity.


The People of Praise considers itself to be a 'covenant community', a covenant being a solemn agreement between two or more parties. The community considers the covenant with its members to be one of mutual care and service in spiritual, material, and financial regards.[27]

The community believes that its primary charism is love, and, therefore, members pledge relationships of love and service to one another and the Lord. This commitment resembles the permanent commitments made in Christian religious orders and in many other covenant and intentional communities around the world. Members attempt to live as much of a common life as possible, working together, praying for one another both privately and in groups, visiting one another, sharing meals and offering one another gifts of money and material items in times of need. For some members common life extends to working together in community sponsored businesses and outreaches. Most members are married couples many with growing children. Some married couples have single men and women living with them in "households", but most do not. Some single people live together (in houses of single men or women) while some live by themselves. There are also celibate single men and women, some of whom have formed a Brotherhood [28] and Sisterhood within the People of Praise.

There are two stages of membership in the community: underway and covenanted. People who are new to the community join as underway members. This stage of membership is meant as a time for people new to the community to freely explore (in consultation with the leadership) whether they belong in the community. While a member is underway, he or she actively participates in all aspects of the community life. Full membership occurs when one makes a public commitment to the covenant. Members make this pledge freely after a formation and instruction period that normally lasts three to six years.[27]


The community entrusts overall direction to its Board of Governors. The overall coordinator is the chairman of this board and leads the community on its behalf. Each location of the community is called a branch. The larger branches are led by a group of branch coordinators. These branches are divided into areas, which are each led by an area coordinator. The principal branch coordinator serves as the main leader of the branch. All of the leaders who serve in these positions are elected for specific terms of office and are limited in the number of consecutive terms that they may serve. Smaller or newer branches are led by a team of branch leaders. All these coordinators or branch leaders are selected from among the covenanted men in a branch. On matters of great importance, consultations involving all the covenanted members of the community guide the direction of the community, including (within a branch) the selection of coordinators and handmaids.

Pastoral care is considered an important service within the community; it is believed to foster relationships of love, service and charismatic ministry.[27]:15. Each member has someone called a “head”, who acts a personal adviser. In general, heads give encouragement, correction, and help in decision-making. Men have other men as their heads. Married women are headed by their husbands. Single women and widows usually have other women as their heads. Men and women with the appropriate skills are assigned as heads by the coordinators. The coordinators are assisted by women leaders called "handmaids." The handmaids of each branch plan women's activities, advise the coordinators on women's issues, and offer advice, when asked, to women in the branch.


In much of community life, men and women work together without distinction. Both men and women prophesy and exhort at community meetings, teach together in the community sponsored schools, serve together as counselors at community camps, or as members or heads of music ministries, and evangelize together in inner cities. Still, there are some significant distinctions in the roles of men and women. As noted above, the coordinators are men. The community, which refers to itself as a “family of families,” sees this as following a biblical and traditional model of male leadership. Men and women meet separately each week in small groups called 'men's groups' or 'women's groups.' The purpose is to build deeper relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ by discussing their lives and other issues with the goal of gaining wisdom, deepening friendships and encouraging one another to be faithful to God. Traditional roles are fostered by encouraging men to do most of the heavier physical work involved when a family is moving to a new home or reroofing a house, and when setting up for meetings and similar tasks. Women are encouraged to provide food and childcare. However, these distinctions are not absolute. For example, women have also labored side by side with men in the construction work involved in the community's Allendale outreach.[1][29]


The people of Praise was founded in 1971.

Divisions and affiliated organizations[edit]

Campus Division[edit]

The Campus Division of the People of Praise is made up of mostly college students. Members live together in student households. Most households hold regular prayer together and often eat together. While some are not in school, most members of the Campus Division attend a variety of colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, IUPUI, Saint Mary's College, Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame. Members of the Campus Division consider their common life together to be part of what the People of Praise has labeled as its city-building work. The People of Praise believes that the Lord wants the community to build 200 "cities" in 40 years and have 200,000 members.[30]

Action Division[edit]

The Action Division consists of high school students and adults working together "to bring Christ's love to impoverished communities in real and tangible ways."[31] This is how the Action Division seeks to contribute specifically to the building up of the Kingdom of God through its work as an outreach of the People of Praise. At this point, their work primarily involves outreach in a poor neighborhood called Allendale in the city of Shreveport, LA A second location has begun in inner city Indianapolis, Indiana. However, members say that they could work in other areas in the future. The Action Division aims to "provide those in need with an experience of God's love for them." This consists in providing jobs, affordable housing, strong families and prayer for physical healing. Action Division member work together to "share all aspects of life" with those who are in need; these needs may be material, financial, spiritual, intellectual or social.[32]

Christians in Commerce[edit]

Christians in Commerce (CIC) is a movement of business and professional men and women that is dedicated to help members grow in the Christian life and to influence the world of commerce with the gospel. Although CIC operates independently from the People of Praise, the People of Praise helped form CIC[33] and is actively engaged in its work. CIC is organized into 16 local chapters. These chapters have held retreats that have been attended by over 10,000 men and women.[34]

Trinity Schools[edit]

Trinity Schools is a group of schools founded by People of Praise which teaches middle school and high school age children. While the schools operate as an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the goals and procedures are influenced by the approach of the People of Praise leadership. Trinity Schools provide a Classical education heavily influenced by elements of Christian humanism for grades seven through twelve. The schools follow an academic core curriculum which includes six years of mathematics, 5 years of science, 11 semesters of writing, 6 years of literature, and 5 years of foreign language. Students also take 1 full year and 2 years of partial courses in music, drawing and painting and two semesters of drama. The schools are non-denomenational. On its website Trinity School (in each of its three instances) is self-described as "an ecumenical Christian school witnessing to the fundamental disunity of all who are baptized into Christ."[35] Students take 5 semesters of scriptural studies (through a non-denominational Christian approach) and either a Catholic or Protestant doctrine course. Trinity Schools maintain small classes with single-sex instruction except in a few key courses such as drama, art, and foreign languages.[36]

There are three locations:

Brotherhood of the People of Praise[edit]

The Brotherhood of the People of Praise is a Private Association of the Christian Faithful with Official Status in the Catholic Church.

While the People of Praise community which is the subject of this article has no official ties with any Christian church or denomination, a number of Catholic men who are members of this community have sought to regularize their status with the Catholic Church in order to be ordained Catholic priests. This group of men now has official status in the Catholic Church as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful.[37] "It has a membership of about 12 men, four of them now priests."[38] Pope Francis named one of the members of this Private Association of the Christian Faithful to be ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.[38] Bishop Peter Leslie Smith was ordained a bishop of the Catholic Church on April 29, 2014.[39]

Associated Organizations and Companies[edit]

One:Ten Communications is a company which was founded by a member of the People of Praise in 2006. Many of its employees maintain active association with the People of Praise.[40]


The People of Praise has come under criticism from some of its former members. Among the most scholarly and well-documented of these criticisms is that of Dr. Adrian Reimers, an adjunct professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and a charter member who left the group in 1985. He has criticized the group on a number of different levels.[41]

Ecclesiologically, Dr. Reimers claims that the People of Praise misunderstands the nature of the Church. This is understandable in light of two different understandings of what it means to be "Church". According to Cardinal Kasper, "in regard to the facts of the matter it is impossible to overlook the real difference in the concept of the church. Protestant Christians do not wish to be a church in the same way as the Catholic church understands itself as a church."[42] Dr. Reimers claims that by embracing a certain form of ecumenism, the People of Praise has adopted an idea of what it means to be "Church" which is inherently a Protestant one:[43]

"Sword of the Spirit and the People of Praise misunderstand what the Church is, and this is most especially clear in the 'ecumenically sensitive' down-playing of certain specifically Catholic manifestations of faith. For example, both systems avoid public references to or veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary as something offensive to Protestants. But the ecclesiological significance of Mary is essential: She is the Mother and Model of the Church. Not to acknowledge her is not to know the Church as mother. This is no mere metaphor here, either. The economy of the Incarnation is that just as Mary was indispensable for bringing Christ to birth in the world, so is the Church - the institutional Catholic Church - necessary for the world to encounter Christ. And indeed, if we neglect the motherhood of Mary them we will surely overlook the living maternity of the Church and, in fact, see it as only an institution. Mary is integral to the faith, not an extraneous or non-essential object of sentimental devotion."

Reimers. "Not Reliable Guides" (PDF). p. 98. 

"The Church is most Church when she celebrates the Eucharist. With their emphasis on covenant commitment and the experience of community, People of Praise and Sword of the Spirit make the Body of Christ (i.e. the authentic Christian community) extrinsic to the Church, which is reduced to the role of a service institution. This ecumenism that pretends to live a corporate life of faith independent of any one church and outside the context of the Eucharist is a merely human venture. Wherever Mass is celebrated, Christ is saving His people by offering up a perfect sacrifice to His Father and by laying down His life for them. He is gathering them into one."

Reimers, Not Reliable Guides

Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation concurs with Dr. Reimers notion that the Eucharist is essential to any proper understanding of being a community which calls itself the "People of God", i.e. "the Church" in the Catholic sense.[44][45] According to Pope Benedict's Sacramentum Caritatis,[44]:14

"Through the sacrament of the Eucharist Jesus draws the faithful into his 'hour;' he shows us the bond that he willed to establish between himself and us, between his own person and the Church.[...] A contemplative gaze 'upon him whom they have pierced' (Jn 19:37) leads us to reflect on the causal connection between Christ's sacrifice, the Eucharist and the Church. The Church 'draws her life from the Eucharist'. Since the Eucharist makes present Christ's redeeming sacrifice, we must start by acknowledging that 'there is a causal influence of the Eucharist at the Church's very origins'. The Eucharist is Christ who gives himself to us and continually builds us up as his body."

Concerning the question of the nature of the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said:[46]

"Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of 'Church' with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."

In another article published by Dr. Reimers, the professor states that the People of Praise has set up a parallel structure to the Catholic Church by its claim that (among other things) its leaders ("Coordinators") exercised divine authority to which members should submit their spiritual and moral lives. Dr. Reimers also claims that in the People of Praise, "a heightened fear of the devil or evil spirits can be used to (a) put pressure on wavering members to stay in the group, (b) elevate the importance of the group and its leaders, and (c) enhance the leaders' control of the membership by reinforcing the notion that Satan can even work through good people and only the leaders can discern his designs, and (d) undermine members' confidence in their own judgement, especially about spiritual development."[47] Dr. Reimers alleges that these characteristics have caused much psychological distress and has spiritually misled current and former members.


  1. ^ a b c d "Official website of the People of Praise". Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  2. ^ People of Praise often refers to itself as "ecumenical" rather than as "interdenomenational". The meaning of "ecumenical" isolated from a specific context, however, is ambiguous and may be misinterpreted by those who are not part of this community and do not have a lived experience of the sense in which the word is being used in this self-descriptive prelude. Use of the term "interdenomenational" clarifies this ambiguity by more directly naming the characteristic which the community seems to be interested in highlighting with the word "ecumenical".
  3. ^ "as early as 1987, People of Praise consisted of some 3,000 people including children" Stanley Burgess Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Routledge, New York, London, 2006. p.130.
  4. ^ "...the People of Praise was founded in South Bend by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles..." p.319. Mary Barbara Agnew CPPs. “Charismatic Renewal” The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History. edited by Michael Glazier and Thomas J. Shelly. AMG Book. Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1997.
  5. ^ [the People of Praise members] “always felt that the Lord had raised us up as a community to work responsibly towards Christian unity.” David Manuel. Like a Mighty River. Rock Harbor Press, USA, 1977. p.18.
  6. ^ cf. Moore, S. David. The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology, pp. 24, 63-64, 100-103, 105, 115, 116, 122, 125-127, 126, 130-132, 136, 137, 161.
  7. ^ cf. Moore, S. David. The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology, p. 82.
  8. ^ Fanning The Flame. Kilian McDonnell, George T. Montague, Editors. The Liturgical Press,Collegeville, Minnesota, 1991.
  9. ^ The Century of The Holy Spirit. Vinson Synan. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, 2001.
  10. ^ A.E. Chester. “Lay Communities.” And “Community: Forms of.” p.147.
  11. ^ Rev. Edward O’Connor. "Charismatic Renewal," p.105. Vol XVII.
  12. ^ “Change in the Church.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.,1979.
  13. ^ Colin LaVergne. "Why Did God Start The Catholic Charismatic Renewal?" March, 2009.
  14. ^ “Another important precursor was the Cursillo Movement….” “Biblical movements and lay movements.” ‘’’Catholic Charismatic Renewal.’’’ Peter Hocken. p.212. Also: “The Catholic Charismatic Movement,” H.D. Hunter. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Eds. Daniel Reid et al., InterVarsity Press. Madison, Wis. 1990. p. 243
  15. ^ Moore, S. David. The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology
  16. ^ Gesy, Rev. Lawrence J. G. "Today's Destructive Cults and Movements", pp. 95-105.
  17. ^ Spirit and Purpose of the People of Praise People of Praise, Inc., 1986.
  18. ^ Buechi, Patrick J. "People of Praise commit lives to Christian community"."About 95 percent of the [Buffalo Branch] is Catholic, but the group is considered ecumenical."
  19. ^ Shea, Erin (2006-10-20). New pastor adjusts to new role at St. Anne. The Gresham Outlook. Retrieved on 2007-05-01.
  20. ^ Rock Harbor Press, 1977
  21. ^
  22. ^ ICCOWE (International Charismatic Consultation on World Evangelisation)
  23. ^ “group of charismatic leaders that formed the Charismatic Concerns Committee (CCC) in the early 1970s. The CCC was later re-named the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship,”
  24. ^ Parish World :: Catholic News
  25. ^ Modern Pentecostalism
  26. ^ Fanning the Flame: What Does Baptism in the Holy Spirit Have to Do with Christian Initiation? Edited by George Montague and Killian McDonnell (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991).
  27. ^ a b c Spirit and PurposePeople of People of Praise, copyright,1971.
  28. ^ Religious Communities of Men
  29. ^ ‘’’Vine & Branches’’’ South Bend, IN. March, 2006.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Our Action program brings together high school students and adults working to bring Christ's love to impoverished communities in real and tangible ways."
  32. ^ "Action page of official website of People of Praise". Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  33. ^ "Our Work page of official website of People of Praise". Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  34. ^ "Official Christians in Commerce website". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  35. ^ Trinity Schools Website, accessed March 23, 2014.
  36. ^ "Official website of Trinity Schools". Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  37. ^ "Several of our single men, including four Catholic priests, are members of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, an organization with official status in the Catholic Church as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful."
  38. ^ a b "Pope Names Portland, Oregon Priest As Auxiliary Bishop Of Portland"
  39. ^ The Oregonian. "Pope Francis names Father Peter Leslie Smith an auxiliary bishop for Portland archdiocese"
  40. ^ "Many of our employees, in addition to being members of their respective churches, are members of the People of Praise." Source:
  41. ^ Reimers, "Not Reliable Guides"
  42. ^ Kasper, Cardinal Walter, "The Decree on Ecumenism – Read Anew After Forty Years"
  43. ^ Pope Francis asks Catholics to remain within the Church in their thinking and their activity so as not to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees did in making the Word of God a matter of private interpreation. "With humility and prayer, we go forward to listen to the Word of God and obey it. In the Church. Humility and prayer in the Church. And so, what happened to these people will not happen to us: we will not kill to defend the Word of God, that Word which we believe is the World of God, but it is a word that is totally altered by us."
  44. ^ a b Sacramentum Caritatis
  45. ^ For a systematic treatment of this topic see the bookThe Meaning of Christian Brotherhood by Joseph Ratzinger.
  46. ^ "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Retrieved 2 Jun 2014. 
  47. ^ "More than the Devil's Due - Adrian Reimers - Cultic Studies Journal, 1994". Retrieved 2007-05-01. 

External links[edit]