Catch the Fire Toronto
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|Catch the Fire Toronto|
|Senior pastor(s)||Steve and Sandra Long|
Catch the Fire Toronto, previously known (until 2010) as Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) is a non-denominational neocharismatic Christian church in Toronto, Canada. It is the flagship church of the Catch The Fire movement, and is also affiliated with the Partners in Harvest group of churches. The church is famous as the birthplace and center of the Toronto Blessing, a prominent religious revival and phenomenon in charismatic Christianity during the 1990s.
Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship is a multisite church with campuses meeting in various venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area. TACF Airport is the primary and largest campus. Senior pastors are Steve and Sandra Long.
In 2010, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship changed its name to Catch The Fire Toronto, to go along with its new international church planting vision.
Pastors John and Carol Arnott founded the church around 1988. The church later joined John Wimber's Vineyard movement and was known as Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. It met in various rented locations throughout Toronto until the early 1990s when the church found a more permanent home near the Lester B. Pearson Airport.
In January 1994, Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor, was invited to preach. John Arnott heard that Clark had attended a conference with Rodney Howard-Browne and had been greatly impacted by Howard-Browne's ministry. The revival started during Clark's two-month visit but continued after he left. Some religious leaders criticized the church and revival because of the teachings and manifestations that occurred. Wimber initially defended the Airport Vineyard saying "Nearly everything we've seen—falling, weeping, laughing, shaking—has been seen before, not only in our own memory, but in revivals all over the world."
Nevertheless, the church withdrew or was expelled, according to some, from the Vineyard. Wimber explained the circumstances surrounding the split in a Christianity Today interview, saying that the revival at Toronto was "changing our definition of renewal in Vineyard" and that "[the Vineyard's] decision was to withdraw endorsement; [TACF's] decision was to resign".
After the break with Wimber and the Vineyard in 1995, the church was renamed Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. It founded Partners in Harvest, a group of churches that shared similar beliefs. In 2006, the Arnotts resigned as senior pastors to pursue a new ministry, Catch the Fire. They were succeeded by Steve and Sandra Long.
The Arnotts now hold the position of Founding Pastors, and the church was renamed in 2010 as Catch the Fire-Toronto, to reflect the "fire" of God spreading to other congregations around the world, unifying them.
Beliefs and practices
At TACF revival services, worshippers have exhibited unusual behaviours that they attribute to an encounter with God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The most common described behaviours include laughter (often referred to as "holy laughter"), weeping, deep bowing, shaking, "drunkenness" (a reference to Acts 2:13-15 and Ephesians 5:18), slain in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Other less common behaviours include producing sounds that resemble animals, such as roaring like lions.
The TACF website described it thus:
"The Toronto Blessing is a transferable anointing. In its most visible form it overcomes worshippers with outbreaks of laughter, weeping, groaning, shaking, falling, 'drunkenness,' and even behaviours that have been described as a 'cross between a jungle and a farmyard.'"
The church is also the site where the prophecy of the golden sword was given.
The statement of faith of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship can be found on their main website.
- Maxwell, Joe (October 24, 1994). "Laughter Draws Toronto Charismatic Crowds". Christianity Today. 38 (12).
- Stafford, Tim; Beverley, James (July 14, 1997). "Conversations: God's Wonder Worker". Christianity Today. 41 (8).
- Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (1996). "Revival: History". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Apologetics research resources on religious cults and sects - "Golden Sword Prophecy"
- "Our Values".
- Catch The Fire Toronto Official Site - New Name!
- Catch The Fire Official Site
- John Wimber and the Toronto Blessing
- Church Times Article
- Blog article by Adrian Warnock about the Toronto Blessing including overview of similar phenomena in church history
- Richard Riss on revival and Christianity
- Charisma News Online Article - Aug 2 2010