History of the Elim Pentecostal Church

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The Elim movement was founded in 1915 in a small town in Ireland - why at this time and in this place?

Europe was at the beginning of a terrible war which would change the direction of world history and define me rest of the twentieth century. Wages were shrinking, unemployment was soon to rise and world finances were unstable. At this time churches were emptying fast. It appeared that a terminal spiritual sickness had gripped British society. Modernists tried to disprove the Bible, evangelicals became dogmatic, ultra conservative and narrow minded. People shunned the smell of decay in British churches. It seemed as if God was speaking to deaf ears, if indeed He was speaking at all.

At this time there was a young man in South Wales, called George Jeffreys, who did hear from God.

The pentecostal revival had started in a small black church in Los Angeles in 1906. The revival spread to Norway and to Sunderland in north east England where the "fire fell" in 1907. George Jeffreys heard of the amazing happenings in Sunderland and went there to find out for himself. He realised he had discovered something new that had the spiritual power to reshape the future of the church and indeed society as a whole.

He was invited by a small group of spiritually thirsty Christians to hold meetings in Ireland in 1915 where he held a number of tent crusades. At this time the group formed the Elim Alliance and the Elim Evangelistic Band.

Why Elim? Elim is the name of a place mentioned in the OT in Exodus 15 vs. 27 "Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters". After the triumph of crossing the Red Sea the Israelites came to Marah, a place of bitter water. From here they came to Elim a place of refreshing and preparation for the wilderness ahead. They faith in God was strengthened for what lay ahead. In the Bible wells represent salvation. For those interested in Bible numbers Jesus chose twelve disciples and He sent forth seventy people.

After establishing a number of churches in Ireland George Jeffreys teamed up with his brother Stephen, an ex miner, and opened several churches in Wales following evangelistic crusades.

There were a few isolated Pentecostal groups in England, a country which had never experienced revival since the eighteenth century. In 1921 a church was opened in Leigh on Sea, Essex and in 1922 the Clapham Elim Church was started in a disused non conformist chapel in South London.

For the next ten years George Jeffreys and his evangelistic party moved around England holding some of the biggest revival and healing campaigns this country has ever seen. They encountered total opposition from the other churches but they brought a totally new freshness for which people had been thirsting. Typically they would hire the largest public hall in the area and commence meetings. For the first few nights there would be only a handful of people curious to see what would happen. During prayer for the sick one night an amazing miracle of healing would take place, the local press would report it and by the end of the week people would be queuing up in their thousands, trying to get in. Following the huge campaign in Birmingham some dozen new large churches were started, largely with new converts. To provide ministers and pastors, to lead these new churches, a Bible college was started in Clapham in 1925 in a former convent. This later moved to Capel in Surrey and then to Nantwich in Cheshire where it is now known as Regents Theological College.

After visiting Angelus Temple in Los Angeles (Aimee. McPherson's church) they incorporated the word "foursquare" in Elim's title. Elim became the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance which is still its legal title. Foursquare stands for Jesus the Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit and Coming King.

George Jeffreys left Elim, the movement he had founded, in 1939 following disagreements over methods of church government and his enthusiasm for British Israelism, a fashionable belief at the time.

The second world war brought times of great trial; churches were bombed congregations were diminished as men were called up and the effects of the spilt with the founder were still being felt.

Soon after the war God raised up more evangelists and a new time of expansion occurred. Many new churches were opened following campaigns by such men as Percy Brewster, John Woodhead and Alex Tee.

In the 1960's Elim became accepted by other denominations as the charismatic movement spread, espousing the truths of the fullness of the Spirit preached by the founders of the Pentecostal churches some fifty years previously. The Elim Pentecostal Church is now considered one of the main evangelical church denominations in the UK and is represented on the Evangelical Alliance. It has some 600 churches in Britain and supports missions worldwide.