Nearly a decade after millions flocked to Pensacola, Fla., to experience one of the longest lasting Pentecostal revivals in history, leaders of what became known as the Pensacola Outpouring and alumni of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry (BRSM) are gathering to "remember, refresh and refire."
Beginning tonight, the BRSM Reunion Conference will unite leaders such as Steve Hill, the evangelist who was instrumental in starting the revival; Michael Brown, former dean of BRSM; and John Kilpatrick, former pastor of Brownville Assembly of God, where the Pensacola revival began on Father's Day in 1995.
"Today in the Christian world there's just so many people who are hungry for God's presence," Kilpatrick told Charisma. "You can run dry real quick in ministry if you don't replenish [in His] presence. I think that's probably what everyone is coming together to experience again."
The leaders say they are not expecting the conference, which ends on Memorial Day, to mimic the last revival, but they hope attendees will experience restoration and healing.
Although the five-year revival drew believers, spectators and secular media alike, it also had its share of controversy. It was well known that several church leaders had a strained relationship, and in 2000 Brown was fired as dean of BRSM. He later started the FIRE School of Ministry, and many BRSM students left to attend Brown's school.
"We know that many were hurt by the split that took place at the end of 2000 and that never fully recovered," Brown told Charisma.
"My greatest hope is that those who were either hurt or who've become disillusioned or who lost the fire that they once had would have it rekindled afresh," he added. "This is not a time for nostalgia for me. We are not trying to recreate the past. ... We just want to see a fresh wave of encouragement and grace pour out on those folks in particular."
Brown and Kilpatrick have reconciled, but this weekend's conference will be the first time all the revival leaders and BRSM faculty will meet in one location since the Pensacola Outpouring ended.
Many BRSM students have gone on to be missionaries and pastors around the globe. So far, people from 35 states and seven countries have registered to attend the reunion.
Hill, now pastor of Heartland World Ministries Church in Irving, Texas, said that though he has been battling cancer for the last year, it was important to him to attend the conference.
"The beauty of the Brownsville revival was the fact that we would go night after night after night," Hill said. "And some people moved to Pensacola and were so saturated in it, it changed their lives. I'm hoping through this that it is sort of a time to sow some embers and throw some wood on the fire."
The conference will conclude on Monday night with Kilpatrick speaking and former Brownsville worship leader Lindell Cooley--now pastor of Grace Church in Nashville, Tennessee--leading worship.
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