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Dr. James Eustace Purdie: a Canadian Dennis Bennett

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

Born June 9th 1880, Dr. Purdie attended St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Prince Edward Island and was converted at age 19 through his mother’s oldest sister.  Following his conversion, Dr. Purdie reported: “The call of ministry began to impress on me. I had to preach the gospel or die.”  He moved to Toronto in 1902, where he studied for five years at Wycliffe College.  Dr. Purdie saw Wycliffe faculty as “champions of the Evangelical truths of the Bible and the Reformed faith of the Reformation.”  He called them “scholarly men who were out and out for God”, the highest compliment that Purdie could pay anyone.  Wycliffe became the future model for Dr. Purdie’s own Western Bible College where he trained 600 clergy over twenty-five years.  After pastoring three rural Anglican congregations in Manitoba, Dr. Purdie joined the staff of St Luke’s, a large Anglican congregation in St John New Brunswick where he led open-air meetings on Sunday night for as many as five thousand people.

 

In 1911, Dr. Purdie first heard of the renewal of the Holy Spirit through a booklet he received in the Maritimes.  In 1917, Dr. Purdie moved to St James Anglican Church, Saskatoon, which had dwindled to just twenty-five people.  When visiting renewal speakers Mr. and Mrs. Crouch visited St. James in August 1919, they prayed for Dr. Purdie in the rectory.  Dr. Purdie was powerfully filled with God’s presence, resting in the Spirit, and beginning to pray in a supernatural language.  In those early days, well before the impact of the Rev. Dennis Bennett author of Nine O’clock In The Morning, very few Anglican clergy were familiar with the charismatic gifts.  This experience was described by Dr. Purdie as ‘a fresh refilling of the Spirit of Life’.  Dr Purdie saw his release of the gift of tongues as very similar to that of Vicar A.A. Boddy of All Saints Anglican Church, Sunderland, in 1907 where the Holy Spirit powerfully impacted all of England.  Before Dr. Purdie left St. James, it had the largest Sunday School and most generous giving in the entire diocese.

 

In August 1925, Dr. Purdie was contacted by R.E. McAllister, the PAOC (Pentecostal Assemblies of God) General Secretary http://www.paoc.org , informing him that he had been unanimously elected as founding Principal of Western Bible College in Winnipeg.  Dr. Purdie took two months praying and reflecting before he accepted the offer.  Tom Johnstone, PAOC General Superintendent, said that ‘there isn’t a man in all of Canada who contributed more of a lasting nature to the PAOC than J. Eustace Purdie.  He has laid a foundation of biblical doctrines that has paid dividends.’  The Rev. Dr. Ronald Kydd of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Cobourg, Ontario, said that ‘the one who made the greatest individual theological contribution to the PAOC was undoubtedly J. Eustace Purdie.’  In 1950, Dr. Purdie was commissioned by the PAOC General Assembly to write their official Catechism, a 567-Questions & Answers Book entitled Concerning the Faith, a catechism that drew heavily from the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer.  In Question 86, Dr. Purdie asked: What is the most terrible of all sins recorded in the Bible?  Dr. Purdie memorably answered: ‘The most terrible of all sins is unbelief.’

 

Dr. Purdie commented to the Saskatoon Bishop: ‘In my heart I never left the Anglican Church for one moment in all these years.’  The first Sunday of every month for over fifty years, Dr. Purdie would either preach or help celebrate Communion at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg.  Canon Jim Slater, the former St. Margaret’s Rector, commented that Dr. Purdie ‘was an Anglican till he died…he was a holy man and prayed for my ministry every day.”  As an outstanding theologian, Dr. Purdie has been compared to Dr. JI Packer.  Others would see him more as an early Dennis Bennett, another famous pioneer in Anglican renewal.  Dr. Purdie is fondly remembered by many Pentecostals for his practice of always wearing his Anglican clerical collar and for using the Anglican lectionary/bible readings in his sermons.  One of his early students George Griffin described Dr. Purdie this way: “As a man, he was a gentleman indeed with a great heart concern for each individual under his care.  No unapproachable austerity, but a heart-warming friendliness…a sense of humour which enjoyed good wholesome fun.  Who has not heard his hearty laugh echo along the way when we hiked through the woods or park with him?  His presence was enough to settle a problem of discipline when other methods failed; so great was the esteem in which he was held.”

 

Dr. Purdie poignantly commented: “The failures throughout the history of the Christian Church are largely due to the fact that the Holy Spirit’s baptism has not been given its rightful place in the Church.  To reject it is to reject the greatest asset for labour, service, and ministry that is the privilege of men to enjoy.”  What a great challenge to renewal-oriented Canadian Anglicans in the early years of the 21st century!

 

At close to ninety-seven years of age, Dr. Purdie was ‘promoted to Glory’.  He was still preaching over ninety times a year at the end of his life.  Fittingly, Dr. Purdie’s funeral was conducted by both Pentecostal and Anglican clergy.  Pastor Herb Barber who took his funeral at Calvary Temple said that Dr. Purdie established the PAOC on a solid theological and biblical basis.  Pastor Ed Austin, a student of Dr. Purdie, said. “Dr. Purdie was a real prince, a great scholar, a tremendous teacher.  We all loved him.”

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Canon Dennis Bennett: Anglican Pioneer in Renewal

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

the life and work of the Rev Canon Dennis Bennett: a tribute to his contributions to 50 years of renewal in Canada 

My wife and I were privileged to hear Rita Bennett this July at the fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, which began in 1960 at St Luke’s Seattle.  Rita and her late husband Canon Dennis Bennett were an amazing tag team sharing about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Many felt shock and disbelief in November lst, 1991 when told of Dennis Bennett’s death from a heart attack.  He was known world-wide as a pioneer and seed-planter in what Archbishop Michael Peers called in 1978 “…a revival of a witness to a neglected aspect of Christian truth – the power of the Spirit.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica 1973 Yearbook records that “when in 1960, Father Dennis Bennett announced to his congregation, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at Van Nuys, California that he had experienced a new outpouring of God’s Spirit, the recent movement can be said to have begun.”

The Rev Kevin Martin, formerly with Episcopal Renewal Ministries/Acts 29, said that Dennis Bennett “…was directly responsible for the charismatic movement in the Roman (Catholic) Church that now reaches into the millions.’  As of 2010, there are an estimated 110 million Roman Catholics involved in charismatic renewal, which perhaps accounts for the wide acceptance of the Alpha Course among many Roman Catholics.

Canon Bennett wrote six best-selling books, two of which sold over half a million copies each (Nine O’Clock in the Morning and The Holy Spirit and You).  During his 33 years in the Renewal, Dennis had the privilege of leading over 25,000 people into the Release or Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In 1979, the Rev Al Reimers, an Anglican priest, published the results of a comprehensive survey of charismatic renewal in Canada.  In his book, God’s Country, he wrote: “As far as I can determine, charismatic renewal came to Canada first through visits by Dennis Bennett in the early 1960’s…”

Dennis planted many seeds of renewal over the years across Canada: many have borne fruit and are still bearing fruit; others are just starting to sprout.

Shortly after moving to Seattle, Dennis began a lasting and most meaningful relationship with the Anglicans on Vancouver Island.  He first spoke at St John’s Quadra Anglican Church (Victoria) in 1962.  In 1974 Dennis and Rita led a very popular seminar on the Holy Spirit at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.  From then on, Dennis and Rita were invited back many times by the ARC/Anglican Renewal Centre to lead seminars all over Vancouver Island.

The Rev Charles Alexander, the founding National Coordinator of Anglican Renewal Ministries (Canada) and author of Power to Serve, remembers Dennis well.  Charles recalls going down to Dennis’ parish in Seattle, (St Luke’s) and receiving much wisdom and encouragement from him.

Charles sees Dennis as “a very self-giving man” who certainly had a foundational role in the growth of renewal in Canada.  Charles, who has spent many years sharing the message of renewal across Canada, commented that Canadian Anglicans in renewal “owe Dennis a lot.’

Nine O’Clock in the Morning, by itself, has had life-changing effects on many Canadian Anglicans.  For example, the Venerable Jack Major from the Fraser Valley, BC, was given this book by a stranger at a funeral.  He reluctantly began to read the book, and before he could finish it, he experienced a life-changing Release of God’s Spirit in his life.  Later Jack brought Dennis and Rita to lead seminars in 1984 and 1986 at St Matthew’s Abbotsford; over 350 people registered for the latter.

I was Jack’s Assistant Priest at the time, so I can witness to its powerful effect on St Matthew’s in terms of spiritual and rapid numerical growth.  Archdeacon Jack “found Dennis to be a person of great intellectual ability but also able to convey the faith in such a beautifully simple way that one can’t miss it.’

Archdeacon Jack Major said that he had never met a more humble person and both he and Charles Alexander commented that Dennis would always remember who you were.  The Rev Fr Ron Barnes, former Chair of an Anglican Evangelism Unit, described Dennis as a “conservative, rational, sensible person who saw the gifts of the Spirit, not as something emotional but as genuine, rational, and normal.” Though Dennis Bennett’s teaching about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a challenging message, it was always spoken in love.  As Archdeacon Patrick Tomter (from Dennis’ Diocese of Olympia) put it, Dennis “was always and forever a man of grace and, truth…He responded to criticism with warmth and humour .  The Diocese has always been particularly blessed by his presence.”

I first met Dennis through his books, and began a 7-year pilgrimage which culminated in 1979, when the Rev David Watson and my wife Janice helped me open up to new life in the Spirit.  But it wasn’t until I met Dennis in 1984 that he showed me by teaching and example how easy it is to lead another person to receive the Release or Baptism in the Spirit.  Until then, I had believed that ‘tongues’ were just for the few, and were difficult to receive.  Dennis showed me that Life in the Spirit is a free gift, and all that one had to do was ask.

Next to Nine O’Clock in the Morning, I found How to Pray for the Release of the Spirit  his most helpful book.  I recommend this book to any Anglican priest or lay person struggling with the challenge of renewing the renewal.

Lord, we thank you for the life and witness of Canon Dennis Bennett, and pray for your strength and encouragement upon his widow Rita Bennett and their family.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of  Canada

-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada Magazine

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

 

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca