Sunday, July 23, 2000

Chicken-dinner blessings

Pentecostals reach out with food

By Mara H. Gottfried
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nick Swain thinks it's a blessing that church members came to Washington Park on Saturday to pass out chicken dinners.

(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Mr. Swain, 63, accepted one, but not before lifting up his T-shirt to show Elder LaVelton Daniel, the administrator for the Greater Emanuel Apostolic Temple in Finneytown, a large scar.

        “I have to thank the man upstairs,” Mr. Swain said, telling him about the kidney surgery he had in May.

        Mr. Daniel laid his hand on Mr. Swain's head and blessed him. Such is the work of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc.

        Hours after church members convened at the Cincinnati Convention Center for the start of their annual summer convention, they hit the streets to pass out chicken dinners and spread the word of God.

        Kenny Bailey, a member of the Greater Emanuel congregation, said his purpose is to help those in need.

• The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc. was formed in 1906 in connection with the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, which also occurred that year.
• There are 1.5 million members worldwide.
• For Pentecostals, speaking in tongues is the initial Bible evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
• Some of the basic tenets of the faith center around the oneness of God and the power in Jesus' name.
        “The biggest concern for us is trying to reach them spiritually,” said the Forest Park man. “We want them to know they don't necessarily need to live this way, they can give their life to God. We want them to know they don't need to give up.”

        The 50 dinners, which included fried chicken, potatoes, bread and Starbucks Frappuccinos, were gone within five minutes from the Over-the-Rhine park.

        Jerry and Linda Crittendon sat to eat at the edge of the park. Between them was a bird cage with four cockatiels inside, which they refer to as their “kids.”

        “We ate lunch today and if they hadn't come out here, that would have been all we had,” said Mr. Crittendon, 57. He and his 52-year-old wife live in a van, which was parked next to Washington Park Saturday afternoon.

        Mr. Daniel talked to the Crittendons for a few minutes and invited both to the convention center to join the church members in prayer.

        Eight thousand to 10,000 peo ple from around the world are expected for this week's 85th annual Pentecostal Assemblies of the World convention, which concludes next Saturday. The group also meets each spring.

        Bishop Norman L. Wagner, CEO of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, referred to the organization as the grandfather of all Pentecostal groups.

        The convention will include workshops and worship sessions, and other charity events. of the Greater Emanuel congregation.

        And for this Mr. Swain is grateful.

        “It's such a blessing,” he repeats.


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