Charismatics are mainline Christians who speak in tongues and practice such gifts of the Holy Spirit as prophecy and healing.

Charismatics are mainline Christians who speak in tongues and practice such gifts of the Holy Spirit as prophecy and healing. While some Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches in South Carolina sponsor regular charismatic prayer services, a more visible outgrowth of the movement is large independent congregations described as “full-gospel” or “charismatic.”

The movement began in the 1960s when Episcopalians in California and Roman Catholics in the Midwest experienced speaking in tongues. Some groups, drawn by New Testament examples, started communities. The Alleluia Community in Augusta, Georgia, did so. About a dozen Catholic charismatic prayer groups met across South Carolina by the mid-1990s.

Among Protestants in the 1980s, St. Giles Presbyterian and Resurrection Lutheran (Missouri Synod) in Charlotte, the independent Resurrection Lutheran Church in Greer, and Savannah’s Trinity United Methodist joined the movement. Southern Baptists strongly opposed speaking in tongues, although by 1987 approximately four hundred Southern Baptist churches stressed the “fullness of the Holy Spirit.” The movement was reinvigorated in the 1990s by the “Toronto Blessing,” a revival characterized by uncontrollable, healing laughter. In South Carolina this was taken up by prayer groups in such churches as St. Francis Episcopal in Greenville.

Independent charismatic congregations have two sources. Some were founded by leaders whose charismatic experiences were not welcomed in their original denominations. Other charismatic congregations have roots in traditional Pentecostal denominations. There the source of disaffection has often been divorce. Pentecostals have traditionally forbidden it, while charismatic congregations usually welcome single and divorced persons.

At Evangel Cathedral in Spartanburg the founding minister was Assembly of God. Staff has included Roman Catholic and Church of the Nazarene clergy. The congregation practices healing, exorcism, prophecy, and other gifts. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Evangel Fellowship of Ministers and Churches International could claim some seventy similar churches around the state and across the South, with a missionary training center in Walhalla. Mount Zion Christian Fellowship in Greenville grew out of a 1979 Baptist Bible study concerning divine healing. The rapidly growing World Redemption Outreach Center in Greenville attracts a multiracial congregation.

Hocken, P. D. “Charismatic Movement.” In The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Rev. ed. Edited by Stanley M. Burgess. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002.

Ranaghan, Kevin, and Dorothy Ranaghan. Catholic Pentecostals. Paramus, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1969.

Sherrill, John. They Speak with Other Tongues. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Chosen Books, 2004.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Charismatics
  • Author
  • Keywords Christians, tongues, communities
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date April 13, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 20, 2022
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