Charismatic Renewal Comes To Reba

In 1971 Reba members took the then radical step of approving Virgil Vogt’s sense of leading that he should quit his job with the state mental health system and be available full-time for pastoring and other leadership at Reba. Some months later he returned from a charismatic renewal conference convinced that Reba needed to hear the teaching of Rev. Graham Pulkingham, rector of Church of the
Redeemer in Houston, Texas. Others from Reba who talked with Pulkingham confirmed the proposal.

Graham’s powerful teachings and direct prophetic words to the gathered Reba community had a transforming effect. Many individuals experienced a season of spiritual healing and renewal. Personal devotions and corporate worship became much more free and expressive. Speaking in tongues and words of prophecy broke forth in our midst. A new willingness to give testimonies and talk “evangelistic” talk appeared. The variety of gifts in the body was strongly affirmed, as was the role of designated leadership. The ministry households at Graham’s Church of the Redeemer in Texas were a powerful model of fruitful life together; several Reba households formed. Certain old-timers found the changes to be too much and moved on.

The heightened spirituality and intensification of life and leadership roles during the 1970s brought blessing to many, but they also revealed the very real dangers of grandiosity and group conformity. Certain households and pastoral relationships became authoritarian and coercive. At one point it seemed that almost everyone at Reba was living in one of the twelve households. The excesses and violations which occurred were a reflection of several elements: faith that almost anything was possible for those who believed; overcrowded living arrangements; lack of wisdom about the need of persons and families for space and varied accountability arrangements; unduly strong leadership roles; and much