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Renewing the Body of Christ: Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) USA and Transnational Charismatic Anglicanism, 1978–1998

  • JOHN MAIDEN (a1)

Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) was formed in the late 1970s as an international organization for the cultivation of charismatic renewal amongst leaderships within the global Anglican Communion. This article explores the ethos and activities of its American national body. It argues that its short term, cross-cultural missions increasingly displayed mutuality and long-term partnership rather than one-directional American influence, and thus reflected a developing shift in the understanding and practice of global mission in the late twentieth century. The organiztion shaped awareness of the global Church amongst some US Episcopalians and constructed an influential transnational network within charismatic Anglicanism. Furthermore, SOMA's network was one context for the emergence of global North–South conservative solidarity in the politics of the Anglican Communion.

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1 SOMA USA minutes, 29–30 April 1985, SOMA USA archive, Fort Worth, Texas (hereafter SOMA USA archive).

2 SOMA International: Consolidated List of Missions and Other Visits by the SOMA National Bodies (1994). During the same period, for example, around 55 missions and visits were organized by SOMA UK, 42 by SOMA Australasia, and 11 each by SOMA Canada and SOMA Ireland.

3 See discussion in Au Connie Ho Yan, Grassroots Unity in the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011), 14 .

4 Stanley Brian, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott (Nottingham: InterVarity Press, 2013), 200 .

5 Fullam's parish became known as a model for charismatic renewal following the publication of Slosser's Bob Miracle in Darien (Plainfield NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1979).

6 On the background and organization of AICSR see Harper Michael, “Introduction,” in A New Canterbury Tale: The Reports of the Anglican International Conference on Spiritual Renewal Held at Canterbury, July 1978 (Bramcote: Grove, 1978), 34 ; Harper, Charismatic Crisis: The Charismatic Renewal: Past, Present and Future (1980).

7 List of leaders attending AICSR, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive, Donald Gee Centre, Mattersey Hall, Doncaster (hereafter Fountain Trust archive).

8 Michael Harper to Donald Coggan, 11 April 1977, Coggan Papers, Lambeth Palace Library, London, f. 292.

9 See Harper, “Introduction,” 3.

10 “Why Lambeth 1978 Will Be Different,” Yes, July–Sept. 1978, pp. 4–5. This was the magazine of the Church Missionary Society.

11 Coomes Anne, The Authorised Biography of Festo Kivengere (Eastbourne: Monarch, 1990), 387 .

12 Harper, “Introduction,” 7–8.

13 See deliberations in minutes of early committee meetings between Nov. 1978 and June 1979, SOMA file, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive.

14 “SOMA: The Sharing of Ministries Abroad,” Acts 29, Summer 1980, 10. Acts 29 was a publication of the Episcopal Charismatic Fellowship.

15 Anglican Consultative Council, quoted in Presler Titus, “The History of Mission in the Anglican Communion,” in Markham Ian S., Hawkins J. Barney IV, Terry Justyn and Steffensen Leslie Nunez, eds., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anglican Communion (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 1532, 28.

16 Michael Harper, “The SOMA vision,” 30 June 1983, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive.

17 See Michael Harper to David Pytches, 8 Nov. 1983, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive.

18 Quoted in Harper Jeanne, Visited by God: The Story of Michael Harper's 48 Year-Long Ministry (Cambridge: Aquila, 2013), 51 . See also Tammie M. Harvey, “Gresford Chitemo (1927–2009),” Online Dictionary of African Christian Biography; Chitemo Gresford, The Rt. Rev. Gresford Chitemo, Bishop of the Diocese of Morogoro in Tanzania: My Short History (Morogoro: Anglican Church of Tanzania: 1986).

19 SOMA pan-Africa conference in Nairobi: progress report, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive; “Africa SOMA Conference Being Planned,” Acts 29, Nov.–Dec. 1982, 13.

20 Michael Harper to James Haigh-Ferguson, 13 Nov. 1983, Box 7, Fountain Trust archive.

21 SOMA UK had been set up in 1980. SOMA Canada and SOMA Pacific (SOMA Australasia from 1988) were established in 1986; SOMA Ireland (Colann Ministries) in 1991); SOMA Southern Africa in 1992; SOMA New Zealand in 1994 (SOMA Australasia had become SOMA Australia in 1991 in readiness).

22 SOMA meeting minutes, 29–30 April 1985, SOMA USA archive.

23 “New Council for Mission forms in St. Louis, Will Promote Cooperation,” Episcopal News Service, 21 June 1990, no. 90158.

24 On Church of the Apostles see “An update … Church of the Apostles, Fairfax, VA,” Acts 29, Summer 1982, 1, 3; Tom Beckwith, “Poised for Greatness,” Acts 29, Sept.–Oct. 1993, 12–15.

25 National Board meeting minutes, 18 Jan. 1993, SOMA USA archive.

26 Acts 29: Where We Are NOW in the Continuing Acts of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal Charismatic Fellowship, 1973), 4 .

27 Bruner Jason, “Divided We Stand: North American Evangelicals and the Crisis in the Anglican Communion,” Journal of Anglican Studies, 8, 1 (2010), 101–25, 107.

28 Hassett Miranda K., Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 34 .

29 Leighton Janet, Lift High the Cross: A History of the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1995), 87 . The Rev. Dennis Bennett, the High Church pioneer of Episcopalian charismatic renewal, in 1986 appeared concerned at the growing influence of evangelicalism within the renewal movement; see his letter in Acts 29, 4, 1 (1986), 11 .

30 For example, see Joan R. McKean, “Bishop Pytches and Team to Return,” Acts 29, March 1988, 7; Michael Green, “The Thump of the Avocado,” Acts 29, Sept. 1981, 1, 6; Watson David, “Called and Committed,” Acts 29, 1, 3 (1983), 510, 14; International Renewal Conference set for LA in ’85,” Acts 29, 3, 1 (1985), 5 . Pytches and Tay both became involved in the leadership of SOMA.

31 Hassett, 35.

32 Some explicitly Anglo-Catholic parishes have been, and continue to be, involved in SOMA USA. See “SOMA: The New Breed of Missionaries,” Sharing USA, Winter 1988–89, 1. It follows that not all those individuals discussed in this article necessarily identified, at least primarily, as “evangelical.”

33 Linda Kaufman, “Waiting on God,” Sojourners, July 2013, available at, accessed 26 Jan. 2015.

34 Beckwith, “Poised for Greatness”; David Harper, “Three Streams, One River: A Statement of Identity, a Model for our Life” (May 2003), at, accessed 26 Jan. 2015.

35 Thomas Edwina, “SOMA: Sharing Renewal Overseas,” in Stockdale Sharon J., ed., New Wineskins for Global Mission (Pasadena CA: William Carey Library, 1996), 406–12, 407.

36 See Sharing USA, 7/ 2 (1992), 1 .

37 Rev. Brian Cox, “SOMA: An Apostolic Mission,” Acts 29, July 1988, 17.

38 SOMA: A Vision of Sharing,” Acts 29, 3/5 (1985), 35 .

39 Thomas, 410.

40 “SOMA: The New Breed of Missionaries.”

41 “1988 SOMA Missionaries,” Sharing USA, Fall 1989, 2.

42 Meet Two Ordinary People…and How God Is Changing Them,” Sharing USA, 7, 2, (1992), 12 ; “SOMA: The New Breed of Missionaries.”

43 Thomas, 408.

44 Richard Hines interview.

45 Thomas, 407.

46 Richard Hines interview.

47 Province IX is a province of ECUSA made up of various dioceses in the Caribbean and Latin America.

48 Milmine Douglas, The History of Anglicanism in Latin America (Tunbridge Wells: South American Missionary Society, 1994), 104 .

49 Richard Hines interview.

50 “SOMA USA plunges into Africa,” Sharing USA, Fall 1989, 2.

51 See SOMA International: Consolidated List of Missions and Other Visits.

52 See John and Valerie Lowe, The Role of SOMA in Anglican Renewal (1992). The authors were administrators for SOMA International from 1986 to 1991.

53 On the Diocese of Argentina see Judson Sheldon F., “Southern Cone,” in Okorocha Cyril C., ed., The Cutting Edge of Mission: A Report of the Mid-point Review of the Decade of Evangelism (London: Anglican Community Publications, 1996), 119–20; list of leaders attending AICSR.

54 Richard Hines, “A SOMA Mission to the Ends of the Earth” (1989), SOMA USA archive; “Church Planting in Argentina,” Sharing USA, Spring 1989, 1.

55 Edwina Thomas interview.

56 Edwina Thomas, report on Latin American mission, March–April 1992, SOMA USA archive.

57 Interviews with Edwina Thomas and Richard Hines. Team members were often selected according to particular “gifts” or specialisms required; see Edwina Thomas, “Effective Training for Short-Term Missions,” in Stockdale, New Wineskins for Global Mission, 197–206, 198–99.

58 Edwina Thomas interview.

59 Richard Hines and Edwina Thomas interview.

60 Ibid., 407.

61 “Mission to Argentina and Uruguay,” Sharing USA, Summer 1988, 1.

62 Thomas, “SOMA: Sharing Renewal Overseas,” 410–11.

63 Edwina Thomas, status report and operations plan for Sharing of Ministries Abroad USA, 24–26 January 1994, SOMA USA archive; “Fruit of Recent SOMA/USA Missions,” Sharing USA, Fall 1988, 3; “Storm Harvey in Ecuador,” Sharing USA, Spring 1988, 1.

64 By the 1980s the Diocese of Ecuador was already widely recognized for the effective leadership of Cáceres. The church-growth principles of Roland Allen had been applied to plant flexible indigenous churches, growing between 1971 and 1988 from just 394 members to 240 congregations with 20,000 members and 48 clergy. See Long Charles H. and Rowthorn Anne, “The legacy of Roland Allen” in Francis James M. M. and Francis Leslie J., Tentmaking: Perspectives on Self-Supporting Ministry (Leominster: Gracewing, 1998), 362 .

65 David Harper, report on the ninth Ecuador mission, June 1989, SOMA USA archive.

66 Thomas, “Effective Training for Short-Term Missions,” 198–99.

67 Edwina Thomas interview.

68 David Harper, SOMA USA: report on the ninth Ecuador mission, 5–16 June 1989, SOMA USA archive.

69 Kew Richard and Okorocha Cyril, Vision Bearers: Dynamic Evangelism in the 21st Century (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1996), 9192 .

70 Edwina Thomas interview.

71 David Harper interview; Edwina Thomas interview.

72 See, for example, Edwina Thomas, “Reflections on a SOMA Mission to East Africa,” Acts 29, July 1987, 10–11.

73 Thomas, “Sharing renewal overseas,” 410.

74 “SOMA: The New Breed of Missionaries,” 1.

75 “Fruit of Recent SOMA/USA Missions,” Sharing USA, Fall 1988, 3.

76 Thomas, “Reflections on a SOMA Mission to East Africa,” 11.

77 “Third World Ministry for SOMA Teams,” n.d., material provided by Mrs Jeanne Harper, reproduced with permission.

78 Edwina Thomas, SOMA mission report, SOMA USA archive.

79 For the example of a Nigerian priest concerned about such practices see Ezeigwe Augustine C., “The Challenge of Evangelism in Nigeria,” Acts 29, 22 (1984), 68 (reprinted from a SOMA newsletter). This article described how “cultural revival has called for a re-drawing of the battle lines in the war with syncretism.”

80 Edwina Thomas interview.

81 “Fruit of Recent SOMA/USA Missions,” 3. Brian Cox, SOMA USA's first national director, went on to work extensively in the field of faith-based conflict resolution after leaving SOMA.

82 Brewin Don, It Will Emerge … the Joys and Heartaches of over 15 Years of Short-Term Mission, 2nd rev. edn (, 2014), chapter 9.

83 Richard Hines interview.

84 “A Way Ahead for SOMA,” 1993, SOMA USA archive. Furthermore, in 1993 a SOMA national body was formed in Southern Africa.

85 Edwina Thomas, report on a Latin American mission, SOMA USA archive.

86 Interview with Richard Hines.

87 On the Province of Uganda see Kew and Okorocha, Vision Bearers, 90–92; Milestones in Mission,” Sharing, 20, 1 (2013), 4 .

88 God on the Move in Brazil,” Sharing, 14, 2 (1999), 2 .

89 Brazil: Church Replicates SOMA's Ministry,” Sharing, 9/1 (1994), 3 .

90 Advanced Course in ‘Life in the Spirit’” (letter from the Rev. Miguel Uchoa), Sharing USA, 9/1 (1994), 1 .

91 Edwina Thomas, “SOMA Has Changed Our Church,” Sharing USA, Summer 1991, 1–2.

92 Edwina Thomas interview.

93 “First SOMA Mission to the USA,” Sharing, Autumn 1996, 1.

94 See, for example, “Operation Breakthrough,” Sharing USA, Summer 1992, 3.

95 Quoted in Nan Cobbey, “Convention Learns Mission Works Both Ways,” Episcopal Life selections, at, accessed 10 Nov. 2015.

96 “Canterbury ’88 draws participants from 67 nations,” Sharing, Summer 1988, 1.

97 Quoted in Brian Cox, “The Message of Canterbury ’88,” Sharing, Summer 1988, 3.

98 On the politics of sexuality see, for example, Brittain Christopher Craig and McKinnon Andrew, “Homosexuality and the Construction of ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’: The Symbolic Politics of the Anglican Communion,” Sociology of Religion, 72, 3 (2011), 351–73.

99 Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, 59.

100 “The Dallas Statement” (1997), at, accessed Aug. 2015.

101 The Very Rev. Edward S. Little II, “Backward?”, The Living Church, 15 June 1997, 4–5.

102 David Harper interview.

103 The programme for the conference was wide-ranging, covering various issues concerning mission and ministry. Furthermore, not all those present, or otherwise linked with SOMA or ARM, were necessarily of the same opinion on issues of sexuality.

104 Andrew Carey, “African Christians? They're Just One Step Up from Witchcraft: What Bishop Spong Had to Say about His Fellow Christians’, Church of England Newspaper, 10 July 1998, 13. For Spong's response to the article see David Skidmore, “Bishop Spong Apologies to Africans,” 28 July 1998, at, accessed 17 Aug. 2016.

105 See report in “The Canterbury ’98 Conferences,” Sharing: The Newsletter of SOMA UK, Oct. 1998. See also a discussion in Hassett, 73.

106 Hassett, 10.

107 Hassett, 34, also notes the importance of preexisting ties between renewal-minded Anglicans in the United States and Uganda. Another network whose significance might be examined in this respect is the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC), formed in the 1960s, which also organized a pre-Lambeth meeting for bishops in 1998 which reportedly provided “an opportunity for evangelicals to confer on key Lambeth agenda items.” See “Pre-Lambeth meeting for Evangelical Bishops,” Church of England Newspaper, 8 May 1998, 3. On the history of EFAC-USA see Cook Kimball, “The Revival of the Episcopal Church, 1961–1999: A History of EFAC-USA,” Evangelical Episcopal Journal, Sept. 1999, 7–11. On the significance of long-term links between Anglican evangelicals in the US and the global South see also Jason Bruner, “Divided We Stand.”

108 Edwina Thomas, “Director's Corner’, Sharing USA, Sept. 1998.”

109 Edwina Thomas, “What Has Changed?”, Sharing USA, Fall 2003, 4.

110 Douglas Ian T., ‘W(h)ither the National Church – Revisited: Changing Mission Structures of the Episcopal Church,” in Varghese Winnie, ed., What We Shall Become: The Future and Structure of the Episcopal Church (New York: Church Publishing, 2013), 2946 . See also Presler Titus, “The Impact of the Sexuality Controversy on Mission: The Case of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 33/ 1 (2009), 1118 .

111 Interview with the Right Revd John Guernsey, 21 Sept 2007, at, accessed 11 Nov. 2015.

112 Zink Jesse, “‘Anglocostalism’ in Nigeria: Neo-Pentecostalism and Obstacles to Anglican Unity,” Journal of Anglican Studies, 10, 2 (2012), 231–50.

113 See Jenkins Philip, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

114 Priest Robert J. and Howell Brian M., “Introduction: Theme Issue on Short-Term Missions,” Missiology: An International Review, 41, 2 (2013), 124–29, 126. The authors summarize articles by Edwin Zehner, Ellen Moodie and B. Hunter Farell in the same issue.

115 Bakker Janel K., Sister Churches: American Congregations and Their Partners Abroad (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 4 .

116 Bakker, 88, refers to one example.

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