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Rev. Terry Fullam Episcopal Charismatic Figure Dies

Rev. Terry Fullam Episcopal Charismatic Figure Dies

By David W. Virtue DD
March 15, 2014

One of the most important figures of the Charismatic Movement of the late Twentieth Century has died. The Rev. Terry Fullam was the former rector of St. Paul's Church, Darien, Connecticut where he served for 17 years, ministering renewal to clergy and laity. He was 83.

The Charismatic movement in The Episcopal Church began with the Rev. Dennis Bennett's experience of the Holy Spirit while he was rector of St. Mark's Church in Van Nuys, California. In 1960 the second most important figure in the late Twentieth Century was unquestionably Terry Fullam.

In an interview I conducted with Fullam in 2004, he said Dennis Bennett opened him up to the work of the Holy Spirit in a more personal way and that was experientially wonderful. "I had been a believer, but through his ministry, I found a deeper, richer life. The other person was my mother. She was the world's finest Bible teacher, and it was through her ministry that I was grounded in Holy Scripture."

For over 30 years he influenced a whole generation of Episcopalians. In 1972, he accepted a call to become rector of St. Paul's parish in Darien, CT. Under his leadership, St. Paul's became one of the most active and fastest growing churches in the United States. At St Paul's Fullam placed special emphasis on renewal for clergy and laity through Charismatic renewal.

His reputation as a dynamic renewal leader resulted in his receiving and accepting numerous invitations to teach around the nation and the world.

In 1980, author Bob Slosser wrote a book about Fullam and the St. Paul's parish ministry titled Miracle in Darien. The book was reprinted and revised in 1997 and is recognized today as a leading text on church renewal.

Fullam was born in Montpelier, Vermont, to Rex Fullam and Mary Fullam (nee: Mary Frances Tewsksbury). After graduating from high school in Barre, VT, in 1948, he began his college studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. During his time there, he was also choirmaster at a nearby Methodist church, whose pastor gave Fullam a copy of the book Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Gilchrist Lawson. Fullam credits the book with helping him to change the direction of his life. He withdrew from Eastman and enrolled at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy. He later did graduate work at both Harvard University and Boston University, subsequently obtaining a Master of Arts in philosophy from Harvard in 1955.

For the next 16 years, Fullam held various teaching positions in a number of universities and colleges. He concluded his academic career as a professor at Barrington College in 1972.

Fullam never attended seminary, but he was ordained in 1967 as an Episcopal priest by the Bishop of Rhode Island and was appointed Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut in 1972.

In 1984, Fullam received a Doctorate of Divinity from Barrington College. In 1990, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Gordon College.

In 1989, Fullam resigned his position as rector at St. Paul's to allow him to better focus on ministering around the world. He conducted missions in more than 25 countries, including more than 50 travel and teaching missions to Israel and the Middle East. In 1998, Fullam suffered a stroke and had to discontinue his teaching missions.

He wrote seven books: Living the Lord's Prayer (Ballantine Books); Fit for God's Presence (Chosen Books); Facets of Faith (Episcopal Radio/TV Foundation); Riding the Wind - Your Life in the Holy Spirit (Creation House); How to Walk with God (Thomas Nelson); Thirsting - A Study on the Presence of God (Thomas Nelson); and Your Body God's Temple (Chosen Books). He also authored an audio teaching library, "Life on Wings", which contains more than 750 titles.

Alongside that Charismatic renewal, Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church, which had long been a small and beleaguered minority, began to find new life and strength, along with a sense of their own identity. They were aided in their self-discovery by Evangelicals from the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. There were organizations dedicated to promoting renewal in the Episcopal Church, but there were numerous, seemingly spontaneous examples of spiritual renewal popping up all over the Church as well. Several entire dioceses began to take on the character of the renewal movement. Those who had been touched by the Charismatic renewal and the Evangelical resurgence came to grips with the realization that no existing Episcopal seminary was capable of training biblically faithful, Spirit-filled clergy to serve and lead parishes. This realization led to the founding of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.

Over time, as the Episcopal Church became polarized over faith and morals, those affected by spiritual renewal and those being led in the direction of theological heterodoxy began to diverge. In large part, this divergence occurred as theological liberals in the Episcopal Church became even more radical and began to act in ways contrary to the biblical and historic faith and order of the Church. The Rt. Rev. Thad Barnum chronicles the liberal trajectory of the Episcopal Church and the orthodox response in his marvelous book, Never Silent.

The Rev. Christopher Leighton current rector of St. Paul's, Darien said Fullam was a prince and a great man.

"St. Paul's was his only rectorship, and he served here from 1972 to 1989. Equally important was his service to other churches and denominations. He led the way in renewal, which meant personal evangelism of those in the church, a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, and a restructuring of parishes to go forward with Jesus Christ as the Head of His Church. He loved to preach and teach the Scriptures, and he did so with conviction and clarity. My wife Janet and I would come here in the '70s and '80s to see what the Lord was doing in evangelism, lay leadership, worship, and koinonia - fellowship. In those days, teams from St. Paul's came to us and to so many others to initiate changes that would lead to lasting fruit to the Father's glory.

"We are saddened by the death of this great leader for Christ. We remember that God moved mightily in him and through him and those who served with him. We pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit upon his family and friends and the many who were touched through his ministry. Along with our sadness, we have a much greater joy: Terry has fought the good fight, he has won the victory, and he is now with his Lord Jesus Christ."

On hearing of his death, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Brewer (Central Florida) a charismatic evangelical wrote, "Terry Fullam had a profound impact on a generation of Episcopalians as a widely travelled and deeply respected teacher of the Scriptures, and also as an ambassador at large for charismatic renewal. In the 1970's and '80's literally thousands of people made their way to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Darien Connecticut where he served as Rector, hungry to discover the power of the Holy Spirit which they so eagerly proclaimed and lived."

Former Dean of Nashotah House, the Rev. Dr. Robert Munday wrote, "Terry Fullam was, in many ways, the personification of the renewal movement in the Episcopal Church. Through his prophetic leadership and powerful biblical teaching, he impacted countless thousands in the Episcopal Church and beyond."

Fullam was a supporter of VOL. He grew deeply disillusioned at the downward moral and theological spiral of the Episcopal Church.

I asked if he was still a believer in the local church as the placed of spiritual growth and nurture, Fullam replied, "Yes, I believe in the local church warts and all. The tragedy is that thousands of Episcopal churches are not offering a real closer walk with Christ with sound Bible teaching. A Christian without a church is a dying Christian."

During the 2004 interview, I asked him what he thought were the key themes of his ministry. He replied, "The transforming work of the Holy Spirit in a persons' life, when believers learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit instead of fighting the Spirit. It takes a while after conversion before you learn to follow the urgings and voice of the Holy Spirit.

Asked at the time if he thought the Episcopal Church was finished as a major Christian denomination in America, he replied, "I think ECUSA is finished."

Asked on whom he put the blame, he replied, "I blame the seminaries, because they do not give proper instruction. The process has been a gradual breakdown but it has accelerated over time, and so I don't believe The Episcopal Church can be reclaimed. I would like to be proven wrong, but I see little sign of hope. I think Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Nashotah House hold out the best hope for any kind of renewal if there is going to be one."

Details of his burial were not available at this time of writing.

UPDATE: VOL has learned that the funeral for Terry will be held on Sunday April 13th (Palm Sunday) at 5:00 pm. at Tomoka Christian Church, Ormond Beach, FL.

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