In the 1990s, a spiritual movement took place in Pensacola, Fla. that over the next five years resulted in several million people being confronted with the message of Christ through a church in the city, Brownsville Assembly of God.
Known as the Brownsville Revival, or the Pensacola Outpouring, the revival became globally known for its ability to attract many to a saving knowledge of Christ.
This month, an Olive Branch church has served as hosts to part of the Brownsville Revival. Maples Memorial United Methodist Church has had 12 banners on loan from the Florida church that were displayed during the Brownsville Revival, including nine of the original banners. The others were added during the course of the spiritual awakening.
The Brownsville Revival began when the church’s pastor felt a calling to do more with their weekend evening services.
“The pastor at the time, John Kilpatrick, began to sense an urging from God to start praying for revival,” said Maples Memorial UMC Senior Pastor Hal Hall. “He turned their Sunday night service into a prayer and communion service for about two-and-a-half years. He had these banners made for people to rally around and focus on prayer. They started praying and they didn’t lose people, they actually started gaining people.”
Hall said the revival itself started on Father’s Day in 1995 when evangelist Steve Hill was invited to be the speaker. As the number of people grew and word spread about what was going on, Hill continued to preach there for the next five years. An estimated 4.5 million people attended the services until Hill moved on to other pursuits.
After a summer revival of its own, Maples Memorial has been focusing on prayer during the month of September, with the prayer being that the movement from the summer services would continue into a “season of revival,” as Hall described it.
As the Maples Memorial church leader was dealing with how to present the prayer theme for September, it was his wife Renee who suggested they try to include the Brownsville banners as a focus in the series.
“All the hair on the back of my neck and arms stood up and we just teared up as I thought, ‘that would be awesome,’” Hall said, noting that before they were married, the couple separately had both attended services at the Brownsville Revival.
Hall said the couple, during a summer vacation, had returned to the Brownsville Assembly of God for a morning service, met and made a connection with the current senior pastor.
He later emailed the Brownsville pastor about using the banners, with the response of “we’ve never lent them out before and when would you need them.”
The banners have been used each week during services and are displayed in the sanctuary at Maples Memorial UMC.
Part of the significance of having the banners, Hall said, is how it highlights the power of prayer.
“Those banners are just soaked in prayer with the power and presence of God,” said Hall. “It’s not that the banners have magical powers or are objects of worship, but the historical significance of having them is a powerful thing. It would be similar to having the actual 95 Theses that Martin Luther hung on the door when the Reformation began.”
Over the past couple of weeks, six of the banners have been brought in each week during the Sunday service and prayers were said over each of the themes, ranging from Spiritual Warfare, Revival, Souls, Family, Our Country, Healing, Pastors, Schools, Ministries, and The Peace of Jerusalem, Children and Catastrophic Events. All were made by Brownsville church member Jennifer Colley.
“I hope the takeaway from this is that people see the power of prayer and the historical significance that every movement, awakening, revival all began with a sense of unhappiness or dissatisfaction that caused people to rise up and pray,” said Hall. “There was no particular time limit on how long they prayed, but after prayer, God shows up with His power and presence.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.