Marvin Buck and Larry Christenson: Methodist and Lutheran Pastors Refreshed by the Charismatic Movement

Larry Christenson

This Week in AG History — February 18, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 18 February 2021

In the late 1950s, Pentecostal revival began breaking out in places where Pentecostals least expected — mainline churches. This revival, which became known as the charismatic renewal, caused some confusion among Pentecostals, who were uncertain how to react.

Many expected these new charismatics to join Pentecostal congregations. Some did, and the Assemblies of God more than doubled in membership during the 1960s and 1970s, partly because of an influx of charismatics. However, many charismatics decided to stay put and worked to bring a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches.

The Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel featured two articles about mainline ministers who had been touched by the Holy Spirit in the charismatic renewal.

The first article, by Methodist pastor Marvin Buck, described how he had been hungering for “the evidence of God’s power” in his life and ministry. He was grieved that the services in his small church in Beach, North Dakota, “had been dead and dry for so long.” His church members did not seem the least bit interested in prayer or evangelism. He was desperate for spiritual life, yet he did not know how to find it.

Buck went to hear an Episcopalian lay minister, Mrs. Jean Stone, who spoke in a neighboring town about a revival that was bringing new life to mainline churches. Stone, a prominent early leader within the charismatic renewal, encouraged those in attendance to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Buck went to the altar at the end of the meeting, eager to have more of God. He prayed and, for the first time in his life, he “sensed the reality of the Holy Spirit.” He described his body as being “flooded with a glow of warmth,” and he received the gift of speaking in tongues.

The next night, Buck shared what had experienced with the Sunday school superintendent at his Methodist church. He said that he experienced the love, joy, and peace of God in a profound way, and she responded, “This is what we all need.”

Buck reported that many members of the Beach Methodist Church became involved in the charismatic renewal. Some experienced healings, the Bible study doubled in attendance, and prayer meetings started again.

Larry Christenson authored the second Pentecostal Evangel article by a mainline charismatic minister. Christenson, a Lutheran, had a longstanding interest in the gift of healing. He read voraciously on the subject, he taught about healing in his Lutheran parish in San Pedro, California, and many church members experienced healings.

Christenson began to wonder about other spiritual manifestations found in scripture. Were they also for today?  He came into contact with an elderly lady — “a true saint of God” — who was a former Lutheran. She had begun attending a congregation associated with a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She invited Christenson to her church, where he heard a message on the gifts of the Spirit. This piqued Christenson’s interest, and a week later he attended special services with David du Plessis at the Assembly of God in San Pedro. He went forward to the altar for prayer and was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Buck and Christenson, both baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1961, were pioneers of the charismatic renewal in mainline churches. Their testimonies were widely published, inspiring countless others to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What happened to them? Buck ended up transferring his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1965, while Christenson remained in the Lutheran church and became one of the most prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal.

Read the two articles in the Feb. 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Marvin Buck, “This is What Happened When the Holy Spirit Came to a Methodist Church” (pages 6-7, 23)

Larry Christenson, “How a Lutheran Pastor Was Baptized with the Holy Spirit” (page 25)

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Dynamics of Twentieth-Century Pentecost,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Ralph M. Riggs

• “What Pentecost Means to Me,” by James L. McQueen

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200

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