The year was 1915. It could hardly have been a less promising time — the full horrors of the First World War were being realised. But in Monaghan, Ireland, something exciting was happening, a new fellowship of Christians was springing up.
A young Christian from Maesteg in South Wales, called George Jeffreys, was welcomed into the area and here Elim began, as a small group called the ‘Elim Evangelistic Band.’ The band preached, founded churches, spreading first through the north of Ireland and then to England in the Essex area and London.
Things were moving steadily, but not spectacularly, when suddenly God answered the prayers of those early pioneers in a big way. Miraculous healings became almost commonplace instead of occasional, and the number of people becoming Christians exploded. The meetings hit the headlines, and from 1924 to 1934 Principal George Jeffreys (as he became known) and his team became household names as they toured the country.
When, for instance, George Jeffreys went to Cardiff, there were only a dozen people in his first meeting in a large public hall. But two were healed of cancer, the news spread, and from then on it was difficult to control the crowds who wanted to get into the hall! Cardiff City Temple, the Elim church that resulted from that campaign, is still a flourishing Elim church today.
So why did this happen? Well, the Elim leaders held the same beliefs as other Christians, but with one important difference. They believed that God’s promises in the Bible about the Holy Spirit and healing were for Christians today. In other words, miracles didn’t stop after the Bible was written. The Elim pioneers had rediscovered God’s power, promised in the Bible to all who would completely commit their lives to following Jesus. It was a ‘re-discovery’, not a discovery, because it was nothing new. God had worked in power through different Christians throughout the centuries, right back to the dramatic miracles of the early Church so frequently mentioned in the Bible.
Such ‘Pentecostal’ beliefs raised a lot of opposition from some traditional church leaders at the time, because miracles are always controversial. But the pioneers were just getting back to what Jesus had taught in the first place – after all, Jesus himself healed many people and had promised the Holy Spirit to his followers.
The basic teaching of Elim, which was publicised under the heading ‘The Foursquare Gospel’, highlighted this rediscovery: it stated that Jesus is the Saviour, the Healer, the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit and the Coming King.
These doctrines were firmly ‘orthodox’ – shared in common with the historic Protestant denominations like the Anglican Church, Methodists, Baptists, etc, who all believe in ‘the Trinity’ – God in three persons: Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Sprit. This core belief is totally rejected by the so-called ‘Christian’ cults – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.
Elim took God at his Word and so God honoured that by delivering on his promises in the Bible. And He is still doing the same today!
These beliefs have now been accepted by many within the traditional churches, and are shared with many new church groups that have sprung up in the last 40 years – called ‘charismatic’ churches or simply new churches.
But the vision wasn’t confined to this country or region. Today, Elim comprises over 550 churches in the UK and Ireland, but we are also linked to over 9,000 Elim churches in other countries. Elim is also in co-operative fellowship with thousands of Pentecostal churches around the world, and has missions work in over 40 countries.
The governing body of Elim is the annual conference. Over 2,000 people gather for a week of worship, teaching and fellowship, and time is set aside for ministers and delegates to discuss matters relating to Elim.
Although Jeffreys was an outstanding evangelist and church planter, Elim grew rapidly thanks to a move of God characterised by miraculous healings and an explosion in the number of people becoming Christians.
This heritage has guided Elim for over a century now, with our leaders and churches consistently seeking to:
• Reach up to God in worship
• Reach out to the community in service
• Share the difference that Jesus Christ makes to lives
• Challenge the trend towards declining church attendance
Elim in 2015 celebrated its Centenary. The Elim Movement now, in many ways, looks a lot different from when it first began yet still holds on to it’s fundamental truths and it’s sole purpose of advancing the Kingdom of Christ on Earth.