Raise the Roof of our church and
Celebrate Our Oneness!
A New Thought Revival
is coming to Unity North Atlanta!
March 17, 2012 ~ 7:00 pm
$30 adult / $15 under 18 ~ $35 at the door
We will be joined by the UNA Choir, Faith Rivera, Ryan Almario’s band The Last 5 Standing, the Emerson Drummers, Don Discenza, Rev. Carole O’Connell and very special guest
Bishop Carlton Pearson
Bishop Carlton Pearson spent most of his life as an Evangelical Minister with a congregation of over 5,000. But in his studies he began to question the concept of Hell as he had preached it. Bishop Pearson recognized that, just as heaven is lived here on earth, so is hell. The acknowledgement of this truth cost him his congregation and his standing as “next in line” to Oral Roberts.
More recently, he has felt a passion to proclaim the “Gospel of Inclusion” and has written a widely acclaimed book by that name, published by Simon and Schuster. The book emphasizes multi-cultural dialogue and common respect for all faith disciplines. It confronts the Christian church’s exclusivism as being inconsistent, in spirit with the teachings of Jesus and that it is more important what Jesus said about God than what the church says about Jesus.
The ministry and message of Carlton Pearson is a commitment to reconciling our differences, celebrating our diversity, and acknowledging our oneness in the world and in worship.
Online ticket sales are now closed. You may still get tickets at the door ($35 adults, $15 kids). Tickets purchased online previously may be picked up at will call the evening of the revival.
Watch Bishop Pearson’s Story on Dateline
The rest of the Dateline interview . . .
Pearson: I didn’t think it would be anything like it was.
Carlton Pearson, Pentecostal bishop and preaching phenomenon, had experienced what he believed was a genuine revelation. In one crucial way, he now believed, the church had in all wrong when it warned of hell as a place of punishment after death. So he began to preach that all people will eventually be reunited with God.
Carlton Pearson: So is it really authentically Biblical to believe in the hell we’ve been taught?
But just who did he think he was? Hell has been a crucial fixture for Bible-believing Christians for millennia.
Ted Haggard, who happens to be an old school friend of Carlton’s, is also one of the most influential Christians in America. And Ted Haggard made it crystal clear: Carlton Pearson’s new idea about hell was not right at all.
Ted Haggard: I think Carlton’s a good man. He’s made a horrible mistake, a grievous mistake.
Does hell exist? You bet it does…
Haggard: Oh, yeah, its a place.
Morrison: An actual physical place?
Haggard: It’s a physical place, yeah. It’s not just a state of being. The scripture’s perfectly clear about judgment.
As Carlton preached, the word got around. His mentor, his father figure, Oral Roberts was, by all accounts, Ted Haggard’s included, crushed…
Haggard: Oral used to love him.
Haggard: I’m sure Oral still does..
And it was more in sorrow than in anger that the old evangelist sent his favorite student a long letter of rebuttal.
“This doctrine is as dangerous as any I’ve come in contact with in 66 years of ministry,” wrote Roberts. “Give it up, I pray, I beseech, I plead.”
Haggard: Oral tried to get him to change his position. And many others have tried to get him to change his position on this subject.
But it was the old man’s censure that so cut deep.
Pearson: I’m bothered by the fact that he doesn’t understand what I’m saying and I’m a disappointment to him. I love him. (he cries)
And then, it was an avalanche.
His great army of friends and colleagues departed.
The massive congregations melted away. Within a few months, the 6,000 who had crowded the pews on a Sunday had shrunk to a cold and lonely few hundred. Of course, collections dried up, too.
He couldn’t meet the payroll. The Azusa conference dwindled away too. The big Gospel singers, who’d once clamored to perform on Carlton’s stage, now shunned it. In 2004, the conference sputtered its last and died.
Haggard: It’s no different than you running and show and people don’t like it and people don’t believe it, and so they watch another show. It’s the market.
Carlton Pearson simply “disappeared.” especially after he was declared to be a heretic.
Pearson: It’s death. It’s humiliating. It’s—hell. Well, yes. And one I helped create. (Chuckle) It’s hell.
And then, though it hardly seemed possible, things got worse. The church mortgage couldn’t be paid. And this past Christmas season, on the very last night of the old year, Carlton led his final service at the church he had worked so hard to build. The next day, he lost the building. Dateline was with him during his first time back.
Pearson: I had to ask permission to come in.
It was one day, when things were at their bleakest, Carlton got a phone call. It was an invitation to be guest speaker at a small church in San Francisco at a place full of outcasts: lesbian pastor, a Church of gays, AIDS patients, abused women.
Morrison: The rejected of the world?
Pearson: Yeah. The people who had experienced what I was experiencing. They were pros at it. Gays are pros at being rejected.
Carlton explained to them his new ideas about hell, his notion that heaven was waiting for everybody— even them. And when he was done, the minister invited him to sit down, take off his shoes, and she got out a bowl of water…
Pearson: And she knelt. Now I was hurting, man. Everybody I knew had thrown me away. And they were singing and weeping and washing my feet. Talk about a holy moment. The room began to spin. And everybody in there suddenly became an angel. Everybody was Jesus. It was so powerful. These people have been so hurt and so broken and so rejected and so bruised, they just healed me. They literally healed me.
Strange how fortune can change when things seem darkest. It was back in Tulsa where a second invitation came along.
One was from the old Episcopal Church downtown. No one was using the sanctuary Sunday afternoons. Did those few people who had stuck with Carlton want to worship there?
And by the time we met Carlton Pearson, the broken remnant of his old church that gathered in this borrowed splendor had begun to grow.
And now, on any given Sunday afternoon, the old stained glass windows rattle with the kind of noise only a crowded church of Pentecostals can make. It’s no where near what it was before—it’s hundreds instead of thousands, but Carlton says he’s never been happier.
And the boy who was born to preach belts out a message about hell— which is, according to millions of well-meaning, Bible-believing Christians, dangerous and illegitimate—but it’s also given the man who lost it all… a reason to believe.