History and Origins
We have our origins in the charismatic renewal in the United States in the late 1960s. At several universities a network of students and others began to earnestly seek God and attempt to form Christian community. They were “baptized in the Holy Spirit,” to use the New Testament term – they began to experience the working of God’s Spirit, promised by Christ to his disciples.
They experienced a deeper personal relationship with Christ, an inner strength to conduct their daily lives in an upright way, and a new confidence in speaking to others about Christ.
As word spread and people prayed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, charismatic prayer groups sprang up in many places in the USA and soon in many countries around the world.
In the midst of wildfire growth, affecting the lives of tens of thousands, some people came to a growing awareness that for long-lasting Christian renewal, individuals needed to have committed relationships with one another. Inspired by the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles, some prayer groups formed themselves into covenant communities – a new form of community adapted to modern circumstances.
The charismatic renewal and the communities movement flourished during the 1970s, with vibrant communities springing up in the United States, the Philippines, Lebanon, the South Pacific, Europe, and Latin America.
During the 1970s there were also attempts by the communities to link together for mutual support, with little lasting success. But in 1982, several communities with a similar vision joined together to form the Sword of the Spirit. Their desire was to be an international “community of communities,” a network of communities with a common mission and way of life. In the years since, we have grown in our understanding – sometimes through trial and error and disagreement – of how to live out the call to Christian community both locally and as an international community of communities.
From the beginning we experienced a call from God to live as a witness to Christian unity as an ecumenical community. Some of our member communities are ecumenical local communities, and we all share the call to ecumenism in our international community life.
Today, the Sword of the Spirit has grown to more than 200 communities and movements in 28 countries – with a unity based on common teaching, mission, structure, and way of life.
For more on the History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, click here.