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Rev. Dennis J. Bennett Papers: Biography

Life Timeline

   Reverend Dennis Bennett (1917-1991) was born in England on October 28, 1917, the son of a Congregational minister. In 1949, he was ordained into the Congregational church, but in 1952 became ordained as an Episcopal priest. He was "prominently identified with the charismatic renewal from the beginning. The movement is usually dated from the Sunday morning in 1959 when Bennett announced to his congregation in Van Nuys, California, that he had been baptized with the Holy Spirit and had spoken in tongues. As a result, a small opposition group in the congregation challenged him to cease what later came to be called charismatic experiences. He voluntarily resigned from his pastorate, feeling that he did not understand to defend his position. In 1960, he accepted an invitation to become vicar of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington. Within six years, the little mission church had become a strong parish. For a decade, it was a major center from which word of baptism with the Holy Spirit would spread worldwide, especially in the mainline denominations. Thousands of people experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a result of hearing Bennett's testimony."


   Bennett's first wife, Elberta, died in 1963. He married Rita Marie Reed of Tampa, Florida, in 1966. Two years after their marriage, Rita and Dennis Bennett formed the Christian Renewal Association to minister worldwide and trans-denominationally in evangelization, healing, and church renewal. "In 1981, he resigned as rector of St. Luke's to pursue a ministry of writing, traveling and speaking, and conducting seminars and conferences with his wife." (Burgess, Stanley M and Gary B. McGee. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, s.v. "Bennett, Dennis Joseph, and Rita." Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1988.)  He passed away in 1991. Rita donated her late husband's archives to Regent University in 2010 at the encouragement of her brother, Dr. William Standish Reed.